Veterinary Ayurveda: A Holistic Approach to Sustainable Livestock Production

Sushiel Agrawal1*, Shivi Maini2

1 Chairman, Indian Herbs Specialities, India.

2 General Manager-Technical, Indian Herbs Specialities, India.

*Corresponding Author: Sushiel Agrawal, Chairman, Indian Herbs Specialities, India, TEL: 0132 270 1784; FAX: 0132 270 1784;

Citation: Sushiel Agrawal, Shivi Maini (2019) Veterinary Ayurveda: A Holistic Approach to Sustainable Livestock Production. Medcina Intern 2019 3: 142

Copyright: :© 2019 Sushiel Agrawal, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

Received date: December 28, 2019; Accepted date: December 30, 2019; Published date: December 31, 2019.

Ayurveda (The Science of healthy living), a centuries old traditional system of health care, is an evidence based science and one of the oldest medical discipline. It is a complete system, which emphasizes living in harmony with the environment. Ayurveda is the synthesis of “Ayur” meaning ‘life’ and “Veda” meaning ‘knowledge’. Ayurveda, the Science of Life, based on strong pillar of positive health, is a holistic approach to total healthcare by means of preventive and curative medicine to maintain complete internal milieu, Homeo-stasis or equilibrium of various elements (dhatus). It insists on the pro-host approach: “Strengthening the body defense system to fight infection”. Ayurveda emphasizes mainly on prevention of illness and maintenance of health.Relevance of science of Ayurveda, as applied to animal health, can be traced back to Mahabharata. Herbal medicine is today a valid & proven science, with great potential for integration with allopathic medicine to the benefit of human & animal health. Recently Ayurveda has been documented and practiced on animals not only for treating them but also to improve their productivity, for prevention & treatment of diseases as integrated approach with complementary medicine. As an alternative to synthetic medicinal supplements, herbal animal health care products are available for prophylaxis, therapeutics and as neutraceuticals and feed supplements for prevention and treatment of various diseases and for maximizing productivity from livestock. The classification of various systems of medicine is summarized in Table 1.

Table 1: Classification of various streams of medicine.

Non-Codified–Folk medicine Ethno- Medicinal/Ethnoveterinary Medicine
Codified classical stream Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Tibetian medicine
Allied systems Yoga and Naturopathy
Systems of Foreign origin Homeopathy, Western biomedicine (Allopathy)

Global Herbal Market Scenerio: Global Herbal Market is expected to reach $ 111 billion by the end of 2023, this market is projected to growing at a CAGR of ~ 7.2 % during 2017-2023. Asia Pacific countries such as China followed by India accounts for the maximum market share due to its tradition of using the herbal system. Europe is the second largest market due to large disposable income and growing demand for natural therapies and remedies. The European market will be led by France followed by Germany. Asia pacific region has the fastest growing market for herbal supplements; led by India & China. The Middle East and Africa market is led by the gulf nations particularly Saudi Arabia and UAE.

Alternative medicine (CAMs) now becoming main stream: The use of herbal medicines and phytonutrients or nutraceuticals continues to expand rapidly across the world. The past decade has obviously witnessed a tremendous surge in acceptance and public interest in natural therapies both in developing and developed countries.

Scenerio in UK: The use of herbal remedies has also been widely embraced in many developed countries with complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) now becoming mainstream in the UK and the rest of Europe, as well as in North America and Australia. UK has a historical tradition of using herbal medicines (Nissen, 2010), the use is also widespread and well established in some other European countries (Calapai, 2008). In these developed countries, the most important among many other reasons for seeking herbal therapy is the belief that it will promote healthier living. Herbal medicines are, therefore, often viewed as a balanced and moderate approach to healing and individuals who use them as home remedies and over-the-counter drugs spend huge amount of money (in excess of billions of dollars) on herbal products. This explains in part the reason sales of herbal medicines are booming and represents a substantial proportion of the global drug market (Roberts and Tyler, 1997; Blumenthal et al., 1998; WHO, 2002a; Kong et al., 2003; Pal and Shukla, 2003; WHO, 2005a; Bandaranayake, 2006). Ayurvedic/Herbal formulations have promising potential. These are potentially safe, efficacious, environment friendly and alternate solutions to address the food safety concerns associated with antibiotics, synthetic chemicals and allopathic preparations.

