Hyderabad: Rampant misinformation that donkey meat will cure asthma and snoring has led to the massacre of donkeys in Andhra Pradesh and some parts of Telangana.
There is no medical evidence to support this preposterous claim yet certain communities and groups continue to eat donkey meat in the belief that it provides strength, stamina and virility.
Dr Manish Kumar, ENT surgeon at Government Hospital Koti says, “No meat of any animal can stop snoring. It is an internal problem in the body where the shape of the skeleton and also the underlying conditions like obesity are responsible. There is no truth in the rumours of any meat consumed helping to stop snoring.”
Dr C. Shekar Singh, senior ENT surgeon confirmed that “These are all baseless rumours. There is no medical evidence or any kind of study which says that any food substance can help to combat snoring.”
According to animal lovers, donkeys are being indiscriminately slaughtered and the meat is being sold openly, violating the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) norms in many parts of both states, more particularly in Tadepally in Guntur district, Chirala and Bapatla in Prakasam district and Hyderabad and Kurnool.
In Tadepally, butchers are displaying boards stating that donkey meat will cure ubbasam (asthma) as well as snoring.
Donkey meat is not listed as an edible meat by the FSSAI. On August 6, 2014, the FSSAI and Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued an order defining an animal as belonging to any of the species (i) Ovines (ii) Caprines (iii) Suillines (iv) Bovines and Poultry and Fish.
Gopal Surabathula, an animal rescue activist, said that in some African countries thousands of donkeys are being killed for their skins, which is sold to China for use in traditional medicine.
He said that there is information that skins of Indian donkeys too are being sold to China. He said that the demand for donkey hide, which is boiled to produce gelatine, is the key ingredient in a Chinese medicine called ejiao.
The demand from China has raised the price and the rate of slaughter of the animals in the developing countries. The Guardian newspaper in Great Britain recently carried a news report quoting Emma Farrant, president of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine, saying: “It is what we refer to as a blood tonic. It’s good for building up the body and helps with what is known in Chinese medicine as ‘blood deficiency’, for conditions such as anaemia and heavy periods and dry coughs.”
Donkey meat has no medicinal value: Docs
Though donkey meat has no medicinal value, from time immemorial, donkey milk has been hailed as an anti-ageing skin tonic and cure for various ailments.
The medicinal value of the milk was first heralded by the Greek physician Hippocrates, the father of medicine, who used to prescribe it for various ailments ranging from nose bleeding to snake bite. The milk is believed to cure combat fever, liver problems, joint pain, infectious diseases, nose bleeds and even poisoning.
Donkey milk is also being given to newborns in various parts of South India, especially in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, and some parts of AP.
Pope Francis recently revealed that as a baby he was fed donkey milk as a supplement for mother’s milk.
It is also believed to cure bronchitis, asthma and skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis and erase facial wrinkles, maintain the whiteness of the skin and to make it more soft and supple.
According to a BBC report, donkey milk is proving to be a viable alternative for young children and infants in Italy who are allergic to cow's milk. More than 50 per cent of the milk produced is sold directly to paediatric units in northern Italy.