| A customer purchases Ayurvedic medicine from a shop in the New Market area. Picture by Ashok Sinha |
Looks do matter for people, and it is evident from the brisk sale of Ayurvedic medicines over the counter at drug stores in the city.
Youngsters’ obsession either to shed weight or gain height has prompted a 40 per cent growth in the business of such drugs since last year. Pharmacists are not complaining, but doctors are certainly alarmed by the trend. “Many parents come to my store every month to buy Ayurvedic medicines, manufacturers of which claim the drugs help increase height and gain or lose weight,” said Ramji Singh, the owner of a medical store on Boring Road.
Singh added: “Every month, I sell medicines worth around Rs 4,000 that are said to be height enhancing ones. Apart from this, I sell weight-altering drugs worth Rs 5,000 each month.”
Vijay Sharma, who has a pharmacy on Boring Road, said: “People buying these medicines say they are worried, as their children have not attained a certain height required for his/her age. Many of them said they do not want their children to face any rejection in life. According to them, height is very important in getting certain jobs as well as for marriage. Even youngsters visit my store for these medicines, but their numbers are low compared to the parents. Looks have become very important for today’s youths. Sometimes, peer pressure forces them to pop these medicines in a bid to look good.”
Nandini (name changed), 14-year-old, has been taking Ayurvedic pills to increase her height for the past six months. “My friends used to laugh at me because of my height. I did not like this. One of my friends suggested I try out Ayurvedic medicines,” she said.”
Sarvesh Kumar, a pharmacist in New Market, said: “There are three popular medicines, which claim to increase the height of a person. One needs to shell out something between Rs 325 and Rs 390 to buy such drugs. Even some doctors prescribe weight-loss Ayurvedic pills. ”
Experts, however, have a different view. “It is a wrong perception that Ayurvedic medicines do not have ill effects on health. In Ayurvedic medicines, a good proportion of gold dust, silver and other heavy metals are present. This could be dangerous for humans. Heavy metals, if taken in certain proportions, can pose health hazards to the kidneys and the liver,” said Dr Diwakar Tejaswi, a general physician of the state capital. He added: “Many of these medicines are not recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”
The FDA is the US federal agency in the department of health and human services established to regulate the release of new foods and health-related products.