Significance of Identification of Ayurvedic Drugs with its Different Sources


Shubhashree MN1*, Shanta TR2, Rinky Thakur3, Rama RaoV4

1,3Research Officer (Ay.), Regional Ayurveda Research Institute for Metabolic Disorder, CCRAS, Bengaluru

2Reseacrh Officer (Botany) Rtd., Regional Ayurveda Research Institute for Metabolic Disorder, CCRAS, Bengaluru

4Research Officer (Botany), Regional Ayurveda Research Institute for Metabolic Disorder, CCRAS, Bengaluru

*Corresponding Author E-mail:



Medicinal plants play a major role in the field of Ayurveda. Identification of the correct medicinal plants that goes in to the preparation of a medicine is very important in ayurvedic medicinal industry. It is due to non-availability, wrong identification, lack of knowledge, ambiguity, seasonal availability and high cost of the drugs, the original drugs are replaced by its substitutes and used by the physicians for several Ayurvedic preparations. As a result of which the medicine loses its efficacy and its medicinal properties. Hence, proper identification and correct usage of drugs are very important for the preparation of Ayurvedic medicines. In this research paper, a list of 5 medicinal plants are highlighted along with its different sources, with local names and Ayurvedic names, photographs, which is essential for identification of drugs along with its differentiating characters.


KEYWORDS: Identification of Ayurvedic drugs, Adulterants, Substitutes, Medicinal plants.





India is known for a rich tradition of ethnobotanical medicine-based remedial practices primarily involving medicinal plants and their products. Close to 25,000 effective plant-based drug formulations have been reported in traditional Indian folk medicine. History of drug non-availability or limited availability of quality raw materials is as old as Ayurveda. Since, the availability of quality raw plant material is a burning issue, treatment has to be done appropriately with the available drugs only. According to an estimate over half a million tonnes of the raw materials are indiscriminately collected from wild, mostly following destructive harvesting procedure and thus about 165,700 hectares forest being clear-felled each year.


Hence alarming situations have resulted into short supply, high prices, forced import, or substitution and adulteration in crude drugs1.


Ayurvedic medicinal plant drugs play a vital role in healing several diseases, where different phytochemical constituents are responsible for curing many diseases. Several drugs in the crude drug market are being sold by the same plant name with different botanical sources/ names leading to confusion, while purchasing the drugs. With increasing international trade in herbal medicinal products, there is also increasing concern about the widespread adulteration and species admixtures in the raw herbal trade. It has been observed, that many foreign substances are added in place of original drug partially or fully, which is inferior or substandard in therapeutic and chemical properties. Addition of low grade or spoiled drugs or entirely different drugs are similar to that of original drug with an intention of enhancement of profits,2 due to which, faith in herbal drugs has declined. For promotion of herbal products it has become one of the greatest drawbacks.3In adulterated drugs, it is found that the adverse event reports are due to the presence of an unintended herb.4 Hence, proper identification is very important and one should thoroughly know to identify the drugs and its importance for the preparation of different medicines. In this paper, 5 important drugs used in Ayurvedic medicine like Maricha, Kesar, Bhringaraja, Ashoka, Guduchi, are elucidated with its botanical names, sanskrit names, kannada names, its different botanical sources along with its identification characters along with its photographs, uses in Ayurvedic preparations to facilitate the identification of drugs. Hence, an attempt has been made to highlight the identification characters along with photographs which will be useful for the identification and differentiating the genuine and its other alternative sources.



In this research paper 5 different medicial drugs have been studied along with their respective sources which have similarities in one or another way. Available Ayurvedic and allied literature were referred for identification of plants. Relevant information from various texts, published research articles and internet has been used. Some of the photographs were collected directly from Survey of Medicinal Plants Unit of the centre and some from standard authentic online world encyclopaedia.



