Social media posts claiming homeopathic medicine Aspidosperma Q 20 can act as a substitute for oxygen requited by COVID-19 patients, are misleading as two homeopathic doctors BOOM spoke to said that while it improves oxygen uptake for diseases other than Covid, it is not a substitute for oxygen.
Furthermore India's Ministry of AYUSH has also called out such messages recommending Aspidosperma Q 20 to COVID-19 patients.
Aspidosperma a flowering plant found predominantly in South and Central America has medicinal properties but there is not enough scientific evidence stating that the plant has any specific use in increasing oxygen.
The viral message comes at a time when hospitals in cities like Delhi, Agra, Lucknow, Bangalore have been reporting lack of oxygen supplies and social media being flooded with desperate pleas for oxygen cylinders and concentrators.
The message viral in Hindi reads, "If oxygen levels are falling, do not wait to find oxygen. A drop of aspidosperma q20 in a cup of water, your oxygen levels will be immediately stabilised and maintained forever. This is a homeopathic medicine. Do not waste time on finding oxygen. Share this immediately so it can save someone's life.
(Translated from Hindi: "ऑक्सिजन लेबल गिर रहा है तो ऑक्सिजन मिलने का इंतजार मत करो ASPIDOSPERMA Q 20 बूँद एक कप पानी मे देने से ऑक्सिजन लेबल तुरंत मेंटेन हो जाएगा जो हमेशा बना रहेगा। ये Homeopathic medicine है। Oxygen ढूंढने में समय बर्बाद ना करें जल्दी शेयर करें क्या पता किसी की जान बच जाये)
BOOM received the message on its WhatsApp helpline requesting verification.
The post is viral across social media with pictures as well as videos of the medicine bottle.
BOOM contacted Dr. Subhas Singh, Director, National Institute of Homeopathy, Kolkata as well as Dr. Rajesh Shah, a homeopathic practitioner from Mumbai to understand if the given medicine can be used as a substitute in COVID-19 times.
Both Dr. Singh and Dr. Shah denied that the medicine is a substitute for actual oxygen therapy during COVID-19.
"This medicine has the power to improve oxygen levels but not in the case of COVID-19 patients whose lungs have collapsed," explained Dr. Singh while stating that these medicines are prescribed on case-by-case basis and the same should be followed as COVID-19 is a relatively new disease.
Dr. Shah from Mumbai agreed with Dr. Singh.
"Aspidosperma can help in improving oxygen levels and breathing through bronchial dilution but it would be absolutely wrong to say that oxygen can be substituted by the medicine. In fact, there are other homeopathic medicines that are actually better in solving breathing issues."
This is not the first time that homeopathic medicines have been endorsed to treat COVID-19. The Ministry of AYUSH recommended the use of homeopathic medicines Arsenicum Album right at the start of the pandemic in January, 2020. Despite the medicines not having any scientific backing as treating COVID-19, the ministry initiated a large-scale distribution of the same.
However, the ministry has not endorsed Aspidosperma Q 20.
The Ministry of AYUSH took to Twitter to debunk the claim and said that it prohibits advertisements with claims for treatment from unverified sources. The ministry also added that patients should not self-medicate during these critical conditions.
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