Scientific evidence on the role of Ayurvedic herbals on bioavailability of drugs

J Ethnopharmacol. 1981 Sep;4(2):229-32. doi: 10.1016/0378-8741(81)90037-4.


Experiments were conducted to evaluate the scientific basis of the use of the trikatu group of acrids (long pepper, black pepper and ginger) in the large number of prescriptions in Ayurveda. [3H] vasicine and [3H] sparteine were taken as test drugs. Piper longum (long pepper) increased the blood levels of vasicine by nearly 233%. Under the influence of piperine, the active principle of Piper species, sparteine blood levels increased more than 100%. The results suggest that these acrids have the capacity to increase the bioavailability of certain drugs. It appears that the trikatu group of drugs increase bioavailability either by promoting rapid absorption from the gastrointestinal tract, or by protecting the drug from being metabolised/oxidised in its first passage through the liver after being absorbed, or by a combination of these two mechanisms.

MeSH terms

  • Abortifacient Agents
  • Alkaloids / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Benzodioxoles
  • Biological Availability
  • Drug Synergism
  • Female
  • India
  • Medicine, Ayurvedic*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Piperidines / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plants, Medicinal* / analysis
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • Quinazolines*
  • Rats
  • Sparteine / metabolism


  • Abortifacient Agents
  • Alkaloids
  • Benzodioxoles
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Piperidines
  • Plant Extracts
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • Quinazolines
  • Sparteine
  • vasicine
  • piperine