In this study, 5 different Ayurvedic medicinal drugs viz. Maricha, Kesar, Bhringaraja, Ashoka, Guduchi and their adulterants drugs with their similarity in some of morphological characters, but having different features, indications and uses, were studied. Maricha and its10 different sources Carica papaya L., Mirabilis jalapa, Piper cubeba L.f., Aframomum melegueta (Rosc) Schum.(= Amomumm elegueta Rosc),Lantana camara L., Polygonum amphibium L., Scinus molle L., Vitex agnus-castus L., Vitex altissima L.f., Asparagus racemosus Willd.; Kesar and its sources Carthamus tinctorius L., Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn., Jasminum sambac (L.) Ait Tagetes patula L.; Bhringraja and its sources Wedelia chinensis(Osbeck) Merrill; Ashoka (Saraca asoca)and its sources Polyalthia longifolia and Cananga odorata; Guduchi Tinospora cordifolia and its sources Tinospora sinensis (Lour.);


The Characteristic features for categorisation and identification of the 10 drugs under our study are as follows:

Maricha7(Pepper) is one of the most commonly used spices and is considered as “The King of Spices” among various spices. It is widely used in different traditional systems of medicine like Ayurvedic and Unani System of medicines.8


1.0 Piper nigrum L.

Botanical name   : Piper nigrum L.(Genuine drug)

Family                   : Piperaeae

Sanskrit name      : Maricha

Kannada Name   : Menasu

Part used               : Fruits


Identification Characters:

A stout, glabrous, most branched climbing shrub and rooting at nodes.Leaves simple, alternate, ovate, entire, rounded at base, acuminate at apex, gland dotted  and 3 to 5 nerves from the base and another pair little higher up.Flowers minute in spikes, dioceous and fruiting spikes very variable in length.Fruits grayish black, ovoid or globose, surface wrinkled, testa thin, perisperm hard and white and 5-6 mm in diameter.



Maharshi Charaka, has described it as Shulaghana (anticolic/analgesic), Deepaniya (appetizer), Krimighna (vermicidal). It has also been cited as a rasayana for Pranavahasrotas (rejuvenator for the respiratory system). Hence, it is used frequent for the treatment of cough, corhyza, cold, asthma, hoarseness of voice, tuberculosis etc.9 Piperine, the active principle in pepper has shown antihypertensive, antipyretic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-diarrheal, antispasmodic, anxiolytic, antidepressants10 antiasthmatics, hepato-protectiveeffects, Piperine in pepper  has been found to enhance the therapeutic efficacy of many drugs, vaccines and nutrients by increasing oral bioavailability by inhibiting various metabolising enzymes.It is also known to enhance cognitive action and Fertility.11



It is used in agnimandya (diminished digestive fire), ajirna (indigestion) such as grahaniroga (sprue syndrome), visuchika(cholera), atisara (diarrhoea). It is also indicated in as antifungal in skin diseases, in vishama jwara (fever). It is uswed in amenorrhea to induce periods. It has a specially indicated in respiratory disorders like cough hiccough, asthma as it decreases sputum.


Different sources of the Maricha (Piper Nigrum) are13

1.1 Carica papaya L.

Botanical name   : Carica papaya L.

Family                   : Caricaceae

Sanskrit name      : Erandakarkati

Kannada Name   : ParangiBeeja


Identification characters:

A small, soft wooded, cylindric stem bearing leaf scars, fast growing, short lived lactiferous tree. Seeds ash black or black colored  enclosed in sweet mucous pulp and covered with a loose hyaline skin or arils; testa thick and brittle. Leaves deeply lobed, palm like with long hallow petioles. Flowers unisexual, males are in long drooping panicles and females in short clusters; fruit cylindrical with soft yellow sweet pulp. Seeds ashblack or black coloured enclosed in sweet mucous pulp and covered with a loose hyaline skin or arils; testa thick and brittle.



Bleeding piles, psoriasis, skindiseases, vermifuge, thirst quincher, stomach troubles, inflammations, leprosy, haemorrhoids and fever. Ripe fruit is stomachic, digestive, carminative, diuretic, galactagogue. Useful inbleedingpiles, haemoptysis, dysentery and chronicdiarrhoea. Seeds are used as emmengagogue, abortifacient, vermifuge. Juice of seeds is administered in enlarged liver and spleen, and in bleeding piles.14,15


1.2 Mirabilis jalapa L.

Botanical name   : Mirabilis jalapa L.

