A Mumbai-based research now published in the International Journal of Medical and Health Research has paved the way for possible use of homoeopathic medicine to treat malaria, a mosquito-borne infection, that has already led to 44 deaths and 3.4 lakh positive cases in the country till July this year. In Maharashtra alone, the disease has killed six and infected 2,713 in the same period.
In a laboratory test set-up, an ultra-dilute homoeopathic preparation was prepared by extracting samples from Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria. The homoeopathic preparation was used in-vitro to check if it had anti-malarial activity. The research was carried out in Nair hospital’s department of clinical pharmacology.
“Homoeopathy has been criticised for lack of scientific evidence. This lab-model test established that a medicine developed from an organism that causes malaria can be used to treat the infection,” said Dr Rajesh Shah, principal investigator in the research. Following the tests, Shah is approaching the government in order to conduct a full-fledged clinical trial for the homoeopathic medicine.
“We found that the homoeopathic medicine exhibited 65 per cent inhibition against malaria while chloroquine treatment has 54 per cent efficacy,” Shah claimed. The research was published in the International Journal of Medical and Health Research in July. It observed that the homoeopathic solution inhibited enzyme called hemozoin is known to have an anti-malarial effect.
With drug resistance on the rise globally, doctors have found increasing resistance to chloroquine drug, an allopathic medicine, to treat patients with malaria. Confirming this, Dr Renuka Munshi, the head of clinical pharmacology department, Nair hospital, said they are using the artemisinin drug to treat malaria.
Research is also underway to find newer drugs to treat malaria. “The research on homoeopathy medicine is purely a lab-based study. In experimental setting, it has shown benefits. We cannot comment on clinical validity until it is tested. How doctors handle it clinically, also needs to be seen,” Dr Munshi said. In laboratory research, she said, the medicine showed promise to treat malaria. “But on humans, it still needs to be tested. There is a long way to go.”
The disease spreads through anopheles mosquito that breeds in open potholes and stagnated water. Over the years, Mumbai with its “fight the bite” campaign has managed to bring down the malaria count.
In a move that can also benefit homoeopathic practitioners looking to merge homoeopathy and allopathy, the state medical education and drugs department issued a notification last month allowing doctors with licentiate of the court of examiners in homoeopathy (LCEH) degrees to register themselves under the Maharashtra Medical Council and practice allopathy. The Indian Medical Association is, however, against the government decision claiming that several court decisions have been against cross-pathy.