Traditional Vs Proprietary Ayurvedic Medicine – 7 Differences

There are two basic types of Ayurvedic medicines.
1. Classical medicines / traditional medicines – The formula, method of manufacturing, indications etc of these medicines are present in traditional Ayurvedic text books such as Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita etc. The manufacturing company follows the same formula and prepares medicines.

For example: Chyawanprash, Triphala Choorna, Dashamoolarishta, Chandraprabha Vati tablet etc.
Almost all Kashayams, Churna, Arishtas, Asavas, Lehyas fall into this category.

2. Proprietary Ayurvedic medicines –
They are also known as patent medicines or modern Ayurvedic medicines. The formula, dosage form etc of such a medicine are decided by the manufacturing company. The ingredient combination is not found in traditional Ayurvedic text books. The company itself makes the formula based on reasoning and expertise, conducts clinical trial, research on the medicine about its efficacy in particular diseases, gets license from drug control authorities and  markets the medicine.
For example: Liv 52 tablet of Himalaya company
Most of the capsules, syrups, ointments, etc fall in to this category.

ayurvedic medicines

Often, I am asked to prescribe traditional Ayurvedic medicines only. Some patients believe that because the medicinal formula is traditional and straight from the text book, the medicines are efficacious.

Let us analyze the advantages and disadvantages of these two types of Ayurvedic medicines.
Number of ingredients:
Usually in traditional Ayurvedic medicines, the number of ingredients is more, when compared to proprietary medicines. Many of the ingredients in traditional Ayurvedic medicines are controversial, extinct or very hard to find.

But in proprietary Ayurvedic medicines, the formula contains only a few ingredients, that the company can procure easily. So, the trust on the genuineness  of ingredients is more in proprietary medicines. 

Easy to use:
Proprietary medicines have edge over traditional herbal medicines.
Masking the taste – as in capsules Vs Traditional Churnas, Kashayams etc, soft gel capsules containing oils vs oral intake of oils (such as Ksheerabala taila, Gandha taila, Maha raja prasarini taila etc.
improving palatability – as in coated tablets, Syrups etc.

It is a general misconception that all traditional medicines are totally free of preservatives and additives. But the fact is, all Kashayams sold in Market have preservatives, almost all Lehyams including Chyawanprash have added preservatives.
As long as they are in safer limits, I do not see any problem with both proprietary and traditional medicines.

Manufacturing company’s interest:
If I have a company, and I manufacture Dashamoolarishta, I will have to compete with thousands of companies that manufacture Dashamoolarishtam. The only criterion will be competitive price. It will be a race to the bottom. Whoever gives it in lowest price wins.

But if I make a syrup of my own formula, do genuine research to prove its efficacy and market it, I will be promoting my own brand, my own product.
I will obviously work hard to make the product as genuine and as effective as possible.  I will conduct Continued medical education (CME) programs to doctors to let them know about my product, because, if product clicks, more doctors will prescribe, more patients will benefit, more money I will make.

Extra profit margins:
The profit margins to the medical store owner, to distributor to manufacturer are high in proprietary medicine.

Genuineness of the formula – Test of time:
The Chyawanprashs, Triphalas are there since thousands of years, serving millions of people. But we cannot say the same to Proprietary medicines. They are there since 2 – 3 decades, so, test of time is yet to be made on them.

So, there are pluses and minuses on both sides.
Question is, should you, as a patient, direct your doctor to prescribe only traditional medicines?
The doctor knows what works best and what does not. Doctor knows combinations of medicines that suits the patients most, out of his experience. Hence, it will be best if you leave the doctor to make his decision.
However, because it is your personal choice, you can request the doctor to prescribe traditional medicines only.

6 thoughts on “Traditional Vs Proprietary Ayurvedic Medicine – 7 Differences”

  1. Sir this article is very useful, but I wish to add one point. The proprietary medicines are usually backed by some ‘research’. But in most proprietary medicines, the so called research is so shoddy that any person with a background in allopathic medicine will laugh at the results. The quality of placebos is very poor and so the measurement of placebo response is inadequate and in many cases placebos are not used. The number of patients is very less as compared to a allopathic medicine trial. The trials are single-centre and not multi-centre and so the chance for bias is very high. Also the issue of safety is not properly addressed. Very limited toxicity studies are conducted. In most cases I have seen just 1 to 2 toxicity studies for a medicine. Further, a majority of the toxicity studies are up to acute or sub-chronic toxicity studies only. I have seen hardly any chronic toxicity studies which show the long term effect of the medicines. While I will not say that proprietary medicines don’t work, any reasonable man will say that they should be used a degree of doubt.Traditional medicines which have withstood the test of time seem to best when it comes to both efficacy and safety Please do not think that I am some anti-ayurveda maniac. I am a staunch believer in Ayurveda and have personally benefited from it in the past. I only wish to have a rational.

    PS, Many people will say that Ayurvedic companies don’t have the money to conduct research. A perusal of the turnover of some leading brands may persuade them to reconsider this myth perpetuated by these very companies.

  2. chirantika parna tpasni karita kontya गुणवत्ता नियंत्रण लॅब madhe tapaslya jate

  3. Dear Dr. Saheb

    Thank you for the wonderful article. I need to ask if Ayurvedic Siddha or Unani medicines are registered under Drugs & Cosmetics Act of India or a licensing if sufficient to product products under same act?

    • Hi, Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani medicines are covered under Drugs and Cosmetics Act and rules. You need to apply for license first with the drugs department situated in the state, they come for inspection etc..

  4. Sir, I am not against proprietary medicines, but how can we be assure regarding correct qty. mixture of ingredients as per label on box in case of proprietary medicines.

    Himalaya is putting makardawaj, kesar etc.costly herbs in Geriforte tablet (tablet available @ very low price), but who really knows if all the ingredients are put in exact qty. as per label.


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