of Medicinal Plants
- Plant kingdom is a rich source of therapeutic agents
for the prevention and cure of various aliments of human
beings and animals since the ancient times. These plants
contain secondary metabolites like alkaloids, steoids,
plant phenolics, saponins and volatile oils which are
the potential sources of drugs.
- In this modern age, these crude drugs and their products
find an important place in our day to day life. Aromatic
substances affect human behavoiur. Several of these
make food, environment an human interactions more attractive.
- Aromatic chemicals and oils are widely used in food,
flavour, perfumery and cosmetic industries. Biologically
active secondary metabolites and their derivatives are
widely used in the treatment of variety of human aliments.
- In the past few years, there has been a tremendous
increase in the number of drugs derived from various
sources mainly because of the due recognition of medicinal
and aromatic plants the world over coupled with the
basic realisation that drugs and essential oils derived
from plants are much safer to use and are easily available
at a price within the reach of a common man, with least
side effects as compared to synthetics.
- Though the usage of herbal and naturally based medicines
have traditionally been used in Indian system of medicines
since ancient times like Ayurveda, Sidha and Unani,
the utilization of the whole plant or other crude preparation
for therapeutic or experimental reasons can have several
drawbacks like :
1. Variation in the amount of
the active constituents with geographic areas, from
one season to another, with different plant parts
and with different climatic and ecological, conditions.
2. Concurrence of undesirable compounds which can
cause synergistic, antagonistic or other undesirable
and possibly unpredictable, modulations of the bio-activity.
3. Bio-activity losses due to variability in the collection,
storage and preparation of the raw material.
4. Adulteration of the plant material.
5. The difficulty in drug standardisation.
1.Administration of the pure bioactive compound in reproducible,
accurate doses with obvious benefits from
an experimental or therapeutic point of view.
2.Development of analytical methods for particular compound
or for the group of compounds. This is more useful
in the screening of plants for potential toxicity and
quality control of food for human and animal consumption.
3.Structure determination of bioactive compounds. This
will enable the production of synthetic material, incorporation
of structural modification and rationalization of mechanism
of action. This will in turn lead to
reduced dependency on plants as source of bio-active compounds
where by saving ecological system and
will enable investigations of structure / activity relationship
there by development of new compounds
with similar or increased activity and less toxicity.
Further this will help in saving the rare plant
species before they become endangered.
- Before 1947, the production of the plant based modern
drug in India was confined to quinine from Cinchoma.
The very first phytopharmaceutical industry for quinine
was established by then the British Government at Mungpoo
in Darjeeling. During the last five decades bulk production
of plant based modern drugs has become an important
segment of Indian pharmaceutical industry.
- National Cancer Institute (USA) beginning in 1959screened
more than 1,84,000 plant extracts covering 3500plant
genera during a period of 20-25years, but this did not
result even a single drug for the market but several
very interesting leads were obtained.
- CDRI, Lucknow investigated more than 2500 plant extracts
for a wide range of pharmacological activity. Similarly,
CIBAGEIGY and others also spent considerable time and
money in screening medicinal plants for bioactive compounds.
- Some of the most important plant based chemotherapeutic
agents currently in use are Reserpine, an antihypertensive
drug from Rauvolfa serpentina.
- Vinblastine and Vincristine from Catharanthus roseus
for the treatment of Hodgkin's disease, lymphocarcoma
and leukaemia in children.
- Teniposide and Etoposide developed from the antineoplastic
agent Podophyllotoxin a constituent Podophyllum spp.
Currently being used against testicular cancer, small
cell lung cancer and lymphomas
- Paclitaxal generally known as Taxol, a diterpenoid
constituent Taxus spp. Is effective in the treatment
of metastatic ovarian cancer and has potential use in
the treatment of lung cancer, metastatic breast cancer
and malignant melanoma
- Irenotecan, an analogue of quinoline alkaloid Camptothecine
first isolated from Camptotheca acuminata is being used
for the treatment of lung, ovarian and cervial cancers.
The herb Artemisia annual L. has been traditionally
used in China or treatment of fevers.
- CIMAP has developed a number of process technologies
for the isolation of these bioactive compounds. The
process technologies developed at CIMAP, Bangalore field
station includes the processing of Catharanthus reseus
roots for the preparation of the anithypertension alkaloid
Ajmalicine and Glorisosa Superba for the preparation
of Colchicine, a neoplastic agent used in the treatment
of gout are discussed briefly.
- The purity of the products can be determined by their
physico-chemical constants like melting point, boiling
point, optical rotation etc. as well as the study of
their spectroscopic properties. The usual spectorscopy
technique used are UV, IR, NMR and Mass. This layer
Chromatography and HPLC are usually employed for determining
their purity and quantiative estimations.
