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Collection of medicinal plants

 The plant parts which are used for healing the diseases are
collected from the cultivated plants in the farms either by means
of skilled workers as in case of ( Belladonna , Digitalis and
Cinchona plants ) , while other drugs such as ( Black pepper ,
Henna ) are collect by means of un skilled workers . The
collection process is affected by some important factors such as :
 Season of collection
 Plant age
 Daily weather
 The stage of the physical maturity of the plant part used

 The leaves of (Peppermint .   Season /Time of the year: The active constituents of medicinal plants vary quantitatively and qualitatively througout the year. so it is collected at the end of the autumn and used by the farmers of Austria as food instead of potatoes. Eucalyptus & spearmint ) plants contain a high concentration of ( Volatile oils ) during spring season and during summer & winter the concentration of these oils become lower . .  Colchicum corms is almost free of bitterness and almost devoid of colchicine in autumn and is full of starch. but in spring and early summer it is bitter due to high colchicine content and hence should be collected for medicinal use. Examples:  Rhubarb contains no anthraquinones in winter but contains anthranoles. which on arrival of warm weather converted by oxidation to anthraquinones.

 The flowers of ( Roses . Examples:  Digitalis leaves collected in the afternoon contain more glycosides than those collected in the morning. Marigold) plants are collected before the sun rise in order to prevent the loss of Volatile oils .e the active glycosides undergo hydrolysis to physiologically less active aglycones during the night and recombine with sugars during day-time.   2.  Solanaceous leaves have higher alkaloid content when collected in the morning than those collected in the afternoon. . • i. It is an important factor in determining the concentration of active constituents in medicinal drugs.Time of the day: Affects both the therapeutic value and activity of medicinal drugs.

 3. .  Solanaceous leaves contain higher alkaloid content when the plant is in the flowering stage. Example : E. 1984 specified that Lobelia herb must be collected towards the end of the flowering stage. when they are unexpanded and when they start to open.Stage of maturity and age of the plant: The quality and quantity of the active constituents depend on the stage of maturity and age of the medicinal plants collected.P.  The bark of the Cinnamon plants can be collect when the plants are 8years old  Certain Pharmacopeias specify the time and stage of collection of certain important drugs as they should be collected when they are containing the highest amount of active principles and they will have better appearance when dried. the santonin content starts to decrease due to light oxidation to yield inactive photo-santonin. Examples:  Santonica flowers are most rich in santonin.  Cinchona trees posses high concentration of the alkaloid ( Cinchonin ) in their barks when they are within ( 6-9 ) years old .

.  Bark is collected in the spring. usually in the autumn.  Leaves and herbs are collected at the flowering stage. i.  Fruits and seeds are collected when fully ripe. In most cases they must be washed free of adhering soil and sand.e.  General rules for collecting crude drugs are as follows:  Roots and rhizomes are collected at the end of the vegetation period.  Flowers are usually gathered when fully developed.

Generally flowers are gathered just at the time of pollination and before the formation of fruits. • Digitalis leaves: are gathered directly from the plants.  Chamomile flower are collected just after full expansion. Methods of collection of crude drugs   Methods of collection varies according to the medicinal plant. . Cloves are collected by beating the plant with bamboos.  leaves: • In case of Senna the whole plant is cut and the leaves are picked off after drying in the sun. • Coca leaves are gathered directly from the plants when nearly ready to fall from the stem. • Peppermint and spearmint are harvested by mowers  Flowers: Collection of flowers must be carried out in fine dry weather in order to fix the colour of the product.  Cloves and Santonica are collected in bud stage.

Longitudinal incisions are made at intervals.   Barks : It is usually done in the spring or in early summer when the cambium is active and the bark can be easily stripped off from the trunk and branches. . Barks are collected by three techniques:  Felling: bark is collected after cutting the tree at the base.  Uprooting: bark is collected after uprooting the plant from the soil.  Coppicing: bark is collected after cutting the plant 1mtr above the ground level. round incisions are made of the stem and the bark is stripped off in long pieces.

