MANGALORE: Does ayurveda have a cure for Ebola? Karnataka health minister UT Khader was skeptical when some doctors approached him some time ago claiming there is an Ebola cure in ayurveda.

But what caught his interest in the supposed cure was a call from Liberian senator John A Ballout Jr through a common friend Wilfred D’Souza, who returned from Liberia a month ago. Ballout Jr asked Khader whether he could help him by providing a cure for Ebola through the age-old system of medicine.

Khader told TOI: “I was approached by some people about ayurveda having a cure for Ebola. I was more interested in a cure for malaria and dengue. Hence, the issue slipped out of my mind. Now that the Liberian senator has called me, I have decided to call the people who claimed to have a cure and send the medicine through the Liberian consulate in India.”

What is the guarantee the ayurvedic medicine will be effective? Khader said he doesn’t know. “It’s their claim. If it clicks, well and good. It will help a country that is finding it hard to cope with the crisis. If indeed ayurveda has a cure, it will be a cheap cure for the Ebola virus.”

The letter from Ballout Jr, who represents Maryland County, explains the seriousness of the problem. It says there have been 2,097 deaths from Ebola in five countries – half of them in Liberia. It quotes the WHO warning that it will take six months to control the situation. “I will call them and get the samples and send them to the consulate,” Khader said.

Dr Muralidhar Sharma, medical superintendent, SDM College of Ayurveda and Hospital, Udupi, told TOI: “In ayurveda, we definitely have treatment for Ebola-like symptoms. It is mentioned in all ayurveda textbooks, including Charaka Samhita. We have not had a single case of Ebola in India. Hence, we cannot claim to have a cure for it. We cannot prepare a concoction and give it to the patient. We have to examine the patient and then decide on the mode of treatment.”

This view was contested by Dr Srinivas Kakkilaya, a physician. “Ebola is viral hemorrhagic fever akin to dengue. But, unlike dengue, Ebola spreads from person to person. It has a high mortality rate. There’s no drug to cure it as of now; there is only symptomatic treatment. Ayurveda developed in India and cannot have a treatment for a virus like Ebola, since the virus did not exist in India. In ayurveda, there is no concept of virus and infection.”

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