Some Indians are Swallowing Live Fish to Cure Asthma – Does It Make Sense?

I know after seeing the title some are thinking that the writer is just blabbering. Well, the truth is this practice going for a long time, I mean a long time. Today I will talk about this bizarre act that happens in the southern city of Hyderabad, India for more than 200 years.

What Is It?

If you are in Hyderabad in June, you will able to witness this unusual treatment of asthma. People from across the country come in Hyderabad once in a year to swallow the twisting and to turn 5cm long Murrel fish that is stuffed with yellow herbal paste. People lined up, and while swallowing the fish, they pinch their nose and stick the tongue out. While swallowing patients leave gagging- this is the treatment (!) to cure asthma.

Is It Real:

Ironically, I have to say is this is real, and it is happening with the help of the India government and police. As this occasion happens once in a year, special trains arranged for this “fish medicine” festival and extra police are there to manage the huge crowd. Can you believe it?

What Really Is This “Fish Festival?”

This festival is mainly happening in the place name Secunderabad, the twin city of Hyderabad by Dr. Harinath Goud, who is the head of the Bathini Goud family. This family is carrying out this so-called asthma treatment ritual for nearly 200 years. They claim that they had this secret formula from a hind saint in 1845 and they were following this ritual since then. Hail millions of Indians are taking this treatment for decades. Can you believe it?

The History Of This Fish Festival in India:

The Goud family was in Hyderabad since 1845. The place was a jungle at that time. Family head Veeranna Goud liked to help people and do charity works. That time the province where the family was staying, flood happened frequently. Veeranna helped the people by giving food and blanket. Seeing his helpful mind and charity work, a sage who is known as holy man, blessed him and the water of that province. The water is in the well, and the family built their home as the well is there. The sage then taught veeranna the secret recipe of the asthma treatment by using the herb and water. But this treatment will work in one condition, and that is the treatment should be given free or else it will not work. The family is still following this condition. After Veeranna, this secret formula is passed to Shiva Ram Goud. After Shiva, Shankar took the formula. This treatment process got popular during Shankar’s time. Then this practice was given to the sons of Shankar Goud. Now Dr. Harinath is on charge.

This full treatment is for free. Moreover, the secret herbs that are required for making the paste are not available. The brothers of this family spent their time for months in the Hyderabad jungle to collect the secret herbs that the sage suggested. After collecting them, the herbs need to be wash and pound. After that 500kg herbal paste is made. It takes 8-10 hours to make the paste for 4-5 lakh peoples. This is not the last stage, after making the paste, to make the paste holy, different priests perform pujas. The family feds the priest and offers to god. All the expenses come from the 25% income of the men of the family. The total process starts from one and a half months before the festival date. The secret recipe of the herbal paste is only known by the brothers and the wives, not sisters as they will go away to another family. And the secret formula is not ever shared to anybody, never.

What Happens in The Festival?

Peoples from the whole of India comes to have this free medicine during the two day period in the dates that can be determined by the monsoon of June.

Dr. Harinath, who is now in charge of this traditional asthma treatment, looks like the sadhus with a beard, orange robes and long hair and his wife who wears an orange sari gives the treatment to the queue. The helpers take the alive small Muller fish out of the container and insert a little amount of the herbal paste in the mouth. The fish are then given to Harinath and his wife. They then instruct the patients to open the mouth wide while pinching the nose, the Gouds then insert the fish deep in the throats. Then they instruct to swallow the fish, and the task is done. The patients leave the queue gagging. The treatment takes just a  few seconds.

Does Swallowing Live Fish to Cure Asthma?

The family claims that the herbal plants that they use for this medicine come in different types. As all types of plants have natural steroids. Different steroids work for different treatments. The Goud family knows which steroids work for asthma treatment. They select the plants that have the certain steroids and ring them for making the paste. The paste is mainly for treating asthma, flu, and cough. They also demand the effective of the medicines fully depends on the stars. If the paste has all the treatments, they why the fish? Well, Dr. Harinath explained that when you have asthma, the lung airbag stays blocked. There is no surgery or medicine has a solution to open this airbag. Doctors just give the inhaler to heal this situation, but it is not the solution. As the fish is alive, it swims through the throat and cuts the blockage with its tail. Though the fish is small, it is a strong one. They can swim against the flow, and when they are in the digestive system, the fish gets dissolved.

What The Patients Say:

We asked the patients who took this treatment. One of them said, at first the taste is not felt, as the fish is given deep down of your mouth. After that, the taste is like wheat, and when the fish goes down the throat, the mentholated feeling comes and the taste like mint candy.

After swallowing the fish, the patient can take water after two hours. You have to avoid inhalers for 2-3 days and have to stay on a strict diet for 40 days. In the diet, the patient can have one fruit, ginger, garlic, tea and only palak.

Is There Any Scientific Explanation:

For me, I really don’t know. We know there is no medicine to treat asthma. Only some inhalers and mimic steroids work to give relief. And for the fish swimming through the throat, we know, our throat area has two tubes, one is the trachea, and the other one is oesophagus. When the mouth opens, the trachea closes the lung entrance way and causes asphyxiation. So the fish has to go to another way that is oesophagus the way to the stomach.

The doctors and the right groups claim the medicine is unhygienic, unscientific. They claim to reject the family.

But the crowd we see during the festival don’t seem to agree with them. They say the medicine works and many had to get rid of asthma for long. The Indian government had to take steps to control the crowd as in 1996 there was an incident that occurred. And this medicine is now legally labeled as “prasadam.”

Seriously, there is no explanation of this bizarre asthma treatment. Some doctors say this is just all about psychology. As there were no reports of any harm of this unusual treatment, the government allowed the Goud family to continue their “fish medicine.” If you have time, go to Hyderabad when this festival occurs. You will not believe your eyes that how the peoples are waiting eagerly to gulp the fish..yakh!!! It is just unbelievable. You have to admit, here in the earth there are some mysteries that really want to stay unsolved. I think this fishy treatment is just one of them.

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