Family                   : Nyctaginaceae

Sanskrit name      : Sandhyaaraaga

Kannada Name   : Sanjemallige


Identification characters:

A perennial under shrub, much branched with tuberous roots, stem woody at the base and swollen at the nodes. Nuts (fruits) ellipsoid, rugose and ribbed, one seeded, black achene, cotyledon large sub arbicular with false pericarp formed as anthocarp and 6 mm in diameter. Leaves opposite, ovate, entire, acuminate at the apex. Flowers in terminal cyme, involucres bracts ovate, perianth funnel shaped, tubular, petaloid and fragrant. Nuts ellipsoid, rugose and ribbed, one seeded, black acheme, cotyledon lorge sub arbicular with false pericarp formed as anthocarp and 6 mm in diameters16.



Boils, abscesses, wounds, swelling and constipation. Leaf is used for treating uterine discharge; as poultice for abscesses and boils; fresh juice is applied to body in urticaria, also for inflammations and bruises. Tuber is used as a poultice on carbuncles. Root is mild purgative, spasmolytic. Mirabilis Antiviral Protein (MAP) isolated from the tuberous roots has antiproliferative effect on tumour cells and is also an abortifacient.17


1.3 Piper cubeba L.f.

Botanical name   : Piper cubeba L.f.

Family                   : Piperaeae

Sanskrit name      : Chavika

Kannada Name   : Balamenasu


Identification characters:

Perennial woody climber and rooted at nodes. Leaves simple, ovate, base cordate and tip pointed and lower surface with sunken glands. Spikes solitary, flowers dioecious. Fruits sub-globose, stalked, some what a piculate, pericarp is dusky red to slightly brown, rarely grayish in colour and 6-8 mm in diameters.


Boils, abscess, wounds, swelling and constipation. Fruit is carminative, diuretic, expectorant. Used for coughs, bronchitis, asthma, urinary tract infections, amoebic dysentery. It stimulates genitourinary mucous surfaces. Oil is known antibacterial, used in genitourinary diseases and cystitis. The ground fruits have been found to be effective in treating amoebic dysentery.18,19


1.4 Aframomum melegueta K. Schum.

Botanical Name   : Aframomum melegueta K.Schum.

Family                   : Zingiberaceae

English Name      : Grains of Paradise, Melegueta Pepper


Identification characters:

Reed like herbs, up to 2 mts in height, Stems leafy. Flowers pink or lilac, cultivated in gardens.



Seeds are used as another source/adulterant for pepper. Roots possess cardamom like taste and are given as a decoction for constipation; also as a vermifuge for tapeworms. The seeds contain an alkaloid, piperine; also gingerol, paradol, shogaol and zingerone. Gingerol and shogaol suppress gastric contractions and also have sedative and analgesic actions. Pungency of the grains is due to paradol. High oxalic acid content in the fruit may cause reduced function of the heart.


1.5 Lantana camara L.

Botanical Name   : Lantana camara L.

Family                   : Verbenacae

Sanskrit Name     : Chaturangi

Kannada Name   : Kakke

English Name       : Lantana


Identification characters:

Aromatic shrubs, leaves ovate, acuminate, serrate, flowers pink, orange, yellow or white. Naturalised throughout India as a weed, alsogrown as hedge.



Plant is antirheumatic, antimalarial, used in tetanus and a taxy of abdominal viscera. Pounded leaves are applied to cuts, ulcers and swellings; a decoction of leaves and fruits is used as a lotion for wounds.20

Fruits are employed to adulterate Black Pepper21.


1.6 Persicaria amphibia (L.) Delarbre

Botanical name   : Persicaria amphibia (L.) Delarbre

Family                   : Polygonaceae

English Name       : Water Knot Weed


Identification characters:

Perennial semi aquatic herb, Leaves floating, oblong or lanceolate. Flowers bright pink. Distributed in Western Himalayas. Used in Chinese folk medicine.

