Sudarshana Syrup: A Cure or a Hoax?
By Methmalie Dissanayake
On Tuesday (27) this week, State Minister of production, supply and regulation of pharmaceuticals, Prof. Janna Jayasumana, during a Media briefing, said that the Ministry of Health has decided to give an Ayurveda syrup named ‘Sudarshana’ to COVID-19 patients, who are currently receiving treatments at hospitals.
This claim, made by State Minister Jayasumana, who was also a Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the Rajarata University, made the public excited because the common stance regarding COVID-19 pandemic is there is no cure for it yet and the even the developed countries are struggling to find a wirking vaccine for it.
In such a backdrop, Prof. Jayasumana’s claim that research activities regarding ‘Sudarshana Syrup’, in Ayurvedic medicine, were successful even in the western medicine standards and therefore, COVId-19 patients, who are in State hospitals ,would be given this syrup in the near future, gained wide attention throughout the country.
Prof. Jayasumana said that the research has proven that Sudarshana Syrup could boost the immunity against COVID-19.
“A team of doctors and professors,at the Medical faculty of Sri Jayewardenepura University and Institute of Indigenous Medicine at Rajagiriya, conducted this research. ‘Sudarshana’ has been a medicine in the Ayurvedic medical stream for generations. This team had developed it to face the COVID-19. Their researches have delivered positive results. That is why the Health Ministry decided to give this syrup to the patients. The Government principle is using both western, traditional and Ayurvedic medicines to fight against COVID-19,” he added.
Response of western medical officers
However, Prof. Jayasumana’s claim was criticised by several Western medical officers who said that it was highly unethical to give it to patients, who are receiving treatments at State hospitals, which follow western medical stream.
Consultant Dr. Ajith Amarasinghe, a Paediatrician and Allergy Specialist, stressed that the proposal to use ‘Sudarshana Syrup’ in State hospitals, which follow western medical stream, is a blunt violation of ethics. This proposal will result in many legal and ethical problems. Ayurvedic and Western medical streams have differences in conceptual levels, he noted.
“In Western medicine, before using a medicine, clinical trials must be conducted. This is a long process and various aspects about the medicine such as side effects will be tested. After that, it should be proved that the medicine is definitely suitable for human consumption and it has the ability to cure a certain illness. Then the medicine is registered in National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Authority and it could be used in hospitals.”
“On the other hand, western medical officers cannot use any kind of medicine which belongs to a medicine stream they never practiced. That is a blunt violation of their oath and ethics they have to follow.
Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) could suspend licences of such medical officers as well,” he said.
Therefore, before using Ayurvedic medicine in Western State hospitals, these facts should be thoroughly considered, Dr. Amarasinghe pointed out.
Response of Ayurvedic doctors
Ayurvedic Dr. Danister L. Perera warned the public not to be deceived by claims of various parties regarding an Ayurvedic cure for COVID-19 including this proposed Sudarshana Syrup.
“After Prof. Jayasumana’s claims people have started to search for Sudarsdhana Syrup. There is no need to blame the public for that as everyone is panicked because of the current COVID-19 situation. It is natural for the people to try to find out any possible cure for COVID-19 when the Western world is still struggling to curb the pandemic. But this could cause several problems which actually could do a harm to the people,” Dr. Perera pointed out.
When the first COVID-19 wave was spreading in the country the people started to buy huge stocks of traditional medical ingredients like perumkayam, wadakaha etc. When those stocks could not be found, people try to use so-called ‘dumhattiya’ (steam pot). Now people will try to protect themselves from COVID-19 by using Sudarshana Syrup.
“But there is nothing named ‘Sudarshana Syrup’ in the market yet. It is still in research level. Now, there is a possibility to introduce fake syrups labelled as Sudarshana to make money. There will be fake ‘corona syrup’ products in the market. The people should not be deceived by such fake products,” he warned.
Speaking further about ‘Sudarshana’ Churna, Dr. Perera said that it is an existing medicine in Ayurveda for centuries. It is not a traditional medicine as some people claim. But our traditional doctors used Sudarshana to treat their patients. There are 53 ingredients in Sudarshana Churna, mostly bin kohomba (Munroniapinnata). So this churna has a very bitter taste. At the moment Sudarshana is available in forms of pills in the market. Intention of developing it into syrup is to make it easy for making children to take it, he said.
Sudarshana Churna got its name after a name of a weapon used by God Wishnu. This weapon ‘Sudarshana Chakra’ can destroy enemies by circling around.
“Since those researches have showed positive results, now people are saying that it is the only medicine for COVID-19. That is a lie.”
However, Sudarshana Churna should only be used under the inspections of a qualified Ayurvedic doctor. Otherwise, it will pose dangers to the patient’s health. This is not just a medicine. There is a way of life and a specific medicine category, which has to be followed along with using Sudarshana. So it is a pure myth that Sudarshana is the only cure for COVID-19. People have to follow COVID-19 prevention guidelines to protect themselves from the virus. So I urge people not to believe claims like if they drink Sudarshana Syrup they will not be infected by COVID-19. Such claims are rackets to swindle the hard earned money of the public. Do not be misguided by them. If you have any doubts contact qualified provincial Ayurvedic officers. Do not ask medicines for COVID-19 from random sellers and lose your money, Dr. Perera pointed out.
“At the moment, Western hospitals are unable to cope with the growing rate of infected cases. Keeping asymptomatic patients in hospitals is not of much use. Therefore, it would be best if we could keep the infected patients in separate health camps and make arrangements to treat them. Both the Ayurvedic and Western medical treatment can prevent them from getting into a serious condition if any symptoms appear. We have seen that some people look at this ‘Sudarshana Syrup’ with contempt. They tell different stories. This can be used in Sri Lanka and even be exported if successful. When trying to get the country out of this situation, we cannot consider whose medicine is that, is it an Ayurvedic or Western.”