Latex.  Aerial parts are harvested by binders. caraway.etc are usually collected in dry weather.   Fruits: • Seeds and small fruits are harvested using seed strippers. Bulbs and Corms are harvested by mechanical devices such as diggers and lifters. • Expression -Olive oil . dried. • Agar-long handled forks • Incision . Rhizome. coriander. Resins.  Unorganised drugs including.  Roots.….plants are uprooted. Gums. thrashed and are separated by winnowing.Opium and Gum Tragacanth. • Fennel.

we must dry at moderate temperature to convert the primary glycosides in active compounds ( Purpurea glycosides A & B ) in to active compounds like . is found in seeds.the pods of Vanilla plants must be drying at moderate temperature to convert the (Glucovanilla) in to ( Vanillin ) flavoring agent . Drying is the process by which this moisture from plant material can be removed and this also helps in :  Preventing the Microbial growth  Facilitating the grinding process  Inhibition of some enzymes & reactions which can convert some of the plant constituents from active to in active state .  In Digitalis leaves : . Drying of crude drugs   Living plant material has a high water content: leaves may contain 60-90% water. and wood 40-50%.  Conversion some constituents from inactive to active state Examples : -  In vanilla pods : . roots and rhizomes 70-85%. . The lowest percentage. often no more than 5-10%. ( Digitoxin & Gitoxin ) .

. roots and barks.  Artificial Drying : (i) Tray dryers: The drugs which do not contain volatile oils and are quite stable to heat are dried in tray dryers.this is done either by :  Under the Sun light : used for crude drugs which are not affected by the light and high temperatures ex : Black pepper  Under Shade : .g.for crude drugs which are affected by light & high temperature ex : fruits of Opium in ( Papaver somniferum ). which are placed on mobile racks and passed into a tunnel where they meet a stream of warm air.   Open air drying : . but is often raised to 60-70 °C for plant parts that are harder to dry. The air temperature is kept at 20-40°C for thin materials such as leaves. e. The plant material is spread out on shallow trays.

This technique is followed for quick drying of economically important plant and animal constituents rather than the crude drugs Eg: papaya latex. iii) Spray dryers: The drugs which are highly sensitive to atmospheric conditions and also to temperature of vacuum drying are dried by spray drying method. digitalis leaves. pectin.  ii) Vacuum dryers: The drugs which are sensitive to higher temperatures are dried by this process Eg: Tannic acid. tannins .

  Freeze-dryingFreeze-drying (lyophilization) is a very mild method. Frozen material is placed in an evacuated apparatus which has a cold surface maintained at -60 to -80 °C. . antibiotics and proteins. Water vapor from the frozen material then passes rapidly to the cold surface. it is not used as a routine method. For this reason. but it is very important for drying heat-sensitive substances. e. The method requires a relatively complicated apparatus and is much more expensive than hot-air drying.g.

5 atm). because the last traces of water can never be removed. enzymatic reactions will slowly destroy the constituents. a process usually called stabilization. Stabilization may be of value for the isolation of compounds that are very susceptible to enzymatic degradation . the enzymes should be destroyed before drying. The most common method being brief exposure (a few minutes only) of the plant material to ethanol vapor under pressure (0. In order to avoid this degradation.   Stabilization: On long storage.

be dried afterwards to prevent attack by microorganisms. e. Fermentation is mostly used to remove bitter or unpleasant-tasting substances or to promote the formation of aromatic compounds with a pleasant smell or taste. (This treatment is usually called fermentation).   Fermentation: Enzymatic transformation of the original plant constituents is sometimes desirable. so as to accelerate the Enzymatic processes. vanilla. moulds. sometimes covered and often exposed to raised temperatures (30-40 °C) and humidity.g. e. It is mainly applied to drugs used as spices or stimulants.The fermented product must. of course.g. tea and cocao. . The fresh material is then placed in thick layers.

g: drugs containing volatile oils gradually lose their aroma. . Storage of crude drugs   Storage represents the last stage of preparing crude drugs.  Generally.  Drugs usually deteriorate on long time of storage. Improper methods of storing and inadequate protection during storage can cause a pronounced deterioration. Certain drugs such as Nux vomica are hardly affected by storage. changes that take place during storage of crude drugs are objectionable  e. except in few cases: Cascara and Fragula should not be used except after certain period of storage.

