Giloy may raise immunity, but isn’t safe for all, find Mumbai doctors | India News – Times of India

MUMBAI: Can giloy, the immune-enhancing herb whose popularity skyrocketed amid the Covid pandemic cause liver failure?
Last year when Mumbai researchers published their findings about six liver failure cases linked to consumption of giloy (Tinospora cordifolia), they were criticised by followers of traditional Indian medicine. They suggested the patients may have taken preparations made from a similar-looking medicinal plant Tinospora crispa known to induce liver problems. It resulted in the department of Ayush issuing a clarification of the former’s efficacy on October 5, 2021. The same researchers have now used botany, biochemistry and genome sequencing to conclusively prove the six patients had indeed taken giloy. “But the reason they suffered liver toxicity is they harboured an auto-immune condition that most likely got expressed by giloy’s immuneenhancing ability,”’ said Dr Aabha Nagral, the main researcher from Jaslok Hospital who treated the six patients.
The latest research, published in the November issue of ‘Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hepatology’, has for the first time in medical history published an algorithm to differentiate between the two medicinal herbs and provide norms to analysing any unknown herb producing injury.

Giloy is a super herb widely used in Ayurveda. “It is called amrut as it gives life. Giloy is so regenerative that even if a small part of the plant falls to ground, it creates a new plant,” said Dr Govind Khati, former dean of Podar Ayurveda Hospital and department of Ayush director. He said it “could cause no harm”.
The researchers found giloy raises immune markers in blood, but brought autoimmune hepatitis to the fore in a subset of patients (with hypothyroidism and diabetes).
The previous study got much response from the Ayush community defending giloy and from liver specialists who reported patients undergoing a liver transplant after giloy use. “Modern drugs too have side-effects, including liver toxicity, but they carry warnings. A similar process needs to be followed for herbal drugs as public perception of all herbs as safe is not accurate,” said Dr Nagral. During Covid, the six patients who were studied used giloy to boost immunity. Four used the plant to get an extract, while others used commercially available products. The patient who died had used the readymade product. For the second study, the team collected the four plant samples and two commercial preparations consumed by their patients. It had a tough time finding Tinospora crisp for use as the “control sample” against which samples could be evaluated.
“We found that Tinospora crispa doesn’t grow in Maharashtra and we initially tried to get it from Assam,” said Dr Nagral. They later found a local researcher cultivating the plant for her own study. “We waited for six months for the plant to grow,” said the doctor.
“Based on morphological, microscopic, phytochemical, and DNA studies, the four plant part samples were identified as Tinospora cordifolia or giloy. The two commercial preparations could not be analysed as other ingredients interfered with analysis,” said the study.

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