Thai research probes herbal solutions to PM2.5 dust-related chronic diseases

Research into herbal remedies aims to help chronic disease caused by PM2,5 air pollution. (via The Guardian)

In promising scientific research, experts are exploring the potential of three herbal plants in combatting chronic diseases connected to PM2.5 dust. The focal point of this collaborative project is to address the health challenges arising from prolonged exposure to harmful PM2.5 dust particles, a pressing concern in regions affected by air pollution.

The collaborative efforts have seen researchers from Chaophraya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital in Prachin Buri joining forces with experts from Mahidol University’s Faculty of Medicine at Chakri Naruebodindra Medical Institute in Samut Prakan.

The trio of herbal plants chosen for this ambitious research undertaking include fingerroot (Boesenbergia rotunda), green chiretta (Andrographis paniculata), and blue trumpet vine (Thunbergia laurifolia).

Associate Professor Phisit Khemawoot, the deputy dean for research at Mahidol’s Faculty of Medicine at the Chakri Naruebodindra Medical Institute, is optimistic about the potential of these plants to alleviate the health impacts of chronic illnesses associated with PM2.5 dust pollution. He reassured that the institute stands ready with the necessary resources and expertise to support this research journey, spanning from initial laboratory experiments to eventual clinical trials.

The driving force behind this ambitious herbal research initiative is the escalating prevalence of chronic diseases, most notably diabetes and high cholesterol, as highlighted by Suphaporn Pitiporn, secretary-general of the Chaophraya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital Foundation. She underscored the significant complications that often accompany these chronic conditions, including the development of cancer.

The PM2.5-related diseases and complications don’t just exact a toll on Thailand’s citizens, but also a substantial financial toll on Thailand due to the ballooning costs associated with imported medicines.

Pitiporn emphasized the pressing need to find alternative treatments to these expensive drugs, aiming to enhance public access to essential healthcare services and treatments. The research into herbal alternatives may provide progress towards that goal.

Furthermore, Pitiporn shed light on the already established effectiveness of fingerroot and green chiretta, particularly in the context of their use on Covid-19 patients during the pandemic. Building on this promising foundation, this collaborative project seeks to delve deeper into the intricacies of the medicinal properties of these plants, ultimately striving to develop new medicines.

The research into herbal solutions is critical as pollution worsens in Bangkok and across Thailand. In March, the Ministry of Public Health released a report finding that 1,449,716 people in Thailand and 31,695 people in Bangkok are suffering from diseases caused by PM2.5 pollution. Skin irritation, stroke, and eye inflammation were the most commonly reported illnesses.

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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