A few significant events happened in recent times which bring into focus the deep-seated antipathy of the country’s established Medical and Health systems and agencies towards India’s own ancient medicinal systems – the Ayurveda, Siddha, Yoga and so on.
In the ongoing covid crisis, the non-Telugu readers might have missed an important event that made headlines among the Telugu people and Telugu media. One Sri Anandaiah, a traditional practitioner of Ayurveda, from Krishnapatnam in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh, had been giving free medicines for Covid which had worked wonders for people affected with covid, the medicine showed results, oxygen levels have gone up in patients, and they tested negative in a day or two. He is a practitioner with over 30 years of experience. People started arriving in hordes from within AP and nearby states, to the small town of Krishnapatnam and in a period of less than a month, close to 1lakh people had taken the medicine with astounding results. The visuals of patients giving their testimonials and the empty hospital beds in the town went viral on social media. The medicine and Ayurvedic practitioner attracted headlines, when queried on the ingredients that made up the medicine, Sri Anandaiah was simple enough to spell out all the 18 herbal ingredients he has used to prepare the medicine. He gave the medicines free to people and as the demand increased, he requested people to bring the ingredients to make fresh medicine and not money.
Apart from the obvious aspect that ICMR is not equipped to deal with Ayurveda, this also raises the question on the flip-flops of the Allopathy establishment and on the various advisories and treatment protocols the board has been issuing regarding the use of steroids, medicines, injections etc for critically ill patients.
As the news spread, overnight the vested interests within the power structures and the Allopathy medical establishment swung into action. A Govt of Andhra Pradesh’s little-known body called the Lokayukta (also called Lokpal in some states), took suo-moto action, instructed the District Collector to stop the distribution of medicine, and questioned the huge gatherings of people, ostensibly because they were not wearing masks for covid protection. It is to be noted that Lokayukta’s mandate is to deal with corruption within the Govt, whereas this issue falls entirely outside the Lokayukta purview. The police questioned the practitioner and the initial story was that he was being given police protection as the crowds are surging. When people were regaled with visuals of huge crowds jostling and creating a near-stampede situation to get liquor at retail shops before the re-lockdown was announced, and the majority of them not wearing masks, it is possible that the Lokayukta was not aware of it. (People are similarly regaled and entertained with visuals in these dreadful lockdown times when Christian pastors work their `miracle’ medicines to cure not only covid but other critical illnesses like cancers, kidney stones, AIDS etc; however, no Govt dept or Lokayukta ever came forward to assess the efficacy of those miracle medicines.) After being given `police protection’ which Sri Anandaiah hasn’t asked for, it was disclosed later on that an assessment would be conducted on the medicinal preparation to check its efficacy and side effects. Officials from AYUSH Ministry (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha & Homeo) approached, conducted tests and stated that all the ingredients being used are safe, have no side-effects and have given a clean chit to the medicine.
It’s not clear whether any individual, agency or state Govt approached Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR ) but they too entered the imbroglio to test the medicines. As we are aware, ICMR is an apex body established for research on allopathic drugs and has little or no knowledge of Indian medicinal systems. Yet they are expected to arrive at Krishnapatnam and make their own assessment, and as of date, their visit is still awaited. ICMR and other Experts Task Groups’ under the Union Health Ministry are at the forefront in the war against Covid, in relation to Allopathic medicines. It is to be noted here that the AYUSH ministry had so far failed to establish an apex board to conduct evaluation and give accreditation for AYUSH related purposes. The story gets curiouser and curiouser, as, through all this rigmarole, Sri Anandaiah has been kept away from the public in the name of security and hasn’t been dispensing medicines over the last 10 days. The situation is utterly incomprehensible as the Ayurvedic practitioner is kept away, even as the humungous crisis is raging all over India, critical patients and their families are running from hospital to hospital searching for a cure and are forced to spend lakhs of rupees.
