Using medicinal herbs, scientists of Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University have developed a herbal drug to treat mastitis, a cattle disease widespread in India. Another drug they have developed treats cattle wounds.
Where the drugs differ from commercial products is that they leave no side-effects and cost much less.
Mastitis causes inflammation and abnormalities in the cattle’s udder area with symptoms like redness, swelling, hardness and pain at critical stage. The milk of infected animals turns watery, or even into flakes and clots that make it unfit for drinking.
Talking to The Indian Express, vice chancellor of GADVASU V K Taneja said, “In India, due to mastitis dairy farmers incur losses estimated at over Rs 7,000 crore annually. There are a number of medicines available but they all are chemical-based. A variety of germicides such as iodine, chlorhexidine, sodium hypochlorite, etc have been tried successfully as teat dips in preventing these infections. But one major concern that remains with these is the possible passing on of disinfectant residues into the milk. Hence, herbal drug as teat dip may be the best answer. Even WHO has emphasised the use of medicinal plants for curing mastitis as they are safer than synthetic drugs.”
While teat dips for mastitis in the market cost over Rs 500, the university estimates the price of its herbal drugs will be around Rs 300. The price of herbal ointment to heal wounds, too, will be around half that of synthetic alternatives.
Taneja added, “We have identified and evaluated some herbs for their antibacterial, anti-parasitic and fly repellent qualities. One such herb, evaluated in terms of minimum inhibitory concentration, was found to have antibacterial quality against common animal disease pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus, Escherchia coli, Salmonella typhimurium, Listeria and Bacillus cerius.”
Asked about plans to launch these products, he said, “We are looking for pharmaceutical companies who we can tie up with and launch these products commercially.”
During trials in the varsity dairy farm, the post-milking use of herbal teat dip was found effective in preventing clinical mastitis and in lowering occurrence of new intra-mammary infections.
“The presence of mastitis-causing organisms and drug residues of mastitis therapy in milk poses a threat to consumer health,” said Taneja.
The herbal ointment prevents contamination besides healing wounds in cattle and buffalo calves. Comparative trials with other herbal products showed that the time required to heal wounds with the two preparations was almost similar, indicating the high efficacy of the newly developed herbal product.
Work is also in progress on herbal disinfectants for animal sheds and hospitals. While common herbs like lemon-grass, aloe vera, turmeric and neem have been used in products, the university chooses not to disclose other “rare” herbs used as ingredients. “We have grown them in small quantities for trials in our herbal garden,” said Taneja.