FIT-WebQoof: Can Arsenicum Album 30 Cure Coronavirus?
We fact-check the claim that Arsenicum Album 30 can help cure coronavirus.
With the novel coronavirus at our doorsteps, with 28 people in India having tested positive as of March 4th, the misinformation epidemic is threatening to take over. There are a host of fliers promoting all kinds of 'cures' and precautions that are floating around in social media.
In the midst of these WhatsApp messages, is the news that the Telengana government is distributing homeopathic formulation issued by the Department of AYUSH. The pills are available for free and the guideline says to take 6 pills once daily for 3 days as prophylactic.
This comes at the back of an advisory by the Ministry of AYUSH that was issued immediately after the news of positive cases in Kerala first emerged.
And a host of WhatsApp messages have since taken over.
Among a host of generic advice, the Ministry focuses on specific treatment from Homeopathy and Ayurveda.
The advisory specifies a medicine to be used as prophylactic:
The Group of Expertsinter-alia has recommended that homoeopathy medicine Arsenicum album30 could be taken as prophylactic medicine against Coronavirus infections, which has also been advised for prevention of ILI. It has recommended one doze of Arsenicum album 30, daily in empty stomach for three days. The dose should be repeated after one month by following the same schedule incase Coronavirus infections prevail in the community.
Immunomodulatory drugs as per the Ayurvedic practices.
Measures shall be taken to strengthen the immune system through a healthy diet and lifestyle practices.
Agastya Harityaki 5 gm, twice a day with warm water.
Samshamani Vati 500 mg twice a day.
Trikatu(Pippali, Marich & Shunthi) powder 5 gm and Tulasi 3-5 leaves (boiled in 1-litre water, until it reduces to ½ liter and keeps it in a bottle) keep taking it in sips as and when required.
Pratimarsa Nasya: Instill two drops of Anu taila/Sesame oil in each nostril daily in the morning.
Do Homeopathy Prophylactics Work?
FIT reached out to Dr Kushal Banerjee, a leading homeopath in the capital.
"First we need to understand that this virus is new and each medical system is trying to fight it within its means. We have no data to prove that any medicine will help. In such a case, we can only estimate what will work."
Speaking about Arsenicum Album, that is specifically advised by the ministry, he justifies it by saying that during previous outbreaks of SARS and H1N1, even Mexican authorities had issued an advisory for this drug.
But when coronavirus is not present in India, is it right to issues such an advisory?
Why This Notice is 'Ill-Advised'
While the generic advice at the beginning of the note about 'washing hands, wearing N 95 masks etc' is common across medicines and just basic common sense, what makes it particularly controversial is combining that advisory with specific prophylactics from different systems of medicine.
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that can cause a range of symptoms including cough, sore throat and fever. Some are mild, such as the common cold, while others are more likely to lead to pneumonia and respiratory failure. The death toll in worldwide has crossed 3000 and the infection has spread to over 90 countries.
Most medical experts concur that coronavirus is new, still being studied, and while some studies have pointed to snakes being the original carriers, the source of the virus is still unknown.
Most allopathic doctors will also say straight-away that viruses cannot be 'cured' via allopathy, there is no vaccine to protect against the Wuhan strain of coronavirus yet and all doctors can do is treat symptomatic symptoms.
Speaking with FIT, Dr Sumit Ray, a critical care specialist had this to say:
The generic advice regarding personal hygiene should be followed in any case and is essential. When it comes to the specific prophylactics mentioned, when these treatments were developed, there was very little knowledge of the kinds of viruses we have identified and see today. So would these prophylactics work against this strain?
He further adds, "as far as Immunomodulatory drugs are concerned, the science of these drugs have just not been studied within the accepted research modalities that exist today. So do they help? We don't have the evidence."
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