VK Paul recommends chyawanprash, ayurveda; experts criticise remarks
A senior government official at the forefront of India’s Covid response recommended that people consult ayurveda practitioners if they have mild or asymptomatic Covid-19 and consume chyawanprash and kadha (a brew of herbs and spices) to improve their immunity, triggering criticism from doctors who said such ideas could encourage people to try untested therapies and wait too long to seek medical help.
The comments were made on Tuesday by Niti Aayog member (health) Dr VK Paul at the government’s weekly briefing on Covid-19, when he appealed for people to adhere to appropriate practices in order to help contain what is at present the worst outbreak the country has witnessed so far. “If you get Covid-19, consult ayurveda practitioners for treatment if symptoms are mild or asymptomatic. Take what they give after proper consultation to fight the disease. It is a treatment modality in itself so this also needs to be adopted.”
“To boost immunity to deal with this pandemic, there are guidelines from the government that include adopting ayurveda and Ayush (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) products. Specific recommendations tell us to consume chyawanprash twice a day; have turmeric milk at least once in a day; it is extremely popular among masses we have found in our surveys; and a warm drink made from basil, cinnamon, and black pepper concoction should also be had, along with doing yoga to boost your immunity,” said Paul, who added that yoga also helps strengthen lung capacity for those suffering from long Covid.
“These will help; in fact, these have helped... We request on behalf of the government, the health ministry to adopt these measures,” Paul added.
Doctors criticised Paul’s remarks. “This obviously does not make any sense; they are fooling the nation. If you have Covid-19, take chyawanprash or drink kadha but not go to a hospital? Where do you think you will land up? If it will help boost immunity; what is the need to take the vaccine?” said Dr Rajan Sharma, ex-national president, Indian Medical Association.
“After listening to this, many will be encouraged to sit at home, drinking kadha and haldi doodh, and by the time they reach hospital, it will be too late,” he said, while adding that ultimately, the deaths of such people are often blamed on treating doctors.