‘Ashwagandha’ for Covid-19 recovery, clinical trials underway

New Delhi: The Ayush ministry’s All India Institute of Ayurveda in collaboration with the United Kingdom’s London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine will conduct a study on ‘Ashwagandha’ for promoting recovery from Covid-19 in a boost to the traditional Indian medicine system.

Both the institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding to conduct the clinical trials of Ashwagandha on 2,000 people in three UK cities — Leicester, Birmingham, and London (Southall and Wembley), said the ministry in a statement.

Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera), commonly known as ‘Indian winter cherry, is a traditional Indian herb that boosts energy, reduces stress, and makes the immune system stronger.

It is an easily accessible, over-the-counter nutritional supplement in the UK and has a proven safety profile. The positive effects of Ashwagandha have been observed in Covid, which is a multi-system disease with no evidence of its effective treatment or management.

The successful completion of the trial can be a major breakthrough and give scientific validity to India’s traditional medicinal system. While there have been several studies on Ashwagandha to understand its benefits in various ailments, this is the first time the Ministry has collaborated with a foreign institution to investigate its efficacy on Covid-19 patients.

AIIA director Dr Tanuja Manoj Nesari, who is also a co-investigator in the project along with Dr Rajgopalan, Coordinator – International Projects, said that the participants have been randomly selected. Dr Sanjay Kinra of LSHTM is the principal investigator of the study.

The participants will have to take the 500mg tablets twice a day. A monthly follow-up of self-reported quality of life, impairment to activities of daily living, mental and physical health symptoms, supplement use and adverse events will be carried out.

“For three months, one group of 1,000 participants will be administered Ashwagandha (AG) tablets while the second group of 1,000 participants will be assigned a placebo, which is indistinguishable from AG in looks and taste. Both patients and the doctors will be unaware of the group’s treatment in a double-blind trial,” Dr Nesari said.

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