Uses: Fruits are employed as adulterant or substitute for Black Pepper.22


1.7 Schinus molle L.

Botanical name   : Schinus molle L.

Family                   : Anacardiaceae

English Name      : Brazil pepper Tree, California pepper tree.


Identification characters:

Ever green trees. leaves linear lanceolate. Flowers yellowish white, fruits rose coloured having a strong peppery odour. Cultivated as ornamental tree. Seeds are used to adulterate Black Pepper.23,24


1.8 Vitex agnus-castus L.

Botanical name   : Vitex agnus-castus L.

Family                   : Lamiaceae

Sanskrit name      : Renuka

Kannada Name   : Nirulakki

English Name      : Monks Pepper Tree


Identification characters:

Aromatic trees or shrubs, leaves 3-7 foliate, leaflets lanceolate, acuminate, white tomentose, flowers lavender to blue. Seeds are used as a substitute and adulterant to Black Pepper.


1.9 Vitex altissima L.f.

Botanical name   : Vitex altissima L.f.

Family                   : Lamiaceae

Sanskrit name      : Harenuka, Renuka

Kannada Name   : Myrole

English Name       : Milla


Identification characters:

Shrubs or small tree, leaves 3or 5 foliate, lobes lanceolate. Flowers numerous, small white tinged with blue.

In south India, fruits of this plant are used in many Ayurvedic preparations in place of Cubebs (Piper cubeba L.) and also used as a adulterant for Black Pepper.25,26


1.10 Asparagus racemosus Willd.

Botanical Name   : Asparagus racemosus Willd.

Family                   : Liliaceae

Sanskrit Name     : Shatawari

Kannada Name   : Haalavumakkalathaayiberu

English Name       : Asparagus


Identification characters:

Small black rounded berries, an ascending, spinous much branched, perennial climber found throughout the country. An extensively scandent, much branched spinous under shrubs with tuberous, short root stock bearing numerous fusiform succulent tuberous roots 30-100cms length and 1-2 cms thick found growing wild in tropical and tropical parts of India including the Andamans and ascending in the Himalayas up to an altitude of 1,500mts. Fruits are little bigger in size, outer surface black in colour, wrinkled, appears like small pepper in appearance. Seed is white in colour, very hard. Fruit measures 0.5-0.7 cms x 0.4 to 0. 5 cms by width. Smell agreeable. Taste slightly bitter to mucilaginous, but not pungent as pepper, externally appears like pepper, hence it is also one of the source for Piper nigrum, fruits.



Used as a galactagogue and for disorders of female genitourinary tract, as a styptic and ulcer-healing agent, as an intestinal disinfectant and astringent indiarrhea, as a nervine tonic, and in sexual debility for spermatogenesis.27,28


Photographs of plant and Drugs for identification:


I-Piper nigrum L. - plant



II-Dried fruits of Piper nigrum L.



III-Piper cubebaL.f. – plant


IV-Fruits of Piper cubebaL.f.



V-Carica papaya L. - plant


VI-Dried seeds of Carica papaya L.


VII-Mirabilis jalapaL. - plant


VIII-Dried seeds of Mirabilis jalapaL.


IX-Vitex negundo L.


X-Dried fruits of Vitex negundo L.



XI-Asparagus racemosus Willd. – plant


XII-Drued fruits of Asparagus racemosus Willd.


XIII-Aframomum meleguetaK.Schum.- plant


XIV-Fruits of Aframomum melegueta K.Schum.


XV-Lantana camara L. – plant


XVI-Died fruits of Lantana camaraL.



XVII-Polygonum amphibium (L.) Delarbre – plant

(Courtesy: )



XVIII-Polygonum amphibium (L.) Delarbre(Courtesy:


XIV-Schinus molle L. - plant



XX-Schinus molle L.



XXI-Vitex agnus-castusL. - plant



XXII-Dried fruits of Vitex agnus-castusL. (Courtesy:


XXIII-Vitex altissima L.f. - plant


XXIV-Dried fruits of Vitex altissima L.f.


