Clinical trials are to start soon in southern India on Siddha formulations to combat HIV/AIDS.
Decks have been cleared for scientists to test the herbal drugs in clinical laboratories under standardised research protocol and, which will be monitored by the State Committee for Research in Siddha on HIV/AIDS.
Siddha is a native system of medicine unique to Tamil Nadu. The state government will provide infrastructural and financial support to promote research on Siddha formulations on obtaining approval from the Indian Council of Medical Research for the purpose.
According to a senior health department official, the State Committee will invite applications for the research, where applicants will be asked to declare the formula and dosage, but which will be kept confidential. "We will begin with animal trials. Once we see success, we will start testing them on humans," the official said, reports Pushpa Narayan in Times of India.
Dr C N Deivanayagam, former director, Tambaram TB Sanatorium, off the state capital of Chennai, said that the sanatorium had already established the efficiency of three Sidha drugs, rasagandhi mezhugu, amukara churanam and nellikai legiyam, all of which did reduce viral loads in HIV positive people to a significant extent, without the use of any antiretroviral drugs."
The findings have been published in medical journals and also presented at the international AIDS conference in South Africa.
Separately Dr B S Pandian, head of department of Siddha at Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University has urged the varsity ethical committee to sanction animal trials on a Siddha powder, vembu.
There are at least eight different molecules which, the Sidha practitioners say, have been found effective in reducing the viral load. Those claims have to be validated now.
"As of now, we don't have a standard for testing Siddha drugs as it's practised mostly in Tamil Nadu only. We will need to develop guidelines on par with international standards," noted Supriya Sahu, director of the Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society project.