Ethnoveterinary Practices

Veterinary science in India can be classified into codified traditions and folk medicines and has a documented history of around 5000 years. The codified knowledge exists in form of texts manuscripts on various aspects of veterinary care of livestock. According to world health organization, Ethnoveterinary medicine is a cost effective and dynamic traditional healing practice. It comprises of plant-based medicines and their therapeutic, prophylactic, or diagnostic application in animal health care. Ethnoveterinary medicines are used extensively and efficiently for animal healthcare treatment and maintaining animals productive. Ethnoveterinary practices have grown recently because these practices are much less prone to drug resistance and have fewer damaging effects on the environment than conventional medicine. Ethnoveterinary practices have grown recently because these practices are much less prone to drug resistance and have fewer damaging side effects on environment than conventional medicine. The application of herbal medicines in human health care and animal health care has a long history that can be traced back over millennia. Veterinary ayurvedic medicine comprises knowledge, skills, methods, practices, and beliefs of the smallholders about caring for their livestock.

Veterinary Ayurveda/Herbal products & feed additives for sustainable livestock production:

The first mention about the use of herbs for treatment of animals is found in the book “Nakul Samhita”, which describes how during the “Mahabharat War” (1000 – 900 BC) the Pandava Princes Nakul and Sahdev used to treat thousands of wounded animals everyday with herbs. Based on the principles of ancient ayurveda, further scientific researches were done on herbs at Indian Herbs to develop products on modern scientific lines, involving pharmacological and toxicological studies, clinical evaluations in experimentally induced conditions, controlled clinical trials and trials in comparison to the known traditional chemical products. All these studies were done on the parameters applied for development of any modern medicine. This has now evolved as Modern Veterinary Ayurveda.

Vaccines are inevitable for disease prevention and antibiotics are necessary for control of infectious diseases. However, in today's livestock and poultry farming, frequent failure of vaccines, emergence of new mutated strains of bacteria and viruses and resistance against even new generation antibiotics are commonly observed. Different kinds of stresses; viral, bacterial and other challenges; debilitating diseases; use of pesticides, antibiotics and chemical drugs; presence of even low level of mycotoxins in feed cause weakening of immune system, which pre-disposes the animals and poultry birds to various diseases and mortality. Low maternal immunity also contributes to high mortality and poor growth of chicks and young animals. There is no specific treatment for viral infections while for prevention the vaccines are available for few viruses only. In such condition when conventional chemical medicines, vaccines and antibiotics have begun to fail, we need to optimize the body's ability to defend itself with strong immune system. To address all these issues, Veterinary Ayurveda has a special role to play in nutrition, enhancement of productivity, strengthening body defense and for prevention &treatment of metabolic disorders. Ayurvedic formulations/herbal feed additives have important role to optimise body defenses and immune-competence, as growth promoters and productivity enhancers for sustainable livestock production. Veterinary Ayurveda provides comprehensive approach by using herbs tackling the root cause besides the symptoms. The use of medicinal plants and Phytoingredients in the treatment of ailments as well as for increasing the productivity of livestock and poultry has generated renewed interest in recent times, as herbal preparations are increasingly being used in Livestock healthcare practices. Therefore, the integration of Veterinary Ayurveda with traditional Allopathic system of medicine is complementary to each other and a way forward for sustainable livestock production.

Quality control of Ayurvedic veterinary formulations

Medicinal herbs contain a vast range of pharmacologically active ingredients and each herb has its own unique combination and properties. Many herbs (whole plants) contain ingredients which have several effects that are combined in one formulation. There is increasing evidence that synergistic effect of the multiple compounds present in the whole plant or plant part, allows the compounds to act more gently, safely, and effectively than the single identified active ingredients that are formulated and patented. Standardization and validation of traditional knowledge is necessary to fully integrate ethnoveterinary practices into veterinary medicine.

Indian Pharmacopoeia (IP) is an official regulatory document meant for overall quality control and assurance of pharmaceutical products marketed in India and thus, contributing to the safety, efficacy, and affordability of medicines. IP is published by the Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission on fulfillment of the requirements of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940 and Rules 1945 under it. It contains a number of carefully chosen herbal monographs, extracts, and formulations. Each monograph of a herb in the IP specifies the botanical name according to the binomial system of nomenclature, specifying the genus, species, variety and the quality specifications.

Contributions of Indian Herbs Specialities for sustainable livestock production

Nature’s way to animal health:

“Nature’s way to animal health” gives true expression to the philosophy and vision of Indian Herbs. Its founder, Sh. Ram Lal Agrawal, envisaged the use of herbal products that can be prescribed by veterinarians or can be used by farmers. A new dimension was added by his son, Sushil Agrawala, the present managing director, by developing natural vitamins, natural amino acid sources and many herbal feed supplements to promote animal health, growth & productivity.

