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Galenical formulations and ingredients

Discus about the Pharmacy for Traditional or Folk Medicine.

The traditional or folk medicine or old remedies are considered to be most functional and successful form of medicine. Traditional medicines are collaboration of knowledge system, skills, scientific practices and experiences constructed over generations by various societies and civilisations (Marriott, 2010). With the emergence of modern medicine, these old remedies lost their importance a few years ago. But, now again the old remedies are gaining importance in modern pharmacology as a good and effective source of treatment with almost no side-effect (Pizzorno & Murray, 2012).

Xu & Liu (2013) studied that as per World Health Organization (WHO), “the traditional medicine is collaboration of knowledge, practices, skills working on the basis of theories, beliefs, and cultures from indigenous to modern practices for the diagnosis, prevention and management of different illnesses”. This study demonstrates the importance of such old remedies or traditional medicine formulation provided by one Greek physician, philosopher, and surgeon known as Claudius Galen or Aelius Galenus. The products or medicines provided by Galenus are known as ‘Galenicals’ in his honour (Fetrow et al. 2011). This study will involve a deep analysis on Galenical formulations and three specific Galenical ingredients to prove that old remedies work best even as the pharmaceutical product. These Galenical products are a part of old remedies that are effective enough to cure diseases that remain an issue for modern medications (Marriott, 2010).

The medicines formed or prepared as per the formulae provided by Galen are known as galenical formulations or Galenical preparations. These galenical preparations are multiple ingredients that are basically the herbal or vegetable matter extracted from crude organic matters with the use of different solvents. These ingredients are used for making different pharmaceutical drugs (Fetrow et al. 2011).

These galenical ingredients are basically the herbs and vegetable extracts that are extracted using a specific method or process. The galenical formulations may contain one or multiple ingredients are per specific official formula to form a specific remedy (Pizzorno & Murray, 2012). Below described are three galenical ingredients used in different glanical formulations or drugs as a part of the remedy. The manufacturing process, stability and role of these ingredients are described in the essay to understand the importance of old remedies as the effective medicine.

One of the most popular Glanical ingredients is Gentian compound infusion produced from gentian plant belonging to gentianceae family. Galen applies the Galenical infusion technique to produce Compound Gentian infusion, as per the official formulation provided.

Infusion – Gentian

These are basically the crude soft drugs persisting light structure without any dense tissue organisation and contains components that are water-soluble. These infusions can be cut small, powder, freshly broken, powder or thin slice to ensure its compatibility with menstruum. The menstruum used for infusion is cold or boiling water. The infusions are basically of two types that are fresh and concentrated infusions (Marriott, 2010).

Fresh infusions

These are infusion freshly prepared in the aqueous form of active constituents. The dried form of the crude drug is added to calculated amount of menstruum for definite soak time. Further, the liquid is removed and left out is marc. This liquid contains dissolved fresh infusion.

Concentrated infusion

Concentrated infusion is prepared by maceration process with alcohol used either as menstruum or preservative. The concentrated compound infusion of gentian is one such Galenical ingredient used in different Galenical formulations as an AIP to form remedy (Fetrow et al. 2011).


Concentrated Compound gentian Infusion

Gentian small cutting – 125 grams

Dried lemon peel – 125 grams

Dried orange peel (bitter) – 125 grams

Alcohol – 1200ml


  • Gentian, dried orange and lemon is placed in macerate apparatus with 1000ml ethanol for 48 hours.
  • After period of incubation, the liquid is strained and the marc is pressed to get all the dissolved form of required ingredient
  • Further, 200 ml of ethanol is added to the marc and macerated for another 24 hours
  • Add this liquid to the first liquid solution and allow stand for 14 days.
  • Filter the solution to get pure ingredient (Marriott, 2010).

