Baba Ramdev, Yoga Guru, and founder of Patanjali Ayurveda pharma were yet again in frontline news for launching an Ayurveda medicine for Corona Virus claiming huge success with the clinical trials. After the public launch of an alleged claim for Covid-19, Pathanjali Ayurveda’s marketing stunt with ‘Coronil’ has effectively backfired. The claims made by Pathanjali were publicized prematurely and with no clinical data to prove that they are safe and effective.
What is wrong with the claim and medicine? Is Ayurveda ineffective against these diseases?
If we look at the trial report that Patanjali has sent out, it excludes everyone below 10 years of age and above 59 years, people with diabetes, hypertension, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, and all immune-compromised diseases. Patients with co-morbidity require effective treatment and all other COVID positive patients who are asymptomatic and have mild to moderate symptoms require less medical intervention. They can be treated on the lines of influenza-like illness. In these inclusion criteria what Pathanjali has taken, the recovery rate is between 95-97% with very few medications. Then, what are we really achieving with this Ayurveda medicine is a question asked by many medical professionals.
Many professionals including allopathy, Ayurveda, and Homeopathy medical system are confused as to how Pathanjali could have named, developed, and advertised a product without receiving approval from AYUSH ministry.
Trials were conducted only on 100 patients at NIMS Jaipur and the report claims that 69% of them were cured in 3 days and 100% in 7 days. It is not clear whether these medicines are propagated as immune-boosters or as curative medicine.
This is not the first time where Pathanjali Ayurveda made these kinds of unscientific claims of cure for chronic diseases. They have done this in the past too. At every stage of research, clinical trials, their ethics are questionable.
These types of pseudo-claims by any pharma for that matter not only endanger the lives of people but also put Ayurveda, the ancient system of medical science in a bad light.
Ayurveda is a science of life with a holistic approach to health. It is known to be a complete medical system that emphasizes on physical, psychological, philosophical, and spiritual aspects of the wellbeing of a person. It has the ability to treat many chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, asthma, skin diseases, and many other ailments which are untreatable by contemporary medical sciences.
Every country around the world have/had their own indigenous medical system since thousands of years. After the colonization by west, due to rapid industrialization and in need of quick relief from the diseases, the modern medical system gained its popularity. The awareness regarding the toxicity of allopathic drugs, high cost of healthcare, microbial resistance, etc amongst the global population, has caused a number of people to seek relief from the age-old system of medicine i.e. Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani and Siddha system of medicines.
Then why is Ayurveda trailing behind?
Let us consider a few points-
Only a few organizations have well-established research infrastructure for conducting research in Ayurveda. Many young Ayurveda scholars who pass out each year enter into academics and practice. Among them, very few choose their profession in Ayurveda research.
What can be done?
Evidence-based clinical trials regarding the efficacy of Ayurveda medicines should be encouraged and well documented.
The government has to encourage research in Ayurveda pharma. They have to get Ayurveda medical system under mainstream healthcare and not as an alternate system of medicine.
Collaborative research and clinical trials including Ayurveda and western medicine under a single roof shall be thought of.
Today, the cost of healthcare is constantly raising and affecting people’s ability to afford complete health coverage. It is here where Ayurveda medicine and formulations come to play a major role in providing a holistic treatment approach to many diseases.
The wisdom of Ayurveda if validated by extensive research in clinical trials would bring a good ray of hope to deal with diseases like Covid-19 in a comprehensive way with lots of proof and courage in the days to come.
The author is an Ayurvedic doctor based in Karnataka. Views are personal.