70 years of Veterinary Ayurveda

Indian Herbs Specialities Ltd., established in 1951, is the old premier animal healthcare organization that has made significant contributions in the development of innovative, safe and environment friendly animal health care products and feed additives, which have created a niche on enhancing Livestock, Poultry and Aqua health and productivity. INDIAN HERBS is the originator of the concept of Veterinary Ayurveda, which was not existing earlier, as a science of animal health care. Diamond Jubilee (60 years) of Veterinary Ayurveda was celebrated in 2011 and in recognition of the contribution of our chairman Shri Sushiel Agrawal for the development of Veterinary Ayurveda, the National Academy of Veterinary Sciences (India) has admitted him as Honorary Fellow of the NAVS (India).

With the blending of ‘Traditional Glory with Modern Science’, Indian Herbs is dedicated to Veterinary Ayurveda as a ‘Dynamic, Scientifically Validated and Evidence Based Science’.

The applications of high-technology oriented advanced hyphenated techniques in Indian Herbs R&D serves as a rapid tool in the herbal research, thereby, benefiting the entire pharmaceutical industry. Indian Herbs R&D has made significant contributions by unravelling the hidden medicinal benefits of bioactives and phytomolecules. Product scientific validations and quality control are rigorously followed as per standard norms and practices.New products are formulated as per the current research frontier trends and market demand. Our R&D team works with a scientific rigor following astute strategies and innovations so as to develop effective and easy-to-administer products that help to improve the health of animals, add value to the businesses and help to drive up standards in overall animal care.A rigorous and meticulous care is applied to new product discovery that is reflected in the unique blend of nutritional and herbal healthcare solutions (Table 2). With a parsimonious vision, a stringent selection of herbal ingredients is done by F&D scientists so as to design new formulation. All herbal formulations are derived through intensive research & development in state-of-art-facility. All herbal ingredients used in Indian Herbs products meet the QC standards set for each, which include both physical and chemical parameters. The QA authenticate them involving both macroscopic and microscopic examination of each herb. The final product standardization is achieved by finger printing, using chromatographic techniques. Computer controlled High Performance Chromatographic techniques provide a complete system of qualitative and quantitative evaluation of plant constituents. Each product undergoes testing for stability, dose standardization, palatability, pre-clinical & clinical efficacy evaluation and scientific validation. Clinical trials are an integral part of new product discovery and development. Clinical trials are executed with a focus to assess product tolerance, determine maximum tolerable dose, estimate product efficacy for targeted indication, standardize dose rate, exclude the possibility of any serious toxicities and thereby to establish product safety and efficacy profile.

Table 2: Main active constituents, pharmacological actions and features of some commonly used herbs

Name of herb Main active constituent Pharmacological actions Features
Curcuma longa Curcumin Antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory Controls inflammation and infections
Eucalyptus sp. 1,8 cineole Anti-microbial Controls respiratory infections
Adhatoda vasica Vasicine Anti-tussive, Expectorant, Mucolytic Relieves cough and congestion
Withania somnifera Withanoloides Antistress, adaptogen Overcomes stress and improves production performance under stress conditions
Tinospoa cordifolia Tinosporine Immuno modulator Improves immunocompetence to fight against infections
Andrographis paniculata Andrographolide Hepatoprotective, Choleretic Optimizes liver functions
Boerhaavia diffusa Boerhavinone Diuretic, hypouricaemic Flushes kidney and helps in excretion of excess uric acid

Key Initiative of Indian Herbs Specialities:Seeking AGP alternatives and development of natural growth promoter, feed additive and natural amino acid &vitamin products

Science & its Application: In tune with modern scientific developments, cell culture studies were conducted on the herbal veterinary products of Indian Herbs, to ascertain the bioactivity of the products at cellular level and their effects were observed on cultured animal cells. Indian herbs has also organized highly scientific genomic, meta-genomic and transcriptomic evaluation study on its product and in the said scientific study, chicken-specific microarray was performed to profile the host gene expression transcription of specific parameters in different groups to characterize their host response. Indian Herbs is also the first company to establish the mode of action of a herbal product by conducting gene expression study at University of Georgia, USA.

Reducing antibiotic use for sustainable livestock production: Animals in sustainable livestock production are given fewer antibiotics. Excessive antibiotic use can make bacteria resistant, which is dangerous for both humans and animals. Demand for animal protein for human consumption is rising globally at an unprecedented rate. Modern animal production practices are associated with regular use of antimicrobials, potentially increasing selection pressure on bacteria to become resistant.

