After PM's push, more states line up Homeopathy and other AYUSH options in Covid-19 care

NEW DELHI: Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's repeated push to the AYUSH ministry guidelines, which suggest a range of home remedies to boost immunity, many states have started mass distribution of Ayurvedic medicines and homeopathy immunity boosters.

Many states are also administering the recommended concoctions and medicines to patients in government quarantine facilities with mild symptoms, those who are recovering from Covid-19 and also to their asymptomatic contacts.

Deputy director, AYUSH department in Madhya Pradesh, PC Sharma, told ET that the state has already started mass distribution of Ayurvedic products such as Sanshamani Vati and Anutel and packets of Trikatu, Also, nearly 700 patients quarantined in the severely-hit areas of Bhopal, Indore and Ujjain are being given Arogya-20, a concoction prepared by the state AYUSH department, with essential herbs twice a day, to boost immunity.

In Tamil Nadu, under the Arogyam campaign, nearly one lakh families living in containment zones are being given the herbal concoctions kabasura kudineer and nilavembu kudineer. Director of Indian Medicine and Homeopathy, S Ganesan, said the “siddha concoctions” were given to 13 lakh people in several districts of the state, especially to the primary and secondary contacts of Covid-19 patients. “Now, we have started the distribution in Chennai. We have also recommended these combinations to the central team which visited us,” he said.

Meanwhile, Karnataka has started house-to-house drive to spread awareness about AYUSH ministry guidelines. The department officials in the state are distributing Ayurvedic combinations of Sanshamani Vati and Ashwagandha, homeopathy medicine arsenic album and two Unani medicines to primary and secondary contacts in red zones. The department has already sought permission to administer Ayurvedic immunity boosters to patients in quarantine centres, according to an official. “Depending on official data and some inferences, we know where Ayurveda is popular in coastal areas. In Muslim areas, we are distributing Unani medicines,” an official said.

Punjab has already written to the Centre for procuring some of the Ayurvedic medicines recommended by the AYUSH ministry. ET has learnt that the state has also sought permission for some of these medicines to be used for treating contacts of Covid-19 patients.

Rajasthan’s secretary to the department of Ayurveda and Indian System of Medicine, Gayatri Rathore, said state pharmacies have come up with sachets of a traditional Ayurvedic concoction which has been distributed to over 15 lakh people, including frontline workers and police personnel. “There are also instructions given about the dosage. We are also telling people not to be complacent with immunity boosters, as social distancing and hand washing are important.”

The Rajasthan government has roped in more than 6,000 AYUSH doctors and compounders to assist the medical staff engaged in combating the pandemic. It has also allowed administering of AYUSH medicines to contacts of Covid-19 patients, in consultation with respective medical officer of the area. The state has also given permission to district officials to procure AYUSH medicines from local outlets, if there is a need.

Delhi AYUSH department head RK Manchanda said, “Ayurvedic and homeopathic medicines are being given to those who are coming to AYUSH medical centres with mild symptoms and also to some patients in containment zones who don't have severe symptoms. We are focusing on an integrated approach and also looking at how our ancient wisdom can be validated in the context of contemporary realities.”

The Delhi government has also started a “happiness therapy” course comprising yoga and breathing exercises in some of its quarantine facilities.

Gujarat started administering ayurvedic medicines to asymptomatic patients in the hotspots of Ahmedabad. “The government has also distributed ayurvedic medicines to over 1.26 crore people in Gujarat,” said an official.

Telangana AYUSH medical officer N Lingaraju said, “Unani decoction, chyawanprash and arsenic album are being given to primary and secondary contacts.” Ayurveda and homeopathy colleges and institutions have been transformed into isolation wards. "If the symptoms are extreme and the tests are positive, then we are sending patients to other hospitals. For those who are being sent to home quarantine, after being tested negative, we are prescribing a list of traditional immunity boosters.”

Earlier this month, the AYUSH ministry had sent out a new advisory to states suggesting “add-on traditional medicine interventions to conventional care”. It had also urged the consumption of ‘chyawanprash’ in the morning and “herbal tea” or decoction made of tulsi, cinnamon, black pepper, dry ginger and milk with turmeric. The advisory also suggested the intake of the anti-malarial ayurvedic drug, AYUSH 64, developed by the ministry.