Science Ministry funds trial on effect of Gayatri Mantra in treating COVID-19

Jacob Koshy NEW DELHI 19 March 2021 21:58 IST
Updated: 20 March 2021 08:49 IST

AIIMS Rishikesh study will also evaluate effect of Pranayama in patients with moderate symptoms.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has funded a clinical trial at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Rishikesh, to determine if the chanting of the Gayatri Mantra, a religious hymn, and performing the Yoga practice of Pranayama, can aid the quality of recovery as well as cure COVID-19 quicker in a subset of patients.

The clinical trial, formally registered with the Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) clinical trial registry (a compulsory requirement for human trials), aims to recruit 20 COVID-19 patients with “moderate symptoms”. Divided into two groups, one will get the standard treatment and the other, along with the standard treatment, will be subject to a regimen of chanting and breathing exercises for 14 days, supervised by a certified yoga instructor.

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Then the groups will be compared on whether those who have received the additional treatment show measurably improved markers for inflammation or cell-injury. Among the causes for severe COVID-19 is an exaggerated reaction by the body’s immune systems to the presence of the virus, which leads to severe cellular inflammation and damage that can prove fatal. While several experimental therapies exist, there is yet no specific drug proven to improve health outcomes.

The latest study, however, will not test the effect of the intervention on severely ill patients. It will evaluate whether there are differences in the groups on the time taken to test negative, and the length of their hospital stay.

They will also be evaluated on whether they have reduced fatigue and anxiety disorder. Dr. Ruchi Dua, pulmonologist and Associate Professor at AIIMS told The Hindu that recruitment for the study had already begun. “A postdoctoral researcher who researches yoga in the institute is also involved. We will measure markers of inflammation via levels of C-reactive protein as well as a standard scale to measure health outcome over the next two-three months,” she told The Hindu in a phone conversation.

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She had applied for funding from the DST in a response to an open call for applications to fund projects to develop COVID-19 relevant therapies, drugs and interventions. She has been funded with ₹3 lakh for conducting the study.

Alongside drugs and vaccines, India’s COVID-19 treatment strategy also includes Ayurveda and yoga in those who are asymptomatic or who manifest mild symptoms of the disease. Other Ayurvedic interventions, such as Coronil by Patanjali, too have been purveyed as “cures” for COVID-19 but based on small groups of patients with mild forms of the disease, that experience shows, get cured without any specific intervention.

The DST has previously too funded studies that evaluate the effects of yoga or alternate medicine in the management of disease.