‘Jharkhand herb may help treat typhoid’

A herbal medicine used by a local healer in a Jharkhand village has been found to inhibit up to 40 antibiotic-resistant strains of the disease.

Written by Adam Halliday | Published: September 4, 2011 12:18:45 am

A herbal medicine used by a local healer in a Jharkhand village may become a ‘good alternative’ in treating typhoid since it can inhibit up to 40 antibiotic-resistant strains of the disease,scientists from two laboratories have said.

Although Shatrughna Prasad will not see the day his herbal concoction may end up solving a major medical problem (he passed away a few years ago),the herb used by the Class VII-pass local healer has shown ‘encouraging’ results after two-and-a-half-years of validation tests,scientists said.

“I cannot claim this will become an antibiotic,but it can become a good alternative,” said Dr B Chhatopadhyay,assistant director of the Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) Virus Unit in Kolkata,adding the tests are in their second stage and chemical analysis has begun.

Prasad,a resident of Jharkhand’s Hazaribag district,used a local herb from the region to treat typhoid patients there; he would grind 10 to 15 grams of the herb’s young,tender shoots,either fresh or dried,with a cup of water and filter it. He would then administer the solution orally to his patients—one cup twice daily till cured—advising them to abstain from meat and alcohol during that period.

When a scout for the Ahmedabad-based National Innovation Foundation (NIF) discovered this,it was passed on to the ICMR. Dr Chhatopadhyay went to the village and stayed there for a week,talking to the healer and his patients in an effort to find out the mode of treatment.

The herb was then tested at the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED),also in Kolkata,by a team consisting of Dr Chhatopadhyay and Dr Shanta Dutta,a scientist at NICED’s bacteriology division. Tests were conducted on mice during the first year (up to ten times) and isolates taken from patients. The validation report shows that the herb extract can “inhibit 40 isolates of E.Coli,S typhi B 3385,C3891,E 1590 taken from patients who had developed resistance to antibiotics at 250 ug/ml”. Another four isolates were also inhibited at higher doses,but at under 512 ug/ml.

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