A patient is wheeled in for surgery after all pre-operative checks are done. During the surgery, the patient unexplainably starts to bleed profusely. The doctor checks all medical reports to see if he has overlooked something, and finds nothing amiss. No apparent causes, and also no blood thinners were being consumed by the patient.
The surgery gets done and the patient is wheeled back into the room. Later, the doctor brings up this episode and asks if he missed mentioning something. The patient informs the doctor that he was consuming a herbal Kadha of ginger, garlic, turmeric, and asafoetida thrice a day to keep COVID-19 away.
This above-mentioned incident was tweeted by Dr Raghuraj Hegde, consultant, Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery Service, Manipal, Bengaluru, who was the surgeon in this case.
This is not an isolated case. On the same Twitter thread, Dr Gaurav Luthra, an eye surgeon who recently operated on a patient with a cataract shared her view. “Recently had a cataract surgery patient bleed on the table for no reason. Was not on any anticoagulants. It is most unusual. On repeated history taking, she was taking good amounts of garlic among other home remedies every morning since Corona times started.” she said.
According to a paper published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the use of complementary and alternative medicine has increased tremendously in the last two decades. Besides herbal products and homoeopathic medicines, dietary supplements and the desi Kadha are extremely popular and are available without a doctor’s prescription.
Their use is generally not volunteered by the patient as they consider them harmless and this gets overlooked in the preoperative assessment.
Despite their “natural” characteristics, dietary supplements and homemade remedies contain certain molecules which can cause harm if taken excessively or improperly. These effects include anti-coagulation, thinning of the blood etc. which can impact surgical procedures, and also cause harmful interactions with other drugs that you might be consuming.
Dr Joyeeta Basu, a General Physician, based in Gurugram, says, “Under allopathy, there is no recommendation or advice we give patients about consuming these homemade concoctions.”
“Other than asking patients to have Vitamin D supplements, we do not advise on anything else.”
During this pandemic, people have resorted to consuming copious amounts of homemade ‘Kadha’. Dr Basu’s recommendation is that one limits the intake of such brews to one or two cups a day, as a substitute to the regular tea/coffee that one might consume. She also says, “Only add one clove, cardamom, cinnamon, a small piece of ginger, Tulsi and maybe honey if you wish. Do not brew it excessively or load it up with too many natural spices either.”
Depending on what goes into this ‘Kadha’, one might experience one or all of the following side effects:
Bleeding from the nose
“People opt for alternate treatment and therapy because they believe that allopathic treatment and medication could be detrimental to their health. However, one does not know of what side effects these alternate therapies could have,” says Dr Basu.
Dr Hegde, answering the multiple queries posed on the twitter thread, says, “I guess the fear of COVID is causing the overdosing on “natural” ingredients. Otherwise, these condiments are a regular feature in all Indian households and small amounts in a Kadha won’t cause many problems.”
Ashma Khanna, an Ayurveda wellness and Vedic Diet Expert based in Gurugram says, “It depends on person to person and it will be impossible to prescribe a one Kadha fits all solution.” Explaining this further, she says, “For someone who is a heart patient and is already on blood thinners, consuming large amounts of turmeric, for example, could be detrimental, since turmeric also acts as a blood-thinning agent.”
In Ayurveda, it is also important to follow the right methodology while consuming these concoctions or Kadha’s, she explains.
“Blindly following a Whatsapp forward and making a Kadha is not going to do you any good, and might in fact end up doing harm.”
Anything in excess is bound to lead to trouble. Even in making and consuming such Kadha, once must exercise all caution. For more details on various ways to stay fit and safely prepare immunity boosters at home, you could click here to access the Ministry of Ayush website.
It is advisable that you disclose details of the homemade concoction that you might be consuming to your doctor to ensure that the treatment that they prescribe works best.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)