Saturday, 6 March 2010

Ancient cure for leprosy?

Chaulmoogra oil & Chinese herbs

Leprosy is ta ma feng in Chinese, and kusta in Indian and Malay.

Leprosy had been known in China since the Chou Dynasty in 6th century BC. One of the disciples of Confucius died of leprosy.

The causative agent of leprosy is Mycobacterium leprae. It thrives in cool temperatures.  It is found in the Malayan tenggiling (armadillo) and damp soil - eg soil of shaded areas of villages which are surrounded by big trees.

[The causative agent of tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is also found in cool and damp soil in the villages.]

It is interesting to note that there was an ancient cure for leprosy. This ancient recipe was used on lepers in the chaulmoogra 'clinical trial' at the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) in Kuala Lumpur (KL) in 1916. The chaulmoogra oil and sodium gynocardate were tested. From 1925 to 1928, a variety of chaulmoogra oils and derivatives were tested.

The Chaulmoogra tree at Pusat Kawalan Kusta Negara (PKKN)? 

The chaulmoogra nut is described to resemble chestnuts. The oils were for topical use only (rubbed in).

Up til 1928, the standard treatment for leprosy was swallowing Chinese ground fresh kernels of the Malayan tree, pokok Setumpol (Hydrocarpus anthelmintica), known to the Chinese as Tai Foong Chee (great maple tree seeds). [These seeds or their ethyl derivatives were experimented at IMR.]

In 1948, Dr BD Molesworth started leprosy treatment with 4,4'-diaminodiphenylsulphone on 2,000 lepers at Sungei Buloh Settlement. By 1949, there were 1,600 lepers who received injected sulphone or oral sulphetrone.

In: Studies from the Institute for Medical Research, Federation of Malaya, Jubilee Volume No.25, The Institute for Medical Research 1900-1950, by various authors. Printed at the Government Press, Kuala Lumpur, 1951. Text on leprosy are mentioned on pages 252-257.

In: Doctors Extraordinaire by Ho Tak Ming. Published by the Perak Academy. 2nd edition, 2006. Chapter 15, Tuan Doctor, pages 197-206.

History of Leprosy. Standford University 

Personal communication with En Azman bin Abdul Majid, Unit Makmal, PKKN, Sungai Buloh. Friday, 6 July 2007