Varsity study gives the clean chit to Indian herbal medicines

Special Correspondent

Questions claims made in article published in American journal

American study failed to analyse forms by which elements are bound, projected only quantum of elemental distributionFinal product of Bhasmas and Rasa yogas different from raw materials as they transform into therapeutic compounds

CHENNAI: Use of the Indian system of medicine is not harmful and it is quite safe, claims Victor Rajamanickam, Dean, Centre for Advanced Research in Indian System of Medicine, SASTRA Deemed University, Thanjavur.

Prof. Rajamanickam questioned the scientific validity of an article that appeared in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) in December 2004. The authors had analysed 14 Ayurvedic formulations manufactured in India and concluded that they contained heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic and lead.

Prof. Rajamanickam said the authors had failed to analyse the different forms by which the elements are bound but have projected only the quantum of elemental distribution.

This was critical since these elements could be chelated in the formulation and will be safe to use.

Moreover, the final product in Bhasmas and Rasa yogas are different from the raw materials since they would be transformed to therapeutic compounds by different processes like detoxification, titration, heating, etc.

Hence it is unlikely that free elements would be present in these products that may cause damage as claimed by the authors.

Multi-centric investigation

Multi-centric investigation under the leadership of Prof. Rajamanickam conducted pre-clinical studies in rats using three drugs that were reported in JAMA by administering a ten times higher dose prescribed for humans.

End stage analysis of the animals after acute, sub-acute, and chronic toxicity studies showed no neuro-toxicity, nephro-toxicity, haemopoetic-toxicity and hepato-toxicity and the higher dosages were found to be safe in all respects.

The study at SASTRA was conducted in collaboration with Prof. G. P. Dubey and his team at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi and Prof. R. Venkatakrishnan Murali and his team, at the University of Madras.

The results of the clinical studies conducted by Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, showed no adverse medical consequence due to heavy metal toxicity.

Scientific validation

The experiments aimed at the scientific validation through comprehensive pre-clinical and clinical trials.

"The findings of our experiments were presented to an expert committee constituted by the Department of AYUSH, Government of India, New Delhi, comprising members from CSIR, AIIMS, ICMR and the Department of AYUSH at New Delhi on May 8. The committee expressed its appreciation and wanted the findings to be published," said Prof. Rajamanickam.

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