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Scientists from Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), organisation responsible for the development of technology for military use, headquartered in New Delhi, India found that the Indian herb ‘krishna tulsi’ also called ‘holy basil’ has medicinal and antioxidant properties that might work against radiation and help treat it.
Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) is an aromatic plant of the Lamiaceae or mint family. There are two main morphotypes cultivated in India: green-leaved (Sri or Lakshmi tulsi) and purple-leaved (Krishna tulsi).
Mid Day quoted senior DRDO scientist as saying, “The extracts of this plant and its leaves can be used to produce anti-radiation medicines and researches are already going on in this field.”
Herb’s anti-radiation properties
In the first phase of trials, scientists discovered that Krishna tulsi has curative properties that could help cure nuclear-radiation.
Following this, DRDO has been given permission to begin research for the second phase, involving clinical trials.
Mid day quoted Dr. W. Selvamurthy, chief controller, Research and Development, DRDO, as saying regarding the findings, “We are actually looking for radio-protectors against radiation. But currently only one chemical is available as radio-protector which itself is very toxic in nature.”
“So we experimented with herbal products and found three plants which can be developed as anti-radiation medicine. Tulsi is one of them,” added Selvamurthy.
Other plants are Sea Buckthorn, and Podophyllum Hexandrum (Himalayan May Apple) which are available at high-altitude areas.
“Due to the altitude these plants are exposed to UV radiation and thus develop a kind of immunity. But tulsi has been found to be more effective and there is no problem as far as raw material is concerned,” stated Selvamurthy.
Furthermore, Institute of Nuclear Medicines and Allied Sciences (INMAS) at DRDO is planning to develop India’s own antidote against nuclear-radiations.
Emphasizing on the medicine’s use for civilian purposes besides in armed forces, Selvamurthy was quoted by Mid Day as saying, “This herbal medicine can also be used for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.”
Though the current procedure used for cancer treatment (radiotherapy) kills the malignant tissues, it also destroys live tissues.
Tulsi-based drugs, however, have been found to prevent adverse effects. According to researchers, tulsi can scavenge free radicals during radiotherapy.
The medicine that is expected to have a nominal price due to abundance of raw material would be soon available in capsules.