India touts traditional remedies to combat new virus


New Delhi (AFP)

As scientists race to find a vaccine for the deadly Wuhan virus, the Indian government said Wednesday that ancient homeopathy and Ayurveda remedies could hold an answer.

The ministry that promotes the country's booming yoga, naturopathy and homeopathy sectors released an advisory listing herbal oils to be rubbed into the scalp to purportedly ease the symptoms.

It also suggested ingesting Arsenicum album-30, a homeopathic treatment.

"The dose should be repeated after one month by following the same schedule in case coronavirus infections prevail," the Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa Rigpa and Homoeopathy) said in a statement"

The ministry also issued general advice on maintaining personal hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus.

The advisory came as the Dalai Lama, in exile in Dharamsala in India, said on Facebook that followers concerned about the virus should chant a mantra that would be "helpful" in dealing with the situation.

India claims to have natural remedies for everything from cancer to the common cold.

The government in recent years has launched a drive to promote traditional remedies as it seeks to cash in on the multi-billion dollar global market for holistic medicine.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a yoga practitioner, has said he wants the world to make Ayurveda "a way of life".

Ayurvedic medicine -- which means the "science of life" in Sanskrit -- treats the physical and mental sources of illness through, for example, prescribing herbs in conjunction with yoga or massage.

The ministry said that homeopathy, the treatment of diseases with alternative medicines prescribed in minute doses, is the main source of healthcare for some 10 percent of India's 1.3-billion population.

The Unani system is a mix of traditional medicines from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Persia, India, China and other Middle East countries, according to the ministry.

Apart from the recommended Ayurvedic, homeopathy and Unani treatments, the ministry also advised Indians who fear they have been infected to "wear a mask and contact your nearest hospital immediately".

New Delhi family physician Sanjiv Zutshi told AFP the recommended course of action for patients suspected of having the virus was for them to be tested and treated in hospital.

No cases of the virus have been reported in India.