By Pushpa Narayan
CHENNAI: Ayurveda is making major inroads into area sexual treatment. Drugs with herbal ingredients to treat erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation will soon be tried on humans after they have shown positive signs on animals. If proven successful, this would help Ayurveda, which usually guards the processes and ingredients of its preparations a secret, gain acceptance as an evidence-based medical system.
The two drugs manufactured by a Mumbai-based pharma company based on Ayurvedic texts are now being tested on rats and pigs at the Post Graduate Institute of Basic Sciences, University of Madras, under a team lead by sexologist Dr Narayana Reddy.
"The drugs have shown some initial positive signs. We will have the results of the animal trials in the next six months and if they are successful, we will start human trials," Dr Reddy said.
The trial, according to sexologists, is unique not just because it is the first time such an Ayurvedic drug is put under scientific scrutiny, but also because of the possibilities of treating sexual problems with herbs made of herbal extracts. Side effects have been a concern with such drugs from other streams of medicine.
"It is too early to say if the drug will not have any side-effects, but I am certain that we can minimize the side effects to a great extent. This may provide a new option for patients with contra-indications for chemical preparations," Dr Reddy said.
Mumbai-based sexologist Dr Prakash Kothari is equally excited about the trials. "Ayurveda is probably the only system of medicine that considers sexual health as inseparable from general health. Such studies will showcase the effectiveness of Ayurveda to the world and may also lay down a new treatment regime for sex-related disorders," he said.
"The study seeks to provide scientific evidence for the effectiveness of Ayurvedic preparations. We hope the results would put things in black and white," said a spokesperson of the manufacturing company, assuring that the drugs would be affordable to the common man.
Unlike allopathic medicines, Ayurvedic pills do not offer instant results. The drug regimen shows that it has to be taken for at least 40 consecutive days. It is yet to be tested if the patients will have to follow diet specifications.