Objectives: The increase in the consumption of natural drugs has made their use a Public Health problem due to the possibility of access to products without adequate conditions of use. The concern with the quality of the natural products is due to the potential fungal contamination and the risk of the presence of mycotoxins.
Methods: The levels of fungal contamination were analyzed in 15 samples of Saraca indica, Terminalia arjuna, Hemidesmus indicus randomly collected from different places of Agra and nearby regions and mycoflora was isolated and identified with different methods.
Results: As a result of Mycological examination, 93% of the total samples examined, found to be contaminated with different fungi. A total of 13 different fungal species was isolated from all the three medicinal plant samples. The predominant mycoflora obtained was distributed in five different genera comprised of Aspergillus, Penicillium, Alternaria, Rhizopus and Syncephalastrum. The Aspergillus (71.95%) was observed as the most dominant genera recovered, followed by Penicillium (15.44%), Rhizopus (9.51%), Alternaria (1.67%) and Syncephalastrum (1.41%). Most of the identified fungal species like Aspergillus, Penicillium and Alternaria are reported to have the ability to produce mycotoxins like aflatoxins, ochratoxins, citrinin and alternaria toxins. The presence of a wide range of storage fungi indicates that the mould probably infects the crude herbal drugs during harvesting and post harvesting, processing i.e. mainly during drying, storing, transportation and processing.
Conclusion: On the basis of present investigations, it may be concluded that the contamination of raw materials is alarming, as these raw materials needs thorough inspection before being channeled to the drug industries and for public use.