Scientists have reported homoeopathic remedy to treat frost bite that affects soldiers stationed in high altitude areas such as Siachen.
Studies undertaken at the Command hospital in Chandigarh six months ago on 80 soldiers with frost bite showed that homoeopathic treatment based on an extract of an herb Aloe vera was effective, Dr William Selvamurthy, Director of New Delhi based Defense Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences (DIPAS), told the 86th Indian Science Congress here.
The alcoholic extract of aloe vera, given orally along with two complementary sulphur and phosphorus based compounds, improved the condition of all soldiers affected by frost bite, Selvamurthy told delegates at the environmental physiology section at the congress this morning.
The studies were prompted by encouraging findings in rats in which frost bite symptoms were experimentally induced and which benefitted from the homoeopathic remedy.
The animal studies have shown that the aloe vera extract, when given immediately after exposure to extreme cold, penetrates the cold injured tissues and makes them warm. There are no signs of cold shock, the blood vessels dilated and circulated was re-established.
Even when given six days after an attack of frost bite, there was complete restoration of health.
Victims of frost bite develop irregular circulation of blood, blueness in tissues, numbness and swollen veins.
Other symptoms include lowered vitality, stinging and burning pain and icy coldness of limbs.
Another major finding by DIPAS is that inhalation of nitric oxide gas can treat serious breathing disorders that develop in soldiers and mountaineers in high altitudes.
The condition is known as High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE), is characterized by high blood pressure and decreased oxygen supply.
Rapid ascent to high altitudes, vigorous physical exertion and history of previous attacks of HAPE increase the risk for developing this disorder.
Studies on 14 patients at High Altitude Medical Research Centre at Leh showed the inhalation of pure chemically synthesized nitric oxide oxygen relieves HAPE symptoms, Selvamurthy reported.
A mixture of 50% nitric oxide and 50% oxygen had a better effect, the DIPAS team found. The two gases probably act on separate but complementary mechanisms to restore blood pressure.
Selvamurthy said his team was first to use inhaled nitric oxide in patients with severe HAPE symptoms.
Times of India; January 05, 1999.