Interview: Amit Sharma
Herbal formulations should undergo a thorough validation process to find global acceptance: Amit Sharma
HP Correspondent|
Friday, December 29, 2017

Amit Sharma, director, Sanat, a company which makes a range of Ayurvedic and naturopathy products talks about the importance of validating  medicines through a strict regulatory mechanism, how to make Ayurveda a mainstream medicine and how India can compete in the global herbal market. Excerpts…

Of late, government is giving a lot of emphasis on research and development of Ayurvedic and natural medicine. How do you look at this?

We support Government initiatives in totality. Even though medicinal herbs have been used for the treatment of  many disease for hundreds of years, validation of its efficacy and safety in this modern age will help it flourish globally. 

The Government through AYUSH has taken steps that are helping the industry to make inroads into regulated markets. 

At Sanat’s R&D laboratory, we confirm the medicinal properties of herbs and follow strict quality control guildlines which leads to efficacious and consistent products. Our lab is accredited by CSIR and is recently audited by USFDA.

We have been talking about regularizing the alternative medicine system in India for long now. Recently a few medicines have undergone clinical trials before hitting the market. Shouldn't every medicine undergo a stringent regularisation process?

As I said above, Ayurvedic science has existed for centuries and boasts a continuous tradition of acceptance and practice. There is a need for spreading the knowledge and benefits of the AYUSH system of medicines across the globe. This is possible only if the herbal extracts and phytochemcial and  herbal formulations are validated through an exhaustive research process based on standard parameters.

In India, scientific institutions and universities have also contributed significantly to clinical research, ethno-botanical surveys and pharmacological studies on plants and drugs standardization of simple and compound formulations. 

Now a days, users demand evidence of safety and efficacy. Though various organizations are actively involved in this herculean task, yet a lot remains to be achieved. At Sanat, we have taken up programs/interventions to create evidence- based support for the efficacy, safety, quality control and consistency of products.

In the post globalization era, India has to compete with foreign herbal products. The greater impetus on research will not only boost trade and use of Indian products, but also help in spreading the traditional Indian knowledge to other parts of the world.

Scientific institutions and universities have contributed significantly to clinical research, ethno-botanical surveys and pharmacological studies on plants and drugs standardization of simple and compound formulations.

Heavy metal impurities in Ayurvedic medicines have always remained a big concern. What is the industry doing to address it?

At Sanat, we have built robust systems to ensure purity and strength of both the raw materials and the final product. We carry out macroscopic, microscopic, and other physical tests for selection of raw materials (medicinal herbs). 

The raw materials are further tested for the presence of foreign matter or impurity. 

We also test our product for the presence of heavy metals such as lead, copper, arsenic, mercury and cadmium. Heavy metal is a concern and we adopt latest technologies to reduce the heavy metal impurities.

What will it take to make Ayurveda a mainstream medicine in India?

This is a  process which should start with medical education. The government should start PG courses in each stream of Ayurveda. 

In my opinion, there should be choice given to patients about the stream of treatment they would like to get treated. 

The Ayurvedic Manufacturers Association has urged the central government to take steps to introduce Ayurvedic medicines in the Railways, the Defence forces and ESI Hospitals. 

One of other major steps can be the inclusion of Ayurveda in the insurance scheme. With the increasing burden of existing and emerging diseases, and gaps in modern medicines, there is a need to include indigenous systems in mainstream medical care.

Metabolic disorders and vector- borne disease are a big concern in India right now. Does Ayurveda offer an effective treatment for them?

Lifestyle disease / metabolic disorders like obesity, diabetes, hypertension and low immunity are linked to food and lifestyle. With rapid economic development and the increasing westernization of lifestyle in the past few decades, prevalence of these diseases has reached alarming proportions among Indians.

Ayurveda describes ways to prevent and manage lifestyle disorders . The holistic approach of Ayurveda targets complete physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being.

Sanat has products to counter vector-borne diseases – our product UPLAT is effectively used in dengue and chikanguya.

What diseases can Ayurveda or naturopathy treat effectively?

Ayurveda and naturopathy emphasis on the importance of diet, intake of natural products and physical activity. The body has an inherent ability to maintain and restore health. Naturopathy and Ayurveda facilitate this healing process by removing obstacles. Ayurveda is good for kidney health, diabetes, stamina, memory and asthma.

The nutraceutical industry is one of the fastest growing industries worldwide. What is the share of natural products?

Nutraceuticals are products that provide health and medicinal benefits in addition to the basic nutritional value found in food items. These days, people  are particularly interested in nutraceuticals because of their health benefits . In the nutraceutical segment, natural products constitute almost 50 per cent of the market, making it close to billion dollar market in India. It is a multi- billion dollar industry globally. 

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