- Bio-active compounds of current interest :
- Taxol from Taxus baccatta and T.brevifolia
- Podophyllotoxin and its semisynthetic derivatives
from Podophyllum emodi
- Camptothecin from Mappia foetida or Nathapdytes foetida
- Artemisinin and its arteether from Artemisia annua
- VLB and VCR from Catharanthus roseus
- In conclusion, Indian sub-continent is a highly potential
area for the phytopharmaceuticals, because of its particular
advantages compared to other regions such as the availability
of well documented knowledge from Vedic times as well
as abundant availability of the flora of this region.
For Jasmine and Tuberose concretes
- Jasmine and tuberose concretes and their absolutes
are invaluable items in perfumery.
- They are used in highly expensive perfumes and there
is considerable quantities of both Jasmine and Tuberose
concretes for the last 20 years.
- Jasmine concrete is the product obntained by solvent
extraction of the fresh harvested jasmine flowers.
- It has a semisolid consistency and contains the volatile
perfumery principles of the flowers, waxes and colouring
matters. Jasmine absolute is the product obtained by
removing the waxes from the concrete.
- It is reddish-brown free flowing liquid and represents
the concentrated from of jasmine perfume. Although there
are several methods of preparation of jasmine perfumes,
solvent extraction method is generally employed.
- The solvent used for extraction is hexane. Two varieties
of the flowers of scented jasmine are preferred for
the production of the concretes. They are Jasminum grandiflorum
(Chameli) and Jasminum sambac (Gundumalle).
- The yeild of concrete from the grandiflorum flowers
is about 0.25 - 0.3 % and that from sambac flowers is
about 0.15 - 0.18 %.
- The absolute content in the concretes varies from
45 - 55 % depending the extraction technique and also
on the place of cultivation of the plants.
Chemical composition of the Absolutes of Jasmine
- The main constituent of grandiflorum absolute are
benzyl benzoate, phytol and isophytol.
- The monir constituents eugenol, cis-jasmone, n-acetyl
methyl anthranilate jasmine lactone and cis- and trans-methyl
jasmonates are responsible for the characteristic fragrance
of grandiflorum absolute.
- The main constituents of sambac absolute are benzyl
alcohol, linalool, cis-3-hexenyl benzoate, indole, (E)-
-farnesene and methyl anthranilate. The minor odorous
principles of the grandiflorum absolute are also present
in the sambac absolute.
- The odour characteristics of the two absolutes are
distinctly different because of the differences in their
Tuberose concrete and absolute
- Like Jasmine concrete and absolute, tuberose concrete
and absolute prepared from the flowers of tuberose (Polianthes
tuberosa) are also valuable item of perfumery.
- Tuberose flowers emit a powerful and delightful fragrance.
Tuberose concrete and absolute are prepared in the same
way as jasmine conrete and absolute. There are three
varieties of tuberose available.
- Only the flowers of signal petal variety are suitable
for perfumery and are used for concrete production.
- The main chemical constituents of tuberose absolute
are methyl salicylate, geraniol, methyl eugenol, jasmine
lactone, trans-methyl isoeugenol, benzyl benzoate and
Machinery and Equipment required
- Stainless steel extractors, SS condensers, solvent
rectification assembly, SS storage tanks, chilling unit,
vaccum pump and boiler.
Economics of the Project
The approximate economics of the project were
worked out as follows
Capacity of the plant
500 Kg Flowers processing
Cost of Production
Returns from sale of the produce
Return on Investment
16.0 x 100/ 55
Rs. 55.00 Lakhs
Rs. 30.00 Lakhs
Rs. 46.00 Lakhs
Rs. 16.00 Lakhs
= 20 %
- The project is economically viable. It would be better
to establish the units near the cultivation area so
that the flowers can be transported easily. At present
the international process for these .
- products are Rs. 26,0001= per I Kg for grandiflorum
concrete, Rs. 32,0001= per 1 Kg of Sambac concrete and
Rs. 35,0001= per I Kg of Tuberose concrete.
- The prices are subject to fluctuation and are dependent
on the qual ity of the products. The season for the
flowers lasts 6 months in a year
Technology for the production of value added products
from essential oils
- Essential oils are the volatile oils of aromatic plants
used in perfumery, cosmetic and flavour industries.
- They are also used in aromatherapy. They contain mixtures
of organic compounds belonging to different classes
of compounds such as terpenes, phenols, phenyl propanoids,
aliphatic compounds etc., Monoterpenes and their oxygenated
derivatives are mostly the class of compounds present
in several essential oils.
- Also some heterocyclic compounds and amino compounds
are present as minor constituents of some oils and floral
- Oxygenated monoterpenes are the main odour carriers
of the essential oils and are more stable than the terpene
hydrocarbons which have a tendency to get oxidised and
resinified under the influence of light, air and moisture.
