Tuberculosis: Medicinal and alternative therapies to treat TB
With emergence of multi-drug-resistant TB, an increasing need has been felt to find adjuvant therapies and herbal remedies that can aid patient recovery and contain the toxic effects of chemical-based drugs. Doctors believe practicing specific alternative therapies can help treat tuberculosis
According to the World Health Organization, tuberculosis or TB remains one of the world’s deadliest infectious killers as each day, over 4,100 people lose their lives to it and close to 28,000 people fall ill with this preventable and curable disease. It is the 13th leading cause of death and the second leading infectious killer after Covid-19 (above HIV/AIDS) and is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs.
About one-quarter of the world's population has a TB infection, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not (yet) ill with the disease and cannot transmit it. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Rohini Kelkar, Senior Consultant – Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology at Metropolis Healthcare Ltd. revealed, “Since the discovery of Streptomycin, in 1943 for the treatment of tuberculosis, several new drugs have been added to the medicinal armamentarium. The philosophy and science for better patient outcomes is based on early diagnosis and accurate identification of the drugs that are most effective for individual patients.”
She added, "This is achieved through conventional culture techniques and drug susceptibility tests which are time-consuming; or sophisticated molecular and rapid laboratory tests that identify the genes/mutations that contribute to drug resistance. Multi-drug therapy based on laboratory results of "next-generation sequencing" with standard protocols and drug dosages, under the supervision of medical specialists, is the best way forward to support the " End TB campaign"."
Dr Deepak Mittal, Founder of Divine Soul Yoga, shared, “Despite the availability of an antibiotic regimen, TB has been an India-specific burden due to our huge below-the-poverty-line population. With the emergence of multi-drug-resistant TB, an increasing need has been felt to find adjuvant therapies and herbal remedies that can aid patient recovery and contain the toxic effects of chemical-based drugs. Therefore, by investing time in practicing specific alternative therapies and thus in a healthy lifestyle, it can be more easily avoided than it can be treated."
Medicinal and alternative therapies to treat TB:
Asserting that it is only through a strong immune system that one can avoid getting sick even if the body harbours the TB bacteria, Dr Deepak Mittal said, “People with a weak immune system are at increased risk of getting infected with TB. The alternative therapies like Yoga, Meditation, Pranayama, healthy diet play an important role in boosting immunity and strengthening the body and defences against viruses and bacteria and act as a preventive bulwark against Tuberculosis. These practices clear the respiratory passages, minimising risks of infections and allergies in the respiratory system which improves the lung function.”
According to him, alternative therapy cannot cure TB but it can definitely prevent it. He stressed, "With preventative treatments and AYUSH protocols integrated, hopefully, the over-burdened Indian health care system can breathe a sigh of relief. There is a need for more awareness, training as well as cross talks between modern medical clinicians and alternative medicine practitioners. The situation also needs reforms in medical education and regulation.”
Referring to a study published in Respirology, Dr Babina NM, Chief Medical Officer at Jindal Naturecure Institute, shared, “Yoga has a complementary role in TB management. It combats the disease by opening-up the chest and maximizing the intake of oxygen through deep inhalation. The ancient practice also supports and strengthens the immune system, besides reducing stress, a major reason for a weak immune system. While there are various medications and treatments available for tuberculosis, the cogency of such treatments can be enhanced to a great extent by the use of yoga and naturopathy.”
She highlighted that unfortunately, drug resistance is intensifying in people each passing day and that there is an urgent need to start capitalising on the best therapies from all orientations to combat tuberculosis in a robust way. Dr Babina NM advised, “Some of the yogic poses to practice for those suffering from tuberculosis are: Kapalbhati Pranayama, Trikonasana, Bhujangasana. These asanas improve the function of the immune system and strengthen liver function. In addition to all this, a proper diet, fresh air, exercise, sunshine and the right mental attitude, all play their part in keeping the body and mind fit. Sunflower seeds, nuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds are great sources of zinc. They provide the body with large amounts of nutrients to fight against diseases like TB. Crushed black pepper, mint, garlic can help in the treatment of TB.”