2. Kesar

Botanical Name   : Crocus sativus L. (Genuine source)

Family                   : Iridaceae

Kannada Name   : Kunkumakesari

Sanskrit Name     : Kesar


Identification characters:

Flowers blue, anthers yellow, ovary 3 celled, stigmas orange coloured, trifid on filiform style tops.

The commercial saffron is dried style tops with orange coloured stigmas. Best quality kumkum in market will have no styles and stamens. Dried and dyed petals of Carthamustinctorius are used for adulterating. On treating with warm water, adulterants petals re-expand and regain the original shape discolouring the water with the dye used. However, when the original kumkum when kept in water for some time, the water gradually turns yellow and the stigma becomes pink in colour.



Stomachic and aphrodisiac. The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India indicated the use of the stigma and style of kesarinmigraine, chronic sinusitis, andin urinary obstruction, inflammation of the urinary tract. Small amounts of Saffron stimulategastric secretion; larger amounts stimulate uterine smooth muscle and exhibitemmenagogue and abortifacienteffects(CP Khare).


Different sources of kesar (Crocus sativus) are:

2.1 Carthamus tinctorius L.

BotanicalName   : Carthamus tinctorius L.

Family                   : Asteraceae

Kannada Name   : Kusube

Sanskrit Name     : Kusumbah


Identification characters:

Errect branching herb, leaves spinosely serrate, flowers yellowish or orange red in large terminal heads, fruits smooth, obovoid, 4 - angled achenes



Appetizer, diuretic, leucorrhea, liver tonic, sedative, emmenagogue, boils, inflammations, ring worm, scabies, leucoderma.


Dried flowers are used in cardiovascular diseases, amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea and retention oflochia; also in woundsand sores with pain and swelling. The flower extract also exhibited anti-inflammatory, sedative andanalgesic effect and inhibitory affecton spontaneous motor activity.29


2.2. Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn

BotanicalName   : Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn.

Family                   : Nymphaeaceae

Kannada Name   : Kamala

Sanskrit Name     : Padmam/ pankajam


Identification characters:

Large aquatic herb, flowers solitary, large, fragrant, white or rosy with a centrally located yellow obconical spongy torus in which carpels are sunken.



Diuretic, antifungal, antipyretic, cholera, diarrhea, cardiotonic, ring worn, burning sensation, haemorrhoids, cardiac debility, vomiting, leprosy, nervous exhaustion, small pox, spermatorrhoea. Filament is astringent and haemostatic and it is prescribed for bleeding piles and menorrhagia. A decoction of Flowers is given incholera, fever, strangury, palpitationof heart. Rhizomes are given inpiles, chronic dyspepsia anddysentery; applied externally tocutaneous eruptions, scabies andringworm. Rhizome is given to children in diarrhea and dysentery. Root is astringent, diuretic, antiemetic, cooling. Used for dysentery, dyspepsia, piles and for its anticoagulantproperties.


2.3. Jasminum sambac (L.) Ait

Botanical name   : Jasminum sambac (L.) Ait

Family                   : Oleaceae

Kannada name    : Mallige

Sanskrit name      : Mallikaa


Identification characters :

Shrubs, leaves simple, ovate lanceolate, flowers white. Cultivated through outIndia



Root is a emmenagogue, blood purifier. Flowers are used as lactifuge. The alcoholic extract is hypotensive. Leaves are antibacterial. The flowers after drying are adulterated with saffron.30


2.4. Tagete spatula L.

Botanical Name   : Tagete spatula L.

Family                   : Asteraceae

Sanskrit Name     : Yuthika

Kannada Name   : Mallige

English Name      : French Marigold


Identification characters:

Herbs, leaves dissected, flowers golden yellow, cultivated throughout India.



The dried ray florets are used as an adulterant to Saffron31. It is creditedwith nematocidal properties. Thejuice of flower heads is used on cutsand wounds. Whole plant infusion is useful in cold and bronchitis, also in the treatment of rheumatism. Flowersare used as alterative; juice used for bleeding piles. Leaves are styptic, applied externally to boils and carbuncles; muscle pains. Leaves and florets are emengagogue, diuretic, vermifuge.

