Health care

Testing for Steroids in Herbal Medicines

4/18/2018 Lokesh kumar 0 Comments


It is a well-established fact that herbal medicines can be adulterated with steroids whether they are in the form of tablets, capsules, powders, decoctions, syrups and even ointments and creams. Reputed companies get their herbal products tested in pharmaceutical testing laboratories to ensure their products are free of steroids and other adulterants. Consumers also must be aware and careful of using products that are not labelled properly or which do not have adequate information on labels. These products often prepared in private clinics,could contain steroids.

Reasons for adulteration

Ayurveda medicines in India have been traditionally used for centuries. Today also qualified and licensed doctors ensure they recommend only properly tested and labelled herbal medicines. However, in recent years malpractices have come to the front and herbal medicines are often adulterated with allopathic drugs like steroids. Use of steroids not only leads to health hazards but also brings disrepute to herbal medicines. Adulteration of herbal medicines is carried out for a number of reasons. Some of these could be because of

  • Economic gains
  • Short term fast effects
  • Proving false efficacy of products

Therefore, to ensure the purity of the herbal medicines manufacturers use the services of herbal testing laboratories. 

Types of adulteration

Steroids like betamethasone, corticosteroids, dexamethasone, hydrocortisone, and prednisolone are often detected but even adulteration of herbal medicines with pain killers and antibioticsis common. Herbal testing labs conduct laboratory testing of herbal medicines to quickly identify adulteration of herbal medicines with these modern medicines. Steroids taken in excess can prove to be harmful to the human body. So if an herbal medicine is not packaged and labelled but given as an open dose it could contain steroids.Besides oral herbal medicines even ointments applied for skin diseases or relief of pain can contain steroids especially if the bottles containing the ointment are not labelled. 

Packaging and labels

Herbal medicines are often sold lose and without labels, according to experts, open medicines sold under the ‘herbal or natural ’preparations require testing in laboratories or they could cause all kinds of health hazards. Consumers, who buy open products,can use the services of testing laboratories to get their herbal product samples tested to avoid long term side effects of these adulterants. Most laboratories give the reports of the analysis within a short period of time. Since adulteration of herbal medicines is common now regular laboratory testing will provide some quality control.

Testing devices

Testing of herbal medicines must be carried out by testing laboratories that have experienced technicians because the apparatus used isoften highly sophisticated. Herbal medicines are tested on various devices like High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography, Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy and Mass Spectroscopy. The instruments used and testing conducted depends on the nature of the sample and suspected amount of the adulterant added.  Usually the herbal testing laboratories also ask for the disease being treated as that narrows down the possible adulterants used. Five grams of the sample is taken for testing as that provides accurate results.