In India, nearly 15-20 percent of the Ayurvedic medicine is based on animal-derived substances. There are references to nearly 380 types of animal substances in ‘Charaka Samhita’. The Hindu religion has used ‘Panchaghavya’ or the five products i.e. milk, urine, dung, curd and ghee of the cow for purification since ancient times.
In Unani and Ayurvedic system of medicines, there are descriptions of many animal based medications. It has been documented that in Unani system of medicines about 200 drugs of animal origin are described which are claimed to be beneficial for the treatment of various ailments. Similarly in Ayurveda also there is description of use of several animal based drugs particularly from cow, buffalo, elephant, camel, ass, goat and sheep. Entire organisms or their flesh, fat, excretions, bones, teeth, feathers, hair, horns and shells are used as medicines and in other purposes. These are used either singly or in compound formulations and prepared in a variety of forms i.e. powder, ash, soups, syrup, ointments, liniments, etc. The use of animals for medicinal purposes has increased tremendously in the last decade.
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