Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, Secretary, Ministry of AYUSH | By special arrangement
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New Delhi: Raw data from clinical trials conducted on the efficacy of alternative medicines against the Covid-19 infection shows “promising outcomes”, according to Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, a top government official in the Ministry of AYUSH.

In an exclusive interview to ThePrint, Kotecha, Secretary, AYUSH, defended alternative medicines that have often been criticised for allegedly propounding pseudoscience.

The AYUSH ministry specifically promotes the use of alternative medicines like Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, Sowa Rigpa and homeopathy in India.

“The controversies and criticism has always been a part in every aspect of science, be it the science of ancient medicines,” he said.

Kotecha claimed that a majority of people under quarantine, who used AYUSH-based therapies as preventive measures, did not report any severe symptoms of Covid-19.

The ministry is also “working on many fronts in different designs of research studies to generate some tangible evidence in AYUSH against Covid-19. We would certainly work on translating them in public health in the fight against Covid in the near future,” he said

“The ministry plans to publish the results after analysing the data,” he added.

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According to Kotecha, the raw data is from the trial that is still open for enrolment of people for the purpose of quarantine.

Lately, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promoted the use of these alternative medicines, especially Ayurveda, to boost immunity, and this has led to significant elevation in the ministry’s position.

PM Modi also threw his weight behind a ministry advisory urging the use of home remedies to strengthen immunity amid the pandemic.


Also read: After Modi’s appeal, AYUSH ministry gets over 2,000 proposals to tackle Covid-19 pandemic


Generating evidence to support efficacy of AYUSH drugs

One of the primary criticisms levelled against the AYUSH ministry is the lack of scientific evidence backing any of the claims made about these medicines.

According to Kotecha, this is because the AYUSH system has “a complex approach with its highly individualised style of deciding the treatment protocol”.

“It cannot be generalised and depends on body to body.”

He added, “Understanding and appreciating this system in simple randomised controlled trials (RCTs) or other study designs has always been a challenging task.”

RCTs are one of the easiest and most powerful tools in clinical research to test the efficacy of medicines on patients.

To generate “tangible evidence” about the effectiveness of these remedies, the ministry initiated a series of collaborative clinical trials as a joint venture with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Science and Technology against the Covid-19 crisis.

Furthermore, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the country’s apex health research body, the ministry is also studying four Ayurvedic herbs — ashwagandha, guduchi, pippali, yashtimadhu — for preventive properties against the infection.

“The studies on these four candidates have been planned as multi-centre studies in identified institutes and hospitals across India with a sample size of about 140 in each study, and there are 20 such sites across the country,” said Kotecha.

A poly-herbal, anti-malarial formulation termed AYUSH 64, is also being tested by the ministry.

Moreover, according to Kotecha, an interdisciplinary AYUSH research and development task force has been set-up with a group of experts to formulate and develop strategies against the pandemic.

“The ministry, through its research councils and national institutes, has also initiated various prophylactic, clinical and population-based survey studies to address the challenge of Covid-19 at more than 50 locations across 25 states of the country,” he said, adding that these studies will cover a sample size of approximately 5 lakh.

A mobile application-based survey to assess the effectiveness, acceptance and usage of AYUSH advisories and measures against Covid-19 has also been launched, with a sample size of 50 lakh people across India.

Kotecha noted that “a dataset of around 20 lakh samples has been achieved”.

A majority of these trials are registered on the government portal, Clinical Trials Registry – India (CTRI), the ministry claims.

The Ministry of AYUSH had also released an advisory on 18 March suggesting measures to boost immunity and help manage the symptoms of the virus.

“We also suggested immunity boosting with daily use of spices, herbs and lifestyle changes. The advisories do have support of science, in the form of several publications, and also in the shastras, which are the ancient classical texts,” he said.


Also read: AYUSH ministry warns drug-makers to not sell products using false claims, threatens FIRs


Role of AYUSH in Covid war 

Kotecha stressed that the war against Covid-19 can be won easily by “boosting immunity”.

Several states, such as Kerala, have been using Ayurveda and other alternative medicines to boost immunity, and that has managed to keep the death rate very low, he said.

“Through our dedicated web portal, we have asked for suggestions from all the stakeholders including Kerala for research and clinical management of Covid-19,” noted Kotecha.

“Many states have released their AYUSH advocacies such as Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttarakhand and Haryana to name a few,” he added.

