Rosewood leaves for drug to treat osteoporosis in postmenopausal women

The seeds of the tree, scientifically called Dalbergia sissoo, have been traditionally used to treat skin burns and itching. The leaves are used for treating jaundice and decoction of the bark and leaf were used to treat leprosy

Osteoporosis is a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile due to decreased bone mass and bone mineral density leading to frequent fragility fractures. Worldwide, one in three women over the age of 50 years is at risk of developing osteoporosis. Pic: iStock

Two government research institutes have teamed up to develop a novel medicine that prevents bone breakdown, stimulates new bone formation and reduces bone turnover markers in patients of osteoporosis, especially postmenopausal women. Bone Markers are indicators that increase in proportion to fracture risk, independent of bone mineral density.

A team of scientists led by Dr Ritu Trivedi, Principal Scientist, Endocrinology Division of CSIR- CSIR-Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), Lucknow, used leaves of Dalbergia sissoo (North Indian Rosewood or shisham), a deciduous tree, to develop the medicine named ‘Reunion’. The resource (leaves) is freely available, without harming the tree, and has been used for various diseases since centuries.

An article published in the International Journal of Research in Pharmacy and Chemistry mentions using Dalbergia sissoo seed to treat burning on the skin, blue itching and scabies. The leaves were used for treating jaundice and other ailments. Decoction of the bark and leaf were used to treat leprosy. Sissoo nectar, when boiled with milk and consumed thrice a day is said to cure any type of fever.

Though several studies and research were performed on finding the efficacy of Shisham oil or leaves extract in treating inflammation etc. because of their analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, researchers at the CDRI have used it for treating osteoporosis for the first time.

The leaves of Sissoo contain several methoxy-isoflavones and a novel compound that improves the trabecular microarchitecture of the long bones, increases their biomechanical strength, and decreases clinical bone turnover markers (osteocalcin and CTX1), and expression of skeletal osteoclastogenic genes. The medicine also helps in new bone formation via the expression of osteogenic genes, studies suggest.

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Several clinical trials have been conducted in India, and their outcomes have been critically observed. In a Fracture Healing Clinical Trial conducted in Nasik, Maharashtra, it was found that Dalbergia sissoo forms callus, reduces pain and oedema, has no adverse drug reaction, and is well tolerated in humans.

Another one-year postmenopausal clinical trial conducted at Hyderabad and Medical research Centre, Kasturba Health Society, Mumbai, demonstrated anti-osteoporotic activity, maintenance of bone mineral density, relief from deteriorated musculoskeletal symptoms, and possible fracture reduction.

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