Doctors in Gujarat have warned against a so-called 'cow dung therapy', saying smearing of cow dung on the body does not give protection against coronavirus but may cause other infections including mucormycosis.
A small group of people has been visiting a cow shelter run by Shree Swaminarayan Gurukul Vishwavidya Prathisthanam in Ahmedabad to take the therapy, believing that it increases immunity against COVID-19.
The shelter houses over 200 cows. For the last one month, around 15 persons visit it every Sunday to apply cow dung and cow urine on the body. It is then washed off with cow milk, said an SGVP official.
Those taking the therapy include some frontline workers and people working at medical stores, he said.
Doctors, however, do not vouch for its efficacy.
"I don't know if this therapy would really help people. I have never come across any research which suggested that application of cow dung on the body would increase immunity against coronavirus," said Dr Dileep Mavlankar, Director of the Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar.
Dr Mona Desai, a senior doctor from the city, termed the therapy as "humbug and inauthentic".
"Cow dung is nothing but body waste. Applying cow dung and urine can never boost immunity or protect you from coronavirus. People should consult doctors and stay away from such therapies," said Dr Desai, chairperson of the women's wing of the Indian Medical Association.
"Instead of proving helpful, cow dung would give you other infections, including mucormycosis," she said.
Mucormycosis, also called black fungus infection, has been observed among some COVID-19 survivors and can be fatal.
"Since cow dung also carries several fungi, they may enter into the body and infect you. I urge people to be little aware and not put their lives in danger," said Desai.