Claiming that AYUSH medicines are the best option for the body’s immune system, Kotecha said, “I would like to further stress on the point that making the body strong with good immunity is an essential part in fighting against Covid-19 and AYUSH is certainly the best answer to this.”

He added, “While abiding with hand washing measures and maintaining social distance, eating freshly cooked homemade food, practicing Yoga daily, and following simple home remedies as advised by us in the advisory will take care of an individual’s immunity.”


Also read: Modi govt wants colleges, universities to help study AYUSH practices for Covid-19


 

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19 Comments Share Your Views

19 COMMENTS

  1. timothy field allen 1837-1902 homeopath in his encyclopedia says,fucus vesi reduces obesity esp around chest abdomen nape of neck.after 119 years indian research journal ijrh says fucus vesi prevented obesity in rats and case can be taken for research on human subjects.this remedy is used on large scale by homeopaths for hypothyroid, if you ask a non professional like me data there is no answer.top homeopaths in india have adopted silence neither they have time to answer questions of critics.anyone having doubt go to clinic of kalayan banerje delhi and form opinion.being a retired person plus i cannot practice legaly,vent out feelings by comments here there.public will definitely agree when we upgrade research from rats to humans.

  2. some may want purely natural herbal treatment,vitamin A is antiviral repairs mucosal tissues,detailed note is available by shannyn fowl nd at site ndnr dot com under heading treating pneumonia where antibiotics fail.i use gurukul kangri herbal tea and hamdard joshina at on set of early sneezing called najla jukam prevents chest being effected,donot stop nose secretions by anti allergic pills let tissues expel out histamines bear some pain instead of getting deeper pain later.

  3. modern research on homeopathy to treat acute lower respiratory infections is best explained by najanin vassighi nd and michael lehman nd at site ndnr dot com.arsenic inhibits cytokine il-10 pneumococcal pneumonia,best praised is rhus tox improves phagocytosis and destruct intracellular candida albi.merc sol promotes macrophages th1 th2 activity.last expert on pneumonia is listed dayton pulford 1928 whose vision needs to be expanded.on net there is no better explanation than this article explaining modern view as desired by allopaths.

  4. homeopathy is better choice only limitation being,is symptom oriented medicine symptom one has to go to a classical homeopath for tratment to upgrade immunity if there is some lack.healthy person doe not need any remedy.in acute crisis of icu nature one cannot depend on alternative medicine system.

  5. Ayush 64 a combination of tulasi,pipili,sunti these drugs are already proven it effectiveness, being an employee of ayurvedic hospital, i have personally observed the effectiveness. However without proof common man is not going to accept ayurveda, its my humble request to MOA that please disclose all relavent data, so that we can control covid 19 with Ayurveda.

    Regards
    Viju

    http://www.ayurchariya.com

    • This is why I call AYUSH people uneducated and don’t understand scientific approach.
      All they say is things like this – “i have personally observed the effectiveness”.
      That is not proof of anything more than that personal observation is worthless.

      If you have no studies that are repeatable, you don’t have any proof. Your so-called observations are worthless.
      It is like Aslam baba followers thinking they have seen baba kiss working in curing people. Personal observations are usually delusions. That is why studies are done.

  6. Where specific therapy for a microbial cause is not completely known then the only basis of treatment is symptoms.On this score Homeopathy has got a definite approach and time tested clinical principle though abundant criticisms are there regarding it’s present scientific study.But it’s clinical methodology is not in disagreement with present science.
    In my understanding HOMEOPATHY will give a very good result in the treatment of non emergency Vivid 19 patients.

    • Stop lying you frauds.
      Homeopathy is disproven to be nothing but a placebo. It does not work even against symptoms.
      Its fake methodology is in fact in direct denial of all science.
      This is according to all scientists.

      Non-emergency Covid-19 (not Vivid 19) patients don’t need much of any treatment. They get better on their own. Homeopaths are just good liars to pretend that time curing disease is in fact their fake pills working.

      The statement was made by the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC), an umbrella organisation representing 29 national academies in Europe, including the Royal Society in the UK.

      The council did not mince its words in its condemnation of homeopathy, which works on the principles that “like cures like” and that water can have memory.

      In a 12-page statement, the group summarised extensive scientific research and concluded that homeopathy is scientifically implausible and produces nothing more than a placebo effect in patients.

      The body recommended that EU states set up regulations to quash what it claims are misleading advertisements by homeopaths, remove homeopathic treatments from public health provision, and require that homeopathic product labels clearly identify ingredients and their amounts.

