The AYUSH ministry on Tuesday dismissed claims that prolonged consumption of 'kadha', recommended as a preventive health measure for boosting immunity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, damages the liver, saying it is a "wrong notion" as ingredients used for preparing it are used in cooking at home.
Speaking at a press briefing, secretary, AYUSH Ministry, Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, said ingredients like cinnamon, basil and black pepper used for preparing the 'kadha' have a positive effect on the respiratory system.
The Ministry of AYUSH had in March issued some self-care guidelines as preventive health measures for boosting immunity with special reference to respiratory health amidst the coronavirus outbreak.
As part of the guidelines, among other things, it recommended drinking herbal tea or 'kadha' (decoction) made from basil, cinnamon, black pepper, dry ginger, and raisins once or twice a day.
"There is no evidence that it (kadha) damages the liver. It is a wrong notion because the ingredients that go into the 'kadha' are used as masala in cooking at home," Kotecha said.
He, however, added that studies are ongoing to determine how effective these ingredients can be in the battle against COVID-19.
On the protocol for the clinical management of COVID-19, which was released earlier in the day by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Kotecha said it is to be used in addition to following COVID-appropriate behaviour and standard treatment protocol and is not a "replacement" for the same.
Kotecha mentioned that the protocol has been brought out considering the Ayurveda literature and clinical experience, empirical evidence and biological plausibility and also emerging trends of ongoing clinical studies.
The 'National Clinical Management Protocol based on Ayurveda and Yoga for Management of COVID-19' lists dietary measures, yoga and ayurvedic herbs and formulations such as Ashwagandha and AYUSH-64 for the prevention of coronavirus infection and treatment of mild and asymptomatic cases.
The AYUSH ministry, in the protocol document, pointed out that the current understanding indicates a good immune system is vital for the prevention of coronavirus infection and to safeguard one from disease progression.
The protocol suggests use of medicines such as Ashwagandha, Guduchi Ghana Vati or Chyawanaprasha as prophylactic care for high-risk population and primary contacts of patients.
It recommends consumption of Guduchi Ghana Vati, Guduchi and Pippali or AYUSH 64 for asymptomatic COVID-19 patients for prevention of disease progression to symptomatic and severe forms and to improve recovery rate.
Guduchi and Pippali, and AYUSH 64 tablets can be given to mild coronavirus infected patients, it said.
The protocol also mentions the dose of these medicines to be taken. The guidelines stated that in addition to these medicines, general and dietary measures have to be followed.
Individuals with moderate to severe coronavirus infection may make an informed choice of treatment option and all severe cases will be referred, the protocol said.
Physicians have to decide useful formulations from the list or substitutable classical medicines based upon their clinical judgement, suitability, availability and regional preferences.
The dose may be adjusted based upon the patient's age, weight, and condition of the disease, the ministry said.
The document also listed Ashwagandha, Chyawanprasha or Rasayana Churna for post-COVID-19 management in order to prevent lung complications like fibrosis, fatigue and mental health.
Further, to improve respiratory and cardiac efficiency, to reduce stress and anxiety and enhance immunity, the ministry has listed Yoga Protocol for Primary Prevention of COVID- 19.
The document also mentions Yoga Protocol for Post COVID-19 care (including care for COVID-19 patients) in order to improve pulmonary function and lung capacity, reduce stress and anxiety and improve muco-ciliary clearance.
"This protocol and its annexure are approved by the Chairman, Interdisciplinary Committee for the inclusion of Ayurveda and Yoga in the management of mild COVID-19 and approved by the empowered committee of the Interdisciplinary AYUSH Research and Development Taskforce on COVID-19, both constituted by the Ministry of AYUSH," the document said.
The ministry also recommended gargling with warm water with a pinch of turmeric and salt, nasal instillation/application of medicated oil (Anu taila or Shadbindu taila), plain oil or cow's ghee once or twice a day, especially before going out and after coming back home, steam inhalation with carrom seeds, mint or eucalyptus oil once a day, moderate physical exercises and following yoga protocol as general measures.
Dietary measures include use of warm water or boiled with herbs like ginger, coriander, basil or cumin seeds etc., for drinking purpose, drinking golden milk (half teaspoon turmeric powder in 150 ml hot milk) once at night (avoid in case of indigestion) and taking Ayush Kadha or Kwath (hot infusion or decoction) once a day.
(With PTI inputs)