Coronavirus – Disease, Medical Sciences Involved & Preventive Measures

Debate over a homoeo drug – Arsenicum album 30


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Arsenicum album 30

Mains level: Clinical trials and ethical issues involved in treating covid

A homoeopathic drug, Arsenicum album 30, has become a subject of debate after several states and AYUSH Ministry recommended it for prophylactic (preventive) use against Covid-19.

Practice question:

Q. The furore over the usage of several medicines has created an chaos in treating COVID. Critically comment.

Arsenicum album 30

  • Arsenicum album is made by heating arsenic with distilled water, a process repeated several times over three days. The drug has less than 1% arsenic.
  • A small bottle with one course costs Rs 20-30.
  • Arsenicum album is considered to correct inflammation in the body. It takes care of diarrhoea, cough and cold.
  • It is used commonly by homoeopaths to treat anxiety, restlessness, cold, ulcerations, burning pains. It is taken in powder form or as a tablet.
  • The health hazards of arsenic contamination in water are well known: long-term exposure to the metal can cause skin cancer, pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases.
  • It has been recommended against COVID by the state governments in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.

The Covid-19 context

  • Arsenicum album 30 could be taken as prophylactic medicine against Coronavirus infections.
  • It is only “possible prevention” against flu.
  • The AYUSH Ministry recommended taking the medicine for three days on an empty stomach and repeating the dose after a month if an outbreak continues locally.

Issues with such medicines

  • The WHO neither has any guidelines nor any effective evidence on using Arsenicum album as a Covid-19 treatment.
  • The debate stems from the fact that there is no scientific evidence that the drug works against Covid-19, a fact stressed not only by medical scientists but also by some homoeopathic practitioners themselves.
  • There have been reports about people flocking to homoeopathic clinics to buy Arsenicum album, sometimes at triple the cost.
  • Even local chemists have started stocking this medicine.
  • Self-medication can prove harmful as prevention or cure for COVID-19.

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