Photographs of Plant and Drug for Identification


I-Crocus sativus- flowers

(Courtesy -


II-Stigmas and androeciumof

Crocus sativus (Courtesy -


III-Carthamus tinctorius L.- flowers


IV-Dried Petals of flower of Carthamus tinctoriusL. (Courtesy:


V-Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn.- flower


VI-Dried stamens of flower Nelumbo nuciferaGaertn. (Courtesy:


VII-Jasminum sambac (L.) Ait - flowers


VIII-Dried flowers of Jasminum sambac(L.) Ait


IX-Tagetes patula L. - flowers


X-Dried flowers of Tagetes patulaL.



3. Bhringaraja

Botanical Name   : Eclipta alba (L.) Hassk.

Family                   : Asteraceae

Sanskrit Name     : Bringaraaja

Kannada Name   : Garugadasoppu


Identification characters:

Erect or prostrate much branched annual herb with rooted nodes. Leaves opposite, strigose with appressed hairs on both sides, flowers white in heads, ray compressed.



Diuretic, skin diseases, ulcers, Ophthalmopathy, hypertention, jaundice, fever, cephalagia, good for blacking and strengthening of the Hair.Deobstruent, antihepatotoxic, anticatarrhal, febrifuge. Used in hepatitis, spleen enlargements, chronic skin diseases.Leafpromoteshair growth. Its extract in oilis applied to scalp before bed timein insomnia. The herb is also usedas an ingredient in shampoos.32


Differents sources of Other sources Bhringaraja (Eclipta alba) are:

3.1 Wedelia chinensis (Osbeck) Merrill.

Botanical Name   : Wedelia chinensis (Osbeck) Merrill. (Genuine drug)

Family                   : Asteraceae

Sanskrit Name     : Pitabhringaraja

Kannada Name   : Gargadasoppu


Identification characters:

Procumbent perennial herb upto 1 m in height. Stems rooting at the lower nodes, simple leaves, scabrous with short white hairs. Flowers bright yellow in tetragonous rayed axillary or terminal heads.The plant is astringent and bitter.



Cardiotonic, diuretic, elephantiasis, ulcer, fever, baldness, greyness of hair, viral hepatitis, dysopia, aphrodisiac. Leaves are usedin alopecia, juice used for dyeinghair and for promoting hairgrowth. Plant is deobstruent, used in menorrhagia and abdominals wellings as a tonicfor hepatic and splenic enlargement. Leaves are adulterated in Eclipta alba.


Photographs of Plant and Drugs for Identification


I-Eclipta alba(L.) Hassk. - plant


II-Eclipta alba(L.) Hassk. dried drug of whole plant


III-Wedelia chinensis(Osbeck) Merrill.- plant


IV-Wedelia chinensis (Osbeck) Merrill.dried drug of whole plant


4. Ashoka:

Ashok or Ashoka (which is a Sanskrit term meaning one ‘without sorrow or grief’) also called ‘Ashokbriksh’ and botanically known as Saraca asoca (Roxb.) W. J. de Wilde or Saraca indica L. is among the most ancient medicinal plants known in India. The Ashoka tree occupies a privileged place in many Indian folk and socio-cultural traditions. It has been revered in the Hindu tradition.14 Classical Ayurvedic treatise of Charaka Samhita (1000 BC) describes the effectiveness of S. asoca as an analgesic and astringent as well as in skin diseases, including leprosy16. The treatise of Susruta (500 BC) describes its uses in disorders of the womb in particular, as well as in fever, neurological disorders, snake bites, disease of the eye and wounds. The 18th century Ayurvedic treatise Bhaisajya Ratnavali described two Ashoka preparations – Asokaghrita and Asokarista useful for treating haemorrhages, anorexia, oedema and fever by the former, and backache, uterus pain and anaemia.33


Botanical Name   : Saraca asoca (Roxb.) Willd. (Genuine drug)

Family                   : Fabaceae

Sanskrit Name     : Ashoka

Kannada Name   : Ashoka


Identification characters:

Bark occurs in channels, Outer surface rough with warty protuberances, Lenticels ocurrs transversely, Outer bark peals off easily from the bark, Fracture short and slightly fibrous, powder reddish brown.



