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regular-article-logo Monday, 22 July 2024

Doctors warn against using cow dung to ward off Covid-19

Health workers said that it offers no protection from the coronavirus, but may cause other infections including mucormycosis or black fungus

Reuters, PTI Ahmedabad Published 12.05.21, 02:01 AM
Frontline workers, perform Suryanamaskar after applying cow dung on their body during cow dung therapy, believing it will boost immunity to fight against the coronavirus disease

Frontline workers, perform Suryanamaskar after applying cow dung on their body during cow dung therapy, believing it will boost immunity to fight against the coronavirus disease PTI

Doctors are warning against the practice of using cow dung in the belief it will ward off Covid-19, saying there is no scientific evidence for its effectiveness and that it risks spreading other diseases.

Doctors in Gujarat have cautioned that cow dung offers no protection from the coronavirus but may cause other infections including mucormycosis or black fungus.

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Some believers in Gujarat have been going to cow shelters once a week to cover their bodies in dung and urine in the hope it will boost their immunity against, or help them recover from, the coronavirus.

“We see... even doctors come here. Their belief is that this therapy improves their immunity and they can go and tend to patients with no fear,” said Gautam Manilal Borisa, an associate manager at a pharmaceuticals company.

As participants wait for the dung and urine mixture on their bodies to dry, they hug or honour the cows at the shelter, and practise yoga to boost energy levels. The packs are then washed off with milk or buttermilk.

Doctors and scientists in India and across the world have repeatedly warned against practising alternative treatments for Covid-19, saying they can lead to a false sense of security and complicate health problems.

“There is no concrete scientific evidence that cow dung or urine work to boost immunity against Covid-19, it is based entirely on belief,” said J.A. Jayalal, national president at the Indian Medical Association (IMA). “There are also health risks involved in smearing or consuming these products — other diseases can spread from the animal to humans.”

There are also concerns the practice could contribute to the spread of the virus as it involved people gathering in groups. Madhucharan Das, in charge of a cow shelter in Ahmedabad, said they were limiting the number of participants.

One of the cow shelters the people are thronging is run by the Shree Swaminarayan Gurukul Vishwavidya Prathisthanam (SGVP) in Ahmedabad. The shelter houses over 200 cows.

For the past month, around 15 persons visit the shelter every Sunday to apply cow dung and urine on their bodies, an SGVP official said.

“I don’t know if this therapy would really help people. I have never come across any research that suggests that the application of cow dung increases immunity against the coronavirus,” said Dileep Mavlankar, director of the Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar.

Mona Desai, a senior doctor in Ahmedabad, termed the therapy “humbug and inauthentic”.

“Cow dung is nothing but body waste. Applying cow dung and urine can never boost immunity or protect you from the coronavirus. People should consult doctors and stay away from such therapies,” said Desai, chairperson of the women’s wing of the IMA. “Instead of proving helpful, cow dung would give you other infections, including mucormycosis,” she said.

Mucormycosis has been observed among some Covid-19 survivors and can be fatal, also causing blindness.

“Since cow dung also carries several fungi, they may enter the body and infect you. I urge people to be a little aware and not put their lives in danger,” Desai said.

Sections of politicians had earlier touted quack therapies such as rolling in mud or eating a particular brand of papad as an antidote to the coronavirus, earning derision from the scientific community.

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