A former colleague of mine, Dr. Chittaranjan Andrade, has studied an Ayurvedic preparation that now goes by its modern name, BR-16A. In controlled animal experiments, he showed that BR-16A improved learning and reversed short-term memory deficits in mice. But when he approached the four manufacturers of BR-16A in India, none of them were willing to fund further basic research to find out which of the twenty or more ingredients in the substance was responsible for improving memory. They also refused to fund controlled clinical studies in patients, because if one of the companies invested a large amount of money in research on BR-16A, any positive results obtained would translate into free profits for the other three manufacturers that had not invested in the research effort. As Chittaranjan discovered to his chagrin, it is virtually impossible to get financial support to conduct large-scale, systematic studies of Ayurvedic and other traditional medications. His basic science research on BR-16A is solid, and I think it is unfortunate that clinical development of this potential anti-memory-loss agent has been stopped in its tracks. "Memory-Plus," which contains the traditional medication "Brahmi," is also marketed in India, but the evidence supporting its use is much flimsier than with BR-16A.
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