Improper storage conditions also cause deterioration
in quality and odour of the soils.
- Thus, if the terpene hydrocarbons are removed from
the soils, terpeneless oils comprising mostly oxygenated
terpenes are obtained. Terpeneless oils are more valuable
than drude essential oils.
- Many essential oils contain one, two or three major
constituents of value in the perfumery. Examples include
citral in lemongrass and Litsea cubeba oils, citronella
in Eucalyptus citriodora and Java citronella oils.
- These aromatic compounds can be separated from the
oils and used in the perfumery.
- Sometimes the compounds obtained from essential oils
are chemically modified or converted to tother perfumery
compounds / products can be prepared from essential
oils. Vlue addition of the oils can be achieved by
- It is the process of redistillation of an essential
oil either with steam or under vaccum. The process is
useful to improve the quality of the
- oil which has deteriorated on long prolonged storage,
due to rust formation or due to emulsion formation with
- After rectification, the appearance of the oil will
generally be improved as non-volatile and resinified
impurities are left behind in the idstillation still.
- Fractionation of essential oils is generally done
to produce perfumery compounds present as major constituents
in the oils.
- The boiling points of the constituents of the oils
at atmospheric pressure are different. By making use
of the differences in the boiling points, individual
compounds of the oils can be separated.
- For example, citronellal which is a major constituent
of oil of Eucalyptus citriodora leaves can be separated
by fractional distillation.
- Fractional distillations are usually carried out under
high vaccum which lowers the boiling points of the compounds.
This prevents any damage to the compounds by heat.
- Examples for some value added perfumery compounds
/ products from essential oils are given Table 1. The
typical fractional distillation assembly is shown in
Fig.1. It consists maily a pot in which the oil to be
fractionated is placed, fractionating column, condensers,
product cooler, receiver and vaccum pump.
- Value addition of essential oils can also be acheived
by chemical modification of the compounds obtained from
essential oils by fractional distillation. Examples
of such chemical modification include conversion of
the pinenes obtained from turpentine oil to a variety
of oxygenated monoterpenes like linaloo, l-terpineol,
etc., conversion of citral from lemongrass oil to the
ionones. Deterpenation of essential oils is carried
out o improve the quality of the oils.
- If the terpene hydrocarbons which have much inferior
perfumery value compared to oxygenated terpenes are
removed from the oils, the concentration of oxygenated
terpenes will be increased. Terpenes oils have longer
shelf life and fetch more price than the crude oils.
Economics of the Project
- Economics have been worked out for processing Java
citronella oil, lemongrass oil, palmarosaoil, Eucalyptus
40 Kg of Essential oil to be processed per day, 300 working
days in a year
Cost of Production
Returns from sale of the produce
Return on Investment
Rs. 16.00 lakhs
Rs. 34.80 lakhs
Rs. 40.30 lakhs
Rs. 5.50 lakhs
= 34.3 %
Essential oils and their value added products
Value added products
Citronellal, citronellol. Geraniol and rhodinol
Rhodinol ex geranium
Geraniol ex palmarosa
- Distillation is the process by which essential oils
are extracted from aromatic crops. This can be done
in two ways
- In this Process, steam generated in a boiler is passed
through steam pipes into distillation tank which is
filled with harvested aromatic crop.
- Pressure, temperature and amount of, the steam can
be regulated as per requirement, thereby time of distillation
can also be varied.
- The steam converts the essential oil in the aromatic
plants into oil vapour and both these pass through delivery
pipe into condensor where due to the effect of circulating
cold water, steam and oil vapours condense and the resulting
mixture of water and essential oil is collected in the
receiver or separator. Since the density of most of
the essential oil is relatively lesser than water, theoil
floats on water and can easily be taken out from the
separator through the outlet provided specially for
taking out oil.
- This process is used in large scale production of
essential oils from aromatic crops. The equipment (boiler,
distillation tank, condenser and separator) needed for
this process is expensive and needs technical personnel
to run the boiler.
- In this process, the distillation tank is divided
into two parts by fixing a mesh as a false bottom, below
which water and above which harvested palnt material
- The tank, closed with the lid and kept over a furnace
constructed for the purpose, is fired using firewood
or exhausted (distilled) plant material or weeds. The
steam generated in the distillation tank carries with
it the volatile essential oil in vapour form into the
condenser through the delivery pipe.
- The condensed liquid mixture of water and oil is collected
in the separator. This process is used for small scale
production of essentail oils and the equipment needed
is relatively less expensive.
- Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants
(CIMAP) has developed an improved field distillation
unit which is easy in fabrication, cheaper in cost,
easy ti instal, either in the farm or in a remote locality,
fuel efficient and easy to use by unskilled or inexperienced
persons. This distillation unit consists of the following
Furnace and Chimney
The furnace is constructed with bricks and mud and is
used for heating the distillation tank kept over it. This
can be fired using firewood or exhausted plant material
left after distillation or weeds. The chimney is made
of mild steel and is useful for carrying the smoke coming
out from furnace.
Distillation Tank or Retort
- This is made of mild steel and is either cylindrical
or rectangular in shape. The capscity of the tank is
fixed based on the requirment.
- A special mesh fixed in it divides it into two parts
and facilitates filling of water below and plant material
above the mean.
- A fised, number of G.I pipes are welded at the bottom
for increasing fuel efficiency.
- The outer shell and legs are made of mild steel and
the tubes inside the shell are made of aluminium. This
is connected to the distillation tank with the help
of a delivery pipe.
- During distillation, cold water circulates in the
condenser. The main purpose of the condenser is to condense
the mixture of steam and oil vapour into water and essential
Receiver or Separator
- This is made of aluminium and is used to collect the
mixture of water and oil coming out from the condenser.
- Separate outlets are provided for overflow of excess
water and for taking out essential oil.
Storage and Packing of Essential Oil
- Care is taken to ensure that the essential oil does
not contain any water before storage. Amber coloured
bottles are convenient for small quantities. For large
quantities, steel or aluminium drums are widely used.
- Ths oils are left to stand for sometimes so that water
can settle down. If the oil is still turbid, a small
amount of common salt is added and the oil filtered.
The containers are filled up to the brim, tightly capped
and stored in a cool, dry, dark place.
- Exposure to air, light and water causes deterioration
of the quality of essential oil.
- Identification and estimation of various constituents
of essential oils is carried out by Gas chromatography.
- Quality analysis of some of the important essential
oils produced in Hyderabad is given below.
Oil of Citronella (Java)
Oil of Palmarosa
Oil of Lemon Scented Gum
Oil of Lemongrass
Oil of Geranium
Oil of Davana
Uses, of Essential Oils and their Isolates
- Essential oil is a complex mixture of odorous and
steam volatile compounds of vegetable origin. The essential
oils and their isolates are widely used in the following
|1. Soap and
||4. Soft drinks
||8. Food flavouring
Facilities for Essential Oils
Major Players and Oils Purchased
- In A.P purchase activities are mostly concntrated
in larger cities like Hyderabad and Vizag. The main
regular purchasers are
1.Navayuga Exports Limited
2.S.H.Kelkar and Co.
- Their areas of concentrations are as follows
- M/s Navayuga Exports mostly purchase Lemongrass Oil,
Citronella Oil and Palmarosa Oil. However, soon they
intend to broaden the scope of their activities to cover
other oils as well.
- M/s S.H.Kelkar and Co. are more interrested in the
higher value oils like Geranium and Patchouli. They
do occasionally purchase other oils as well but that
is comparatively rare.
- M/s Sugandha Aromatics are concentrating mostly on
- Apart from these regular purchasers, there are occasional
other buyers from out of the state who may come to fulfil
a sudden requirement.
Purchase of Herbage
- In and around Vizag, M/s Navayuga Exports Limited
are willing to enter into herbage buy-back arrangements
at minimum support prices with small farmers who may
not be interested in putting up their own distillation
- M/s S.H. Kelkar are entering into similar arrangements
for patchouli etc.
- Along with the buy-back arrangements, these companies
provide seed material at discounted rates, advice on
growing the crop as well as distillation and regular
visits by their representatives to provide supervision.
- While purchasing, the buyer will obviously want to
buy only the oil which matches his quality requirment.
- Unfortunately, while most of the aromatic plant farmers
in AP are very knowledgeable about the cultivation aspects,
they ignore the quality aspect. They seem to be concerned
only with Quantity.
- Some major issues are
1.The right distillation unit
2.The right process of distillation
3.Correct storage and handling
- Please note that unless the right quality is produced,
your buyer may not be able to pick up the oil.
- Prices for aromatic oils are dictated by the demand
and supply position in the market as well as quality
of the soil.
- In case of Peppermint Oil, indicative prices are published
daily in the Economic Times and Hindu Business Line.
- These are Delhi / Bombay prices. The purchaser in
AP will buy as per these prices, plus or minus a small
- In case of the other oils, the fluctuation is not
very high and most of the time you can be assured of
selling your oil / herbage within a particular price
- In the present year a large area has gone under cultivation
of aromatic crops in A.P. Unfortunately, most of the
people are concentrating on only one or two varieties.
This may lead to over-production in the medium term.
- For any farmer with more than 8-10 acres, it will
make better sense to cultivate a variety of crops. This
will spread the risks in case the market in any once