The coronavirus pandemic has forced humans to get back to their roots – Ayurveda. Considering the long term impact of the disease, even after recovery, people seem to be more inclined towards Ayurveda, which looks at holistic well-being.
Ayurveda ecosystem is going to significantly focus on this aspect going forward and invest a sizeable amount of resources in research and technology, treatment protocols, and drug development in the treatment of post COVID-19 infection, clinical trials, and ensuring a continuous supply chain of drugs. But the bigger question is, how effective Ayurveda actually is in managing COVID-19?
According to Dr Sajikumar – Founder and Managing Director, Dhathri Ayurveda Pvt. Ltd. – a lot of discussion around the role of Ayurveda in managing COVID-19 in recent times and interest in Ayurveda can play a defining role in both the prevention and cure of COVID-19.
“The interventions and measures proposed in the AYUSH Clinical management protocol are primarily to manage asymptomatic and mild cases of COVID 19 and in that context, certain Ayurveda remedies may provide relief and alleviate a few symptoms of COVID-19. However, this should not be mistaken as a cure for the disease and it is absolutely essential to continue to follow the guidelines laid down by the government including proper physical distancing, wearing a mask, maintaining hygiene and avoiding unnecessary crowding at one place, in order to prevent COVID-19,” said Dr Sajikumar.
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“The Ministry of AYUSH has also set up an Interdisciplinary AYUSH R&D task force to formulate and plan research studies (clinical, preclinical, observational etc.) for COVID-19. At present, about 68 clinical and observational studies have been undertaken at 112 sites across India, many of which are completed and in the publication stage while the others are in the final stage of completion. Additionally, several preclinical studies and molecular docking studies, in collaboration with reputed institutions/research organisations like DST are also in progress to get a better understanding of the interventions in COVID 19,” he added.
Below are excerpts of his interview with HealthWire.
Role Of Ayurveda In Post-COVID-19 Recovery Management?
We all know that the entire medical fraternity across the globe has been working tirelessly to understand this virus better and with each passing day we are seeing new findings and challenges related to the virus. While the research on the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 continues, one aspect that is now coming to the forefront, is the long term impact of a COVID-19 infection. This was in fact a key focus area in the recently concluded Global Ayurveda Summit. Patients who have had a moderate to severe case of COVID-19, often suffer from continued side effects of the infection. These include fatigue, body ache, cough, sore throat, difficulty in breathing, brain fog, anxiety, depression, shortness of breath, headache, Joint pain etc., all of which can be a hindrance in performing day-to-day activities and impact the overall quality of life. This is where Ayurveda can play a major role given its holistic approach towards the health and well-being of an individual. Treatments such as the Panchakarma can help in decreasing the intensity of these symptoms over a period of time and we have already begun some of these treatments at the Dhathri Ayurveda Hospital and Panchakarma Centre, to help recovering patients improve their physical and mental health. More importantly, the industry is investing a significant amount of resources in developing medicines and drugs as well as in standardisation of protocols for post COVID-19 recovery management.
Do we have enough resources to meet the demand?
Yes, we have enough manpower and infrastructure to cater to the expected rise in demand. In fact, one area that the industry and the government are working towards is the availability of raw material for Ayurveda medicines and herbs. To that end, the government has already allocated 10 lakh hectares of land for medicinal plant cultivation and is looking to invest INR 4000 crore over the next 5 years to ensure a continuous supply of raw materials. At Dhathri, we have a focused program when it comes to sourcing raw materials. We work with an ecosystem of farmers and provide guidance and technical know-how around the cultivation of herbs including what sort of seeds and soil they need to use, suitable fertilisers etc. that will help in growing the best quality herbs.
A lot of Ayurveda supplements are now available in the market. Do they really help in improving immunity?
As mentioned earlier, Ayurveda adopts a holistic approach towards disease management and preservation of health, in which salutogenesis (maintaining optimum health and immune status) is a major aspect. With the current lifestyle that people have, maintaining a natural immune system is very rare, thus increasing the risk to infections and diseases. So in order to preserve the optimum health and immunity of a person, certain Ayurveda supplements and medicines, which are included under the broad term ‘Rasayana’ have been proven effective in preventing the disease or controlling the disease progression to a severe form. Some of the most common immunity boosters and modulators that help in improving immunity include Ayush Kwath, Mulethi powder, Golden Milk, Chyawanprash, Ashwagandha, Guduchi and Amla powder. In fact, at Dhathri Ayurveda, we recently launched our Chyavanaprasham, which is a first-of-its kind immunity booster because it is fortified with 53.5% real Amla and has zero preservatives and no added sugar.
What are the guidelines for manufacturing these products and are there any tests that are required before launching such products?
Yes there are specific guidelines for manufacturing these products and the Ministry of AYUSH has already published a list drugs for prevention, mitigation and management when it comes to both drugs and nutritional supplements. Manufacturers are mandated to take drug manufacturing licences from concerned AYUSH Licencing authorities after meeting their norms like drug development, pre-clinical research, clinical research, drug authority review and approval etc.