GLOBAL TAMILIAN: Alternative systems of medicine in limelight thanks to pandemic

Despite being settled overseas, the Tamil diaspora loves to recreate the life they left behind in India. Here’s a glimpse of their lives, celebrations and struggles on foreign shores
GLOBAL TAMILIAN: Alternative systems of medicine in limelight thanks to pandemic


COVID-19 pandemic has opened the doors for thinking on alternate opportunities for survival. The current realities have made us change many of our fundamental beliefs, driving us to choose options previously missed to be noted. Standing out in this list are the alternate systems of medicine, especially Ayurveda which seems to have earned the world’s attention lately for all good reasons.
In today’s kitchen cabinets, it is not uncommon to find people overstuffing ingredients like ginger, turmeric, pepper, neem, amla, tulsi and more of species and herbs that are expected to boost immunity and gear for fighting the virus the natural way.
Many of the naturopathic and wellness consultants seem to be spreading positive vibes in this space. Social media videos and WhatsApp messages speak eloquently about ways to help boost immunity to guard ourselves against the enemy virus.
This is quite a visible trend in the US as well, particularly among the Indian American population. Many resorts to online orders for Kabasura and Nilavembu kudineer as a precautionary step, “Our online order for Kabasura kudineer was delivered promptly and we felt really comforted as this seems to be a preventive therapy widely spoken about. At a time when the restrictions are being relaxed and we all are starting to move out of our homes it feels to be the right thing to do,” said a resident of New Jersey.
While the general public takes their own small steps of prevention leaning towards the alternative systems of medicines, the holistic and wellness professionals on their part build protocols and customise recommendations to help their clients build immunity the natural way.
Dr Virender Sodhi, a naturopathic and ayurvedic physician from Washington state with over 32 years’ experience practising in the US has positive testimony of administering a preventive protocol for over 2,000 of his regular patients and records that it has yielded a 100 per cent success rate. “We have developed a dedicated protocol that we administered for our regular patients and followed it up with a survey questionnaire to collect our data and not even one COVID-19 positive case was reported till date,” said Dr Virender.
He went on to add: “We started getting calls from new patients who tested positive and we did telemedicine for them and put them on our protocol. We have treated 14 positive cases, the majority of them over 70 years of age and in the high-risk category with hypertension and diabetes conditions. Yet all turned negative within seven days of administering the protocols. The numbers we treated may not be large but the fact that we have a 100 per cent success rate is comforting and reassuring.”
Interestingly, the majority of Dr Sodhi’s patients are of non-Indian origin. “Baring a little around 25 per cent, I have a clientele that is of mixed race, reiterating the fact that the local population believes in the alternate system as much as the Indians”.
Particularly in the Washington state area, Oregon, California, Arizona and also in the Eastern states, there is a lot of awareness on holistic forms of medicine and the ayurvedic principles. There are many universities in the US offering degrees in Naturopathy with some aspects of Ayurveda in the course.
Efforts are also on to document and share experiences in the field of Ayurveda. In this front, it is pertinent to mention that the Council for Ayurveda Research (CAR), a US-based nonprofit is busy organising a three-day online international summit on ‘COVID-19 – Lessons and Emerging Strategies in Ayurveda’, scheduled to be held from September 25 to 27. “This one of a kind international summit is bringing together the latest, direct and actual work on COVID-19 with Ayurveda,” said Dr Pratibha Shah, MD, Founder and President, CAR.
She added: “There are about 25 clinical trials currently registered under the Clinical Trials Registry of India (CTRI), which will be conducted under the guidance of AYUSH Ministry and ICMR. Besides, there are documented works of Chaudhary Brahm Prakash Hospital in New Delhi, which is treating mild to moderate COVID patients successfully with Ayurveda.”
“A Panchagavya clinical trial has been approved in Gujarat and a few case studies of mineral medicine in COVID-19 positive cases will be reported from Bilaspur. There are also very rigorous well-documented works like those of Dr Jyoti Joshi from Mumbai who has undertaken stringent documentation with pre and post blood markers, successfully treating moderate to severe COVID-19 positive cases with Ayurveda. Dr Girija from Chennai has successfully treated 100 plus COVID cases, who were primarily refractory, had co-morbidities and were referred to her by modern medicine specialists. These are very encouraging happenings. At the international summit in September, we plan to present not only these successful protocols but also several papers on what is emerging as ideal research methods useful for Ayurvedic practitioners,” she added.
The reality seems to be that this pandemic can be handled well only by prudent individual choices and here self-discipline like wearing masks, following social distancing and avoiding crowds have been talked about much loudly. But the role of alternative medicines though not being widely formalised seems to have appealed to the common man well. Quite naturally reliance on alternative systems of medicine seems to be happening diligently just not in India but even in the US. With increasing numbers of well-trained holistic wellness practitioners in the US, the resonance is being felt. Importantly, the general public seems to follow suit to immunity-boosting protocols pushing up the hope for a strong fight against the COVID-19 virus. Surely soothing musical tunes seem to ring in our ears.
— The writer is a journalist based in New York

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