Ministry of AYUSH to integrate allopathic and traditional forms of medicine

New Delhi: Bringing traditional medicine into the domain of allopathic science, the ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH) has announced several projects looking into its “efficacy” in various ailments. In Parliament, minister for AYUSH Shripad Yesso Naik said that the Central Council for Research in Homeopathy had undertaken clinical studies on “chikungunya and influenza like illnesses” and the Central Council for Research in Ayurveda Sciences (CCRAS) and Central Council for Research in Unani Medicines(CCRUM) had signed MOUs with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for joint collaborative projects on Ayurvedic and Unani formulations related to treatment of Dengue and Tuberculosis (TB) respectively.

Speaking to dna, Director General of the ICMR, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, said that there was much government encouragement to find ways of integrating allopathic and traditional forms of medicine. ICMR, she said would be responsible for generating and collecting sound data and evidence.

The MOU with the Unani council was signed two years ago under the aegis of the then DG, VM Katoch, who had written to all other institutions to cooperate. Swaminathan, then Director at the National Institute of Research in Tuberculosis, had held meetings with the Unani council to go over the compounds they said might help in TB.

“However, we decided that the treatment for tuberculosis had to be allopathic,” said Swaminathan. What Unani could offer was relief with side effects, help build a patient’s appetite, weight, make their jaundiced liver healthier.
This resulted in formulations of protocols and, so far, trials are being carried for the safety of these unani formulations in “animal models”. The next step will be to test the interaction of the formulations with existing TB drugs, on volunteers. If that goes well, then the trials will move to giving these formulations to TB patients.

“The dengue project is recent and came about after the recent outbreak,” said Swaminathan. she recounted that the Ayurveda council had advertised a list of herbal remedies for dengue during the outbreak, and Swaminathan spoke to Ayush officials about validating these remedies. “If they work then we can out them out in a global market,” she said.

Due to this conversation, two teams comprising allopathic and ayurvedic professionals were set up to, again, form protocols and chart a way of carrying out these studies in allopathic hospitals. “Currently it’s in the preliminary stages and we’re looking at four to five hospitals across India to test certain ayurvedic formulations. Right now they’re testing the batches for purity and quality,” said Swaminathan. After this, they need to approach the ethics committee.

“Ayurveda hasn’t offered a cure for dengue, but increased symptomatic relief,” she added saying that maybe antiviral activity could be observed in these formulations. “We need to have such clinical trials, similar to how siddha medicine is being tested in a lab in Chennai for antiviral activities.”