The WHO, amongst other authorities, has gone on record saying all “fake news” about coronavirus cures must be suppressed. The only true cure, it appears, is the Western medical establishment, with its resource intensive hospitals, doctors and nurses, ICU beds and oxygen tanks, ventilators and intubation, N95 masks and plastic face shields. Nothing else will do.
The modern hospital as an institution probably started in Europe during the plague of the 13th century, when monks in Christian monasteries put aside buildings in their premises to cure the sick. They also tended herbal gardens and grew their own medicinal plants, so they were ideally placed to cure those with life threatening diseases. Due to their austere schedules and lifestyles, limited social contact with the outside world, as well as lack of sexual and physical contact due to vows of renunciation, they would not have contracted infectious diseases as easily as laypeople.
According to Wikipedia: “Towards the end of the 4th century, the "second medical revolution" took place with the founding of the first Christian hospital in the eastern Byzantine Empire by Basil of Caesarea.” While ancient India, the Islamic world, Persia and others had their own hospitals--with the Islamic world specifically credited with systematizing the institution with departments, diseases, officer-in-charge and specialists--it was the Christian notion of healing the sick which may have brought the institution to a wider population.
Hospitals were associated with various branches and sects of Christianity, all vying for power and prestige. The prestige of one’s sect depended upon how well the narrative of medicinal power was projected and controlled. In keeping with the tradition of Christian dogma and persecution, those who professed disbelief were severely punished. Hospitals, cures and associated medications all took on special mystique.
It is this history of medicine that is being played out now, in much the same manner, with people believing in the virtues of ventilators without a single critique (ventilators apparently have a low efficiency rate and can kill one third of the elders a year after being intubated, according to the New York Times). Plastic face masks may or may not work, since the coronavirus can live for 72 hours on plastic. Even the whole idea of putting a large number of sick people together may be a failed experiment, since it is easy for those less sick to get more sick with more exposure to viral loads in a contaminated hospital environment, with people packed into a small space, breathing in huge amounts of viral spores through air-conditioners.
Ayurveda, India’s age old traditional healing system, is course promptly labeled as “fake news” by this Eurocentric hegemonic model. BBC hastily put out an article to this effect, warning people that turmeric could not cure coronavirus. Prince Charles got caught up in the crosshairs, with an Ayurvedic Vaidya in Banglaore claiming “Mr Charles is my patient,” and the hasty rejoinder that Prince Charles had done nothing but take NHS advice. Turmeric, which may kill the virus faster than any known pharmaceutical in existence, has no far not been tested by a single scientist, despite there being evidence in plain sight with large parts of the “turmeric belt” of Asia and Africa relatively unscathed by the virus. Low contagion countries like India and many parts of Africa all cook their food in turmeric. Derision by rationalists there is in plenty, but no sober scientific analysis of the reasons for low contagion.
These countries also have low or non-existent use of plastic food containers. Food is cooked daily, and nothing is stored for later. Despite hysteria about plastic being the one and only material that can shield people from the virus, it is pretty clear plastic is also much beloved by the virus as an elegant habitat. It survives for 4 hours on copper and 72 hours on plastic.
I suspect that the reason why Asian countries (China, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea) have performed so much better than Italy and France in containing the virus is not just their draconian quarantine measures and authoritarian governments, but also their age-old tradition of herbal healing. Chinese herbal medicine (I’m talking herbs here, not wild animal parts) has thousands of years of “clinical trials” amongst a billion plus people. People know which herbs will cure them of pulmonary and respiratory problems, and I suspect most of those who survived may have taken some complementary herbal medicine, and not just depended upon Western meds.
All of this brings us to the question: is Western medicine a giant boondongle? The insistence that everyone must follow this model is not just ridiculous, but also may kill people since they will rush to the poorly resourced hospitals rather than stay home and minister to this with the multiple herbs, concoctions and healing blends always known by tradition.
