KOCHI: Even as COVID-19 pandemic has brought most of the business sectors to ruin, the virus outbreak turned to be a silver lining for dietary supplement industry. Manufacturers of herbal supplements and immunity boosting dietary supplements recognized the opportunity after various researches stressed the importance of therapeutic and preventive use of nutritional supplements against COVID-19.
Supplement brands selling herbal products like Curcumin (turmeric extract) and Ashwagandha are registering big spike in sales during the pandemic outbreak. Curcumin is known for its high anti-inflammatory effects while Ashwagandha is used for stress relief as it relaxes central nervous system. It also has anti-inflammatory effects.
Demand for this traditional herb has gone up as the lockdown coupled with pay cuts, job loss and uncertainty over business has adversely impacted the emotional well being of many.
“Though this is a fear-driven buying of nutritional supplements and vitamin tablets, it is a positive change as most of average Indians are not healthy. Obesity and other lifestyle diseases are major challenges which make the immune system weak and highly vulnerable to virus attacks. The coronavirus scare has made people more aware of the role of good nutrition in keeping good health. There has been an unprecedented upswing in the demand for nutritional supplements. The trend is seen across the globe,” said Asha Krishnan, a certified nutrition advisor in Kochi.
All key players in nutraceutical sector has registered surge in sales when the virus transmission started to peak. Arjuna Natural Pvt Limited, a Kerala based company which exports Curegarden series of nutraceutical products to US and European countries like France and Germany has registered more than 30 per cent surge in sales from March onwards.
“Demand for Curcumin and Ashwagandha supplements has gone up as people have become more aware of the high potency of the herbs in fighting inflammation and boosting immunity. Even when the demand was high, delivery of products was slightly hit due to break in supply chain during national lockdown. The pandemic situation has compelled people to look into their health from a pro-active perspective. Even though the immediate sales have spurted due to the virus outbreak, we are seeing a new wave of awareness among people who value the importance of preventive health lot more than earlier, leading to high demand for natural and clinically verified health supplements,” said Antony Kunjachan, executive director of Arjuna Natural Pvt Ltd
A research by IIT Delhi and Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) has found that Ashwagandha can be a preventive drug against COVID-19.
The government has also initiated a study on whether Ashwagandha can be an alternative to anti-malarial drug Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as a potential COVID-19 preventive.
The World Health Organisation has also recognised the role of traditional and complementary drugs and welcomed innovations in medicinal herbs and developing new therapies to fight against global pandemic.