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19 Nov 2019, Edition - 1589, Tuesday

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India News

Can Ayurveda Help Fight the Onslaught of Multidrug-resistant TB?

Indrani Thakurata

India has been tackling this deadly disease for very long but the figures refuse to die down. In 2016, the number of tuberculosis related deaths in India was about one third of the total number of global toll. Recently, Our PM took a challenge of eradicating TB from our country by 2025 with multi-sectoral interventions. Some say, the biggest hurdle in achieving the desired result are the overuse of antibiotics that has caused many bacteria to become resistant to the drugs and the patients approaching practitioners in alternate health like ayurveda for treatment. So, busting one big misconception that alternate therapies can cure TB, Dr. Pratik Bhoite, Ayurveda expert at allAyurveda.com talks about the ayurvedic perspective on TB. Read on…
A quick look at the headlines will send shivers down your spine. With rising incidence of TB in the country and the spread of Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), it seems like we would clutch at straws to fight the deadly disease. While the use of Ayurveda to cure TB or fight the disease may seem just like that, modern research suggests otherwise. Ayurveda may actually have a lot to offer and there is growing global interest in the development of new anti-tuberculosis drugs and medications based on Ayurveda’s vast repository of knowledge.

The Ayurvedic Perspective

Tuberculosis is not a new disease, although the modern lifestyle and abuse of pharmaceutical products has reinvented it with more potent strains that contribute to the multidrug-resistant variety. “Ancient Ayurvedic experts studied and defined the disease as Rajayakshma, mentioning various symptoms that we now associate with TB – from coughing up blood and muscle loss, to weakened immunity and weight loss. They also described various natural herbal formulations that could help treat the condition and this Ayurvedic knowledge is now attracting greater interest among medical researchers.”

But do Ayurvedic treatments for tuberculosis really work, and just how effective are they?

Can Ayurveda Cure TB?

“Ayurveda can help to combat TB, but at present, it does not offer any proven cure for the disease. As pointed out by several researchers and studies, Ayurvedic treatments can be extremely helpful as an add-on to conventional anti-TB drug therapy. Early studies show that when TB drugs were first introduced in the country, they had a cure rate of just 11.42% and a fatality rate of 40.9%. When those same drugs were used in combination with Ayurvedic therapies however, the cure rate jumped to 41.3%, while fatalities dropped to just 3.8%!”
“Modern TB drugs are obviously a lot more effective than those used half a century ago, but as we can see, they are still inadequate in the fight against TB and drug-resistant TB strains. This should make it clear that Ayurveda still has an important role to play in improving TB patient outcomes. Of course, we need to look at Ayurveda in the modern context before we turn to it for any help. “

Can Ayurveda Help Treat TB Today?

Although more research is needed to support any significant shift in public policy and treatment protocols, there is already plenty of evidence for the efficacy of Ayurveda, along with allopathic medications. “Studies in the Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology and the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, show that using Ayurvedic formulations like Ashwagandha, Chyawanprash, and Bhringarajasava while on anti-TB drugs improves patient outcomes. These treatments help reduce a wide range of symptoms like coughing up blood, breathlessness, pain, fever, muscle wastage, weight loss, and lowered immunity. They also help improve liver function, protecting against worrying side effects of conventional medications.

These studies were conducted at OPDs in a number of hospitals across the country, and based on their findings many researchers are calling for more funding of Ayurveda tuberculosis research. They believe that Ayurveda could and should play a more important role in TB treatment today.

“While Ayurveda undoubtedly has an important role to play, I must stress the importance of treatment with allopathic anti-TB drugs. Patients should adhere strictly to prescribed treatment regimens, only using Ayurvedic formulations as an add-on to improve and hasten recovery. Ayurvedic medications typically start to show results within the first 4 weeks, but should be used for the entire duration of treatment. If you plan to use Ayurvedic therapies, make sure to inform your health care provider and check with a qualified Ayurveda practitioner for dosage requirements.”

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