Hyderabad: The ancient Indian wisdom of growing Tulasi (Ocimum
sanctum) in the backyard is not without a scientific backing.
Researchers now reveal that the Indian holy basil wards off the ill
effects of radiation, whether background or nuclear. Tulasi also
protects the body cells in patients undergoing radiation therapy for
Scientists at the DRDO’s Institute of Nuclear Medicines and Allied
Sciences, and the Department of Radiobiology, Kasturba Medical
College, Manipal, have successfully tested extract from Tulasi on
mouse models for its anti-radiation and anti-cancer properties. The
DRDO has gone a step further. It is busy preparing an herbal dose from
Tulasi to serve as both preventive and curative medicine.
Incidentally, the mouse models survived the radiation dose given to
them after they were fed with the Tulasi extract.
Those visiting high radiation areas in case of nuclear material leak can safely take the Tulasi preparation as a preventive measure against radiation risks. Even those exposed to high doses of radiation can take the Tulasi medicine to minimize the damage to the body organs. In
the mouse model there was no impact on bone marrow. It is the bone marrow, which is hit in case of radiation exposure, and this brings down the immunity level.
DRDO proposes to take up human trials after the mouse model has given
wonderful results, points out Dr W Selvamurthy, chief controller
(research and development), DRDO. He presented a research paper on the
anti-radiation impact of Tulasi extract at the 99th Indian Science
Congress, which concluded in Bhubaneswar on Saturday.
“We need to conduct a few more tests and take up phase II trials
before it is released for general use,” said Dr Selvamurthy. The DRDO
is spending Rs 7 crore on the Tulasi project.
Research on animals on the anti-radiation effect of Tulasi has been going on in India for the last four decades. Doctors at Kasturba Medical College have earlier found that Tulasi contains special chemicals called glutathione, which gives it the anti-cancer and anti-radiation properties. According to eminent radiobiologist Prof P Uma Devi, “the enzymes present in Ocimum herb including glutathione transferase, glutathione reductase and glutathione peroxidase, superoxidase dismutate and lipid peroxide help in bringing down the radiation influence the body.
Indian researchers in several animal models have noticed that Tulasi
protects mutations and chromosomal aberrations in persons exposed to
nuclear radiation. The free radicals present in the Ocimum extract eat
away (scavenge) the radio nuclei and thus prevent genetic damage.
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