Multiple Facebook posts claim that red ant chutney (sauce) is the divine medicine for coronavirus. We fact-checked the claim and found the origin of this statement. There is no scientific evidence yet to prove it as a possible cure.
By Tej Kumar
A Facebook post claims that red ant chutney (sauce of red ants) which is made up of red ants and their eggs, dhanvalanka (Tobasco peppers), coriander leaves, green chillies, and salt is the divine medicine for coronavirus.
This post in the Telugu language claims that it is “a divine medicine for Coronavirus”! “Tribals use red ant chutney as medicine for flu, cough, and cold and respiratory problems. However, with this chutney, the covid-19 virus can also be eradicated from the world.”
The post also highlights that a researcher has filed a petition in court alleging that his proposals as a possible cure were ignored. The court directed the Ministry of AYUSH to give an explanation on this.
This claim comes from the fact that in the Odisha state of India, red ant chutney has been traditionally used to cure cough and fever and there is one paper trying to understand its efficacy. According to a research paper by International Journal for Research in Applied Science & Engineering Technology (IJRASET) made available by research gate highlighted “red ants have medicinal properties which can cure cough, fever, cold.” So we reached out to the author of this paper to know more.
“This chutney is traditional medicine adopted by the tribes since ages in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand to cure a cold, cough, and fever. Since coronavirus also has similar symptoms, people are believing that this medicine can cure coronavirus, but there is no evidence to prove this” said Subhrakanta Jena, who authored a paper titled “Traditional Value of Red Weaver Ant (Oecophylla smaragdina) as Food and Medicine in Mayurbhanj District of Odisha, India” in IJRASET.
“There is still research going to understand its medicinal properties but there is no evidence that it can cure coronavirus” he added.
The claim has gained popularity in India after a petition was filed at Orissa High Court to research on the efficacy of red ant chutney in the treatment of coronavirus. The Orissa high court has directed the directors general of Ayush ministry and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to take a decision within three months on a proposal to use red ant chutney as a remedy for Covid-19.
To understand the science behind it, we asked our fact check member Dr. Rohini Karandikar who is a science educator and member of the Indian Scientists' Response to COVID-19 team. She said “something that shows medicinal properties should be tested using the randomised controlled trial method just the way other medicines are being tested against the novel coronavirus”
“To be able to say it is a treatment, we need to have data that shows red ant extract kills the novel coronavirus”, she added.
The claim saying red ant chutney is a cure for coronavirus so far has no scientific evidence. Unless it is scientifically proved, no medicine can be considered as an effective treatment or medicine for any disease.