      Report Name: Homeopathic products and practices: assessing the evidence and ensuring consistency in regulating medical claims in the EU

      The Austrian Academy of Sciences
      The Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium
      The Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
      The Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts
      The Czech Academy of Sciences
      The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters
      The Estonian Academy of Sciences
      The Council of Finnish Academies
      The Académie des sciences (France)
      The German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
      The Academy of Athens
      The Hungarian Academy of Sciences
      The Royal Irish Academy
      The Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Italy)
      The Latvian Academy of Sciences
      The Lithuanian Academy of Sciences
      The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
      The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters
      The Polish Academy of Sciences
      The Academy of Sciences of Lisbon
      The Romanian Academy
      The Slovak Academy of Sciences
      The Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
      The Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences
      The Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences
      The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
      The Royal Society (United Kingdom)
      Academia Europaea
      All European Academies (ALLEA)

      Want more information? I have lots.

      • Please provide information on whether the European bodies and its members including those who commissioned the requisite studies were audited by recognised third party institution/s. There’s a reason why the industry is called big pharma, and a person as knowledgeable as you will know about their lobbying efforts. Since you claim to have a lot of information, we would be grateful if you could prove if these bodies are above suspicion. We will all hail you for your hitherto under appreciated detailed investigations into the inner workings of European medical regulators.

        • What the heck are you talking about? These are national science academies with the top scientists of every field of the respective countries, not private parties. These are not pharma people.

          Your problem is you cannot prove anything in homeopathy in any way because it is purely a figment of imagination. So you will start moving goal posts at every chance to defend the sugar pill scam. It isn’t one or two. It is all of them. Every one of the national scientific bodies in every scientifically advanced country.

          First tell me, who is auditing AYUSH because their statements are just uneducated. I will go look for your goalposts after.

          Meanwhile, here is every top government saying the same.

          1. ‘The principles of homeopathy contradict known chemical, physical and biological laws and persuasive scientific trials proving its effectiveness are not available.’
          Russian Academy of Sciences

          2. ‘Homeopathy should not be used to treat health conditions that are chronic, serious, or could become serious. People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness.’
          National Health and Medical Research Council, Australia

          3. ‘These products are not supported by scientific evidence.’
          Health Canada

          4 “Homeopathic remedies don’t meet the criteria of evidence based medicine.”
          Hungarian Academy of Sciences

          5. ‘The incorporation of anthroposophical and homeopathic products in the Swedish directive on medicinal products would run counter to several of the fundamental principles regarding medicinal products and evidence-based medicine.’
          Swedish Academy of Sciences

          6. ‘We recommend parents and caregivers not give homeopathic teething tablets and gels to children and seek advice from their healthcare professional for safe alternatives.’
          US Food and Drug Administration

          7. ‘There is little evidence to support homeopathy as an effective treatment for any specific condition.’
          National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health, US

          8. ‘There is no good-quality evidence that homeopathy is effective as a treatment for any health condition.’
          National Health Service, UK

          9. ‘Homeopathic remedies perform no better than placebos, and the principles on which homeopathy is based are scientifically implausible.’
          House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, UK

          10. ‘Homeopathy has not definitively proven its efficacy in any specific indication or clinical situation.’
          Ministry of Health, Spain

          11. ‘There is a constant increase in the quantity of evidence and the conviction of the scientific community in medicine, that homeopathy should be treated as one of the unscientific methods of so-called “alternative medicine”, which proposes worthless products without scientifically proven efficacy.’
          National Medical Council, Poland

          12. ‘From a purely clinical perspective, the fact remains that there is no valid empirical proof
 of the efficacy of homeopathy (evidence-based medicine) beyond the placebo effect.’
          Federaal Kenniscentrum voor de Gezondheidszorg, Belgium

        • Go ahead and tell IIT Bombay that they have been bought out by big pharma. They wrote this last week. The first author is a head of the department at IIT Bombay. This is what you quacks do. Whenever you cannot digest facts, you just throw accusations without any proof that the scientist was paid by big pharma. All scientists say homeopathy is fake. It is your job to show that they are all paid to lie.

          A Homeopathic Defence Against COVID-19 Is No Defence at All

          Starting with a “mother tincture” that has 200 grams of arsenic trioxide in 1 litre of liquid, the 30C potency medicine has one molecule of the active material present in a volume equivalent to that of 1 million Suns. In terms of the active material, an individual is consuming zero molecules.

          Most popular narratives on homeopathy consist of anecdotes and scientific-sounding terms like “vital force” or “biphasic actions”. Hahnemann himself “explained” that homeopathy worked through a “dematerialised spiritual force”.

