Hotels in India » Ayurveda in India  » Checking Plant Pulse

Checking Plant Pulse

Pharmacopoeia Laboratory for Indian Medicine (PLIM) located in Ghaziabad is known as the nerve center of alternate medicine system in India. The institution is a standard setting-cum-drugs testing laboratory at national level for Indian medicines. It lays down the standards of single drugs of plant, mineral and animal origin for incorporating in Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha systems. It also lays down standards for compound formulations included in all these traditional medicinal practices.

With its pioneering work, the institution supports over 2,800 hospitals, 22,000 dispensaries and nearly 8,000 licensed pharmaceutical units in the country.

Nearly 6 lakh practitioners of alternate medicine are gaining by the research experience of PLIM.

Set up in 1970 under the direct control of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, the institution so far has standardized 350 single drugs and 90 compound formulations of Ayurveda. To further consolidate on this, PLIM now proposes to open seven regional drug testing laboratories all over the country.

The institution draws its sample from about 2000 available plant species in the country. Its expedition team consisting of scientific staff sometimes scout the vast Himalayan ranges in search of rich medicinal flora. "Seeing medicinal herbs amidst nature is itself a therapeutic cure", says a team member.

India, known as the "Botanical Garden of the World", has the widest variety of plant species distributed throughout the country across different ecosystems. The specimens collected are worked out for pharmacopoeial standards and preserved as reference standards.

The increased popularity of traditional medicine systems world over along with a World Health Organisation's circulation to this regard have been a great moral boost for the PLIM in recent times. WHO now strongly urges Asian and African countries to consider the feasibility of enlisting traditional herbs and herbalists in all programmes of health care.

Thus traditional healers would form a part of primary healthcare in their own communities. A research faculty member of the institute is particularly impressed with Latin American country, Peru, which is currently carrying out elaborate research to find out the efficacy of pre-Columbian folk remedies.

PLIM has a close eye on the African countries including disease prone Ethiopia, which are making full use of traditional medicines. In Ghana, the Government has initiated efforts to organize all the traditional herbs into regional groups. The institution director Dr RU Ahmad says, even developed nation, Germany, has not ignored the miracle of traditional medicines. The country has taken initiative in using a number of herbal origin drugs used in traditional medicines.

The pioneering work of China is also much talked about in the institution. Now more than 400,000 hectares of medicinal herbs are under cultivation in the world's most populated country. Some of the energetic research scientists in the institute even coax India to emulate the ancient medicinal practice of Bulgaria. The oldest inhabitants of the land such as Thracians, Proto-Bulgarians and Slavs knew the medicinal plants and administered them in the treatment of different diseases. Ethnographers have established that the people of Bulgaria have used more than 700 medicinal plants out of the total of about 3200 plants growing there.

PLIM's major role of standardization and drug testing guard against mass adulteration and substitution of alternate medicines in India. The laboratory is engaged in working out standards of single drugs as well as compound formulations included in Ayurvedic Formulary of India, while on the other hand it is co-coordinating with the respective Pharmacopoeia Committees by preparing the monographs of single drugs and compound formulations to be incorporated in respective Pharmacopoeias of ISM.

Interestingly, one of the parameters of standardization of the monographs on single drugs as well as compound formulations is based on the literary survey of classical texts and modern literature. A documentation wing and a well maintained library have been established to this regard. PLIM organizes orientation lecture programmes for drug inspectors and drug analysts of Indian System of Medicine twice a year.

To a visitor perhaps the institution's museum would be the first stop. The museum has more than 4,000 exhibits depicting how the raw materials are used in the formulations of Indian System of Medicine. Crude drugs specimens of plant, animal and mineral are arranged as per their origin and use in different Indian Medicinal Systems. The museum possesses over 3,000 crude drug standard specimens. Among more authentic specimens there are over 700 herbarium sheets. The institution also has a medicinal plants garden located at Raispur village for growing medicinal plants and herbs for standardization purposes and developing new high yielding plant varieties. Now PLIM looks forward to more pioneering work in the years to come.