AIIMS Rishikesh conducts trial to find out effect of Gayatri Mantra in COVID patients
New Delhi: The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Rishikesh has taken a unique route of treatment by conducting a clinical trial to find out whether chanting Gayatri Mantra or doing Pranayama regularly improves the recovery process of a Covid-19 patient or not.
Whereas AIIMS Rishikesh has finished enrolling the names of 20 patients, the Union Science and Technology Department has decided to support the study with a grant of Rs 3 lakh. AIIMS is currently working on the statistical analysis to assess the outcomes of the trial. The reports of the trial are supposed to be out by the end of this month or early next month.
The centre of the discussion Gayatri Mantra is a chant from the Rig Veda. People often chant this religious hymn during meditation or while performing Hindu religious ceremonies. Pranayama, on the other hand, is a breath control Yoga exercise.
As per the latest media report by The Print, the trial involved 20 Covid-19 patients who were divided into two groups. While AIIMS Rishikesh provided one group of patients with regular treatment, the other group coupled the regular treatment along with chanting Gayatri Mantra and performing Pranayama by spending an hour each in the morning and the evening for this purpose.
The chanting and Pranayama instructions are being provided to the patients by a certified Yoga instructor through video conferencing and Google Meet.
The daily adds that at the end of the trial, these two groups will be compared to find out whether the ones chanting the mantra along with Pranayama show any remarkable improvement in their inflammation or cell-injury levels or not.
Besides, the trial would also measure the secondary outcomes including improvement in X-rays, D-dimer levels, and measuring the level of fatigue. However, the trial is only being conducted upon the patients who are moderately ill and not on those who are severely ill.
While commenting on the trial, principal investigator Ruchi Dua, a pulmonary medicine specialist at the AIIMS, Rishikesh told The Print, "We have already finished enrolment of patients and are now at the final stages of our report. We are studying the effects that chanting Gayatri Mantra and performing pranayam have on moderate Covid patients. We will study various markers in the patients."
"Breathing exercises are already prescribed to patients recovering from Covid-19," Dua told Telegraph India.
"We thought we would investigate the effect of both Gayatri Mantra and pranayama on hospitalized patients. Benefits may emerge through psychological effects," she added.
The Union Department of Science and Technology, which is funding the trial, shared its brief on the Clinical Trials Registry. The brief claimed, as reported by The Print, that pranayam and Gayatri Mantra chanting have "been used in other diseases and have shown promising effects", which it adds "becomes vital" in a scenario when "there is no effective treatment or vaccine for this virus as yet".
Meanwhile, pulmonology and cardiology experts are eager to view the outcomes as the wait would be worthwhile if it is found that breathing exercises help Covid patients. However, the experts chose not to comment on the use of Gayatri Mantra, adds the daily.
"Breathing exercises may help in improving the lung capacity but they alone cannot be a treatment. It makes sense to look if it works along with other treatments. It's worthwhile to do the study in a randomized double-blind way," top Indian pulmonologist and AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria told The Print.
Mentioning that breathing exercises have been known to be useful in non-infectious diseases, he added, "I have done a randomized Yoga trial in the past on patients with chronic bronchitis and compared that with standard pulmonology rehabilitation. It was a 12-week study and it showed Yoga was as effective as pulmonary rehabilitation. Not only did the patients' quality of life improved but the biomarkers in the blood also came down. There is data that these things help with non-infective diseases. But I'm not sure whether it will work for Covid."
Adding that the idea of applying breathing exercises in the treatment of covid-19 patients is interesting, Dr Sameer Gupta, an interventional cardiologist at Metro Hospital told The Print, "What's interesting in the study is how the breathing exercises will bring about changes in Covid patients. Whether they chant Gayatri Mantra or an Om doesn't matter…I want to see if it shows any significant changes in the oxygen levels."
Many have reportedly admitted that they are not surprised at the Union Government's decision to fund the project as the department has been known to tilt towards projects involving ancient Indian traditions, Telegraph India adds.
The daily further adds that the science and technology department had last year offered to fund research projects that seek to pinpoint ingredients in dung, milk, and urine of "indigenous cows" for use in medicinal, nutritional, and household products.
As a vast majority of Covid-19 patients recover after receiving standard care in hospitals, a researcher told Telegraph that with such a small number of participants in each group, the statistical validity of the study should be questioned.