Traditional Medicines & Covid-19
BioSpectrum Asia|June 2020
Allopathic drugs are already being tried to treat COVID-19 but even with promising results these drugs always comes with some side-effects unlike in case of traditional system of medicines.
Kalyani Sharma

India has perhaps the world’s oldest as well as largest tradition of systems of medicine. The term Indian Systems of Medicine covers both the systems which originated in India as well as outside but got adopted in India in course of time. These systems are Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, Homoeopathy, Yoga, and Naturopathy. They have become a part of the culture and traditions of India. India with its strong base in traditional knowledge on herbal medicine and vast plant biodiversity has a great potential in this sector which can be examined in the current pandemic situation where the entire world has been majorly affected with COVID-19.

At a time when the world is looking for preventive and therapeutic solutions against coronavirus spread and its effects, examining the ways in which traditional medicine system can play a role can be crucial. Allopathic drugs are already being tried to treat COVID-19 but even with promising results these drugs always comes with some side-effects unlike in case of traditional system of medicines.

How promising it can be?

Ayurveda has spoken of epidemics in great details. Acharya Chakrapani has written on simultaneous and widespread manifestation of disease with the same set of symptoms throughout a community.

Talking about the promising role of Ayurveda Dr Partap Chauhan, Director, Jiva Ayurveda said, “The global Ayurveda community is working on a war footing to develop treatment for COVID-19. The Ayurvedic term for an epidemic is Janapadodhwansa Roga and has been described to be caused by Abhisyangaja, which means spread by pathogens because of unhygienic conditions. Vitiation of Vayu (air), Jala (water), Desh (geographic location) & Kala (season) leads to mass-level infections. Acharya Charak describes two causative factors of epidemic: Niyata Hetu (inevitable factors caused by forces of nature) and Aniyata Hetu (avoidable factors such as pathogens, acts of terrorism, or war). Acharya Sushruta has also written about the epidemiological aspects of microorganisms. He describes the modes of transmission as Gatrasansparsat (physical contact) and Nihsvasat (expelled air) and Saha Bhojanata (using same utensils). Ayurveda has spoken of very potent immuno-modulators. Ashwagandha, Peepli, Giloy and Amla are some of the common ones that are often recommended by Ayurveda doctors. In addition to that, AYUSH ministry has also issued several immunity-enhancing guidelines such as drinking lukewarm water, consuming concoction of Tulsi and Haldi in water, and applying Anu Oil in the nostrils.”

Highlighting the promising role of Ayurveda, Vikram Thaploo, CEO, Apollo Tele Health said, “There is currently no approved treatment or vaccine for COVID-19. Multiple lines of treatment have been put forward and even practiced in different countries to treat seriously ill patients of COVID-19. Initially, doctors in India, as well as other countries, used antiretroviral drugs used in AIDS treatment; influenza drug Oseltamivir was also used in select cases. In the US, the use of drug Remdesivir has been authorized to be used for critically ill patients. However, all these lines of treatment have not been backed by any conclusive clinical trial so far. Coronavirus has therefore exposed an area of concern for pharmaceutical companies which is the low amount of antivirals in the market especially when compared to antibiotics. This void has understandably turned people’s attention to traditional medicines.”

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