This paper discusses one dimension of the contemporary industrialisation of ayurvedic medicine, namely the new centrality given to the collection, combination, and mass-manipulation of herbal therapeutic material. The aim is to highlight the process of ‘pharmaceuticalisation’, too often and wrongly taken as synonymous of a form of alignment of Ayurveda with biomedicine, its categories, and practices. Within this context, pharmaceuticalisation refers to the creation of a new world of professionals beside ayurvedic doctors, often personnel of the industry, whose role is to handle the material (rather than the clinical) dimensions of polyherbal preparations. This management of plants includes multiple dimensions: documentation of their uses, experimental research on their composition and properties, design of new simplified combinations, mass-production of ready-made specialties, and marketing. In other words, it encompasses all the attributes of pharmacy as it developed in Europe, but with the major caveat that this pharmacy has little to do with chemistry, pure substances, and molecules, since it focuses on plants, their combination, and their value as materia medica. The paper focuses on the series of institutions, policies, and practices regarding plant management that have emerged since 2000 with a special interests in a) the ways ‘old’ settings like the botanical garden have taken the turn toward industrial Ayurveda; b) how the operations of ‘new’ institutions, such as the National Medicinal Plant Board, have been mandated to foster supply of as well as research on ‘prioritised’ species.
KevlesD.A History of Patenting Life in the United States with Comparative Attention to Europe and Canada2002Report to European Group on Ethics, Science and New Technology, Brussels: European Commission
PushpangadanP.RajasekharanS.RatheshkumarP. K.‘Arogyappacha (Trichopus zeylanicus) the “Ginseng” of Kani Tribe of Agashyar Hills (Kerala) for Ever Green Health and Vitality’Ancient Science of Life1988viii1316
Mathew and Thomas2007, p. 16. (courtesy of tbgri).
Pushpangadan et al.1988, pp. 13–16.
Indian Patent Office2010, Patent Number 193609.
National Medicinal Plant Board2007, p. 5 (Note for Lok Shaba).
Planning Commission Task Force2000, p. 6.
Banerjee 2009; Bode2008.
Planning Commission Task Force2000, p. 101.
Planning Commission Task Force2000, p. 138.
Verd and Goraya2008.
Pordié and Gaudillière2014.
Gujarat Forest Department 2007, A Project on Conservation and Development for Guggal in Gujarat, pp. 10and 16, accessible online at National Medicinal Plants Board, nmpb.nic.in/WriteReadData/links/565284450725th-SFC-Minutes.pdf, last accessed 4 November 2013.