AGP alternatives: AGP alternatives are being sought to improve health, immune status and performance in animal agriculture. While the industry is focused on developing alternate solutions. Most AGP alternatives prevent proliferation of pathogenic bacteria and modulate indigenous bacteria so that the health, immune status and performance are improved. Some plant extracts influence digestion and secretion of digestive enzymes and, besides, they exhibit antibacterial, antiviral and antioxidant activities. Because of possible synergy between constituents, it remains unclear which of the many bioactive chemical components may stimulate endogenous digestive enzymes production; act as antioxidants; antimicrobial agents; or immunomodulators. There are examples where these supplements act similarly to AGPs. The studies suggest the effect may not be only on improved body weight, average daily gain, and the feed: gain ratio, but also a stronger immune response and control of bacterial populations in the gastrointestinal tract.

Herbal neutraceutical & feed supplements: Feed additives depending on the specificity of function of herbs and their Phytoingredients/bioactives have been developed to improve the health, digestibility, productivity and immunity. Indian Herbs Specialities developed on scientific basis herbal feed additives solutions t to improve overall growth, performance and productivity of animals, enhancing nutrient utilization and feed efficiency, immunopotentiation & antioxidant effect, improving gut microflora and for control of gut and respiratory pathogens.

Choline in Natural and Highly Bioavailable Conjugated Form “BioCholine”: Choline is a limiting nutrient in poultry & livestock and plays many vital functions. Synthetic choline has to be converted to phosphatidylcholine for being utilized by the body. In contrast, natural choline conjugates enter into the biological system and release highly labile methyl groups into the site of action. BioCholine is a natural choline supplement that is a unique combination of esterified choline and unique phospholipids. BioCholine exerts better physiological effects than synthetic choline chloride. The labile methyl groups of BioCholine help in energy metabolization and to control FLS. It is most interesting that the herbs contained in BioCholine also help to improve the integrity of hepatocytes, optimize liver function and enhance the synthesis and bio-availability of bile for optimum absorption and utilization of fats.

Outstanding Achievements of Indian Herbs

The government of India granted recognition and formal certification of company’s R&D Centre in 1986 and is also accredited for research on indigenous systems of medicine, GMP certification (Govt. of India) and ISO 9001-2000 certification(DNV, the Netherlands) for research, manufacturing and customer care outline the quality management systems and international standards followed at Indian Herbs. Indian Herbs is the only company from the herbal animal healthcare sector in the top 50 biotechnology led enterprises of India (BioSpectrum, September, 2003). Pioneer of the concept of herbal animal health care products. Maintaining No.1 position in this Industry in India since 1951 and one of the top 4 companies in total AHP market including allopathic MNCs; first ISO 9001 Certified Company for Research and Manufacturing of Herbal Animal Health and Human Health Care Products (Awarded by DNV, The Netherlands); first GMP certified company for manufacturing of Ayurvedic Veterinary and Human Products (Awarded by the Director of Ayush, Govt. of U.P., India). GMP+ Certification from GMP Plus International, The Netherlands. More than 200 scientists awarded Ph.D./M.V.Sc./M.Sc. for Research on the “Indian Herbs” products.1000+ research papers are published in leading national and international journals on the “Indian Herbs” products. More than 22 patents registered in USA & other countries for innovative research on herbs and herbal formulations. Exporting to around 50 countries all over the world including USA, EEC, South and North American, African and Asian countries. Received ‘Export House Status’ accorded by the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Govt. of India. Certificate of approval from Export Inspection Council of India, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Govt. of India since 2014. Outstanding achievements includes: National Awards (2007, 2008, 2010) for Outstanding Entrepreneurship, Outstanding R&D Achievements, Outstanding Quality Products by Govt. of India, Certificate of Merit for outstanding export performance at All India Level by Chemexcil, Mumbai, State Export Awards (First Prize) in 1995-96, 2004-2005, 2008-09 and 2018-19 by State Govt. of U.P., AIMA - Dr. J.S. Juneja Award in for Creativity and Innovation by All India Management Association, Delhi.State Award for Product Quality Excellence by State Govt. of U.P. The 2016 ”Asia Brands Top 500” organized by Asia Brands Organization, China.


Traditional system of medicines has stood the test of tie for over 4000 years & should not be considered as an alternate to the modern medicine; rather they complement and enhance the production of livestock. Researchers have found that ethnoveterinary treatments are primary recourse for livestock owner when their animal is ill. Herbal additives have aroused much scientific interest over the past few years to explore their role as performance enhancers in livestock production. The cited instances in this text are just glimpses from the vast and virgin world of Ayurveda through the clear eye of modern science. It is up to our scientist & industry how best they use this precious gift from Mother Nature for health and welfare of livestock and in turn mankind.

Note : references may be requested from author)