For knee, ayurveda found as good as high-end drugs
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Dr R A Mashelkar, former director-general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, who has for two decades striven to get diverse medical disciplines together, told The Indian Express that the endorsement by a reputable medical journal shows that the research is a credible one.
The drugs commonly used for knee osteoarthritis are the high-end glucosamine sulphate and celecoxib. According to experts, patients may deteriorate to end-stage arthritis and require joint replacement surgery, which is expensive and not universally accessible. Osteoarthritis is also predominantly treated with analgesics, which provide symptomatic, long-term pain relief but also expose patients to potentially serious toxicity.
In a first, scientists made a head-to-head comparison. They chose ayurvedic formulations based on texts and expert opinion. They found that two shunthi-guduchi formulations, called SGC and SGCG, were equivalent to oral glucosamine sulphate and celecoxib in reducing knee pain and improving knee function in patients.
The trials were carried out over 24 weeks in 2006-07 at New Delhi's AIIMS, Hyderabad's Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences and Pune's Centre for Rheumatic Diseases, says the study's coordinator, Dr Arvind Chopra, director of the Pune-based CRD.
On 440 osteoarthritis patients aged between 40 and 70, scientists evaluated the effects of ayurvedic formulations against those of glucosamine sulphate (2 gm daily) and celecoxib (200 mg daily). The ayurvedic formulations significantly reduced knee pain and improved knee function. Of the patients, 26 showed an asymptomatic increase in an enzyme called SGPT, with otherwise normal liver function. Seven patients on Ayurvedic intervention were withdrawn and the SGPT went back to normal. Other adverse events were mild, scientists said.
Chopra says the study was based on WOMAC, a world wide instrument used to evaluate or measure the effects of pain on a 0-11 scale. A significant improvement was seen in each of the intervention groups. With adverse effects mild, none of the study participants required hospitalisation.