Fenugreek relief

Provides a nasal gel for drug delivery

Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

Indian researchers have shown that a compound extracted from fenugreek seeds (methi in Hindi) can be used for nasal delivery of medicines.

Scientists from the department of pharmaceutical technology, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, used the mucilage (sticky substance produced in certain plants) from methi seeds to develop a nasal gel to deliver a sedative, diazepam. The seeds were boiled in water and processed to extract the natural mucoadhesive (which sticks to the mucous membrane in the nose) fenugreek extract (NMFE). Fenugreek seeds yield between 20 and 25 per cent NMFE. The group studied the properties of NMFE in vitro on bovine nasal mucous membrane and compared its efficacy with that of synthetic polymers such as hydroxy propyl methyl cellulose and carbopol 934, which are commonly used for nasal delivery of drugs.

The scientists found NMFE was more viscous and had better adhesive properties. The natural compound also released the drug faster -- it took just four hours while the synthetic polymers took 5-6 hours. The process could be hastened by using some enhancers with NMFE, the scientists say.

"The major advantage of natural mucoadhesives is that they are non-allergic and biodegradable. Their cost is likely to be less than half that of synthetic polymers which have to be imported," says A K Bandyopadhyay, who led the study. The findings were published in the December issue of the Journal of Scientific and Industrial Research (Vol 64, No 12).

The researchers hope that this patient-friendly method may replace injections, which have a high risk of spreading communicable diseases or causing infection. They are now trying other plant materials such as turmeric, basil and tamarind to isolate similar mucoadhesives.

-- Vibha Varshney

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