The bark is a uterine tonic (imparts healthy tone to uterus), used in menstrual disorders, menorrhagia, menstrual pain, leucorrhoea, complaints of menopause, internal bleeding haemorrhoids, dysentery. The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India recommends the bark inmenorrhagia, chronic lymphadenitis and inflammations. The bark extract has been reported to have antitumor/anticarcinogenic activities. Besides, antimicrobial, larvicidal, antidiabetic, antioxidant, oxytocic, anti-estrogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties of this plant have also been reported.34


Different Sourcesof the Ashoka (Saraca asoca) are:

4.1 Polyalthia longifolia (Sonn.) Thwaites

Botanical Name   : Polyalthia longifolia (Sonn.) Thwaites

Family                   : Anonaceae

Sanskrit Name     : Kastadaaru

Kannada Name   : Kambadhamara


Identification: Bark flat, faint ridges and furrows occurs vertically. Outer bark doesn't peals off easily. Fracture hard and strongly fibrous, powder brownish in colour.


Uses: Febrifuge, causes cardiacdepression., diarrhoea, dysentery


4.2 Cananga odorata (Lam.) Hook.f. and Thomson

Botanical name   : Cananga odorata (Lam.) Hook.f. and Thomson

Family                   : Anonaceae

Kannada Name   : Apoorva Champaka

Photographs of Plants and Drugs for Identification:


I-Saraca asoca (Roxb.) Willd. – plant



II-Bark of Saraca asoca (Roxb.) Willd.



III-Polyalthia longifolia (Sonn.) Thwaites- plant


IV-Bark of the Polyalthia longifolia (Sonn.) Thwaites


V-Cananga odorata (Lam.) Hook.f. and Thomson - plant

(Courtesy: cananga-odorata/)


VI-Bark of Cananga odorata (Lam.) Hook.f. and Thomson




Botanical Name   : Tinospora cordifolia (Willd.) Miers.

Family                   : Menispermaceae

Sanskrit Name     : Guduchi

Kannada Name   : Amruthaballi


Identification characters:

A large extensively spreading glabrous, perennial deciduous twiner with succulent stems and papery bark. Leaves simple and cordate, 7 to 9 nerved, leaves 3-7 cm, glabrous above, tomentose beneath, flowers yellow. The surface of the stem appears to be closely studded with warty tubercles and the surface skin is longitudinally fissured.



Antipyretic, antirheumatic, spasmolytic, hypoglycaemic, hepatoprotectiveanti inflammatory, anti emetic, digestive, cardiotonic, galacto purifier and tonic, haematenic, anthelmintic, chronic fevers, gout, cardiac debility, leprosy, jaundice, seminal weakness, anaemia, skin diseases. Water extract increases urine output. Stemjuice is prescribed in high fever; decoction in rheumatic and biliousfevers. Aqueous extract of the plant is a fabrifuge. Starch is antacid, antidiarrhoeal and antidysenteric.35


Different sourcesof Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia) are:

5.1 Botanical Name: Tinospora sinensis (Lour.) Merr.

Family                   : Menispermaceae

Sanskrit Name     : Gudoochi

Kannada Name   : Sudarshana Balli


Identification characters:

Shoots pubescent, Leaves pubescent/ tomentoseabove, 10-15 cm long, Drupes crimson, 1.2 cm across, Endocarp tubercle. It is a red listed plant. Tinospora sinensis (Lour.) Merr. has a large climbing stem with thin yellowish gray papery bark and is warty, measures 1.2 to 1.3 cm. in diameter with watery latex. The stem gives rise to a thread like white aerial roots and prominent scattered lenticels are found on an old stem while the young stem is green, pubescent and having no papery bark and lenticels. Vascular strands are greater in number.Starch content is less in number. No starch grains in the medullary rays.36



Antipyretic, anti inflammatory, anti emetic, digestive. Fresh leaves and stemare used in chronic rheumatism. It is known as “muscle-relaxing vine” in China.Used as a substitute for T. cordifolia. The plant is an inferior substituteas it contains less of carbohydrates, sterols, alkaloids and tannins.Alkaloid magnoflorine shows hypotensiveas well as curare-like effectin animals.


