Adulteration of Crude Drugs

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Adulteration is an illegal act of debasing or altering the original quality and properties of an article in order to cheat or defraud others. In a broad sense, any change in an article that lowers its standard, quality or composition, irrespective of causes, is regarded as adulteration. An drug is regarded as adulterated if it does not conform to the standard or quality of the genuine drug by whose name it is sold or supplied. Crude drugs are adulterated by a number of illegal acts. These various acts of adulteration may be roughly divided into two groups:

Undeliberate adulteration:

When the act of adulteration takes place due to various unintentional reasons.

Deliberate adulteration:

When adulteration is done intentionally to cheat others.

These acts and their causes are described below in some details

Undeliberate adulteration

The principal causes of undeliberate adulteration may be summarised as follows.

(a) Faulty collection:

Faulty collection of plant drugs occurs due to:

  1.  collection of the drug at a wrong season or at a wrong age of the plant.
  2.  collection of the less important parts of the plant due to ignorance.
  3.  collection of the drug sample from both genuine and wrongly identified similar plants due to ignorance or inadvertence of the collector.
  4. Imperfect preparation: Imperfect preparation of drugs occurs due to the following factors:
  5. improper drying because of the use of a wrong method or a wrong temperature.
  6. incomplete garbling due to negligence and carelessness.
  7. improper packing

(c) Incorrect storage in improperly built storehouses without proper ventilation, control of humidity, light and temperature.

These various causes result in the production and supply of a number of undeliberately adulterated crude drugs, which include inferior, deteriorated, spoiled and admixed drugs.

An inferior drug is a substandard drug, which contains less quantity of the active principle. If the leaves of any Datura stramonium ·sample contain less than 0.25 percent of total alkaloids, they constitute an inferior Stramonium drug, which is regarded as an adulterated one.

A deteriorated drug is one in which the active constituents have been partially destroyed by over aging, moisture, heat, fungi, and insects or by other means. Examples of such drugs, which are regarded as adulterated, include hardened powdered Squill, over roasted Coffee beans, mouldy Ergot, wormy Rhubarb and rancid Lard.

A crude drug is regarded as spoiled, when its quality or usefulness is so impaired or destroyed by the action of fungi, bacteria, insects and rodents as to render it unfit for human consumption. · All such drugs, when offered for sale or consumption, are legally considered as adulterated. An admixed drug is one in which other plant parts of the same plant or the same part of other similar plants got mixed through accident, ignorance or carelessness. Senna leaves containing an excess amount of Senna stems or pods would be an admixed drug and thus it would be regarded as adulterated.

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