New Delhi: After Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali, now Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Tattva has claimed to have formulated combinations of Ayurvedic and Siddha medicines that can help in prevention and treatment of Covid-19.
The company said it had tested the drug combo for anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting Ayurvedic agents and their effectiveness against the novel coronavirus, under the guidance of Germany-based Frankfurt Innovation Center for Biotechnology.
Sharing the findings of the study during a virtual press conference Monday, the company emphasised the use of their medicines for prevention and treatment of Covid-19, but promoted it as an “immunity building” formulation.
There is currently no proven cure for Covid-19, the pandemic that was triggered by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Earlier this year in June, Patanjali launched an Ayurvedic formulation it touted as a cure for the highly infectious disease, which triggered a controversy. It was eventually allowed to be sold in the market but as an “immunity booster”.
Doses of Tattva’s products have been donated to Delhi’s AYUSH department for treatment and prevention of Covid-19, Sri Sri announced in the briefing. “We have been seeing that the hospital beds are also coming to an end. We must not create a divide between ancient and modern systems of treatment. It’s time to adopt a holistic approach,” he said.
The company said that the same formulation is also being distributed for prophylactic (prevention) care in the state of Tamil Nadu.
‘Siddha formulation prevents entry of virus into human cells’
The Kabasur Kudineer Tablet, which is a classical Siddha formulation, was tested along with other Ayurveda medicines for screening inhibitors of the SARS-CoV-2.
“The study found Kabasura Kudineer tablets were the strongest inhibitor of spike glycoprotein in coronavirus strains, in restricting entry of virus into cells in in-vitro studies,” the company said in its press statement.
The spike glycoprotein is the part of the virus that allows it to attach to the human cell. In-vitro studies are those conducted in clinical laboratories.
Dr Ravi Reddy, Tattva’s chief science officer, told ThePrint that “the results pertain to the in vitro studies using the following Sri Sri Tattva products: Kabasura Kudineer, Amruth, Immugen and Chyawanprash”.
According to the company’s press release, Amruth and Immugen had similar inhibitory effects — 60-65 per cent and 80 per cent respectively — showing a strong reduction of binding. Chywanprash showed similar inhibition levels, between 70-75 per cent, with whatever concentrations were tested.
Reddy explained that these percentages refer to the inhibiting capacity of each medicine in binding the pathways where the virus can enter into the cell. “The results show that using the products have an inhibitory effect, thereby reducing the chances of viral entry into the cell,” he told ThePrint.
The company also shared other studies done on herbal products that claim to “boost immunity against Covid19”.
However, it did not respond to ThePrint’s question on whether the company plans to send the studies for peer-review, a process of research evaluation conducted by other academicians and researchers to authenticate the findings.
No negative impact, but no proven positive effect
The company said it conducted a second clinical study at the popular Bengaluru-based Narayana Hrudayalaya hospital to evaluate the effect of AYUSH medicines in management of Covid-19. The medicines studied included Kabasura Kudineer, which was administered as an add-on therapy for 15 patients with mild Covid symptoms.
Although the company didn’t state whether or not the drug combo proved effective, it did say that medicine didn’t have any negative impact.
“The study found that use of AYUSH interventions as an add-on therapy did not negatively impact the clinical outcomes in COVID-19. With not a single adverse event, the trial confirmed the safety and tolerability of AYUSH medicines, including Sri Sri Tattva Kabasura Kudineer tablets, Shakti Drops and Turmeric plus tablets for use among patients with mild symptoms,” the press release stated.
A third study was conducted at Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI) among 96 healthcare workers stationed at Covid-19 wards.
The objective of this study was to evaluate the immune-modulating properties of herbal medicines, including Tulasi Arka, Shakti Drops and Turmeric plus tablets. However, the company said “data is still coming in, but the initial results have been encouraging”.
While health experts encourage the move towards research on the effectiveness of AYUSH medications for Covid-19, they said such research needs to be done in a rigorous manner and reported in peer-reviewed journals for independent scrutiny.
“In the current case, no published evidence of these products has been provided, so it’s difficult to discern the claims,” said Anant Bhan, a researcher in global health, bioethics and health policy.
“Hopefully, publications will be soon available to substantiate the claims being made. Also, importantly, any claims of in-vitro efficacy need to be substantiated by human studies, which would be the real test for efficacy against Covid-19 in patients with disease,” he added.