Traditional Indian Medicine Guidelines To Build COVID Immunity Published
New guidelines detail how household spices and accessible medicines have been used across India’s population during the pandemic.

Use of Ayurvedic medicines, already on the rise worldwide, has soared even higher during the pandemic.

But few people may be aware that at least one country, India, actually has an entire ministry devoted to promoting use of these traditional remedies, that have been used for centuries: the Indian Ministry for Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy (AYUSH).

Appearing at the Geneva Health Forum on Tuesday, India’s Minister for AYUSH, Shripad Yesso Naik, presented the ministry’s guidelines for using traditional treatments, like Ayurveda and Yoga, to build health and immunity against COVID-19.

The guidelines – which have been translated into 9 languages including English and Chinese – detail how household spices and accessible medicines have been used across India’s population, and were issued by the Indian Ministry for Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy (AYUSH).

Yesso Naik, the Indian Minister for AYUSH, said: “India has shown the path to combat with COVID-19 by improving the general immunity – by using Yoga and other Indian traditional systems of medicine.”

He added: “An advisory has been issued about self care guidelines and preventative health measures for boosting immunity. For example, a nasal application of oil, herbal tea made up of spices commonly available in every household and Ayurvedic medicine like sanshamani vati and Chyawanprash.”

This follows WHO’s announcement last week that it will set up a Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in India.

Clinical Trials for AYUSH Must be ‘Rigorous’

Over the last few years, the Ministry of AYUSH has taken several measures to regulate the traditional medicine manufacturing industry, with a particular emphasis on researching the medical systems.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in India, the Ministry of AYUSH has been conducting research into AYUSH interventions, including releasing a protocol for clinical trials on AYUSH treatments.

Naik said that so far, soome 67 AYUSH clinical research studies have been undertaken in India that examine the use of AYUSH treatments to relieve symptoms of COVID-19, most of which  are near completion.”

The Indian government also issued an additional Post-COVID management protocol this September mostly with inputs from the AYUSH ministry, including recommendations of practicing Yoga and taking some other Ayurvedic medicines, that is said to improve immunity.

Dr Ritu Priya Mehrotra, Professor at the Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, at Jawaharlal Nehru University, noted that the pandemic has created an “excellent opportunity to conduct some good studies related to AYUSH”.

She warned, however, that these studies accord value to traditional interventions for their medical potential, but still “need to be conducted rigorously” to see how they measure up scientifically. There has been widespread criticism in the Indian medical community over the promotion of traditional Indian remedies that have not undergone rigorous clinical trials and studies.

She also warned against the what she called “pharmaceuticalisation” of these traditional medicinal approaches: the idea that certain remedies, if proven to be effective, might be reduced only to medicinal formulations, ignoring the holistic principles that traditional medicine also emphasize with respect to the importance of healthy lifestyles, the practice of meditation and exercise such as yoga.

Combat the infodemic in health information and support health policy reporting from the global South. Our growing network of journalists in Africa, Asia, Geneva and New York connect the dots between regional realities and the big global debates, with evidence-based, open access news and analysis. To make a personal or organisational contribution click here on PayPal.