India’s traditional medicine directorate AYUSH has asked citizens to consume for three days a homeopathic drug Arsenicum Album 30 for three days on empty stomach and repeat the course after one month as an antidote to coronavirus spreading around and out if China.
It is not clear whether the directorate has conducted tests or administered the drug on any afflicted person but the circular has gone out to all states from Ayush.
But state health departments across the country have received it from Ayush.
Coronavirus is the latest pandemic that has emerged from Wuhan, China and has spread to 16 countries including Thailand, France, Philippines, USA, Australia and India. Over 170 people have died and more than 6000 people have been infected.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared Coronavirus as a global health emergency. Countries such as Russia have closed borders from China to prevent the spread of this infection. Recently, one confirmed case of coronavirus infection has been found in India’s Kerala state of a student returning from China; whereas three suspected cases were reported in Delhi.
The infection from coronavirus resembles other respiratory tract infections hence can be hard to isolate from the common flu. It spreads from respiratory fluids such as coughs and sneezes, similar to influenza and other respiratory tracts’ infections. The extent of the infection has ranged from a mild cough to severely sick and dying due to the infection. Common symptoms include cough, fever, shortness of breath (dyspnea), and occasional diarrhoea. Currently, there are no vaccines for this infection and preventative measures are best to contain the spread of the infection.
The Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa Rigpa and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) of India released two advisories via PIB on the preventative and treatment measures that can be taken for the coronavirus epidemic.
One of the advisories was using the homeopathy drug Arsenicum album 30 as a ‘prophylactic medicine’ for the prevention of the infection (see below).
“As per the Homoeopathy Practices, the following Preventive Management Steps are suggested- The Group of Experts inter-alia has recommended that homoeopathy medicine Arsenicum album30 could be taken as prophylactic medicine against possible Corona virus infections, which has also been advised for prevention of ILI. It has recommended one doze of Arsenicum album 30, daily in empty stomach for three days. The dose should be repeated after one month by following the same schedule incase Corona virus infections prevail in the community.”
The claims made by the AYUSH Ministry have been closely examined by sone Indian experts using published scientific evidence at platforms that index scientific articles such as Google Scholar and PUBMED.
In the area of drug formulations, clinical specialists used the research indexed by Google Scholar and PUBMED to verify and seek information regarding new drugs.
As a corollary, the absence of scientific research information regarding various drugs in Google Scholar and PUBMED indicates lack of clinical and/or basic scientific research for those drugs.
Altnews which often fact checks startling claims in public domain sci-checked the evidence for Arsenicum album 30 for coronavirus infections, the evidence for any other homeopathy drug against coronavirus, and Arsenicum album 30 for any other infections.
It told SouthAsianMonitor that no studies were found that researched the effect of Arsenicum album for coronavirus in humans or animals (in vivo). Also, there were also no studies found in an ex-vivo (outside the animal/human bodies) to study the drug efficacy.
No studies were found that linked the efficacy of any homeopathy drug in coronavirus infections. Only one paper on Arsrnicum Album 30 was found, published in British Homeopathic Journal (Kayne & Rafferty, 1994), that studied its use in neonatal diarrhoea in calves. This study was not only in animals on a different type of infection, but was found to be statistically invalid by Verdier, Öhagen & Alenius in 2003.
Thus, Arsenicum album 30 has not been proven or researched scientifically by homeopaths to cure coronavirus or any other infections in humans.
The AYUSH ministry and the Indian government has run into much criticism for issuing the advisory to use homeopathy as a preventive measure.
“How can a government department issue advisories recommending antidote without formally testing the drug,” said Dr Kalishekhar Ghoshal, a leading expert on virus borne diseases .
“The claim of the AYUSH ministry and the AYUSH homeopaths is false, dangerous and can lead to India’s own coronavirus epidemic, as the infected patients’ caregivers can assume false protection based on the government of India’s advisory,” said Dr Garga Chatterjee , a top researcher on Cognitive Sciences at the Indian Statistical Institute .
He told Southasian Monitor that the Ayush advisory was ” nothing short of a criminal act.”
“This misinformed advice, if followed, risks million of people’s lives during such a dangerous and contagious epidemic,” he said.
Indian researchers have belatedly made some startling claims about scientific discoveries in ancient India , attracting scorn and disdain from many including Indian origin Nobel winning structural biologist Venkatraman Shivramakrishnan .
He said that the science congress in India has been reduced to a joke because many there made preposterous claims and couched it as science.
The Ayush ministry was created during PM Modi’s tenure to promote traditional medicine.