Moisture: Moisture sometimes affects drugs adversely through activating the enzymes (as in cardiac glycosides). Heat: Rise of temperature up to 45 activates the enzymes causing decomposition of active constituents. white coloured corollas turn brown.g. yellow colour of Rhubarb changes to reddish tint. it causes rancidity of fixed oils and resinification of volatile oils.  Physicochemical factors 1. Air and light.  Biological: Fungi . Air: Oxygen of air oxidizes certain constituents of crude drugs. Insects and Rodents. especially those having marked colours. 4. 3. . their content decreases. linseed and lemon oil. 2 . Volatile oil containing drugs are also affected by higher temperatures..Light: It affects drugs. e. There are two principal reasons for deterioration:  Physiochemical: Moisture. Heat.g. e.Bacteria.

Insects which infest vegetable drugs include beetles.. Bacteria: Cotton fibres are rendered brittle by bacterial attack which makes the cotton wool objectionable and dusty...  They render drugs porous and powdery . belladonna. 3. 2. mites and moths.   Biological factors 1. kola. Moulds The mycelium or delicate hyphae produces an unpleasant mass of clinging particles in powdered drugs. Insects: They seem to attack all drugs but have preferences to certain drugs as ginger. liquorice...

g. It is effective especially for insect eggs which are not affected by insecticides. CS2  Most fumigants do not kill eggs of insects.  2 Fumigation:  this is done by volatile insecticidal agents in closed areas e.Heat treatment:  it is the simplest method and is done by exposing the drug to a temperature of 60-65. It is advisable to repeat fumigation at intervals to obtain better results .   Methods for controlling insects  1. CCl4.

larvae and eggs are sometimes killed by very low temperatures.Low temperature storage: This method is preferred to fumigants and liming. Adult insects.  4. 5. Exposure to alternate periods of low and high temperatures frequently: It is more effective for killing insects than a prolonged period of low temperature exposure . nutmeg to protect against insect attack provides only partial protection. pupae.   Liming: Liming of certain drugs as ginger.

General considerations for storage of crude drugs: 1. 3. and. The floor should be tidy. 2. measures should be taken to prevent the occurrence of pest infestation. dry boxes. Continuous in-process quality control measures should be implemented to eliminate substandard materials. bags or other containers in accordance with standard operating procedures and national and/or regional regulations of the producer and the end-user countries. Processed medicinal plant materials should be packaged in clean. insects and livestock. mould formation. when necessary. sacks. and inspections should be carried out at regular intervals. Storage facilities for medicinal material should be well aerated. contaminants and foreign matter prior to and during the final stages of packaging. without cracks and easy to clean. rotting or loss of oil. be supplied with air- conditioning and humidity control equipment as well as facilities to protect against rodents. dry and protected from light. . Medicinal material should be stored on shelves which keep the material a sufficient distance from the walls.

cans. dry and in undamaged condition and should conform to the quality requirements for the medicinal plant materials concerned. clean. 5. 8. Dried medicinal plants/herbal drugs. in which daily temperature fluctuations are limited and good aeration is ensured 6. Small quantity of crude drugs could be readily stored in air tight. . well-aerated building. Materials used for packaging should be non-polluting. 7. frozen products should be stored at less than - 20°C. Fresh medicinal plant materials should be stored at appropriate low temperatures. including essential oils. moisture proof and light proof container such as tin. should be stored in a dry. covered metal tins or amber glass containers.4. Wooden boxes and paper bags should not be used for storage of crude drugs. Fragile medicinal plant materials should be packaged in rigid containers. ideally at 2-8°C.

 Fixed oil in ergot becomes rancid on storage – should be defatted prior to storage  Siam benzoin is added as a preservative to lard to prevent rancidity. papain. . Digitalis and wild cherry bark.  Air tight containers should be used for storing drugs which are sensitive to atmospheric oxygen.shark liver oil.stored along with desiccating agents.  Colophony and squill should be stored in entire form. if powdered colophony gets oxidized and squill becomes hygroscopic and forms rubbery mass.  Air in the containers can be replaced by nitrogen.