Study links Ayurvedic herb Giloy to liver disease, Centre calls it 'misleading'
The Union ministry of Ayush, tasked with the purpose of researching indigenous alternative medicine systems in India, on Wednesday took note of a media report linking the Gilroy herb to liver damage and debunked it as "completely misleading". This comes after several media publications published a study which said patients who took ayurvedic medications -- especially the herbal immunity booster imbued with Giloy (Tinospora Cordifolia) -- reported liver injuries last year.
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hepatology, a peer-reviewed journal of the Indian National Association for the study of the liver. It mentioned that the use of the herb Tinospora Cordifolia (TC), commonly known as Giloy or Guduchi, resulted in liver failure in six patients in Mumbai.
Debunking the study as "completely misleading", the central government on Wednesday said that its authors "failed in placing all needful details of the cases in a systematic format." Relating Giloy or TC to liver damage, the government said, would be "misleading" and "disastrous" indigenous medicinal system of India. Pointing out that the herb Guduchi or Giloy has been used in Ayurveda for a long time, the Union ministry of Ayush said that the efficacy of TC in managing various disorders is "well-established".
The Ayush ministry in India deals with seven traditional medicinal systems in India, marked in its moniker 'AYUSH' - Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy.
The ministry said that it went through the aforementioned study and found out that the authors of the study had not analysed the contents of the herb that was consumed by the patients. It would have been better, the ministry said in an official release, if the authors had consulted the opinion of a botanist or Ayurveda expert before penning the study. This is because the accountability lies with the authors to ascertain that the herb consumed by the patients is TC and not any other herb, it said.
"In fact, there are many studies that point out that identifying the herb not correctly could lead to wrong results. A similar-looking herb Tinospora Crispa might have a negative effect on the liver. So, before labeling a herb such as Giloy, with such toxic nature, the authors should have tried to correctly identify the plants, following the standard guidelines, which they did not," the ministry said.
The Ayush ministry also pointed out several other "flaws" in the study. Neither does the study make it clear what dosage the patients had taken, nor does it shed any light on whether they took this herb with other medicines. All of these could theoretically lead to medical complications due to a wrong dosage and not for some inherent fault of the herb, the ministry indicated. The study did not take into account the past or present medical records of the patients as well, it said, adding that such publications based on "incomplete information" will open only serve to defame and misinform the public regarding the "age-old practice" of Ayurveda.