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Is there a case for supplementing Coronavirus prevention or management with Ayurvedic therapies, like the Chinese are doing with Chinese medicine? If so, what should they be?Several traditional herbs and compounds enhance immunity or have antiviral properties. There is current scientific evidence for quite a few of them. 

However, the scientific use of such herbs and compounds is essential for safety and also efficacy. For example, the practice of burning camphor or neem leaves to “disinfect the home and the air at home” is not going to work. Worse, it pollutes the indoor air, which in many homes in India is already amongst the most polluted in the world. It’s far better to use modern antiviral disinfectants or alcohol to clean surfaces. It’s a different matter that both neem and camphor have antiviral properties. So will it help to ingest/inhale them in safe doses?

Some other herbs and compounds have antiviral properties. For example, the lauric acid in coconut oil. Is this why coastal India had a much lower mortality rate in the 1918 flu pandemic, as compared to the rest of the country? Does this “lauric acid” hypothesis make more sense than the “hot and humid” hypothesis? I don’t know.

Also, the common belief that Ayurvedic herbs and compounds are devoid of toxic side effects is wrong. Many have serious side effects, and safe dosages are essential. Even something as “benign” as curcumin (active ingredient extract of turmeric) could be dangerous and life-threatening in some situations. At the other end of the spectrum, some Ayurvedic herbs and compounds are poisonous and can kill in high doses. 

The scientific investigation of Ayurvedic herbs and compounds has been happening for decades now. We already know about the active ingredients of many and their efficacy for various conditions. This research must increase. More of the traditional herbs and compounds or their extracts shall find their way into modern medicine. As many already have. 

Here is the article on the use of Chinese medicine – https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/14/asia/coronavirus-traditional-chinese-medicine-intl-hnk/index.html

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