Photographs of Plants and Drugs for Identification:


I-Tinospora cordifolia (Willd.) Miers.


II-Dried drug of Tinospora cordifolia (Willd.) Miers.


III-Tinospora sinensis (Lour.) Merr.


IV-Dried drug of Tinospora sinensis (Lour.) Merr.



Medicinal plants have been used in health care since time immemorial the demand for herbal plants has rapidly increased in the last decades. Medicinal plants contribute 80% of raw materials for traditional drug preparation. The worldwide trade for medicinal plants and its products is estimated to be $60 billion annually. However, there has been an increase of unethical commercial trades, whereby the authentic medicinal herb is substituted by less effective and sometimes deleterious herbs and unlabelled fillers.37 Therefore, it is important to understand and study various patterns of adulterations and substitution. Identification of a species is the most critical task which necessitates application of instinct, knowledge and skill. A correctly identified species is given recognition with the help of an appropriate name. The events of misidentification of plant species, inadvertent use of totally unrelated species or by closely related inferior quality species can hinder their medicinal use, the adverse effects of which may even kill a consumer. The medicinally useful plants and plant products must have their specific identity correctly ascertained with standardized circumscription and nomenclature for quality control and prevention of adulteration of drugs38. Adulteration may be of various reasons such as improper use of ingradients for manufacturing drugs, substitution of fake cheap ingredients, use of defective/inferior ingradients, lack of knowledge amongst the developers for manufacturing the drugs, ignorance and human error. Adulteration may also be happening due to commercial interest of drugs manufacturers and vendors.


For development of pure Ayurvedic drugs meeting the official standards having potency the following steps should be followed without any compromise. The right identification of plant, selection of raw material from the identified plant etc. right process of drug development and non-substitution of inferior substitutes should be followed. In the present study 10 different medicinal drugs are considered and possible substitute of each and every drug are compiled.


Due to similarity in morphology, color, size and shape, careless collection, easy availability, cost effectiveness, lack of knowledge, confusion in name, different sources of Piper nigrum L. has been used as adulterated with Carica papaya L., Mirabilis jalapa L., Piper cubeba L.f., Aframomum melegueta K.Schum., Lantana camara L.,Persicaria amphibia (L.) Delarbre, Scinus molle L., Vitex agnus-castus L., Vitex altissima L.f., Asparagus racemosus Willd.Like wise due to unavailability of kesar in regional areas, found in himalyan region only and similarity in morphology it has been adulterated with Carthamus tinctorius L., Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn., Jasminum sambac (L.) Ait Tagetes patula L.In the similar way other drugs are also adulterated due to above mentioned reasons. World Health Organization (WHO), in its publication on quality standards for medicinal plant materials, recommends rejecting any batch of raw material, which has more than 5% of any other plant part of the same plant (e.g. stem in leaf drugs), never the less if they are derived from the authentic plant. Hence, this work intends to enhance the research in identification of medicinal plants.



With the growing human footprint on the planet, mother earth is stretched out for survival. The natural resources are stretched and man is improvising to meet its ends. In the process the authentic and organic resources are being diluted. Ayurveda is one of the fields which is affected because all ayurvedic medicines have a plant source and its potency is being challenged due to this adulteration. To win the faith of people in Ayurveda system it is important to ensure the potent efficacay and safety of medicinal drugs. Education among the vendors, collectors and masses regarding the ill effects and side ffects of adulterated drug.



The authors are very grateful to Director General and Deputy Director General, CCRAS, New Delhi for encouragement and Dr. Raghavendra Naik for his valuable inputs.



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Received on 09.07.2020            Modified on 29.07.2020

Accepted on 18.08.2020     ©AandV Publications All right reserved

Res.  J. Pharmacology and Pharmacodynamics.2020; 12(3):117-129.

DOI: 10.5958/2321-5836.2020.00022.1