(ATF) Until February mulethi, kalmegh and giloy were popular herbs in India as home remedies for myriad health issues including heartburn, inflamed liver and weak immunity.
Then China claimed that these herbs, and a combination of a dozen others, were proving to be effective in treating Covid and reducing mortality rates, as well as for boosting immunity to the virus.
As India surpasses eight million cases, second only to the United States, pushing the death toll to over 120,000, many thousands of scared Indians are turning to Ayurveda, an ancient and natural system of Hindu medicine.
Alternative medicine companies and the government are formulating and running clinical trials of Ayurveda-based medicines and propagating its use.
Clinical trials conducted in three Indian hospitals from March found that a combination treatment of an Ayurvedic remedy called "Immunofree" and another called "Reginmune" have thrown up "groundbreaking results" in easing symptoms and treating Covid better than modern western medicine (MWM), or so-called allopathic medicines, their promoters claim.
Developed by Corival Life Sciences and Biogetica, respectively, the two alternative medicine companies added that the trials have also shown 20% to 60% faster recovery rates compared to conventional treatment.
“About 86.66% of patients on the natural protocol tested corona negative on day five versus 60% of patients on the conventional treatments. Moreover, on the tenth day, all patients were negative,” the report released at the end of September said.
Advantage over allopathy
Ayurveda, a natural system of medicine, originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. The term Ayurveda translates to “knowledge of life” and is derived from the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge).
The main emphasis of Ayurveda is on prevention of disease and it encourages the maintenance of health through diet, lifestyle and the use of herbs.
“Those are its basic principles, which have not only proven effective in preventing Covid but also in curing the deadly disease completely over the past months. That success is driving the increasing popularity of Ayurveda for treating Covid,” Ram Shukla, an Ayurvedic medicine practitioner at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (SVP) told Asia Times Financial.
“So far MWM hasn’t found a cure specific to Covid-19, but Ayurveda has shown positive results,” he added.
He said the success ratio of integrated Ayurveda and allopathy treatment at SVP has been 85%, with a fatality rate of 5%. “I have also treated 200 Covid patients only through Ayurveda and all were cured,” he added.
The credit of using alternative medicines to treat the pandemic, however, should be given to China, say experts.
“China was the first to set this trend as the Chinese government mandated the use of traditional Chinese medicine for treating the pandemic in February 2020, that is believed to have stopped the outbreak,” Apurve Mehra, founder of Biogetica, the firm that developed Reginmune, told ATF.
“One has in fact seen a sharp decline in China’s coronavirus statistics graph after the middle of February,” he said.
The herbs used by China for Covid, according to Mehra, included glycyrrhiza glabra (mulethi), tinnispora cardiflora (giloy), and andrographis (kalmegh). Along with 17 other herbs these are also the ingredients for Corival’s and Biogetica’s newly-developed Covid remedies.
Mehra added that countries like Madagascar, Ghana and the Central African Republic later mandated the use of these herbs with the anti-malarial herb artemisia.
These countries also reported impressive outcomes, with the Covid-related fatality rate in the Central African Republic moving below neighbouring countries where herbal remedies were not adopted. “Ghana and Madagascar too have reported the lowest mortality rates in the world (at 0.6% and is 1.3 % respectively),” said Mehra.
India’s health ministry on October 7 released a detailed clinical management protocol on Ayurveda and yoga for the management of the coronavirus infection for asymptomatic patients and those showing mild symptoms, including management of post-Covid complications with the use of traditional medicinal herbs.
“(The protocols), are commendable efforts which place emphasis on building immunity, remaining healthy and making the fight against Covid-19 stronger,” India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.
The Indian states of Goa, Kerala and Gujarat have also mandated that Ayurveda is used simultaneously with MWM for treating Covid, according to reports.
Indian Medical Association objects
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) objected to the government’s approach and condemned the quality of trials completed so far, complaining that they did not meet scientific standards such as double-blind testing and the reproduction of test results.
The IMA on October 8 called on India’s health minister to address its queries about the trials. “If not he is inflicting a fraud on the nation and gullible patients by calling placebos as drugs,” the IMA said in a letter co-signed by its president Raja Sharma.
Proponents of the Ayurveda-based treatment maintain that it is superior to attempts by western medicine to treat the virus.
Apurve Mehra of Biogetic said that most western medicines in use for Covid 19 are repurposed anti-malaria and anti-viral drugs not made specifically for a virus “that has presented itself in ways like no virus has ever done before.”
India is fortunate that its ancient science Ayurveda is emerging as an effective treatment for the pandemic, he said.
The Wockhardt Foundation - the joint founder of Corival Life Sciences that developed Immunofree - said that the company “is doing its best to help mankind during this pandemic and to see people across the globe helped by this multifaceted natural remedy.”
“We have now approached the health ministry and the Indian Council of Medical Research for listing Reginmune as the first herbal treatment of Covid in India,” Mehra added.