Multiple grocers and stores that sell organic-labelled products say they have been seeing a sharp demand for products that are even tangentially linked to “boosting immunity”.
Amul markets turmeric-flavoured milk called Amul “Haldi Doodh,” that purports to having the “goodness of milk with the centuries old immunity boosting and healing properties of haldi”.
A July report by market research company Nielsen says chyawanprash sales have increased by 283% in June, while the sales of branded honey increased by 39%. “There is a rising sentiment towards ‘local’ with increasing support for Atma Nirbhar Bharat and Ayurveda,” the report said.
“From April-June, we saw a nearly 7-fold growth in demand [compared to last year] for Dabur Chyawanprash. Other Ayurvedic products like Ashwagandha, Dabur Giloy Ghanvati, Dabur Health Juices like Amla juice, Giloy-Neem-Tulsi Juice etc, have also reported strong growth,” Mohit Malhotra, CEO, Dabur India. “People are now more inclined to prophylactic health remedies, especially immunity boosting products. This trend would sustain, going forward.”
Shoppers told that while they didn’t believe immunity products would protect them from COVID-19, they saw it as a way to bolster their immune defences. “I regularly take chyawanprash but will never go to an Ayurveda doctor,” said Swapan Banerjee, a teacher. “These products do no harm and play a role in general good health, from my experience but aren’t substitutes for masks, social distancing, avoiding crowds and getting tested.”
Companies that have been marketing these products have capitalised on the association between COVID-19 and immunity and the government’s encouragement of Ayurveda and yoga for mild and moderate infections as well for aiding recovery post COVID-19.
An 11-member committee led by former ICMR chief recommended that in the “short term… “Guduchi(Tinospora cordifolia) aqueous extract, guduchi+pippali (Piper longum), aqueous extracts and AYUSH 64 (a drug with multiple herbs developed by the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences) be recommended for inclusion in the standard care for mild to moderate cases of COVID-19”.
However, a perusal of the research studies listed show that none of them have been fully tested for their effectiveness in COVID management and all the evidence relies on the herbs’ effects in controlling fever in malaria and in recovery from “influenza like illnesses”.