Coronavirus. This one word, rather this one teeny-tiny pathogen, has changed the way we live. As we struggle to adjust to the new normal, news of rising covid-19 cases in India make us feel anxious and unsafe. With no vaccine in sight and health organisations experimenting with anti-malarial drugs and MMR vaccine to save critically-ill covid-19 patients—the whole world is waiting with bated breath for a cure for this insidious infection.
Turns out, India has won this round of “who-will-tame-the-pandemic” with an Ayurvedic cure to covid-19 that no one saw coming. Or at least, that’s what Baba Ramdev claims.
You see, earlier today Patanjali, Baba Ramdev’s Ayurvedic preparations company, launched ‘Coronil’ and ‘Swasari’—an effective cure to covid-19 that is 100% successful, according to their clinical trials.
Let me be clear here: this is not a preventive measure that is going to arm your immune system with the right kind of armour. No, siree! This, according to the yoga guru, is a legit cure that has shown “100% recovery rate within 3-7 days.”
And if you think that health organisations and the Indian government are standing proud with Patanjali after having discovered a cure for covid-19, then take a pause. Because according to a statement by the AYUSH Ministry, they were completely out of the loop with the formulation of this line of treatment and are now delving deep into what makes it effective against coronavirus.
But what does Patanjali’s Ayurvedic cure for covid-19 even contain?
While not much was discussed about the composition of the remedies during the press conference, Patanjali Ayurved’s Twitter account seems to indicate that the products contain a blend of ashwagandha, tulsi, kakda singi, rudanti, and giloy—along with minerals.
All these herbs are known to boost immunity, with giloy even being prescribed to patients recovering from dengue to increase their blood platelet levels. Ashwagandha, on the other, seems to be a big contender in covid-19 treatment—as a research from IIT Delhi and Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Science and Technology claims that the herb can be an effective preventive remedy for covid-19.
These Ayurvedic preparations are a part of a 30-day Corona kit, which will retail for just Rs 545 and can also be taken as a preventive course.
अश्वगंधा, गिलोय और तुसली की मात्रा बताई डॉक्टर ने उसी के एक्टिव कंपाउंड को लेकर हमने यह कोरोनिल नाम की आयुर्वेदिक औषधि इस संसार को कोरोना मुक्ति के लिए एक उपहार के रूप में दी है। लग से डिपार्टमेंट है।
पूज्य @yogrishiramdev जी pic.twitter.com/XpeDRgWWbN
— Patanjali Ayurved (@PypAyurved) June 23, 2020
Does it really work?
Isn’t that the million-dollar question? Well, unfortunately, the answer is not so simple or clear for that matter.
According to Baba Ramdev, this course of medication really does work. And he’s got the science to prove it. “We conducted two trials of these, first clinical controlled study, which took place in Delhi, Ahmedabad, among many other cities. Under this, 280 patients were included and 100 per cent of those recovered. We were able to control Corona and its complications in this. After this the all-important clinical control trial was conducted (sic),” he said at the press conference.
“With the help of NIMS, Jaipur we conducted the clinical control study on 95 patients. The biggest thing which came out of this is that within three days 69 per cent patients recovered and became negative from positive (cases) and within seven days 100 per cent of them became negative,” he added.
But his claims—even though verified by a controlled clinical trial—begs the question: if finding an Ayurvedic cure for covid-19 was so simple, then what was the Ministry of AYUSH doing all this while? Shouldn’t they, with their extensive resources and frequent covid-19 guidelines, have come up with a cure first?
The fact that the AYUSH Ministry has released a statement asking Patanjali to stop making claims about Coronil’s covid-19 eliminating prowess till the time they don’t furnish the details of their clinical trials is perhaps proof of the fact that the Corona kit might just be a sales gimmick.
Ministry has taken cognizance of news in media about Ayurvedic medicines developed for #COVID19 treatment by Patanjali Ayurved Ltd. The company asked to provide details of medicines & to stop advertising/publicising such claims till the issue is duly examined: Ministry of AYUSH pic.twitter.com/OBpQlWAspu
— ANI (@ANI) June 23, 2020
Then there is the question of efficacy in critically-ill patients. Can Patanjali’s Ayurvedic miracle save them too? For this, thankfully, Baba Ramdev and his company do have an answer.
According to reports, Coronil and Swasari are NOT meant for “severely-symptomatic patients”. It also cannot rescue people with acute respiratory distress syndrome and/or other co-morbid health conditions. So at best, this treatment is meant for people who are either asymptomatic or showing mild symptoms.
Lastly, the Indian Council of Medical Research’s lack of statement on the matter makes the Corona kit seem even more dubious.
Can Ayurveda rescue us from covid-19?
The answer is yes and no! Even though many medical organisations, including the WHO, do not believe in the power of Ayurveda, the truth is that this ancient science can do your body a world of good.
This is perhaps the reason why, preventive measures against covid-19 for Indians range from gargling with saline water and drinking kadha to chewing on black pepper and clove—all of which are proven Ayurvedic measures to increase the immune system’s response to infections.
But where we are going wrong, however, is what we think these measures can do. They cannot make you immune to covid-19. They can just ensure that if you ever get infected, your symptoms are mild and you don’t land up in the hospital.
Frankly, the claims are far too tall!
As Patanjali begins work on mass-producing their Corona kits—insisting that they’ve stumbled upon a cure and not just a way to bolster immunity—understanding the mechanism by which their medications work is of the utmost importance.
With a body of evidence suggesting that ashwagandha, tulsi, giloy, and lot are best used as preventive measures—it is crucial to question how, Patanjali has managed to deploy these herbs as a cure for covid-19.
— Patanjali Ayurved (@PypAyurved) June 23, 2020
In a country where covid-positive people are being turned away from hospitals with just immunity-boosting recommendations, the Corona kit is a disaster waiting to happen. Imagine someone with a positive test result buying this OTC treatment to rid themselves of SARS-CoV-2 instead of consulting a medical doctor. If the kit doesn’t work and the person doesn’t seek professional help on time, anything can happen.
In the end, let’s remember: the covid-19 virus is not to be trifled with. The marathon for a cure might be longer than most, but it has the potential to save the world. Covid-19 is here to stay, so it’s better to find a long-term solution to banish it from our world—instead of giving into remedies with quick treatments.