This gentian compound infusion (concentrated) is usually stable under normal conditions for utilisation in drug form. It is required to avoid the use of nitric acid, sulphuric acid and oxidising agents when using gentian compound infusion because this ingredient shows harsh reactions with these chemicals. The thermal burning or decomposition is harmful that will release carbon oxides creating a hazardous environment. The stable dosage of gentian infusion is 15 to 30 ml in drug and recommended dosage is 1 to 4 grams/day (Pizzorno & Murray, 2012).

  • Gentian infusion is a bitter tasting ingredient generally used in stomach therapy to stimulate gastric secretions
  • Gentian infusion provides strength to the digestive system and helpful in improving appetite
  • Tonic and stomachic activity is performed by this ingredient (Park et al. 2012)
  • Gentian infusion helps in the treatment of gastrointestinal complications like vomiting, heartburn, diarrhoea, stomach ache etc.
  • Gentian infusion is ingredient of drugs used to cure jaundice, inflammation, arthritic and sore throat
  • It is also useful in controlling fever, blood pressure and hysteria
  • Gentian infusion is also used as the home remedy to cure wounds, muscle spasms, parasitic worms, germ killer and as a menstrual initiator.
  • Gentian infusion is used in combination with verbena, elderflower, sorrel, and cowslip flower to cure sinus infections.
  • Gentian infusion is used as multiple ingredients to cure malaria (Pizzorno & Murray, 2012).

The cinchona bark decoction is a popularly known Galenical ingredient that is formed by the process of decoction working as a useful ingredient in different remedial drugs.

The decoctions are freshly prepared Galenical ingredients formed by boiling crude drug base with water. Decoctions are susceptible to decomposition therefore only the freshly prepared form is used in drug formation. These are drugs of woody and hard nature but are water-soluble ingredients.

Cinchona bark or wood is prepared using decoction technique as an active form of Galenical ingredient that basically contains quinine. The quinine is very important AIP used in the cure of various diseases like malaria, leg syndrome etc. (Pizzorno & Murray, 2012).

The cinchona bark decoctions are prepared following the below-described process.

  • In an enamelled earthenware or iron vessel, the 5 sliced plant woods or barks are boiled with 100 to 120 parts of water for the time of 15 minutes under boiling condition.
  • For getting a concentrated form of decoction the liquid allowed to boil for more time as per requirement.
  • The boiled material is allowed to cool at normal room temperature
  • Further, the liquid is strained and marc is pressed to obtain complete liquid extract
  • The decoction liquid is filtered using flannel or muslin cloth and further, water is added to get required volume of decoction (Chakrabarti, 2010).

The cinchona barks decoctions are having a clear appearance with prone to evaporation. There are usually less reactive and are stored in cool and dry places away from sunlight. As quinine persist toxic effect, therefore, recommended the dosage of cinchona bark decoction is used as per drug formulation (Fetrow et al. 2011).

  • Cinchona bark decoction is used to cure fever, indigestion
  • It is useful as important ingredient in various gastrointestinal disorders therapies
  • Cinchona bark decoction is also functional to cure general fatigue
  • Cinchona bark decoction is used for developing drugs working as an appetite stimulant and general fatigue cure (Fetrow et al. 2011).
  • The use of cinchona bark decoction for treating fever led to its use in malaria drug formulation providing antipyretic and antimicrobial activity. Xu & Liu (2013) indicated that Plasmodium falciparum causing malaria has developed resistance to various malarial drugs except cinchona. Therefore, this is an effective API used to cure malaria.
  • Cinchona bark decoction is useful to cure blood and cardiac disorders anaemia, irregular heartbeat, arrhythmia and varicose veins.
  • It is also used as a remedy for arrhythmia or heart palpitations since 17th century known as the opium of the heart (Golan, Tashjian & Armstrong, 2011).
  • Cinchona is workable for curing digestive disorders like anorexia, gallbladder, flatulence, anorexia etc. (Fetrow et al. 2011).

