Mustard Oil Helps Fight COVID? Ramdev’s Claim Lacks Medical Proof

Baba Ramdev was speaking at a special session at e-Agenda Aaj Tak on Saturday where he made these claims.

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Video Editor: Prashant Chauhan

Indian yoga guru Baba Ramdev on Saturday, 25 April, spoke at a special session at ‘e-Agenda Aaj Tak’, where he prescribed certain exercises and practises for people to take up amid the lockdown, that he said would have health benefits.

CLAIM

Speaking at the e-session, Ramdev said that if one applies mustard oil through their nostril, the novel coronavirus would flow into one’s stomach and would be killed by the acids present there.

Ramdev claimed that the “natural chemicals” present in the stomach would kill the virus, similar to the effect of the hand wash, hand sanitiser etc being used. He can be heard saying this at the six-minute mark in the video below.

(Click here for live updates on COVID-19. Also visit Quint Fit for comprehensive coverage on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.)

At the five-minute mark in the video, Ramdev also claimed that holding one’s breath for a specific time could be seen a self-testing method for coronavirus.

“If those who have hypertension, heart problems, asthma, chronic diseases and are elderly, can hold their breath for 30 seconds, and those who are young for one minute, it means you do not have COVID-19, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic,” Ramdev stated.

He also demonstrated this “test” live on the e-session.

Several news outlets reported on the claims made by Ramdev at this session, including India Today, Business Today and Free Press Journal. A newspaper clipping, which had the text same as the India Today article, is also been circulated on Twitter.

Mustard Oil  Helps Fight COVID? Ramdev’s Claim Lacks Medical Proof
(Photo: Twitter)

WHAT’S THE TRUTH?

We were unable to find any news reports or articles in medical journals lending any credibility to the claims made by Ramdev about coronavirus.

We also reached out to some medical experts for their opinion on these claims.

MUSTARD OIL BEATS COVID? NO

Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, an Internal Medicine Physician with Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals Delhi, rubbished the claims.

“I see no medical evidence to that effect. Even in the US and the UK, taking a drink (alcohol) and Vitamin C has been discussed but there is no definite evidence. But, if I have to speak of evidence-based medicine, there’s no evidence that if you take mustard oil through your nose, the virus will go into the stomach and die. There’s no medical evidence to (prove) that as of today,” he said, speaking to The Quint.

When asked whether acids in the stomach would at all be capable of killing the virus, he once again pointed to the lack of studies.

“Where is the evidence? There are no studies that we have. We can speak like that but there’s no evidence and no studies. Till the time we have studies documenting it, we have no basis to speak like that,” Dr Chatterjee added.

Speaking to The Quint, Dr Sumit Ray, a critical care specialist with Artemis Hospitals, Delhi-NCR, also said there is no evidence to back the claim that any nasal drops, oils etc can trickle the coronavirus into the stomach, where the acids will kill it.

“The novel coronavirus attaches and then enters the cells in the nasal cavities and throat and moves further down to attach to the receptors in the lung. Physical barriers like mustard oils etc do not seem to have any effect on stopping the attachment and progression of the virus,” Dr Ray said.

HOLD YOUR BREATH TO TEST FOR CORONAVIRUS?

With regard to the “self-testing method” suggested by Ramdev, Dr Chatterjee said that this was not true.

“About 80 percent of the people with coronavirus are asymptomatic, they don’t even have symptoms. Holding your breath is a problem when your lungs get affected, which is maybe at the most 15-20 percent people. So, for 80 percent of the people, the fact that you can hold your breath doesn’t mean anything because if your lungs are not affected you can easily hold your breath,” he said, speaking to The Quint.

He emphasised that this could not be used as a test of diagnosing coronavirus.

Dr Ray also said that there is nothing of this sort. “With any severe respiratory illness which affects the lungs, one will find it difficult to hold one's breath for 30 seconds. This could be due to an an acute severe infection with viruses or bacteria, including COVID-19, or with chronic lung conditions like long-standing COPD and interstitial lung disease. Not being able to hold one's breath cannot differentiate between COVID or other causes,” he said.

“You will have other symptoms when you’re not able to hold your breath etc, that means the respiratory effect is already there,” Dr Ray added.

He also warned that while these ideas were not harmful in themselves, they could be dangerous if people developed a false sense of security over them.

“These kind of ideas give a false sense of security and people might not take the actual important precautions by doing these things which have no proof,” he stated.

“Baba Ramdev can obviously give whatever advice he wants to but on the basis of medical science, there is no evidence for this. Which is why, as a doctor with an understanding of medical science, I won’t be able to prescribe to these,” Dr Ray added.

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