Apart from the obvious aspect that ICMR is not equipped to deal with Ayurveda, this also raises the question on the flip-flops of the Allopathy establishment and on the various advisories and treatment protocols the board has been issuing regarding the use of steroids, medicines, injections etc for critically ill patients. As there is no medical cure for Covid, the doctors at best are trying various combinations of medicines with some successes and many failures, it can be termed as a trial and error method. It is also noteworthy that the combinations of medicines being used haven’t been clinically evaluated for use in Covid. Yet no one questioned the allopathic doctors whether these medicines could be used and their potential side effects. Already new symptoms of black fungus, white fungus and now yellow fungus have emerged, apparently due to the indiscriminate use of steroids, other drugs and injections. Yet when Allopathy has no cure, and Ayurveda is showing the way in Covid treatment, many Allopathic doctors and naysayers have jumped into the fray questioning the Ayurvedic medicine and its efficacy. They also reported that Siddha medicine is giving some positive results in Tamilnadu, hopefully, this lobby won’t pounce on that too.
A curious kind of language bias is also evident in recent weeks, instead of calling it Ayurveda or Siddha, as the case may be, they are being called as ‘nature’ medicine, `home’ remedies, `raw’ medicine etc.
In their overzealousness to curtail India’s own medicinal systems, the medical establishment and various lobbies of vested interests have ignored the fact that patients too have a right to go to the practitioners they wish to. How is Govt allowing this situation where patients’ choices don’t matter? Especially in view of the raging Covid situation, and affected patients unable to afford lakhs of rupees in hospitals, patients have the right to go to Ayurveda or any other system of medicine. In this case, as word of mouth has spread, patients thronged on these effective Ayurvedic medicines. Or is there more than what meets the eye? Is there a medical mafia operating that would lose immense amounts of money if the patients are getting free medicines or are being very economically treated by Ayurveda or Siddha medicines? We are aware of the hoarding of lifesaving drugs, oxygen cylinders etc which were selling in the black market at multiple times the actual rates. Police in several states has booked cases against the black marketers. There are heartrending cases of hospitals not releasing even dead bodies unless lakhs of rupees of dues are paid.
Additionally, a Class issue seems to be evident here; Are ancient native Indian medicinal systems second-class in the hierarchy of today’s medical establishment which is overwhelmingly Allopathy, handed over to Brown Sahebs from British times? AYUSH, now a Ministry, was started as a small dept during the Vajpayee era. It seems that the hierarchy does exist and even more interestingly, no one is even hiding their biases. Especially the highly educated elite sections of India take a lot of pride in their inherent biases and glibly say that any curative treatment has to be assessed and clinical trials need to be conducted. It’s all very well, till they are reminded that no trials were conducted for the allopathic medicines specifically for Covid use. To illustrate this clear bias, last year, in 2020, as researchers across the globe were racing to find a cure for Covid, Patanjali Ayurvedic company came up with a preventive medicine called ‘Coronil’, after duly conducting trials with the support of NIMS, Jaipur, they had even put out the entire study report. Yet, the ‘establishment’ pounced upon Patanjali, and the company had to rebrand its medicine as an `immunity booster’ fearing a further backlash. It is now being reported that medicines like Coronil, Kabasura Kudineer, Ayush 64 are indeed working well and there is a big demand for them. It would be good if these same experts know that China from where the virus originated, also uses its own famed traditional Chinese medicine. A curious kind of language bias is also evident in recent weeks, instead of calling it Ayurveda or Siddha, as the case may be, they are being called as ‘nature’ medicine, `home’ remedies, `raw’ medicine etc. It is possible that the ‘experts’ are unaware that they are all derived from ancient Ayurveda or Siddha.
The country demands for safe medicinal alternatives is clear from the fact that people have taken to adopting Ayurveda in a big way in their daily lives. AYUSH approved drugs had whopping sales in the last few months. Even Multi-National Corporations have started rebranding their products like toothpaste, shampoos and hair oils as ‘Vedic’. In view of the clear demand, it is incumbent upon the central Govt to immediately set up Research and Evaluation Boards under AYUSH and provide the country with safe Indian alternatives. We Indians are never tired of brandishing our famed ‘diversity’, and in medicinal systems too, people should be able to seek and access the same diversity and multiplicity of choices.
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
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