Ayurveda, Yoga effective in treating high-risk COVID cases: IIT study

Yoga and Ayurveda may be effective in treating high-risk cases of COVID-19, according to the latest IIT study.

A joint team of researchers from the IIT Delhi and Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidyalaya, Haridwar, conducted the research on 30 high-risk COVID-19 patients.

Besides the standard care treatment as per guidelines, they prescribed the patients Ayurvedic medicines through telemedicine and administered a personalized therapeutic Yoga program using video conferencing. Almost all of them were classified as high-risk owing to one or more co-morbidities such as Diabetes mellitus, Hypertension, Chronic Kidney Disease, and Coronary Artery Disease (which are known to lead to severe outcomes in cases of COVID-19, especially those above 60 years of age).

The personalized treatment plan took account of each patient's medical history and symptoms, making it more effective than a fixed standardized treatment plan.          

The treatment included Ayurvedic medicines, daily Yoga-sessions including deep relaxation techniques, pranayama, basic asanas, and some lifestyle modifications. Based on the administered treatment, the cases were categorized into YAS (Yoga-Ayurveda based treatment, with possibly allopathic Supplements: 4 patients), YASP (Yoga-Ayurveda based treatment, with possibly allopathic Supplements and Paracetamol: 6 patients), YAM (Yoga-Ayurveda based treatment, and Modern Western Medicine (MWM), i.e., allopathy as an adjunct: 6 patients), MYA (first tried MWM, later switched to Yoga-Ayurveda: 14 patients).

The patients, most of whom presented many symptoms before the Yoga and Ayurveda treatment, were followed up telephonically regularly until recovery. More than half of symptomatic patients started improving within five days (90% within nine days); over 60% reported at least 90% recovery within ten days. Six patients with oxygen saturation (SpO2) below 95% benefited from Makarasana and Shithilasana; none progressed to composite endpoints (consisting of admission to the Intensive Care Unit, invasive ventilation, or death).

"Most patients reported that the therapy had a profound impact on their recovery process, with many experiencing improvements with respect to their co-morbidities too. By the end of the treatment, several patients had decided to adopt Yoga in their lifestyle, and several turned to the Ayurveda doctors in the team for management/treatment of their co-morbidities", said Dr. Sonika Thakral, who coordinated with the patients for routine follow-up.

"On the whole, the patient's belief in the efficacy of these traditional systems of medicine was extremely enhanced," said Dr. Alka Mishra, who administered Ayurveda treatment to some patients. "We are observing an increasing trend towards ancient systems of medicine," said Dr. Yogesh Kumar, who also administered the Ayurveda treatment.

The study findings have appeared in the Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge. The authors point out that high-risk COVID-19 patients undergo severe anxiety, which may further deteriorate their condition. They further suggest that besides the treatment for COVID-19, Yoga and Ayurveda may help to relieve such patients from anxiety and aid in speedy post-treatment recovery.

 "The said interventions are believed to have collectively accelerated the recovery process by checking anxiety, instilling peace of mind, and enhancing the overall well-being of the patients," said Dr. Sumitra A. Bentur, a private practitioner who designed the Yoga intervention and conducted Yoga sessions for some patients.

"The study also demonstrates an urgent need to scientifically examine the Traditional Indian Knowledge systems at the top academic institutions. A timely and suitably designed randomized controlled trial evaluating the efficacy of Ayurveda and Yoga based personalized integrative treatment for COVID-19 would have equipped the people with much more credible information about their use in managing COVID-19," said Prof. Rahul Garg, IIT Delhi who conceptualized the project. 

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