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AIIA endorses Ayurveda for COVID

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The All India Institute for Ayurveda (AIIA) has endorsed the use of alternative medicine treatments for mild cases of COVID-19.

The Delhi-based Institute claimed that Ayurvedic medicaments are useful if administered to individuals who present with moderate symptoms of the disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) or, simply, coronavirus. Claims are based on a study published in one of the journals published by the AIIA. 

The AIIA cites the case of a health worker, aged thirty. Reportedly, the worker availed the Samshamana therapy orally. The AIIA said that ‘the patient tested negative…for COVID-19 within six days of intervention and RT-PCR test was also done on day sixteen, which was reported negative.” Allopathic medicines were not used, the AIIA said. 

The therapy reportedly involved “oral administration of Ayush kwatha, Sanshamani vati, Fifatrol tablets, and Laxmivilasa rasa.” Reportedly, the study authors said “the mentioned treatment plan was effective in the symptomatic relief (fever, dyspnea, anorexia, fatigue, anosmia, and dysgeusia) as well as in the resolution of viral load.” 

Promotion of alternative and traditional systems of medicine have been promoted by various actors during the pandemic. This has ignited controversy a number of times.

Perhaps most notably, the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Medicine (AYUSH) interjected in the conversation surrounding treatments and/or prophylaxis for COVID-19 to suggest homoeopathic and unani treatments could be used in COVID-19 cases. The Ministry advised at the time that symptoms of coronavirus could be managed utilising traditional Indian medicine. 

However, as Health Issues India contemporaneously noted, “the advisory has been criticised on social media. Multiple commentators have leveraged allegations of pseudoscience against the Ministry for their advisory. The suggestion to use homeopathy and unani remedies was also criticised by journalist Sandhya Ramesh who denounced the advisory as “irresponsible, dangerous pseudoscientific quackery mixed in with generic personal hygiene recommendations.” 

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