The search for an affordable drug to treat hypertension without side effects has led scientists to the Indian kitchen. Some spices and condiments commonly used in Indian soups, curries and rasam, when taken in a specific proportion with white lotus petals, can bring down blood pressure, say scientists after an animal study done in Chennai.
Researchers found that Siddha drug 'venthamarai chooranam,' a mixture of cardamom, ginger, cumin seeds, long pepper (thippili), dill (sada kuppi), licorice (adimadhuram) and white lotus petal could bring down blood pressure in rats during laboratory experiments. Excited by the finding published recently in science journal Experimental Biology and Medicine, doctors at the Sri Ramachandra University are now gearing up for a larger animal study and clinical trials of the Siddha drug.
Genetically predisposed to hypertension, one in four Indians in cities suffer from the disorder. The incidence is about 15% in rural population. Cardiologist Dr S Thanikachalam, who led the research, said: "Every time I see a patient's case sheet, I underline four causes - smoking, diabetes, hypertension and obesity." People with hypertension are mostly treated with allopathic drugs, but dropouts are high because many find the drugs expensive and some suffer from side effects. "So, we decided to look at the ancient Indian medical literature for answers," he said.