          We also hear things like “a thousand people were given this medicine and then 95% did not get the disease, so it works”. This is not what a trial is and these ‘experiments’ are worthless unless compared with 1,000 people who are given placebos (i.e. blank doses).

          The fact that homeopathy thrives is not proof of its efficacy – just like the existence of tarot readers and astrologers does not prove that these practices have any scientific basis.

  7. Everyone come with Ayush Kadha.
    Is their any scientific formula.
    Any Ragistretion formalities to sale in market.kindly update.
    Thanks.

  8. As a homoeopath I am proud to hear the interview given by Ayush secratary Vaidyar rajesh kotecha to the media.I had given preventive for 50 members on third week of March.All of them have no symptoms of corona till today.

  9. Avatar डाॅशशिकांत काळे बी ए एम एस धन्वंतरीअहेल्थ केअर क्लिनीक

    श्री .वैद्द कोटेचा सर
    आपका तथा मा . ना .श्रीपादजी नाईक आयुष विभाग और मा .पंतप्रधान श्री मोदिजी आप सभी का हार्दीक अभिनंदन तथा धन्यवाद !
    आपने पर्यायी उपचार पध्दती हिंदुस्तान सभी राज्योमे कोरोना प्रतिबंधक तथा उपचार शुरु किये !
    एक नंती तथा सुझाव है..
    लताकरंज ,बला ( अतिबला ,नागबला ,महाबलाृृृृृृ,) तथा अपामार्ग ,पुनर्नवा.पुष्करमूल .भुम्यालकी,हहिद्रा .वासा.
    यह वनौषधीका उपयोग गुडूची ,अश्वगंधा .जेष्ठमध और पिप्पलीका आपके काॅम्बिनेशन के साथ किया जाय तो बहुत लाभदायक होगा !
    और मरिजोंके प्राण बच जायेंगे !
    डाॅ शशिकांत काळे .धन्वंतरी हेल्थ केअर क्लिनीक
    मो नं७७३८५३७२४५. कोल्हारभगवती महाराष्ट्र

  10. The problem is, AYUSH 64 tests were meant to begin in mid May, then June, but seems like it’s not started as ministry is yet to finalize a CRO for the same and sounds befooling people making documented claims on only other people’s claim. We do clinical trials on ayurveda from years, and the confidentiality is to be maintained, but seems like media these days is full of big people making spicy claims for covid19. 🙁 we are too into 2 covid19 clinical trials in India and Spain for Ayurveda, but should not put the details in media, until we have something solid. Research doesn’t mean assumptions, but facts.. Sorry for being rude, but most of media is only publishing clinical trials, where all standard research ICH guidelines are on stake. 🙁

  11. AYUSH did a study with title: AYUSH 64, a polyherbal Ayurvedic formulation in Influenza like Illness: results of a pilot study

    It is a open-label, nonrandomized, single group, single-center test (each word indicating that it is a weak study).

    There is no placebo group. So it is uncontrolled. It is open-label. So there is no blinding, single or double. Such studies are generally considered worthless.

    They brag that symptoms got better over time. Of course they did. It is called Regression to Mean. They always do, even without treatment. Without a blinded placebo control group, how can you say that AYUSH 64 was responsible for the drop in any way?

    To top that, they were simultaneously treating patients with modern medicines. They say they were able to “reduce frequency of usage” of modern medicines, but no proper data is provided. Of course, patients will use less acetaminophen as body aches always get better over time and so on. The final sample size of 30 is also very, very basic. They do admit the limitations. There is nothing that can be stated with confidence here.

    On one side, they say, we are very individualized, so we cannot do RCTs (not true). Then they want to sell a very general combination and still don’t use proper controls (irony).

    • The best part is. This study not started yet. See they still have the CRO tender open for this study, but the media says as if it’s done month ago. Being a common man from real clinical trials in Ayurveda, it feels shame when I see such information in Media. 🙁

  12. Ancient shastras are not considered scientific support. You still have to prove them today.

    Publications in not reputable journals is also not considered scientific support. Every pseudoscience has low quality journal publications behind it.

    No one is demanding that testing be done only in “simple” RCTs. You can also test individualized treatments in RCTs.

    How is he going to back statements like “Claiming that AYUSH medicines are the best option for the body’s immune system”. Where is your scientific data for this “best”? They have been talking like this since forever. He doesn’t seem to understand science. He sounds like he is just advertising.

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