Steroids are a large group of compounds found in all animals. Different groups of steroids include corticosteroids, anabolic steroids, androgenic steroids, oestrogenic steroids, progestogenic and anti-inflammatory steroids.


Steroids of the Adrenal Cortex

The adrenal cortex is responsible for production of 3 major classes of steroid hormones:

  • Glucocorticoids, which regulate carbohydrate metabolism.
  • Mineralocorticoids, which regulate the body levels of sodium and potassium.
  • Gonadocorticoids which include male hormones, androgens and female hormones, oestrogens.

Steroids produced by Testes and Ovaries

Female sex hormones: Progesterone and Oestrogen which bring about normal menstrual cycles and pregnancy in case fertilization occurs.

Male sex hormone: Testosterone, an androgen produced from progesterone is a male sex hormone responsible for secondary male sex characteristics.


Corticosteroids are medicines in Allopathy that are similar to the natural hormone cortisone. Corticosteroids are used to provide relief for inflamed areas of the body. They lessen swelling, redness, itching, and allergic reactions. They are often used for a number of diseases such as Asthma or other auto immune diseases. As corticosteroids help the body maintain the integrity of the walls of the veins and arteries, they are helpful in stopping or preventing unwanted bleeding. Because of their widespread effects, these drugs are useful in treating many medical conditions, but they can also have undesirable side effects.

Homoeopathy as a science also uses an array of drug sources to produce various medicines which includes not only plant sources, but even healthy secretions of body and unhealthy tissues besides various allopathic medicines. Even steroids like “Cortisone” are potentized according to procedures of homoeopathic pharmaceutics to treat patients from the ill effects of crude dosage of these medicines as prescribed in allopathic system of medicines. Many allopathic medicines are potentised according to principles of Homoeopathy for use as homoeopathic medicines. Common ones are Cortisone, Chloramphenicol, Penicillinum etc.


Common steroids like Cortisone, Prednisolone and many other similar compounds are included in standard texts of Homoeopathy. They are enlisted in the Homoeopathic Materia Medica as well as Repertory in form of proven drugs and are used by Homoeopaths as medicines in regular practice for treating patients. A few of the prominent references are mentioned hereunder:

  • Encyclopaedia of Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia by Dr. P.N. Verma-Prednisolone (Vol. 3)
  • Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia of United States (HPUS) recognized by Drugs & Cosmetics Act -Cortisone aceticum, Adrenalinum & Adrenocorticotrophin.
  • Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia of India - Cortisone (Vol.-VII), Adrenalinum (Vol.-VI), Cholestrinum (Vol.-II), Adrenocorticotrophin (Vol.-IV),
  • Dr. Julian's Dictionary of Materia Medica-Cortisone, Corticotrophin.


Prednisolone is one such allopathic drug which is potentised and used by various Homoeopaths to treat its ill effects produced by crude dosage. It is manufactured by Dr. Willmar Schwabe India Pvt. Ltd., Licence No.: 01/HPM/97 as “Prednisolonum” & as “Prednisone” by SBL Pvt. Ltd., Licence No. RAJ-1703-H.

Besides there are many steroid like compounds found in various plants known by the name of sterols e.g. Sabal serrulata (Saw palmetto), Dioscorea villosa, Asparapus officinalis, Digitalis purpurea, Withania somnifera, Strophanthus g., Convallaria majalis etc. all of which are used as homoeopathic medicines. (Ref. Website : http://www.siu.edu/~ebl/leaflets/steroid.htm)


As per regulations laid down by Central Council of Homoeopathy for Homoeopathic practitioners:-

A practitioner of Homoeopathy shall use any drug prepared according to homoeopathic principles and adopt other necessary measures as required. (No. 12 of CCH Regulations 1982). A practitioner of Homoeopathy has a right to prepare and dispense his own prescription. (No. 37 under “Dispensing” of CCH Regulations 1982). Thus any approved Homoeopathic medicine whatsoever, including steroids such as prednisolone can be safely dispensed by a Homoeopath in his clinic as per the requirements of the case.

Additional References for dispensing:-

The Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945

(1) Part 1 2{(dd)}: Highlights the purview of homoeopathic medicine.

(2) Schedule K {24}: Class of Drugs: Extent and Conditions of Exemptions. : Dispensing of medicines by Homoeopaths in clinic.


Unfortunately there is a wrong view point prevalent amongst the consumers and an undue fear about homoeopathic medicines being adulterated with steroids. At times fast results achieved from homoeopathy are mistakenly thought to be possible due to use of steroids in medicines. According to few people who are oblivious about the facts related to testing of Homoeopathic Medicines, there is a misconception that they test positive for steroids. In case of Homoeopathic medicines being adulterated by steroids certain more specific and confirmatory tests are called for instead of crude chemical tests generally applied.

The calorimetric method and other tests based on colour development (UV Spectrophotometry) used for testing steroids are non specific. It is a well known fact that chemical test of Tetrazolium Blue is used for testing reducing compounds as well as steroids. It produces false positive reaction for presence of steroids in homoeopathic medicines since they are dispensed with the help of lactose, cane (used for preparing globules) both of which are reducing sugars or in alcohol, which may not be entirely free from aldehyde and give the same reaction as that for steroids. Moreover Homoeopathic drugs prepared by any Pharmaceutical company will show similar results with non reliable chemical test like that of Tetrazolium Blue.

Since, homoeopathic drugs are prepared from a wide range of herbs any of which may have steroids as their constituent there is always a possibility of them giving a false positive reaction for the presence of steroids as an adulterant. Even drugs from animal sources would test positive for steroids since animal fat has cholesterol as a constituent which in turn is also a steroid.

