Feature Stories - March 4, 2021

Herbal treatment for Covid has no scientific basis

JALALABAD (Pajhwok): An expert of herbal medicine in eastern Nangarhar province has claimed producing an efficacious medicine for the coronavirus, with no side-effect. The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), however, has already announced there no medicine barring vaccines for the disease.

MoPH has repeatedly made clear that no scientific experiment had so far proved that herbal medicines were effective in treating the deadly disease.

Malakzai, an expert of herbal medicine, claimed he had treated over 350 coronavirus patients and still some suspected patients from far-flung areas were approaching him for treatment.

To prepare the medicine, the man collected herbal plants from mountainous areas of Kunar, Nuristan, Nangarhar and Logar provinces. He personally visited some areas to get the right herbs.

This Pajhwok reporter, who met Malakzai, was told the medicine had no side-effect and was fully effective Malakzai said: “Nor narcotics and drugs have been used in this medicine.

“If the government has any testing process, I am ready to offer the medicine for an analysis. They can check it. If they find any side-effect, I am ready to pay the penalty.”

He said a Covid-19 patient was required to pay him 200 afghanis, because the plants used in this medicine were brought from remote areas.

Malakzai said the medicine he made was powdery and had a bitter taste. Its dosage and use is based on the patient’s condition — one to three times. Every patient has to consume at least one dose for his/her recovery.

He learned about herbal medication from the book of Hippocrates and scholarly works of other Greek physicians. Malakzai said his teacher was his father Maulvi Shahabuddin, who graduated from the Najmuddin Akhundzada Madrassa.

Besides the coronavirus treatment, Malakzai prescribes this medicine for those suffering from blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and several other diseases.

Fact check:

The use of herbal medicine in Afghanistan is deep-rooted culturally. Some herbal medication may relieve body aches. Canadian Editorial Al Donato investigation the use of herbal products improve anti-body against some viruses.

According to RIT investigation, in Afghanistan, 61 percent propaganda in the social media is linked to the use of herbal products in the wake of coronavirus.

No scientific experiment has so far proved the efficacy of herbal products in treating the coronavirus. The most important thing about the disease is that the use of herbal medicines, unless obtained from pure herbs, is not effective.

Nangarhar University teacher and homeopath Dr. Syed Rahat Haidari said herbalists mostly used drugs in their medicines. This provides immediate relief to the patient, but its long-term use could cause more complications.

Public Health Director Dr. Naseer Ahmad Durrani said homeopathic treatment was popular in villages and suburbs. In urban areas also, he added, it had become a profitable business.

The Public Health Department, he explained, has appointed a committee to evaluate documents and certificates of herbalists — popularly known as hakeems.

He said at least 20 such shops had been inspected so far and some of them had been sealed. The process of inspection and evaluation was still ongoing, he added.

MoPH also agreed no treatment other than vaccines was beneficial for Covid-19 patients.  Earlier, MoPH deputy spokesperson Massouma Jafari told Pajhwok Afghan News no scientific experiment had so far proven the production of a herbal coronavirus medicine.

She insisted no effective treatment for the pandemic was currently available anywhere in the world. The only pre-cautionary measure is vaccination, she explained.

Jafari said the world had conducted several experiments but scientists and experts were yet to find an effective medicine for the pandemic. She asked people not to trust such rumours and strictly follow health guidelines.

Earlier, Hakeem Alkozai — another herbalist, had claimed making coronavirus medication. But MoPH rejected the medicine made by Hakeemi and warned its use could lead to drug addiction because the drop contained opium.

Outcome: No scientific evidence exists to show that herbal medicines are effective against the coronavirus. Most importantly the use of plants is not beneficial.

Verdict: The treatment of the coronavirus through medicinal herbs is a baseless claim, with no scientific evidence.

Yousaf zarifi


“This Investigative Report was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Pajhwok and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.”

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