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.

Preservatives
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 Dasamoolarishtam. 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 mediicne.

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 suit 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.


Subscribe and get Dr Hebbar's ebook "Blueprint For A Healthy Lifestyle" for free

Write your opinion/ doubts about the article in the comment section below. Please do not post your personal health complaints here. If you wish to seek advice from or experts, click here

Comments

  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.

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Dear Mr Rajesh, having worked in two Ayurvedic Pharma companies previously, I agree with what you have said.
      But if we keep the research aspect away and analyze a few proprietary medicine formula, a doctor can easily understand if it works or not.
      For example, a bone density improving product with Gandha taila and Cissus quadrangularis,
      A purgative product with Haritaki, Trivrut etc,
      An arthritic pain relieving combination with Shallaki, Guggulu, Rasna, Devadaru etc.

      However, please note that I am not undermining the importance of research before Ayurvedic drug license approval.

  2. Dear Doctor, I have a query….I am a strong believer of Ayurevda Siddha and Unani…..Typically the sourcing of plants, herbs, minerals (such as Shilajit) is done by several people …i guess there is an ecosystem to supply……The question is who really assesses the quality of these supplies and if they meet Ayurvedic standards ???

    I am aware of finger printing method to test the quality of herbs etc….But since there are so many companies in the Ayur Pharma space, it is a challenging task to buy and consume Ayur/ Siddha meds without a Industry check point . Some of the brands are totally unknown and how do we trust this ????? Doctors too prescribe certain brands …..may be they get better margins from unknown brands.

    I have seen Ayur Docs, generally not prescribing HIMALAYA products ??? OR baidyanath OR Dabur ??? This is a little concerning….

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Hi, as per Drugs and Cosmetics Acts and Rules, which governs Ayurvedic pharma industry, every pharmacy needs to maintain a quality control lab, with records of testing each raw material that it receives. They are supposed to test the quality of raw material and approve it, before bulk purchasing. Many Ayurvedic pharmacies follow this diligently. A doctor would choose his medicines from different companies based on his knowledge and experience. Simply having a biased view that he would pick medicines only based on profits that the company would offer, I feel that comment a bit immature. I and many of my friends use Himalaya, Dabur and Baidyanath products

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Hi, as per Drugs and Cosmetics Acts and Rules, which governs Ayurvedic pharma industry, every pharmacy needs to maintain a quality control lab, with records of testing each raw material that it receives. They are supposed to test the quality of raw material and approve it, before bulk purchasing. Many Ayurvedic pharmacies follow this diligently. A doctor would choose his medicines from different companies based on his knowledge and experience. Simply having a biased view that he would pick medicines only based on profits that the company would offer, I feel that comment a bit naive. I and many of my friends use Himalaya, Dabur and Baidyanath products

  3. Priya Gupta says:

    chirantika parna tpasni karita kontya गुणवत्ता नियंत्रण लॅब madhe tapaslya jate

  4. Dr. Hebbar, you have experience with major Ayurvedic companies in India but I would like you to try my products @ http://www.sewanti.com It is a small enterprise out of Vancouver Canada and we have done excellent QC and QA work in manufacturing our products in Canada and licensed by Health Canada. Thanks.

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Looks impressive. I will try to refer patients to buy from here, whenever I get a chance. I wish you all the best. 🙂

Your comment

error: