Chaulmoogra oil: Antileprotic agents
Bacterial infections have affected mankind for long. Pneumonia, otitis, upper respiratory tract infection and so on, are some of the commonly known ones. But have you ever heard of the term leprosy? Well, though not used in our daily conversation, we surely would have come across this at some point in our life. So, what is leprosy?
Leprosy or Hansen’s Disease:
The causative organism of leprosy, Mycobacterium leprae was discovered in 1873. This bacterium spreads through contact with the nose and mouth droplets of an infected person. Thus leprosy is a contagious disease. It first affects the peripheral nerves and the skin of the target. Within a few weeks, the infected person develops skin sores, that are pale-colored and do not go away after months too. The next prominent symptoms are:
- Nerve damage
- Loss of sensation of the limbs
- Muscle weakness
This disease, unfortunately, cannot be diagnosed easily as the symptoms develop only 3-5 years later. So, leprostatic agents like dapsone, clofazimine are commonly prescribed to treat them.
But, these agents again have their list of side effects and hence may not be suitable to all. Then how can this be treated? To answer this question, we just need to direct our attention to our ancient herbal remedies. And by doing so, we find a truly wonderful remedy for leprosy. Let’s now look into this antileprotic agent.
Chaulmoogra oil or Hydnocarpus oil
Chaulmoogra oil is a fixed oil. So, how do we get this oil? Through the cold expression of the ripe seeds of the plant Hydnocarpus anthelmintic, this oil can be obtained. However, it needs to be filtered before use.
This oil has been used for treating leprosy even before the 19th century when antibiotics were yet to make an appearance. This can be evinced by its mention in the ancient literature of both the Indian medicine and Traditional Chinese medicine.
The plant is native to Myanmar, Thailand and East India. But, it is also cultivated in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nigeria.
The physical characteristics of the oil are evaluated as follows:
- Semi-solid at room temperature
- Crude oil is pale greenish-brown tinged
- Filtered oil is yellow to brownish-yellow
- Characteristic odor
- Slightly acrid taste
- At temperatures below 25ᴼC, it exists as a solid
The fixed oil is chemically composed of esters of chaulmoogric acid, hydnocarpic acid and gorlic acid. The other constituents are proteins, cyanophoric glycosides and glycerides of palmitic and oleic acids. The therapeutically active ingredient is hydnocarpic acid.
Used externally for the treatment of:
It is also as subcutaneous or intramuscular injections with a dosage of 0.3 to 1 ml.
Leprosy is a devastating disease that can result in the affected people being ostracized from society. So, let’s stay alert and try to create awareness to ensure that none gets shunned by this disease.