Andhra government and High Court allow Ayurvedic practitioner Anandaiah to start distributing again his herbal concoction for COVID-19 patients

Published : June 09, 2021 11:41 IST

In this photo taken on May 21 in Krishnapatnam village in Nellore district, people crowd outside a health centre to receive Anandaiah’s ayurvedic ‘medicine’. Photo: AFP

Armed with the permission granted to him by the Andhra Pradesh government and the order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, B. Anandaiah, Ayurvedic practitioner from the port town of Krishnapatnam in Andhra Pradesh’s Nellore district, has started distributing his oral herbal formulation again from June 6. He claims the herbal formulation aids in the recovery of COVID-19 infected patients.

The State government decided to permit Anandaiah to distribute his herbal concoction since a report from the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) said that it was harmless. The report of the CCRAS said that the “herbal cure” was only a mixture of ingredients such as honey, pepper, green camphor, nutmeg, black cumin, cinnamon and medicinal herbs, and no cure for COVID-19. The High Court, on June 7, allowed Anandaiah to continue with the distribution since it had been certified by the same expert panel to have no adverse or side effects. The court, in fact, has directed authorities not to obstruct the distribution of the herbal remedy.

However, rather than people gathering at his village, ignoring social distancing and other COVID-19 protocols, the Nellore district administration has ensured that the distribution has been decentralised, with Anandaiah’s volunteers going around from door to door handing out the “medicine”.

Speaking to Frontline, Nellore Collector K.V.N. Chakradhar Babu said: “Since there is a huge demand and there is a supply shortage, crowds had gathered. However, this crowding will undo all the containment and COVID-19 protocol measures that the district administration has painstakingly undertaken. Therefore, we have asked Anandaiah to ensure that there is no crowding. He also cannot also call his formulation a medicine.” According to Babu, over 50,000 packets of Anandaiah’s herbal offering have been handed out so far.

Both the Andhra Pradesh High Court and the government, however, have asked Anandaiah not to administer the controversial herbal eye drops which he claims are lifesaving since they allegedly increase the blood oxygen saturation levels in COVID-19 patients. The government has asked for a conclusive report on the eye drops’ efficacy from the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology and the L.V. Prasad Eye Hospital. A two-judge bench said in an interim order that it will wait for the final sterility test report before it allowed the eye drops to be administered. The court also directed the State government to get the sterility certificate within two weeks.

The Nellore Collector disclosed to Frontline that of the 600 patients who were admitted to the Government General Hospital in Nellore in recent weeks, 250 had mentioned that they had taken Anandaiah’s formulation in their clinical history. Since they found no relief, they had got themselves admitted. The administration has shared this with the CCRAS.

The herbal “cure” has been strongly criticised by both rationalists and numerous members of the medical profession. The State has also tried to publicise the fact that herbal concoctions are not a cure for COVID-19, but at best only a health supplement. Officials from the State Health Department have also warned COVID-19 patients taking the herbal concoction that they should not stop taking drugs prescribed by allopathic doctors.

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