COVID-19 WebQoof: Did Ayurveda Help Quarantined People in Gujarat?
Gujarat Health Department has claimed that Ayurvedic medicines protected quarantined individuals from COVID-19.
The Gujarat Health Department has claimed that the use of Ayurvedic medicines, ‘kadha’ (a concoction/decoction of various Ayurvedic herbs) and homeopathic pills and drinks helped prevent over 6,000 quarantined people from contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The experts FIT spoke to, however, are wary of reaching any conclusions based on the trial, because the procedure opted for the study doesn’t seem to fulfil the ideal criteria for a scientific medical experiment.
Dr Jayanti S Ravi, Principal Secretary, Department of Health, Government of Gujarat in her official briefing shared, “We decided to experiment with people who are in the quarantine centres, meaning those who’ve had contact with positive patients and are completing their 14 day quarantine period. There were, in all, 6210 people who gave their consent and willingness to adopt the homeopathic or Ayurveda treatment to boost their immunity during the stay.”
Ayurvedic medicines were given to 3585 people in the centre and as many as 2625 people chose to go for homoeopathic medicines. Out of all of them, only 11 tested positive for COVID-19. These 11, she said, had not received the dose for the ideal period of 7 days because their quarantine had ended before the completion of the experiment.
“This shows that the experiment of providing homeopathy and Ayurvedic treatment as prophylactic or immunity-boosters, to those in quarantine, has worked quite well,” Dr Ravi said.
What Do Experts Think?
Dr Sumit Ray, a critical care specialist in Delhi, said that based on the information that has come from the news conference, the experiment doesn’t fulfil the criteria of a proper scientific medical trial.
“There are certain clear cut methodologies of conducting a trial like this, where there should have been two groups of people with matched levels of exposure to infected patients. One arm should have been given the “kadha” and the other arm should have been given a placebo and then seeing if there was a real statistical difference between the two groups of people in the positivity rate.”Dr Sumit Ray
The briefing didn’t mention the extent of the exposure these quarantined individuals had had to infected people.
Dr Ashwini Setya is a Gastroenterologist and Programme Director in Delhi’s Max Super Speciality Hospital, who said that even if the quarantine centre was not divided into two groups, we could have at least checked the number of people who would have tested positive before taking this ‘kadha’. If we had that data, we could have made some observations. But even that is unavailable.
“We are not dismissing it outrightly. But as a medical practitioner, I have to say that based on the information that has been provided, this is neither a controlled trial nor a randomised trial. Therefore, reaching any sort of conclusion is not possible.”Dr Ashwini Setya
The Significance of ‘Kadha’ in Ayurveda
Chief medical officer at Nirogstreet, Dr Abhishek Gupta explains that an Ayurvedic ‘kadha’ is replete with qualities. It gives strength to the body to fight contagious diseases.
“When a person’s is infected by a virus, there is an accumulation of contaminated substances in the respiratory system, which is often seen in the form of cough or mucus. This blocks the channels in the body, causing cold, fever and other symptoms, making us sick. Kadha, containing hot water and Ayurvedic herbs helps with the digestion of these substances, which opens up these channels. This increases the body’s strength and resistance, and the viral infection starts reducing.”Dr Abhishek Gupta
He says that if the medicines are given after a proper analysis of a person’s ‘Prakriti’, they can be more effective. For instance, ginger and black pepper should be avoided for people who have more heat in their body. Giving them hot food items such as these can be detrimental, leading to dryness in the nose, stomach problems and menstruation-related issues in women.
It is important to note that there is no approved treatment, vaccine or cure for COVID-19, even though several trials are on around the world. No confirmations can be made for any medicine or remedy yet.
Proper rest for mild patients and supportive care for critically ill patients is the route being followed currently. In terms of prevention, basic hand and respiratory hygiene, along with social distancing, is being advised.
In India, three inter-disciplinary studies involving AYUSH interventions for the COVID-19 situation are being conducted jointly by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and AYUSH ministry.
The AYUSH ministry had earlier issued guidelines for self-care during the pandemic, also clarifying that these recommendations are based on common Ayurvedic remedies which are known to strengthen the body’s immunity to fight illnesses.
In an earlier article for FIT, experts had said that any claims regarding immunity-boosters have not yet been proven scientifically for COVID-19.
Dr Pooja Kohli, Vice President, Ayurvedic Growth at Nirogstreet, explained that there is no certainty that a strengthened immune system would prevent a person from getting infected. Therefore, people would still have to be careful in following all the necessary precautions.
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