While snobs may snigger at the claims of the Ministry of AYUSH — Ayurveda, yoga, Unani, Siddha, Sowa rigpa and homoeopathy — for propounding ‘pseudoscientific’ medicines and biologists may want to know the biochemical reactions in the body that ayurvedic preparations induce, here is a result of a sample survey conducted by the ministry.
Vaidya (ayurvedic doctor) Rajesh Kotecha, secretary, AYUSH ministry, has demonstrated that in a survey of 6,210 people who had come in contact with COVID patients, most of 3,585 volunteers tested negative while in quarantine after taking an ayurvedic preparation.
The preparation is called Amrita Peya. Taking the decision of prophylactic (preventive) medicine in early March in the public interest, the ministry has so far distributed 1,05,00,041 doses among the people for free.
Further, the government has distributed 1.72 lakh tablets of Shamsham Vati, another ayurvedic preparation that boosts the immunity to fight attacks by foreign bodies like viruses, bacteria and other harmful microbes on the body.
Of the more than 6,000 subjects, 2,625 chose homoeopathy rather than Ayurveda. Including these people, the ministry distributed 76.72 lakh units of the homoeopathic medicine Arsenicum Album 30 so far.
Only 11 of them tested COVID-positive after three days while the dosage should ideally continue for seven days. All the rest tested negative after completing the dosage, the AYUSH ministry official says in this presentation (video above).
The 11 who had tested positive could be administered the drug for three days only because their 14-day quarantine period, within which the study had to be conducted, had come to an end. This experiment was carried out in April.
But thereafter, these 11 patients said they wanted the dosage to continue. In seven more days, with the dosage resumed, they were cured.
The Ayurveda, yoga, Unani, Siddha, homoeopathy approach:
Ayurveda, homoeopathy treatment to be widened
Last week, ThePrint had reported that the Ministry of AYUSH had planned to conduct a study on 50 lakh people to find evidence of the efficacy of alternative medicines to fight COVID-19 whereas the video shows the plan had been announced and, hence, there was nothing for the media to discover as part of its investigative journalism.
The AYUSH ministry has indeed formed a working group on 17 April, comprising eight officers led by the additional secretary in the ministry, PK Pathak, to design the format of the study.
“We are planning to conduct a population-based study on a huge number of people to collect evidence and strengthen the use of AYUSH interventions,” Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, secretary, AYUSH ministry, said.
The working group will consult the World Health Organisation (WHO) to provide training to its researchers for the study. “… The study will be divided into three parts — general public, frontline workers and Covid-19-positive patients,” a senior official from the ministry said anonymously. “We have already received the approval of 1,80,000 people for participation through state governments. Many more nominations are coming,” he said.
The official said that the design of the study had been made in consultation with various epidemiologists and health experts, including those from the Indian Council of Medical Research, Public Health Foundation of India and the National Institute of Epidemiology.
Further, the ministry also plans to conduct clinical trials on traditional herbs Ashwagandha, Guduchi and Mulethi to find out if they can prevent COVID-19.
Disclaimer from Ministry of AYUSH
The Ministry of AYUSH issued a clarification on its advisories, one of which appears in a portable document file (PDF) above. “These measures are advised based on the principles of approach in (the) respective medical system(s) to such viral diseases where respiratory involvement is evident. These advisories neither claimed effective treatment for coronavirus nor suggested any specific drug to combat coronavirus. The personal hygienic measures and a few herbal preparations which may be helpful to maintain health are indicated in the advisory. It was also advised that the use of these preparations should be done in consultation with registered practitioners from the respective systems of medicine,” the ministry said.
“In this regard, it was learnt that certain news reports from media and medical professional bodies did manipulate and tried to malign the image of AYUSH systems of healthcare and tried to create distrust among the public towards these medical systems. The world is trying to find some help for the pandemic of coronavirus. There is no cure possible as of now. In this situation, any little help from any corner shall be welcomed. The effort of AYUSH Advisory may be seen from this right perspective,” the ministry said in a release via Press Information Bureau.