Grandma's remedy for radiation exposure
|By: Anshuman G Dutta|| ||Date:
2010-07-06|| ||Place: Delhi|
DRDO scientists to develop antidote against effects of radioactivity, the key ingredient being tulsi
Not just cough and cold, the humble tulsi that grows in your garden can protect you from more severe complications. Scientists from Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in their initial research have discovered the anti-radiation powers of the magic herb.
PLANT POWER: Tulsi is used in religious affairs in India. representative
Now, the Institute of Nuclear Medicines and Allied Sciences (INMAS) at DRDO is planning to develop India's own antidote against all kinds of nuclear radiation.
"Krishna Tulsi, which is a variant of regular tulsi and found in abundance in southern parts of the country, has several medicinal values. The extracts of this plant and its leaves can be used to produce anti-radiation medicines and researches are already going on in this field," said a senior DRDO scientist.
Speaking to MiD DAY, Dr W Selvamurthy, Chief Controller, Research and Development (R&D), DRDO said, "We are actually looking for radio-protectors against radiation. But currently only one chemical is available as radio-protector which itself is very toxic in nature. So we experimented with herbal products and found three plants which can be developed as anti-radiation medicine. Tulsi is one of them."
Besides tulsi, other plants with anti-radiation powers are Sea Buckthorn, and Podophyllum Hexandrum (Himalayan May Apple) which are available at high-altitude areas. "Due to the altitude these plants are exposed to UV radiation and thus develop a kind of immunity. But tulsi has been found to be more effective and there is no problem as far as raw material is concerned," said Dr Selvamurthy.
|TULSI TERE AANGAN KI|
The tulsi based anti-radiation medicine is being developed with the help of Dr Uma Devi who was formerly with Manipal Institute of Medical Sciences (MIMS). INMAS also played a critical role in containing Mayapuri radiation leakage and had identified 60 patients affected by the radiation. Out of the eight who were highly exposed two have been cured while six others are still being monitored.
While phase I is already complete, DRDO has got approval for the second phase which also involves clinical trials. Besides the armed forces the medicine would also be used for civilian purposes in cancer treatment. "This herbal medicine can also be used for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy," Dr Selvamurthy informed.
Radiotherapy used for cancer treatment, while killing the malignant tissues, also destroys live tissues, but tulsi-based drugs have been found to stop the adverse effects. "Tulsi with its antioxidant properties can scavenge free radicals during radiotherapy," Dr Selvamurthy added.
The medicine once cleared for use would be available in capsules. Due to the raw material being available in abundance the cost is expected to be nominal.
Tulsi has been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda for its diverse healing properties. It is mentioned by Charaka in the Charaka Samhita, an ancient Ayurvedic text. Tulsi's extracts are used in ayurvedic remedies for common colds, headaches, stomach disorders, inflammation, heart disease, various forms of poisoning, and malaria. Traditionally, tulsi is taken in many forms: as herbal tea, dried powder, fresh leaf, or mixed with ghee. Essential oil extracted from Karpoora Tulsi is mostly used for medicinal purposes and in herbal cosmetics, and is widely used in skin preparations due to its anti-bacterial activity. For centuries, the dried leaves of Tulsi have been mixed with stored grains to repel insects.