Adulteration is as practice of substituting original crude drug partially
or wholly with other similar looking substances, but the later is either free from or inferior in chemical or therapeutic
Adulteration involves different conditions such as deterioration, admixture, sophistication, substitution,
inferiority, and spoilage.
DETERIORATION: is the impairment in the quality of a drug.
ADMIXTURE: is the addition of
one article to another due to ignorance or carelessness, or by accident.
SOPHISTICATON: is the intentional or deliberate
type of adulteration.
SUBSTITUTION: occurs when some totally different substance
is added in place of original drug.
INFERIORITY: refers to any sub-standard drug.
SPOILAGE: deterioration due to the attack of microorganisms.
Generally the drugs are adulterated by substitution with sub-standard commercial varieties, inferior drugs,
or artificially manufactured commodities.
The following types of adulteration are common:
1. SUBSTITUTION WITH
SUB-STANDARD COMMERCIAL VARIETIES:
The adulterants here may resemble the original crude drug
in morphological, chemical,
or therapeutic characters, but are sub-standard in nature and hence are cheaper in cost. This is a rather most common practce
of adulteration e.g.
Strychnous nux-blanda or S.potatorum in place of S.nux-vomica, Capsicum annuum in place of C.minimum,
Indian senna is substituted with arabian senna or dog senna, medicinal ginger is substituted with inferior varieties of African
, Japanese, or Cochin ginger.
2. SUBSTITUTION WITH SUPERFICIALLY SIMILAR INFERIOR DRUGS:
These inferior drugs
used may or may not be having any chemical or therapeutic value as that of original drug.
Due to their morphological resemblance
to the authentic drug, they are marketed as adulterants.
Belladonna leaves are substituted with Ailanthus leaves, Saffron
is admixed with dried flowers of carthamus tinctorious, and bees wax is substituted with Japan wax.
WITH ARTIFICIALLY MANUFACTURED SUBSTANCES:
It has been also observed that substances artificially prepared to resemble
the original drug are used as substitutes. This prectice is followed for much costlier drugs.
Compressed Chicory in place
of coffee, yellow coloured praffin wax for bees wax, properly cut and shaved baswood for nutmeg.
4. SUBSTITUTION WITH
The same drug is admixed but is devoid of any medicnally active constituents as they are already extracted
practice is more common in case of volatile oil containing
drugs like fennel, clove, coriander, caraway
etc. Sometimes natural characters of exhausted drugs like colour, and taste are manipulated by adding other additives and
is substituted, e.g. exhausted gentian made bitter with aloes, artificial colouring of exhausted saffron, etc.
5. Besides these common practices, sometimes other methods are also employed like use of synthetic chemicals to enhance
the natural characater as in case of addition of benzyl benzoate to balsam of peru, citral to citrus oils
like oil of
lemon and orange oil, etc.
6. PRESENCE OF VEGETATIVE MATTER FROM THE SAME PLANT:
Sometimes, the other miniature
plants grwoing along with medicinal plants are admixed with the authentic drug, due to their resembling colour, odour, and
in some cases constituents. The lower plants like moss, liverworts,
and epiphytes growing on bark portion are mixed with
cascara or cinchona, The stem portions are mixed alongwith leaf drugs like stramonium , lobelia, and senna.
Sometimes the waste from the market are collected and admixed with the authentic drug. This is particularly
noticed for liquids or unorganized drugs. The examples
like pieces of amber coloured glass in colophony, limestones in
asafoetida, lead shot in opium, white oil in coconut oil, cocoa butter mixed with stearin or paraffin .
The addition of
rodent feacal matter to cardamom seed is a very harmful adulteration.
8. ADULTERATION OF POWDERS:
Besides the entire
drug the powdered forms are frequently found to be adulterated. Examples: dextrin in ipecacuanha,
powered liqourice or
gentian admixed with powdered olive stones, exhausted ginger powder in powdered colocynth or ginger, red-sanders wood in capsicum,