Increase in intake of Ayurvedic immunity boosters as COVID-19 cases rise

Ayush ministry has been recommending certain foods to naturally boost one’s immunity

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As Covid-19 cases in India are increasing rapidly, there has also been an increase in the intake of immunity boosters; most of them being Ayurvedic remedies. The Union Ayush ministry, since the past two months, has been recommending certain food ingredients to naturally boost one’s immunity.

Said Union Ayush Minister Shripad Naik to THE WEEK, “Certain Ayurvedic concoctions have proven health benefits and a lot of people in our country, these days, are regularly having it. They help in boosting immunity, and guard the respiratory system. The Ayush ministry, on its website, had suggested the kind of diets that people should have during this time. Several states have started including Ayurveda in their strategy to fight Covid-19, which is good. The demand for herbal products is increasing each passing day. The world has seen how certain traditional Indian ingredients and homemade products have benefited mankind. We should take pride in ancient Indian medical practices and promote it even more in the years to come.”

Naik said his ministry, with the help of experts, is also researching to find a drug that can be used to treat Covid-19 patients. “Clinical trials to evaluate the safe and effective use of Ayurvedic medicines in the treatment of Covid-19 are happening at a good speed even as we speak. We are expecting something in the next few months,” said Naik. “Also, all of us should practice yoga regularly. It strengthens our respiratory system and it gives us the required immunity.”

Since the pandemic entered India, the sale of local immunity boosting products has increased manifold. Products like basil plant, Azadirachta indica, ginger, honey, pumpkin, lime and flax seeds are being preserved and used in a never-seen-like-before manner by many Indians.

In one of his televised speeches to the nation, during the lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also pitched for the consumption of traditional immunity booster products like garlic, turmeric and other spices and herbs to increase one’s immunity.

Even a few celebrities, in recent times, have shared their immunity-boosting diets with their fans. Actor Bipasha Basu said she consumes hot water mixed with turmeric, cumin, coriander, aniseed, ginger, black pepper, cinnamon and cardamom. Actor Kareena Kapoor said she has spinach soup daily.

Said Dr Athira B., an Ayurvedic practitioner based in Piravom in Kerala, “In Ayurveda, the immunity boosters are unending. Daily practice of yoga and having a holistic approach will help us in having a positive outlook towards such diseases. It also reduces the stress level in each one of us, which is a must to boost one’s immunity.”

She said ingredients like honey, ginger and turmeric help the respiratory organs. “Also, having supplements like Chyawanprash and Haridra Khand will also help in improving the immunity. But, at the end of the day, we cannot completely rely on such products and take it easy. These products and concoctions that you have mentioned will help to a certain extent in keeping the disease at bay. We have to be always careful and not lower our guard.”

Allopaths have no qualms in accepting that certain herbal preparations work.

“We have nothing against them,” said Dr Shahani Nazir, a former medical officer in Kasaragod in Kerala, presently practicing in London, “People have to decide what works well for them. I will say that physical and mental well-being is of utmost importance, and they are the natural immunity boosters. Regular exercise boosts your immune system.”

She said people can have Ayurvedic medicines or such concoction if they think it helps them. “But, if they have any symptoms, they must follow the protocol and do the needful,” said Dr Shahani.