• Under in vitro conditions, nilavembu kudineer (a Siddha medicine) was found to provide protection against chikungunya virus while it was effective as a treatment during acute phase of dengue infection.
  • Dengue subtype-2, which is the most prevalent subtype in India, was used for testing the formulation.
  • There was significant antiviral activity of the formulation at 3% of human dose onwards.
  • Currently, there is no treatment for dengue and chikungunya.
  • The Tamil Nadu government had distributed nilavembu kudineer concoction to treat people infected with dengue during the outbreak in late 2017.

What was the Mode of action?

  • A team found that the nilavembu kudineer formulation was modulating the host response in the case of both chikungunya and dengue virus but in a different manner.
  • The mode of action of the concoction is antiviral in the case of dengue while immuno-modulatory in chikungunya infection.
  • The reason why we say the formulation is immuno-modulatory is because of the way nilavembu kudineer acts upon viral infections in different types of cells.
  • However, the mode of action of the formulation on immuno-modulation is yet to be understood.
  • The monocytes and macrophages are the primary sites of infection in the case of dengue.
  • And kidney is the secondary site of infection by chikungunya virus.
  • The primary site of infection of chikungunya virus is fibroblasts before the virus enters the blood stream and then to different organs.
  • The joints are the worst affected due to chikungunya virus infection.
  • But we don’t have primary joint cell lines to test the formulation at this point.

Tell us more about the Safety studies

  • Safety studies showed that nilavembu kudineer concoction was non-toxic starting from 3% (about 1.8 milligram per millilitre) of human dose.
  • However, the researchers found that andrographis, which is the active ingredient of nilavembu kudineer, when used alone was extremely toxic at 3% of human dose.
  • Human dose is prepared by mixing 5 grams of nilavembu kudineer in 240 ml of water.
  • It is then boiled and reduced to 30 ml and consumed.
  • This shows that nilavembu kudineer as a formulation is safe for use in humans.
  • “The cytotoxicity of andrographis reduces drastically when given as a concoction with other ingredients of nilavembu kudineer
  • The nilavembu kudineer herbal concoction is made by mixing nine ingredients in equal measure.
  • The importance of herbal medicines lies in the fact that they use plant as a whole.
  • This is important because if the modern concepts are used in alternative medicine and only active component is separated, then it will cease to act as a herbal medicine and will plainly act as a chemical drug which can be highly toxic/hazardous to the human body,” the paper notes.