Ramdev’s ‘ayurveda’ assaults allopathy

IMA up in arms against Patanjali founder


June 5, 2021

/ By / Gurugram

Ramdev’s ‘ayurveda’ assaults allopathy

Baba Ramdev's ayurved consumer goods company, "Patanjali," is controversial for advertising certain products as unverified cures for diseases

Recent comments made by yoga guru Baba Ramdev in regards to allopathic medicine and Covid-19 vaccines have irked doctors across India and sparked a nationwide protest in fear of the country’s relief efforts being undermined.

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In response to his viral video in which Baba Ramdev remarked “lakhs have died from taking allopathic medicines for Covid-19” and that “allopathy is stupid and a failed science,” the Indian Medical Association (IMA), which had earlier requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to book him under sedition charges, filed a defamation suit of INR 10 billion against Ramdev on May 27.

Ramdev’s bizarre comments about allopathy also sparked a bitter debate, with Ramdev’s followers supporting his unfounded claims about the better efficacy of ayurvedic when compared to allopathy, especially in the on-going Covid-19 pandemic.

Although strong condemnation from officials such as Union Health Minister, Harsh Vardhan, led him to retract some of his statements, Ramdev insisted that it was not a “criminal act”, as the IMA said in its letter and continued to question the efficacy of allopathic treatments. BJP MLA Surendra Singh, said in his defence, “I don’t say that allopathic medicine is bad, or good work hasn’t been done in it. But many [allopathic] doctors have turned rakshas (devils) by showing dead patients as alive in Intensive Care Units (ICU) just to earn money.”

On June 3, doctors held a nationwide “Black Day” protest against Ramdev’s statements, some wearing messages on their PPE kits with the hashtag “#ArrestRamdev”.

“He is just a dumb businessman creating chaos among people for his own benefit. How dare he make fun of Covid-19 warrors?” said Dr. Ganghoria, a protesting physician based in Indore. “He should be arrested and a proper case should be done in court.”

The next day, the Delhi High Court ruled that the suit was invalid as Ramdev enjoyed protection under free speech laws. The court remarked, “I do not think your allopathic profession is so fragile.You people should rather be spending time to find a cure for the pandemic instead of wasting the court’s time,” the judge added sternly.

The court’s response came as a blow to hundreds of Indian allopathy doctors who feel that the yoga guru has severely undermined their hard work in an attempt to promote his own beliefs and that too at a time when the medical fraternity has been working day and night to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, despite having lost hundreds of their colleagues in the course of the battle.

Doctors rally against Ramdev in a Black Day protest (Photo: Instagram/Twitter)

“It definitely dampens our morale. For somebody of his calibre, who is supposed to be like a saintly figure, to come down to this level and say something like this brings him down in my eyes, but we can’t let somebody’s comments defeat our determination and affect what we do because if we don’t, who will?” Dr Jayeeta Basu, director of Doctor’s Hub clinic in Gurugram, tells Media India Group.

As if Ramdev’s comments were not incendiary enough, he was joined in by Acharya Balkrishna, his partner in Patanjali, the brand run by Ramdev that has captured a significant chunk of the food market in the country in the past seven years. He tweeted that allopathic doctors were “conspiring” against ayurveda in an effort to convert the country’s main religion to Christianity.

Although outlandish comments like these were immediately dismissed even by ayurvedic and alternative medicine practitioners, some do believe that allopathic doctors refuse to cooperate and accept the benefits of ayurveda.

“His statement is downright derogatory, because modern doctors as such are trying their level best to handle such situations. But unfortunately, western medicine does not have a clue as to what is the exact medicine that can completely cure Covid-19,” Dr Alka Vijayan from Tanmatra Ayurveda Clinic in Trivandrum, tells Media India Group.

He explains that through project “Beshajam,” ayurvedic doctors have been allowed to treat Category “A” patients, those with mild to moderate symptoms, during the ongoing second wave. The main treatment involves an individualised dietary regiment, nasal steam inhalation and consumption of “golden milk,” and physical exercise such as yoga.

“The Amrutham project report, which was done by the Kerala’s Covid-19 ayurveda cell, showed that only 0.3 pc of the population which had undergone the preventative medication turned positive, and patients were not infected even when they were staying in the same house with infected family members. We are focusing on modulating their immunity so they don’t get subjected to the infection followed by the complications,” says Dr Vijayan, adding, “So if the allopathy doctors can keep aside their ego and work hand in hand with ayurveda docs, there will be a better solution.”

Dr KG Padmabhavan, an alternative medicine doctor from LK Wellness Centre in Bengaluru, says, “Recently, we have developed ayurvedic-based medicine for the management of asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic Covid-19 conditions. However, very few have gone through the proper clinical trials as of now. Allopathy has definitely proven its efficacy against critical care conditions, neurological disorders such as strokes, so you cannot discount it. At the same time, when you deal with chronic disorders and lifestyle diseases, that is where alternative medicine comes into play and is more suitable for the long-term recovery,” he says.

Modern medicine doctors differ in their opinions of ayurveda’s role in helping with the pandemic, but don’t fully deny its long-term benefits in certain diseases.

“Whenever there is a prize to be taken, everybody will come to take a share, but whenever acute emergencies occur as has been happening for more than a year now, these hospitals have been manned by no one but allopathic health workers,” Dr Nair, a neurologist in Delhi, tells Media India Group.

“I am from Kerala so I have a lot of respect for ayurveda. They do have a lot of immunity-boosting measures and use for ailments such as arthritis, stomach and joint problems. But for crises like road accidents or Covid-19 or pneumonia, they will not be as well prepared, will not have the kind of monitoring or experience needed to treat those patients. So I am not saying that ayurveda should not combine with allopathy, but preventive care is different and working on the ground in an ICU for patients between life and death is different,” he says.

Dr Basu explains that the Covid-19 medical treatment has involved a lot of learning and evolving, but this is part and parcel of the scientific method, rather than a shortcoming.

“We practice evidence-based medicine – if we see that any ayurvedic medicine works, we will consider that, but if it had been working then we wouldn’t have seen this number of deaths. Whereas in modern medicine, every time we try something and find it doesn’t work, we drop it. That’s how we get to the next stage and now we can say that steroids and oxygen are two of the only things that work. We have discarded many medications like HCQs, doxycycline, Remdesivir, Ivermectin, and we put that information out to the public. It’s not like we are trying to hide anything,” she says.

She adds that regardless of the apparent political affiliations that may be behind the government’s unwillingness to take any step against Ramdev, one cannot deny that it is definitely in the government’s interest to stop any damage to the country’s Covid-19 effort.

“He has a lot of followers who take his words as gospel truth, so he’s doing a lot of disservice to them. I don’t think a person in such a capacity to influence people should be saying such irresponsible things. The hesitation is mostly among underprivileged citizens, where falsities are spread, like vaccines causing impotence or genetic mutations. They can be misled by comments from a public figure,” says Dr Nair.

Doctors protesting against Ramdev are less concerned about being demoralised and more alarmed at the possible ramifications of Indians believing that modern medicine is somehow inherently harmful. They fear that under the pretext of free speech, India could be in danger of a third wave even more devastating than the current one if the world’s only proven measure against this destructive disease, vaccines, is discarded.

“This has hurt our vaccine drive and vaccination strategy. More than hurting doctors, if people don’t get vaccinated, the pandemic isn’t going to end anytime soon and more lives will be lost because the virus will continue to mutate and get more aggressive, killing more people,” says Dr Basu.



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