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Can 'Nilavembu' Cure Dengue? After Doubts, Tamil Nadu Govt Jumps to Its Defence

The government invited flak from all quarters after reports surfaced that the drug was causing "infertility" among its consumers. Tamil Nadu health minister on Thursday asked people to refrain from rumourmongering as it would invite severe action against those guilty.

Poornima Murali | CNN-News18

Updated:October 19, 2017, 8:14 PM IST
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Can 'Nilavembu' Cure Dengue? After Doubts, Tamil Nadu Govt Jumps to Its Defence
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Chennai: A day after the Opposition leader MK Stalin and actor Kamal Haasan questioned the efficacy of the ‘nilavembu’ - a herbal concoction said to be effective against several fevers - the Tamil Nadu government has come out in defence of its decision to distribute the drug.

The government invited flak from all quarters after reports surfaced that the drug was causing "infertility" among its consumers. Tamil Nadu health minister on Thursday asked people to refrain from rumourmongering as it would invite severe action against those guilty.

"Nilavembu concoction is a traditional medicine and has got no side effects. It increases the blood tissues and we have asked for more Nilavembu powder from Singapore and Malaysia to help boost people's immunity," Vijaya Bhaskar, the State Health Minister said.

The clarification came a day after Kamal Haasan expressed apprehension over the use of this drug. Haasan had asked for the discontinuation of Nilavembu concoction until a proper research was carried out. In another tweet, he added, “It's not that the research should be done by allopathic. The traditionalists should also have done it. It is traditional for medicines to have side effects.”

A day later, the south superstar said that his tweet had been taken out of context, and all he meant was that the distribution of 'nilavembu' drink to people without any scientific research was unacceptable. "The government should learn from neighbouring Kerala how to control the Dengue outbreak."

Despite the concerns, the state government has been distributing it as a cure for the last nine years.

The ‘Siddha’ drug, which is made of nine herbs, is being distributed freely to all eateries by the state government. The Ayush ministry is also promoting its use, observing that nilavembu is “antipyretic (used to prevent or reduce fever), analgesic (pain-relieving) and anti-dengue activity proved.”

While the authorities swear by its use, Siddha medical practitioners have warned of safety concerns. Experts have raised questions on the method of distribution and said it could be fatal in high dosages. They said it cannot be self-administered and should be given only under strict medical supervision.

Panic also spread after media reports, citing scientific studies, said that nilavembu could cause infertility. Doctors News18 spoke to said that tests done on rats had shown that it has an adverse effect on the reproductive system and can also reduce the sperm count.

They also pointed out that there have been no studies to prove the drug’s efficacy against Dengue fever and advised people to not blindly believe that it is a remedy against the disease. Although it is widely believed that the concoction helps reduce viral load and boosts one's immunity, there has been no large-scale scientific study conducted so far.
| Edited by: Mirza Arif Beg
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