Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2010 Oct;1(4):257-65. doi: 10.4103/0975-9476.74435.

Beyond reverse pharmacology: Mechanism-based screening of Ayurvedic drugs.

Author information

  • 1Lilavati Hospital and Research Center, Mumbai, India.


This paper reviews the pharmacology of Indian medicinal plants, starting with the historical background of European work on the subject beginning as early as the 17th century, and tracing its history through the work of Sen and Bose in the 1930's, and Vakhil's historic 1949 paper on Sarpaghanda. The often crucial role of patient feedback in early discoveries is highlighted, as is the time lag between proof of pharmacological action and identification of the active principle, and subsequent elucidation of mechanism of action. In the case of Indian plants in the 20th century this process sometimes took almost 50 years. Reserpine and its mechanisms are given in detail, and its current relevance to public health discussed. The foundation of present day methods of pharmacology is briefly presented so the complexity of methods used to identify properties of Ayurveda derived drugs like forskolin and baicalein, and their bioavailability, may be better appreciated. Ayurveda derived anti-oxidants and their levels of action, immuno-modulators, particularly with respect to the NF-kB pathway and its implications for cancer control, are all considered. The example of curcumin derived from turmeric is explained in more detail, because of its role in cancer prevention. Finally, the paper emphasizes the importance of Ayurveda's concepts of rasayana as a form of dietary chemo-prevention; the significance of ahar, diet, in Ayurveda's aspiration to prevent disease and restore health thus becomes clear. Understood in this light, Ayurveda may transcend pharmacology as a treatment paradigm.


Ayurveda; Reverse Pharmacology

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk