However, rationalists have insisted that allowing the Krishnapatnam treatment would promote belief in unscientific treatments

YSRCP MLA Kakani Govardhan Reddy and Bonigi Anandaiah distributing herbal preparations to COVID patientsFile Photo
Coronavirus COVID-19 Tuesday, May 25, 2021 - 10:42

The Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Studies is conducting a comprehensive test of the Krishnapatnam herbal remedy touted as a ‘cure’ for COVID-19, by giving it to at least 500 people to determine its efficacy, the AYUSH Department of Andhra Pradesh said. It has to be found out if the herbal preparations prepared by Anandaiah caused any ill-effects on health and a report in this regard might come in about a week, AYUSH Commissioner Ramulu N informed Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy during a COVID-19 review meeting. Ramulu said that according to local officials, around 80,000 persons have been administered the herbal preparations over the past few weeks.

A release from the Chief Minister’s Office said Jagan asked health authorities to get the medicine examined by ophthalmologists, to determine if the preparation being administered in the eyes caused any ill effects. "We will take a decision on Krishnapatnam ‘medicine’ after these reports come in," the release quoted the Chief Minister as saying. Anandaiah has claimed that his herbal concoctions, including eye drops, are made with ingredients like turmeric, cumin, camphor, pepper, honey and nutmeg. He started administering the preparations on April 21, which soon became widely popular. Following the heavy rush of people to Krishnapatnam village in SPS Nellore district, district officials halted the distribution program as the Andhra Pradesh Lokayukta stepped in, after reports that COVID-19 norms were being violated.

The state AYUSH Commissioner, who inspected the preparation along with his team, told the media on Monday that Anandaiah had shown them the preparation process and also gave them the formula. “We sent these samples for examination in the laboratory," the Commissioner said. Ramulu said the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Studies was conducting a comprehensive study of the preparation. He said that Anandaiah’s ingredients were accepted in Ayurveda, “but there are some hurdles in classifying it as an ayurvedic medicine. Any drug not listed in classical ayurvedic tests, needs to undergo clinical trials. The dosages used in the preparation are also important. There's no possibility of categorising it as an ayurvedic medicine. But then it can't be called a country remedy either,” he said.

Given the Krishnapatnam medicine's popularity among people, the Andhra government took a stand that it has prima facie no objection to allowing the practice. While reports are awaited on the preparations to ascertain if it can be classified as Ayurvedic, no permissions are required for 'natu mandu' or local healing methods, Principal Secretary (Health) Anil Kumar Singhal said on Monday. On May 21, despite lack of permission from district authorities, YSRCP MLA Kakani Govardhan Reddy encouraged the distribution of the preparations after it was halted for three days. The decision resulted in tens of thousands of people thronging to the location, resulting in chaos and violation of COVID-19 protocols. 

Rationalists have insisted that allowing the Krishnapatnam treatment would promote belief in unscientific treatments and urged Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy to not permit the ‘treatment’ until it is proven to be effective. Speaking to TNM, rationalist Narendra Nayak said, “The government should come down strictly upon such people. For a disease with above 98% recovery rate, anybody can make claims. But there is nothing which is harmless. Apart from unknown side effects, it can give a sense of bravado to people, resulting in danger,” he said, citing a recent incident in Karnataka’s where it has been alleged that a teacher from Raichur lost his life after following a ‘home remedy’ of inhaling lemon juice for oxygen scarcity, as recommended by former MP and BJP leader Vijay Sankeshwar. 

Countering the claim that no permissions are required for 'natu mandu' ('country remedies' or local healing methods), Narendra Nayak added, “Nothing is exempted from the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, under which one can contest claims about aiding respiration, or immunity boosters (both claims have been made about Anandaiah’s preparations). Often claims of traditional healing or religion crop up to evade regulation, like the ‘fish medicine’ in Hyderabad which was branded as a prasadam or offering. But the government needs to firmly come down on such practices.”

Read: ‘COVID cure’ in Andhra: Why scientific evidence is more important than people’s faith

With IANS and PTI inputs  

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