Same Ayurvedic Medicine, Different Ingredient list?

You might have often come across the same Ayurvedic medicine from two companies with different ingredients list. It can happen due to many reasons.

Different textual reference: 
The Ayurvedic medicine might be from two different formulas. Many of the traditional Ayurvedic medicines have different formula reference in different text books.

The formula in the traditional Ayurvedic  text books might vary because
– Text books are from different parts of India and the background traditions and practices were different.
– Availability of herbs are different at different places. But the Ayurvedic authors had kept the overall concept and purpose of the product in mind while choosing herbs.
– Few Ayurvedic text books were written many thousand years ago, and some others were written in recent centuries. So, many herbs that were available previously might have got extinct over a period of time. For example – A herb – Soma explained in Vedas were not used in any text books of recent centuries.

Many botanical herbs are used in same Sanskrit name – For example, Vanda roxburghii and Pluchea lanceolata, having similar properties are used in the name of a herb – Rasna. Both have similar properties.
Coccinium fenestratum and Berberis aristata are both used in the name of Daru Haridra.

Substitution – 
Ayurvedic text books have explained substitutes for few herbs with commonly available herbs of similar properties.
For example, The herb Kantakari (Solanum xanthocarpum) can be officially used in place of Bharngi (Clerodendron serratum), whenever the latter herb is not available.
Musta (Cyperus rotundus) is substituted for Ativisha (Aconitum heterophyllum)

Near extinction herbs – 
Many herbs that were explained previously are either extinct, or red listed due to over exploitation, for which substitutes are enlisted in recent times. Many pharmacological studies are conducted before deciding on the exact substitute.
Example – Ashta varga herbs are substituted with Ashwagandha, Shatavari, Vidari.
Note – For this reason, those who market Chyawanprash ‘with ashtavarga’ most of the times the claim of ‘with ashtavarga’ is quite misleading.

Herbs of similar qualities from the same family are used – In the name of the herb ‘Bala’, Sida cordifolia and Sida retusa both are used, based on availability.

Synonyms of herbs – Many companies use synonyms or regional names of the herbs. Example – Guduchi, Giloya are both one and the same.

Ipomea turpethum and Operculina turpethum are one and the same.
Overall, the similarity of the properties of the herbs, and usefulness of the herb in maintaining the purpose of the herbal medicine is kept in mind while selecting herbs for Ayurvedic medicines.

2 thoughts on “Same Ayurvedic Medicine, Different Ingredient list?”

  1. Nice article.
    One thing i found concerned about that point where few herbs are extinct. Is there anything we can do to retain or restore them.

    • 1. If you have land for cultivation, you can grow medicinal herbs, for which there are government subsidies.
      2. You can grow many herbs in your backyard, such as ginger, pepper etc.
      3. Promote greenness in around your house.
      4. Develop green consciousness.


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