Before sending a crude drug for sale to the local or international market it should be properly prepared so that the active constituents and the appearance of the drug do not deteriorate before being used. The preparation of a crude drug for the market depends on a number of factors, such as its morphological nature the nature of its constituents, the geographical source and many other factors. These factors should be taken care of in its preparation, which involves the following steps: Collection, Drying, Garbling, Quality determination and Packaging.
Collection means procuring the drug from its natural habitat or natural source. For commercial purposes drugs may be collected from both cultivated and wild sources or harvested from cultivated fields. While collecting drugs from wild sources utmost care must be taken to avoid
- Wrong identification of the source,
- Admixture with similar looking plants,
- Collection from too young or too old or diseased plants.
Various factors related to method of collection, season and time of collection and the age of the plant greatly influence the quality of the prepared drug. These factors have been discussed below.
Drugs destined for commercial markets should be of highest quality and best in appearance to be able to attract good prices. In order to achieve these qualities in a crude drug sample, it should be collected in the proper manner and at the proper time (see below for details), especially when collected from wild sources. Commercial crude drugs from cultivated sources always attract more customers and good prices, because procurement of crude drug from cultivated plants or crops ensures good quality pure samples. Since the growth and development of a plant can be effectively controlled and improved under cultivation, the quality of the drug obtained from such a plant is generally better than that obtained from a wild source. Thus efforts should always be made to procure drugs for commercial market from cultivated plants.
Various factors related to the process of collection of crude drugs from their natural sources are discussed below.