? (The StatesMan - 17 May, 2006)
[ Actual Link ]
claims Alternative Medicine can reduce ARSENIC Toxicity ? -
Biplab Das reports.
what an Indian study claims is true, a homoeopathic drug called Arsenicum
Album-30 can help remove arsenic from the body. But allopathic doctors
stress the need for a more rigorous trial.
The study was conducted by a team of researchers from West
Bengals Kalyani University and Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya.
The drug reduced arsenic levels in blood and urine of arsenic
victims from Ghetugachhi village in Nadia district, says Anisur
who headed the team. The blood levels of the toxicity denoting
liver enzymes (like aspartate aminotransferase) returned to almost normal
levels after three months.
Encouraging results in mice led the researchers to test Arsenicum Album-30
on humans (allopathy does not have a treatment for arsenic-induced toxicity).
The subjects for the trial were arsenic-affected residents of Ghetugachhi
village, who were divided into two groups the first comprised
55 people and the second 68.
Twenty-two subjects of the first group were treated as controls and
given a placebo, while the remaining 33 were given Arsenicum Album-
30. The drug or placebo was given twice daily for 10 days. All the subjects
in the second group were given the drug twice daily for 10 days, at
the same dose forthe first group. The medication was withdrawn for 15
days and repeated twice in the same manner. The subjects were provided
arsenic-free water (less than 10 parts per billion (10 ppb). Their blood
and urine samples were periodically taken and studied.
The scientists found that for the first group, the arsenic level in
urine fell from 74.6 ppb to 72.1 ppb over 11 days in people given the
drug, while it increased from 58.4 ppb to 59.4 ppb in the controls.
The arsenic levels in urine and blood of the second group were 43.75
ppb and 24.13 ppb respectively compared to the corresponding permissible
range of 3.33- 25.55 ppb and 0.3-2 ppb. By the 45th day of the trial,
the level in urine fell to 10.78 ppb and that in the blood became normal
by the 60th day, the study claims.
The researchers also observed an increase in the level of glutathione
a compound comprising amino acids, that indicates recovery of
normal liver function. The drug considerably checked lipid peroxidation,
a lethal freeradicals induced chain reaction that destroys liver
cells membrane, write the researchers in a recent issue
of Evidence-based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine.
In another study, published in the March 2006 issue of the same journal,
the researchers showed that two potencies (30 and 200) of the drug brought
high levels of anti-nuclear antibodies (the type of antibodies that
work against the body tissues) to normal in arsenic victims from Ghetugachhi
and Dakshin Panchpota, another village in Nadia district.
But allopathic experts are critical about the findings. Other
tissue markers like hair and nails, which are lacking in the present
study, need to be studied to judge the effects of any drug trial,
says Subhash Mukherjee of Calcutta Medical College, who studies arsenic-affected
people in Murshidabad district.
The increased blood glutathione level suggests some counteractive
effect of the drug on oxidative-stress caused by arsenic. But estimation
of liver enzymes has its limitation to assess chronic toxicity,
says DG Majumder, a member of West Bengals core committee of the
Task Force on Arsenic. But this treatment has a potential to benefit
poor victims, he adds. Treatment costs a mere seven rupees a month
for a family of four.
The villagers are elated about the drug. Sadhan Haldar, a 40-year-old
farmer from Dakshin Panchpota, says, One-and-a-half years ago,
with no appetite and severe arsenic-induced lesions, I was on the brink
of death. But the drug cured skin lesions and restored appetite. And
I resumed farming.
Khitish Bagh, a 30-year-old victim in Ghetugachhi, says, After
taking the drug, I regained my appetite and my arsenic-induced skin
How the drug acts remains unclear. We have already shown efficiency
of homoeopathic drugs in protecting or repairing arsenic-induced DNA
damage in mice, says Khuda-Bukhsh. The homoeopathic drug
may trigger a cascade action of relevant genes back to their normal
functioning turning on the bodys recovery, he concludes.
CSE/Down to Earth Feature Service.