I am grateful to Western medicine for putting me back on my feet after my earthquake accident. I am grateful to all my young cousins who patched me together orthopedically—I am aware I may be dead without surgical operations and antibiotics. Western medicine is great with traumatic injuries and accidents. This writeup does not address the many lifesaving aspects of Western medicine. This writeup is merely a critique of Western medicine being seen as the sole cure for the coronavirus, a broad pandemic that requires a multi-pronged, multi-healing tradition response.
The beauty of Ayurveda is its decentralized model—everyone can be a healer in their own homes, with just basic kitchen cabinet ingredients as medicine. You do not need a $100,000 loan and ten years in medical school to become a healer. Western doctors are also so burdened by loans that they become willing salespeople for the Big Pharma companies that approach them post-graduation, offering them attractive incentives (a honeymoon cruise being one such incentive I know about) to sell their drugs. Ayurveda has recently become commercialized with Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali, but in many respects it still remains a decentralized model, with the knowledge to cure resting in the hands of a billion stay-at-home grandmothers and mothers, and with very low cost ingredients for medicine.
I once attended a program in Martin Chautari, a think tank in Nepal. They’d asked an evangelical Christian pastor to give a talk. This man shared with the audience that one of the things that the new Christian had to do was rip out the tulsi plant which is planted in every Nepali courtyard, because it symbolizes Vishnu and therefore had to be removed. I was appalled at this desecration (and, I may add, at the “liberal” notion that somehow this is something we should have listened to politely, in civil Nepali fashion, and not counteracted with a single word in case we be labeled Hindu fundamentalists). I was appalled at the notion that a plant which cures respiratory and pulmonary infections more effectively than any other plant in existence was being literally ripped out by the roots. Yet this is what has passed for secular democratic discussion in Nepal the past decade or so, slowly snuffing out the traditional wisdom which could save many lives in a pandemic of this nature.
The Ministry of Ayush is treated as a joke by most scientific types in India, and its each and every movement heavily derided. As the pandemic heated up, it was pressured to put out a PSA asking people to use hand sanitizers--a luxury item for many Indians, and which is not part of the Ayurvedic repertoire. After some critique online (including a few tweets from me), the Ministry of Health of India then put out another tweet saying soap was the best option, and hand sanitizers should only be used when soap was not available. Which goes to beg the question: who is behind the Ministry of Ayush? Are they truly trained vaidyas and ayurvedic practitioners who can put out information quickly and efficiently, information which may save the lives of not just people in South Asia but also worldwide, or are they humble administrators being pressured by the liberal scientific rational crowd which see everything Hindu as irrational and superstitious?
A young woman from Canada went online and shared her experience of surviving coronavirus. She’d used the Ayurvedic neti pot, which uses warm water to clear the sinuses, as part of her healing protocol. It is this kind of instant and useful share that can be potentially life-saving—and also the kind of information that poorly informed ancient white men in the BBC think is fake news, because they have no idea what a neti pot is.
Even Native Americans and African Americans in poor areas of America will have to tap their own culinary and medicinal heritages, if they are to survive this pandemic without depending upon what is essentially an unaffordable healthcare model. African Americans in particular have been very open to new health and healing trends, but they also have a historical legacy of cooking which could stand them in very good stead during this time when food can become the base for healing herbs.
Many Nepalese workers have died in New York. They may have lived had they followed their gurus and amchis, rather than going to the hospitals which turned them away without treatment.
Governments of India, Nepal and Bhutan must support a massive effort to produce Ayurvedic herbs which cure pulmonary and respiratory infections, and not listen to WHO, UN or any other Eurocentric hegemonic authorities which will insist that traditional healing is “fake news” in order to sustain the illusion of European supremacy to the last breath.
It is clear as this pandemic unfolds that the savage in the heart of human culture may be modern civilization, not the painted tribes of the Amazons who always knew how to cure themselves with berries and roots. The irrational people are the ones who will not listen to evidence, who will continue to do their shamanistic dances in their plastic PPE, murmuring superstitious voodoo chants about non-existent vaccines.