It is imperative to promote science-based health education by dispelling myths and superstitions

Belief in religious healers is still very powerful and often becomes the cause of delays in treatment. For example, almost all patients with umps invariably go to religious healers and delay alleviating bothersome symptoms. The healers press on the swelling of the face, recite mantras and put mud on the swelling. Similarly, many patients with Bell’s Palsy (a type of unilateral facial paralysis) also consult religious healers.

Interestingly, one such spiritual healer focuses sunlight on the patient’s neck with a convex lens. This causes a burn on the skin which heals in a few weeks and at that time the facial paralysis also heals. Bell’s palsy and mumps patients mostly recover on their own with supportive measures and counseling to prevent complications and ease the fear and stress from the patient’s mind, as those These, like many other illnesses, are self-limiting disorders.

Many diseases are linked to religious connotations. For example, chickenpox (“Chhoti Mata”) patients would spend long hours praying to the mother god. It has been observed that sometimes even literate people do not consult a doctor on certain days of the week which they do not consider auspicious.

There are countless such cases in different parts of our country. When some of these myths are propagated with force in society, they tend to become part of social thinking without logic. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, we have witnessed the spread of the use of ‘Gau Mutra’ (cow urine) and ‘Gobar (cow dung). Certain religious rituals have also been promoted as a cure for disease.

A BJP MP Pragya Thakur insisted that her cancer was cured by cow urine. Baba Ramdev went so far as to criticize modern medical care and promoted his own concoction called Coronil without any proof of its effectiveness.

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