Hence, there are various obvious limitations as regards the test of presence of steroids in homoeopathic medicines and pseudo positive reactions cannot be ruled out altogether. Any test conducted to prove the safety of homoeopathic medicines should take into consideration all these technical difficulties and possibility of errors.

Indian Pharmacopoeia 1996 mentions some specific tests in Appendix 3.6 (identification of steroids) and Appendix 3.7 (identification of related foreign steroids), for testing steroids including “Thin layer chromatography” which when applied to homoeopathic medicines, gives negative results for steroids.

The Homoeopathic medicines should be tested for any adulteration what so ever from a reputed Govt. testing laboratory namely Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia Lab., Opp. M Block, Sector-23, Raj Nagar, Ghaziabad.

Thus it is very imperative to take cognizance of the fact that steroids are an integral part of Homoeopathic therapeutics in the form of potentised medicines and homoeopathic medicines are completely free from steroids as an adulterant.



Definition of Steroids on the Web:

Steroids are a large group of compounds found in all animals. Different groups of steroids include: corticosteroids, anabolic steroids, androgenic steroids, oestrogenic steroids, progestogenic and anti-inflammatory steroids. The types of steroids used by people who wish to build muscle and increase their body size are mostly anabolic androgenic steroids. These are a group of drugs that include the male sex hormone testosterone and its synthetic alternatives.


Everyone has heard of steroids, but many people do not know exactly what they are. Natural steroids play a key role in the body processes of living things. They are naturally produced by plants and animals, and are used for various reasons. Steroids include sterols, such as cholesterol, bile acids from the liver, adrenal hormones, sex hormones, and poisons in certain toads. Sex steroids in humans give men and women the characteristics that make up the sex, such as the type of voice, and the physical build. Adrenal steroids, produced in the cortex of the adrenal gland in humans, regulate protein and carbohydrate metabolism. Aldosterone, another steroid produced in the adrenal cortex, plays a role in the mineral and water balance of the body



1. Sex Hormones: (a) Androgens (testosterone) (b) Estrogens (estradiol)

2. Corticosteroids: (a) Glucocorticoids Exogenous glucocorticoids (hydrocortisone, cortisone, prednisone, triamcinolone, dexamethasone, betamethasone, beclomethasone, flunisolide) Endogenous glucocorticoids (cortisol [hydrocortisone], cortisone, corticosterone)

b. Mineralocorticoids (aldosterone)


In defence of homoeopathy, the test used was the "Calorimetric method using tetrasoltum blue salts". In this test, the reaction depends upon the reduction of tetrasoltum blue salt to give a highly coloured compound known as Farmazan. Under controlled conditions, the amount of Farmazan developed is proportional to the quantity of steroid or any reducing sugar present in the material being tested.

In fact for some years, tetrasoltum salts have been used for determination of reducing sugars. So if the drug contains any lactose, it will impart a strong colour with tetrazoltum blue salt which will give a false impression of the presence of a steroid. Secondly, if the alcohol used in this method is not completely free from aldehyde. It will interfere with the reaction and impart some characteristic colour, which may again give a false positive reaction for a steroid. So this method is not advisable to determine the presence of steroids in the drug.

Most homoeopaths use lactose as a base for holding the pills, containing the homoepathic remedy, together in the powders. The pills themselves are made of cane sugar, a reducing sugar. Moreover, almost all homoeopathic remedies have alcohol as a diluting agent. One can see how homeopathic remedies, either as pills, powders or in alcohol, are likely to give a false positive test for steroids if this method is used. Other methods used to test steroids are Liberman Buchard test. This layer chromatography method and the UV absorption method.


Some may ask Homeopathy medicines, when tested, sometimes give positive reactions for steroids. Yes, it may be, but it is a false positive test. It is due to lactose powder which is often used by Homeopathic doctors as a vehicle for the medicines. In that case, the efficacy of the same drug can be proved with water dilution doses. All milk powder or cane sugar juices or plant-derived material will give false positive for steroids.


Tetrazolium blue

For detection of corticosteroids and other reducing compounds.

Spray with a freshly prepared 1:1 mix of a) 0.5% methanolic tetrazolium blue

solution and 6M NaOH in water or methanol/water (1:1).

Results: violet spots are observed at room temperature or with slight warming.


Distribution of Steroid like Compounds in Plant Flora

Authors: Amrit Pal Singh and A.S.Sandhu.

Dr Amrit Pal Singh, MD (Alternative Medicine), Medical Executive. Dept of Natural Products India Swift Ltd.

Dr A.S Sandhu, M.Sc (Botany), Dept of Natural Products, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education & Research (NIPER), Mohali. India.

Recently some light has been thrown on steroid like compounds present in number of medicinal herbs. Chemically the compounds are known as sterols and are considered to be derivatives of the steroids. They resemble in structure with steroids and modern clinical studies have supported their role as anti inflammatory and analgesic agents.

7 Disogenin is another compound present in number of herbs like Hedichyum spicatum, Trigonella

foenum- graecum, Pueraria tuberosa & Dioscorea villosa.

In Homeopathic system of medicine, Convallaria majalis is a reputed remedy in various heart diseases. It also contains cardioactive steroid glycosides. A special group of compounds called cardioactive steroids [better known as cardiac glycosides] deserves special mention. Digitalis purpurea, Stropanthus gratus and Urginea indica are reputed remedies as cardiac tonics.

http:// www.merck.co.nz/main/RQFlex/package/116130%20Alcohol.pdf

Alcohol Test

1. Method

Under the catalytic effect of alcohol dehydrogenase, alcohol is oxidized by NAD to acetaldehyde. In the presence of diaphorase, the NADH formed in the process reduces a tetrazolium salt to a blue formazan, the concentration of which is determined reflectometrically.

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