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Sashi, 50, has seen television commercials for an herbal drink made by ayurveda and yoga tycoon Baba Ramdev “which can protect my family from coronavirus”.“I thought since it was on TV it must be good,” she said.

The pandemic has increased nervousness over the fragile state of India’s health system.

Experts believe that due to under-testing and under-reporting, the number of cases and deaths is much higher than what is officially reported.

The growing interest in Ayurveda and other therapies was encouraged by the Hindu Nationalist Party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which established a dedicated ministry in 2014.

In January, the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa Rigpa and Homeopathy (AYUSH) touted traditional remedies as a way to fight the coronavirus.

More recently, the Minister of Health, Harsh Vardhan, released guidelines for treating certain asymptomatic and mild Covid patients with ayurveda and yoga.

In pharmacies, Ayurvedic products are displayed as well as pharmaceutical drugs.

Mother Dairy, a leading milk producer, said there has been a “phenomenal” consumer response to its recently launched turmeric milk for children.

There is no scientific evidence that Ayurvedic treatments can prevent the coronavirus.

The industry was huge before the pandemic, with people believing that natural remedies can cure everything from cancer to the common cold.

It is now worth $ 10 billion a year, according to the Confederation of Indian Industry.

Ayurvedic practitioner Bhaswati Bhattacharya said the lack of a coronavirus vaccine and other conventional treatments has led to the rush for familiar natural remedies.

“Ayurveda has been written for 5,000 years and has probably been around for at least twice. He’s been through epidemics, smallpox and pandemics, so people are saying, ‘Let’s see if it works,’ ”she told AFP.


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