Veterinary ethnographic medications can be used as preventive treatments

Down To Earth spoke to MNB Nair from the Center for Ethno-Veterinary Science and Practice, Interdisciplinary University of Health Science and Technology, Bengaluru about the science of EVM

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Antimicrobial resistance is the resistance that has developed in bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites against antimicrobial drugs such that they can no longer be inactivated or killed by the drug.

This occurs naturally over time but the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in human health, animal health and food production can be accelerated. The environment also plays an important role in spreading AMR through waste.

Animal husbandry systems use approximately 75 percent of all antibiotics globally. India is the fourth largest user of antibiotics in animals. The poultry and livestock industry is its largest consumer.

Ethno-veterinary medicine (EVM) involves the use of traditional/herbal preparations in the treatment of diseases of cattle. It has become popular as an alternative to antibiotic use in livestock.

down to earth He spoke to MNB Nair from the Center for Ethno-Veterinary Science and Practice, Interdisciplinary University of Health Sciences and Technology, Bengaluru about the science of EVM and how it is being taught to farmers. Edited excerpts:

Down to earth: What is the science behind the use of ethno-veterinary medicines? How do you operate at the site of injury?

MNB Nair: These practices have been used effectively by the community for a long time.

We evaluated the safety and effectiveness of all documented ethno-veterinary practices (EVP) using Ayurvedic pharmacology.

EVP Mastitis Formula contains antimicrobial activity and milk becomes normal within six days. This preparation has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.

One study reports that after six days of treatment with an herbal formulation, the mastitis-causing microbes are minimal, indicating that the mastitis is cured.

Sequential administration of radish curry leaves, aloe vera, moringa and sissy sand for 20 days is an effective remedy for inducing menstruation and improving pregnancy rate among non-conceiving cows.

There is a successful evaluation of an EVM combination used against endometriosis. There is a highly effective formulation for the treatment of warts in cattle.

Feedback from various milking societies on the effectiveness of EVPs for 30 clinical cases in cattle from 2017-18 to 2021-22 (a field observational study, not a double-blind clinical study) consisting of 750,000 cattle indicates an efficacy of 80 percent.

An alternative approach to the management of mastitis, diarrhea, and fever in dairy animals indicates that the overall clinical success rate for mastitis; Diarrhea and fever were 92.09 percent, 97.41 percent and 97.79 percent, respectively.

The intervention effect study indicated an 87.8 percent reduction in antibiotic residues in milk (intervention area) and a reduction in the incidence of mastitis, enteritis, udder pox, etc.

DTE: What prompted you to introduce this method of treatment?

MNB Nair: We found that the use of antibiotics fails in many cases and that farmers are helpless. The cost of traditional treatment was not affordable for poor farmers. EVP can be used as both a preventative and a treatment method. It can be used as the first response to any conditions by the farmers themselves 24/7.

DTE: How did you take the EVM method from the lab to large-scale practice?

MNB Nair: We have promoted EVP as an Ayurvedic method for treating common ailments. We have partnered with Tamil Nadu University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (TANUVAS) to implement this programme.

We trained 150 veterinarians from Kerala (through Kerala State Veterinary Council), Karnataka (KMF and BAMUL) and Tamil Nadu (AVIN) to field test these formulations and the efficacy was 75-97 per cent. An intervention impact study reports a 49 percent reduction in antibiotic residues in milk even during an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in 2014.

We also started a PG diploma course jointly with TANUVAS for field veterinarians and conducted international exchange programs for the Netherlands, Uganda and Ethiopia. Veterinarians from these countries came to India to understand how to practice EVP. This has improved the confidence of veterinarians and farmers in India.

We held an international conference that was reported through the print media and brought to the attention of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB). The Council has invited us to give a presentation at its headquarters.

NDDB integrated the EVP with the Mainstream Mastitis Control Program as they found it to be effective. We trained 227 veterinarians from different milk federations such as Mehsana, AMUL, BAMUL, KMF, MILMA, veterinarians from Sikkim and LUVAS.

NDDB has promoted the EVP by developing videos and brochures in 13 local languages.

DTE: Can you give a few cases where EVM has performed better than allopathic treatment?

MNB Nair: EVM saved thousands of animals during the foot and mouth disease outbreak in Thanjavur. The Animal Husbandry Department of Kerala has also used EVM preparations to mitigate foot and mouth disease.

NDDB tested EVP formulations for mastitis on 29 chronic cases. Mastitis, which cannot be treated with conventional veterinary medicine, was cured in 27 of these animals.

DTE: What barriers or challenges do you see as EVM scales up?

MNB Nair: EVP formulations need to be validated using a multidisciplinary methodology. Many European countries do not understand the theory and practice of EVP (Easter Holiday Ayurveda). There is very little financial support to validate EVP formulations.

There is no policy to allow people (veterinarians and other stakeholders) who have undergone training, to practice EVP alongside conventional medicine. There is also no R&D investment support that would help turn EVP formulations into products for wider use.

DTE: What are your future plans?

MNB Nair: popularization of EVP through educational programs; Carry out research to understand EVP combinations with Western science standards where possible; EVP inclusion in One Health programs; Spread awareness among stakeholders about the benefit of using an EVP; Integrating EVP with traditional practices and developing good EVM-based products.

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