Mix of traditional and modern knowledge to fight Covid- 19 | Sunday Observer

Mix of traditional and modern knowledge to fight Covid- 19

29 August, 2021

Amid the increasing number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in Sri Lanka, the Government has committed itself to the vaccination drive with renewed vigour since it is the most reliable weapon the world has come up with so far.

The Government has stepped up its efforts to bring down vaccines from other countries making use of the existing diplomatic relations and the personal rapport built by the President with world leaders over the years.


So far, over 20 million doses of vaccines of various kinds have been brought to Sri Lanka and more are yet to arrive in the coming weeks, according to State Minister Prof. Channa Jayasumana.

The initial consignment of AstraZeneca was brought down from India and later, Sinopharm from China.

In order to compensate for issues that arose regarding the Indian manufactured AstraZeneca, the Government got down this vaccine from Japan especially for those awaiting the second dose. Along with AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were also brought from the United States, while Sputnik from Russia.

The rate of vaccines being administered received international commendation and Sri Lanka was placed among the countries that administer the highest rates of Covid-19 vaccines.

As of August 26, 1,353,936 have been given the first dose of Covishield and 881,738 have been given the second dose. The first dose of Sinopharm was given to 9,665,009 while 4,863,109 given both doses. Sputnik V first dose has been administered to 159,088 and second dose to 25,489. Pfizer first dose was administered to 305,639 and second dose to 150,001 while Moderna first dose was administered to 771,449 and second dose to 543,959.

According to the President’s Media Division, about 98 percent of those above 30 years have been vaccinated while 43 percent have been given both doses.

The PMD added that by August 31, over 81 percent of the population will receive the second dose and by September 10, 100 percent of the population will be covered with both the doses.

Ayurveda medicine

Alongside western solutions for Covid-19, Sri Lanka’s Ayurveda medicine is also providing relief to those suffering from Covid- 19 and others who wish to boost their immunity through traditional methods.

Thirteen Ayurveda hospitals across the country operate to treat Covid patients. If patients become critical, measures are taken to transfer them to other hospitals.

According to the Ayurveda Commissioner Dhammika Abeygunawardena, 45 percent of beds in Ayurveda hospitals will be allocated for Covid patients soon.

Since there are no medicines to treat Covid patients, Ayurveda cares for patients by aiming to boost their immunity to minimise developing complications. The Government has also pledged an Ayurvedic pack free of charge to the people.

State Minister Sisira Jayakody said this pack consists of three types of Ayurvedic medicines and a nutritionally high dry ration. The value of the pack is over Rs. 1,000 and the Government states that this expense is borne by the Government to ensure a healthy nation. Therefore, it urges the public to make use of this pack received free of charge.


A balanced meal with identified herbal remedies have been recommended by Ayurveda medical professionals.

The Ayurveda Department and the State Ministry of Indigenous Medicine Promotion, Rural and Ayurvedic Hospitals Development and Community Health has published a document containing all instructions to provide Ayurvedic guidance to Covid patients confined to their homes and for those in self-isolation. This even covers patients who are pregnant, children, and those recovering.

Already over 14 Ayurveda medicines have been announced by the Government alongside Suwadarani recommended by the Ayurveda Department to boost immunity. As in western medicine, Ayurveda also recommends exercise, breathing exercises, and stress management as key to fight the disease.

Patients can be treated by steam inhalation, consumption of ginger and coriander drink and helping them rest.

Continuous use of spices commonly found in the household can be great immune boosters. Good management can mitigate complications in Covid patients.

The Ayurveda Commissioner also warned against haphazard recipes passing around in social media that claim to be Ayurveda remedies for Covid- 19. Most people drawing up these recipes are not qualified Ayurveda medical professionals.


There is increased interest around the world to turn to traditional medical interventions for Covid-19.

The Regional Expert Committee on Traditional Medicine for Covid-19 formed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and the African Union Commission for Social Affairs has endorsed a protocol for phase III clinical trials of herbal medicine for Covid-19 as well as charter and terms of reference for the establishment of a data and safety monitoring board for herbal medicine trials.

The WHO said if a traditional medicine product is found to be safe, efficacious and quality-assured, it will recommend for a fast-tracked, large-scale local manufacturing.

Ayurveda has always played a role of a preventive method which mainly focuses on daily and seasonal regimes or routines which will help us maintain our health, says the Times of India.

With the importance of having a strong immune system during these tough times and also with the Indian Government promoting the importance of Ayurveda and home remedies, people at large started having faith back in Ayurveda, the newspaper states.

In a research titled ‘Ayurveda botanicals in Covid-19 management: An in silico multi-target approach’ conducted by Swapnil Borse, Manali Joshi, Akash Saggam, and Vedika Bhat of India, it was found that Ayurvedic treatment had promising results for Covid-19 management.

They make a compelling case to evaluate the potential of Rasayana botanicals as therapeutic adjuvants in the management of Covid-19 following rigorous experimental validation. The research states: “the objective of this study was to explore the immunomodulatory and anti SARS-CoV2 potential of phytoconstituents from Ashwagandha, Guduchi and Shatavari using network pharmacology and docking.

The plant extracts were prepared as per Ayurvedic procedures and 31 phytoconstituents were identified using UHPLC-PDA and mass spectrometry studies. To assess the immunomodulatory potential of these phytoconstituents an in-silico network pharmacology model was constructed.

The model predicts that the phytoconstituents possess the potential to modulate several targets in immune pathways potentially providing a protective role.

To explore if these phytoconstituents also possess antiviral activity, docking was performed with the Spike protein, Main Protease and RNA dependent RNA polymerase of the virus. Interestingly, several phytoconstituents are predicted to possess good affinity for the three targets, suggesting their application for the termination of viral life cycle.

Predictive tools indicate that there would not be adverse herb-drug pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic interactions with concomitantly administered drug therapy.”

Boost immunity

The research acknowledges that there is no specific drug to counter Covid-19 but Ayurvedic interventions have proven to boost immunity to fight any disease and thus, valid in the fight against Covid.

An integrated therapy of modern medicine and Ayurveda has benefited Covid- 19 patients with faster recovery in mild-moderate Covid-19 cases and preventing ICU admissions and deaths, according to a study by the Directorate of AYUSH-Gujarat as reported in The Hindu.

The Hindu states that the findings revealed that Covid-19 patients on combined therapy of western medicine and Ayurveda got RT-PCR negative results in average 7.85 days, as against 12.19 for those only on western medicines.

Also, the number of patients recovering within 0-3 days was 33 percent in the case of patients on both therapies, as against none in the case of only western medical treatment.As for the cost of traditional medicines, it was comparatively miniscule to that of western interventions.

No doubt, the food we consume has both the healing power and the power to make us sick.

Unhealthy consumption patterns lead to many sicknesses, especially non-communicable diseases which is why medical professionals warn us against certain types of foods.

Likewise, natural remedies can be a wonderful support to heal sicknesses and Ayurveda gives the best solutions that combine ancient knowledge and modern technology in scientific research.

Therefore, none can argue that Ayurveda is meaningless when it is a proven fact that we are what we eat.