Professors at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) have proposed to carry out a clinical trial of immunity-boosting ayurvedic drug fifatrol to check its efficacy in tackling the deadly COVID-19.
However, the proposal is yet to be approved, official sources said.
According to BHU professor and principal investigator for the proposed project Dr K N Dwivedi, the plan has been sent to a task force formed by the government for scientific validation of ayurveda and traditional medicinal formulas through research institutions in tackling COVID-19.
The Interdisciplinary AYUSH Research and Development Task Force has members from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) as also ayush practitioners and others. Their job is to identify potential preventive therapy and therapeutic approaches from ayush systems in different stages of COVID-19 treatment.
The AYUSH ministry had issued a notification on March 31, asking ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy (AYUSH) practitioners and institutions to submit their suggestions on various therapies, and has received over 2,000 proposals.
Experts say that fifatrol, enriched with immune-enhancing herbs, has been found to be effective in curing major bacterial infections such as staphylococcus species that causes fever, cough and cold, and skin diseases among others.
AIMIL Pharmaceuticals, the company that produces fifatrol, said that drug is used to treat flu and viral infections of upper respiratory tract. But this is for the first time that experts have decided to determine if it can be helpful in combating the novel coronavirus.
Head of the Department of Dravyaguna at BHU Dr Dwivedi said fifatrol is given to patients with symptoms similar to COVID-19. "So, we are now trying to evaluate this drug on critically-ill COVID-19 patients to check if it can help reduce mortality," he said.
"During a trial on dengue patients at AIIMS, Bhopal, the drug was found to have increased platelet count significantly. The study also established that fifatrol can strengthen the liver with no systemic side effects," the professor said.
In fact, researchers at AIIMS, Bhopal, in their preliminary results have found that the drug can be a suitable alternative to allopathic antibiotics without causing any side effects.
"Fifatrol is an anti-microbial solution prepared from 13 key herbs including sudarshan vati, sanjeevani vati, godanti bhasma, tribhuvan kirti ras and mrityunjay ras, tulsi, kutki, chirayata, motha and giloy," Dr Dwivedi said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also urged AYUSH practitioners to pitch in to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. He has also been exhorting the citizens of India to fall back on traditional home remedies during times of such a global health crisis to boost their immunity.