Thiruvananthapuram: A team of researchers from the Department of Biochemistry, University of Kerala with the support of the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE), has come out with a significant work that has given scientific validation to three classical ayurvedic kashayams. The three are Balaguluchiadi, Punarnavadi and Gugguluthiktaam — used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis based on molecular signalling studies.
According to reports, across the world around one per cent of the population is affected by this ailment and has to rely mostly on conventional medicines, which have side effects. Kashayam means a decoction which is an extract of a single herb or group of herbs.
I.S. Aswathy, who was part of the study team, said a major problem faced by classical ayurvedic medicines is lack of scientific evidence in spite of their efficacy. "We were fortunate enough to get a project to the tune of Rs 26 lakhs from KSCSTE and the study took us around 42 months," said Aswathy.
She said the study was conducted in four phases in rats after inducing rheumatoid arthritis and the treatment duration was based on standard protocol. "Severity of pain and inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis were decided by the infiltration of so many pro-inflammatory cytokines, lymphocytes, oxidants etc. By this study we were able to find that kashayams exerted therapeutic efficacy in the management of rheumatoid arthritis by regulating pro anti-inflammatory cytokines balance, increasing antioxidant level and by immune modulation," said Aswathy.
The study team that was guided by A. Helen, Professor and Mentor, has published their work in the international peer reviewed Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine and two papers are under review. The highlight of the study is that while all these three kashayams are available in the market there was no scientific validation, which the study team has been able to do.
The team instead of relying on the readily available kashayams, decided to make their own under the guidance of Ayurveda physician Sukumara Varier of Kottakal Arya Vaidyasala. The team prepared the decoction from 28 different forms of herbs and the major difference was they did not add any substance, which is added to increase the shelf life.
With regard to the outcome, Aswathy said "our attempt was to give better hope to patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis besides a vehicle to enrich traditional knowledge with well documented scientific background for the sake of mankind."