Adulteration of Drugs:
A drug is said to be adulterated when original crude drug gets substituted either partially or completely with a similar looking substance. This adulterated drug will be free from or is inferior to the actual parent drug in therapeutic or chemical properties. Adulteration is therefore known as the debasement of an article.
What are the different conditions that are involved in the process of adulteration?
Some of the conditions which are involved in adulteration process are listed below:
Deterioration : In the process of deterioration, there will be impairment in the quality of the drugs.
Admixture : When an other substance is added to the drug due to lack of knowledge, ignorance, carelessness or may be accidentally.
Sophistication : When adulteration is done either intentionally or deliberately.
Substitution : When an entirely different substance is added in place of a original drug.
Inferiority : When a substituted drug is added to the drug.
Spoilage : Microorganisms attack the drug product.
What are the different types of Adulterants?
Generally adulteration is done by substituting the drug with the inferior drug.
1. Substitution with substandard commercial varieties:
Adulterants resemble the original crude drug morphologically, chemically, therapeutically but are substandard in nature. These are also cheaper in cost. Substituting the drug with substandard varieties is the most common type of adulteration.
Examples: Capsicum minimum replaced by Capsicum annuum.
Indian senna replaced by Arabian senna or Dog senna.
2. Substitution with superficially similar inferior drugs:
Inferior drugs may or may not have any chemical or therapeutic value. They resemble only morphologically, so due to its resemblance they are used as adulterants.
Examples: Bees wax is adulterated with Japan wax.
Mother cloves and clove stalks are mixed with cloves.
Saffron is adulterated with flowers of Carthamus tinctorius.
3. Substitution with artificially manufactured substance:
The drug is adulterated with the substance which has been prepared artificially. The artificially manufactured substance resembles the original drug. This method is followed for the costlier drugs.
Examples: Compressed chicory is used instead of coffee.
Paraffin wax is made yellow and used instead of Bees wax.
4. Substitution with exhausted drug:
The same drug that is devoid of medicinally active substance is admixed but that drug as it has been extracted already. Mainly volatile oil containing drugs like clove, coriander, fennel, caraway are adulterated by this method. As it is devoid of colour and taste due to extraction, natural colour and taste is manipulated with additives.
Examples:Exhausted Gentian is made bitter with Aloes.
Exhausted Saffron is artificially coloured.
5. Use of synthetic chemicals to enhance natural character:
Synthetic chemicals may be used to enhance natural character of the exhausted drug.
Examples: citral is added to citrus oils like lemon and orange oils.
6. Presence of vegetative matter of same plant:
Some miniature plants growing along with the medicinal plants are added due to their colour, odour and constituents.
Examples: Moss, liverworts, epiphytes growing on bark portion is mixed with Cascara and Cinchona .
Stem portions are mixed with leaf drugs like Stramonium, Lobelia and Senna.
7. Harmful adulterants:
Some of the adulterants may be harmful as they are collected from market waste materials and admixed with the drug. It is done for the liquid drugs.
Examples: Pieces of amber coloured glass is added to Colophony
Limestones in Asafoetida.
White oil in coconut oil.
Rodent faecal matter to cardamom seeds, which is harmful.
8. Adulteration of powders:
Powdered drugs are frequently adulterated.
Examples: Dextrin is added in ipecacuanha,
Exhausted ginger in ginger,
Red sanders wood in capsicum powder and
Powdered bark adulterated with brick powder.