The government on Tuesday released Ayurveda and Yoga-based protocols for management of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) for treating patients with mild symptoms in Ayush (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Sidda and Homoeopathy) hospitals and by Ayush practitioners in the country.
The aim is to bring in uniformity and consistency in the Ayush-based Covid-19 treatment across the country.
“All the medicines included have shown good results and are scientifically validated by the task force and committees created to review them. It will be added as an exclusive chapter in our national Covid-19 management protocol,” said health minister Harsh Vardhan during the launch.
The guidelines offer standard treatment protocol to be followed by all Ayush practitioners treating mild to moderate Covid-19 cases, in line with the Union health ministry’s National Clinical Management Protocol for Covid-19 meant for treating allopathic doctors that was last revised in July, 2020.
“Ministry of Ayush has undertaken many clinical, observational studies to understand the role of Ayush intervention in mitigation and management of Covid-19. The ministry set up an interdisciplinary committee for integration of Ayurveda and Yoga interventions in the ‘National Clinical Management Protocol: COVID-19’, which was chaired by Dr V M Katoch, former director general, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and group of experts,” said Ayush minister Shripad Naik.
“We call this first version of the protocol, which will be modified as more evidence is generated through further studies in future. This part is a result of 4-5 months of research activity on some of the antipyretic, antifungal, antibacterial and other medicines in Ayurveda that have been reviewed and backed by experts from the modern system of medicine. The protocol is thoroughly backed by scientific evidence,” said Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, secretary, Ayush.
The mainstay of the Ayush protocol is to build body’s immune system to fight off the infection. “The current understanding of Covid-19 indicates that good immune status is vital to prevention and to safeguard from disease progression. Ayurveda and Yoga can certainly play a pivotal role to augment preventive measures…” the protocol says.
Apart from general measures such as drinking herb-infused warm water or turmeric milk, steam inhalation, gargling and moderate exercise in the form of several yogic postures, the protocol also recommends a set of medicines to be used for prophylaxis and treatment.
“It is a culmination of one of the various interdisciplinary efforts, and a part of new paradigm where Ayush ministry has collaborated with other ministries and experts of modern medicine,” said Rajesh Bhushan, secretary, health.
Two herbs— guduchi a(Tinospora cordifolia or heart-leaved moonseed) and ashwagandha (Withania somnifera or Indian ginseng) form the base of most medicines advised in the protocol, in different forms and formulations.
The medication is prescribed for different section of people—those who are taking as prophylaxis (high risk population or primary contacts), asymptomatic positives (for prevention of disease progression to symptomatic and severe form and to improve recovery rate); and mild positive cases (for symptomatic management of fever, dry cough, tiredness, sore throat, nasal congestion etc).
“We can call it fusion mode where benefits of traditional medicines are made use of with modern medicine. It will be a good idea to have a meeting with authorities of all states to promote it on ground,” said Dr VK Paul, member (health), Niti Aayog.
The medicines are also prescribed for post Covid-19 care in cases of people experiencing lung-related complications, fatigue and mental health issues.
As part of mild to moderate exercise regimen, yoga postures have been prescribed to improve respiratory and cardiac efficiency, reduce stress and anxiety, and enhance immunity.
“None of the treatments prescribed is to be taken without proper medical supervision. It is definitely not meant for self-medicating,” said Kotecha.