Decoction – Cinchona bark

The belladonna extract is considered to be a very important Galenical ingredient having medical values despite its poisonous nature because this extract contains active ingredient atropine (Pizzorno & Murray, 2012). Xu & Liu (2013) indicated that belladonna extracts obtained from plant Atropa belladonna persist poisonous nature where a very small quantity of this plant can kill human being. Therefore, belladonna extracts that specifically contains atropine only are produced for its medical functionality as a part of treatments. Thus, active ingredient separated from the plant by Galenical formulation work as a Galenical ingredient, used for medical purposes is known as belladonna extract (Godara et al. 2014).

The extracts are galenical ingredient prepared by different methods like maceration, percolation, decoction or maceration to form extracts having medicinal active portions of plants. Belladonna extracts are one such example of Galenical ingredient that contains atropine separated from its plant (Marriott, 2010).

  • Take dried leaves in a container and add required amount of water to cover the leaves
  • The active ingredient is water-soluble and will get solubilized in water.
  • Filter the water out of marc, which is named as extract
  • Press the marc to get leftover extract (Golan, Tashjian & Armstrong, 2011).

Belladonna extracts persist drying effect that leads to its unstable condition when used as a drug. Therefore, belladonna should not be combined with other drying drugs like atropine, scopolamine etc. because this can lead to dry skin, fast heartbeat, low blood pressure etc. (Park et al. 2012).

The quantity of belladonna in drug varies as per requirement conditions, health and age of the patient. According to Xu & Liu (2013), there is no proper information regarding the stable dosage range of belladonna. Therefore, its use should be avoided minimising the chances of side effects.

  • The belladonna extract shows medical activity despite the poisonous nature of its plant. This extract is used as an ingredient to cure muscle spasms, heart rate improvement, stomach acid reduction, and dilation of eye pupils.
  • This extract is useful to cure bowel syndrome, stomach ulcers, spastic colon, motion sickness and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Belladonna extract minimises night-time urination problem (Pizzorno & Murray, 2012).


Galenical ingredients are very useful ingredients working as good source of APIs in the traditional medicine to develop drugs effective for multiple activities (Park et al. 2012). However, it is not necessary that natural medications are always beneficial, sometimes they can cause harm to the body. But surely natural medicines are a great source of drugs to cure diseases that are not curable by modern medication methods.

From the above study performed taking the example of Galenical ingredients to justify the statement that ‘old remedies work best’ it is clear that traditional medicine still remains a heritage of potent and quality pharmaceuticals that can provide a solution for the questions of modern medicine.

Galenical ingredients have largely replaced the use of synthetic medication products due to their quality and potency providing a multidimensional cure for different diseases using one specific ingredient. Therefore, it can be stated that old remedies work best still in the era of modern medicine (Marriott, 2010).



Fetrow, C. W., Avila, J. R., Fetrow, C. W., Fetrow, & Avila. (2011).Professional's handbook of complementary & alternative medicines (pp. 282-291). Spring House, Pa, USA: Springhouse Corporation.

Golan, D. E., Tashjian, A. H., & Armstrong, E. J. (Eds.). (2011). Principles of pharmacology: the pathophysiologic basis of drug therapy. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Marriott, J. F. (2010). Pharmaceutical compounding and dispensing. Pharmaceutical Press.

Pizzorno Jr, J. E., & Murray, M. T. (2012). Textbook of natural medicine. Elsevier Health Sciences.


Park, H. L., Lee, H. S., Shin, B. C., Liu, J. P., Shang, Q., Yamashita, H., & Lim, B. (2012). Traditional medicine in China, Korea, and Japan: a brief introduction and comparison. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012.

Xu, S., & Liu, P. (2013). Tanshinone II-A: new perspectives for old remedies. Expert opinion on therapeutic patents, 23(2), 149-153.

Godara, R., Katoch, M., Katoch, R., Yadav, A., Parveen, S., Vij, B., ... & Singh, N. K. (2014). In Vitro Acaricidal Activity of Atropa belladonna and Its Components, Scopolamine and Atropine, against Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus. The Scientific World Journal, 2014.

Chakrabarti, P. (2010). Empire and alternatives: Swietenia febrifuga and the Cinchona substitutes. Medical history, 54(01), 75-94.

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