Ayurveda to the Rescue: Has Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Really Found a Cure For Covid-19?


Ayurveda to the Rescue: Has Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Really Found a Cure For Covid-19?

Illustration: Arati Gujar

While leading pharmaceutical companies and scientists around the world scamper to find a cure for the deadly coronavirus, tall claims have been made by Patanjali, India’s most famous ayurvedic brand. “We are not talking about an immunity booster. We are talking about a cure,” said Acharya Balkrishna, Patanjali managing director. It has been seen as unusual for a consumer products company to throw its hat in the ring and attempt to find a cure in a domain largely dominated by pharma companies.

While talking to reporters in Uttarakhand, Balkrishna said, “We appointed a team of scientists after Covid-19 outbreak. Firstly, the simulation was done and compounds were identified which can fight the virus and stop its spread in the body. Then, we conducted a clinical case study on hundreds of positive patients and we have got 100 per cent favourable results.”

The clinical trials have begun in Indore and Jaipur after Patanjali secured permission last week. “After taking our medicine, Covid patients recovered in 5-14 days and then tested negative. So, we can say the cure for Covid is possible through Ayurveda. We are performing controlled clinical trials only. In the next few days, evidence and data will be released by us,” Balakrishna added.

Neither the health ministry, nor the ICMR or the country’s nodal body for coronavirus testing have made statements in relation to Patanjali’s claims. In May, Ayush Minister Shripad Naik had said that India is working on four traditional medicine formulations to treat the coronavirus. “These formulations will be tried as an add-on therapy and standard care for Covid-19 patients,” he had said.

There has been a lot of skepticism around claims doing the rounds around traditional medicine, which are accelerated by the power of WhatsApp university. Experts have complained that the Ayush ministry as well as some manufacturers are advertising and promoting “cures” that are unsubstantiated and could do more harm than good. A few days back, the Ayush ministry warned manufacturers of alternative medicines not to promote their products as “cure or prevention” for Covid-19 to mislead people.

In an interview, Shripad Naik clarified that, “The Ayush ministry’s advisory suggested immune boosting measures and certain symptomatic management with a disclaimer that this was not the treatment or cure of Covid-19, and it was not withdrawn and is still available online.”

While scientists and leading companies spend day and night trying to change course in the battle and come up with a cure, there are others who have submitted to the motto “laughter is the best medicine” by publishing papers on how coronavirus can be killed by “sound vibrations produced by thali or ghanti”. We have seen movies based on games and books but this might be the first time a science paper has been inspired by a WhatsApp forward.

Will the real doctors and scientists please stand up?