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The popularity of Giloy, a traditional herb also known as ‘Guduchi’, skyrocketed when the Covid-19 pandemic set its feet in the world. Its immunity boosting properties became an attraction. Now a recent study has raised concerns about the impact of its unprescribed and uncontrolled use on the liver.
The study was recently published in Hepatology Communications, the official journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease.
“Tinospora cordifolia, also known as the heart-leaved moonseed (or Giloy in Hindi and Guduchi in Sanskrit), is popularly marketed in India as an ‘immune-booster herbal supplement’ with the ‘potential’ to prevent COVID-19, despite a lack of strong clinical evidence for its use,” the study notes.
While it validates that Giloy has been shown to have immune-stimulating properties, it adds, “A recent paper describing six patients from a single center revealed that Giloy use could lead to acute hepatitis with autoimmune features or unmask an underlying autoimmune chronic liver disease (CLD).”
Considering how people turned to Giloy in the midst of the pandemic, this study is a natural cause for worry.
However, in the wake of these reports, the Minsitry of Ayush, which promotes alternative medicines in India, has reiterated that Giloy is safe to consume.
Here’s what the Ministry of Ayush posted via Instagram.
“Following the disruption in the media, Ministry of Ayush would like to reiterate that Giloy (Tinospora cordifolia) is being used in therapeutics since long and is as an absolutely safe Ayurveda medicine. However, Tinospora crispa, a similar looking plant may manifest adverse effects. It’s advised to not get swayed by false claims,” read the statement.
This statement was also supported by an October 2021 press release issued by the Ministry of Ayush, concerning Giloy.
“There are good number of studies published in peer reviewed indexed Journals to substantiate safety and efficacy of Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia). Its hepato-protective properties are also well established. Guduchi is known for its immense therapeutic applications and the practices are regulated in accordance with various applicable provisions,” the statement read.
Issuing a word of caution, the Ministry noted, “It is observed that different species of Tinospora are available and only Tinospora cordifolia should be used in therapeutics, whereas similar looking species like Tinospora crispa may manifest adverse effects.”
The Ministry of Ayush shared another supportive link in which Sanjeev Rastogi from the Department of Kaya Chikitsa, State Ayurvedic College and Hospital, Lucknow University, Lucknow, delved into the “generalisation” of a “Herbal Immune Booster-Induced Liver Injury in the Covid-19 Pandemic”.
It reads, “Raising the concern about possible adverse effects associated with any unsupervised use of herbal/CAM or modern medicines should be welcomed by all. Indeed, Ayurveda recognizes the fact of drug related adversities depending upon their processing, dose, intake methods, and strategy of administration. Naturally a drug from any source, natural or synthetic, if taken unsupervised, may cause adverse effects.”
While Giloy started gaining unprecedented glory in 2020, HealthShots had spoken to Dr Amitabh Parti, Director, Internal Medicine at Fortis Hospital, Gurugram, to understand its likely side effects.
Dr Parti had pointed out that one can go wrong with the dosage of Giloy if one is self-medicating, and that can do more harm than good. These are the side effects he pointed out:
* Dropped blood sugar levels
* Trigering of certain autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
* May be harmful to pregnant women