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Cow urine therapy

THE U.S. Patent Office (USPTO) grants thousands of patents every week, and yet, the U.S. Patent, 6410059, titled "Pharmaceutical Compositions containing Cow urine Distillate and An Antibiotic" issued to S.P.S. Kanuja and 13 others and assigned to the Council of Scientific And Industrial Research (CSIR), attracted global attention. The Minister For Science And Technology, Government of India, at a Press Conference, said that the U.S. Patent made him realise that all traditional practices from Indian Systems of Medicine have a strong scientific base.

Traditional medicines , whether from Ayurveda or Siddha are based on classical texts and systems, practices and products handed down over generations going back to Charak, Sushrutha, Vagabhatta, the Ashtangahridaya and the Samhitas.

Combining the so-called cow urine distillate (the term distillate itself is a misnomer, since the material used is the residue, not the distillate), with antibiotics, is no exception. Combining this material in liquid or lyophilised powder form with modern drugs is irrational, since we do not know anything about the relative bioavailability and pharmacokinetics of the components. In-vitro experiments alone have little relevance, since activity in-vivo, largely depends on plasma levels, which in turn are related to serum binding properties and absorption. The bio-enhancers known today, including Piperine, generally affect metabolising enzymes which are specific and which are stimulated (when the metabolite is the active moiety) or inhibited (when the intact molecule is the active species). It is not to say that mammalian urine does not contain useful constituents; in fact ACTH was isolated from pregnant female urine, other constituents include various enzymes, amino acids and Erythropoetin.

A statement has been made that the grant of a U.S. Patent has given the ultimate stamp of approval for Indian Systems of Medicine and vindicates them, since they have been tested by modern scientific methods. The grant of a U.S. Patent or any other patent, for that matter, does not guarantee the validity of the scientific evidence presented or even the validity of the patent itself. That is the reason why the validity of a patent can be challenged at any time during the entire life of the patent. We, ourselves have the experience of the Turmeric patent revoked through efforts of CSIR.

While we do need to take into account the results of experiments carried out on cow urine `distillate', neither the reported experiments nor the grant of the U.S. patent vindicates the use of cow urine as a bio-enhancer. Much more needs to be done before we can even consider its potential utility. In the meanwhile, care should be taken to see that the results published or the patent granted do not lead to proliferation of quack medicine using cow urine, claiming legitimacy from the traditional or modern systems of medicine, let alone the U.S. patent.

M. D. Nair

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