Is Tribal Odisha’s Red Ant Chutney Possible Remedy To COVID-19?

Bhubaneswar: A Baripada-based engineer and researcher Nayadhar Padhial, has proposed the red ant chutney, a delicacy of the indigenous population, as a remedy to COVID-19.


Tribals in many states, including Odisha and Chhattisgarh, consume red ant chutney or a soup made of it to get rid of flu, cough, common cold, breathing difficulties, fatigue, and other diseases as an age-old practice. The chutney of red ants and their dried eggs even wowed celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, reported The New Indian Express (TNIE).

Padhial, an assistant engineer with the Works Department, sent a proposal for research on its medicinal properties to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Since ICMR neither has the facility nor mandate to test traditional medicine, herbal formulations, and extracts, a scientist at the Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases Cell of ICMR, Madhumathi J suggested he move AYUSH and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

“I sent my proposal to both the organisations separately. An officer from AYUSH called me and discussed my research. He assured to intimate about their next plan of action within a week,” TNIE quoted Padhial as saying.

A mixture of red ant, green chili (Dhanua variety of chilli) and salt, red ant chutney had captured Ramsay’s fancy who had said he would chuck mango chutney for this tribal delicacy. Tribals also add garlic, ginger, and coriander leaves for taste.

Padhial said the chutney contains formic acid, protein, calcium, Vitamin B12, Zinc and iron that boost the immune system. “Tribals in Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, and Meghalaya consume red ant and get cured from various diseases. This could be the reason for less prevalence of COVID-19 in tribal areas. Thorough research to prepare formulations from could prove beneficial,” he told TNIE.

A recent study by a group of researchers of North Orissa University on ‘Traditional Value of Red Weaver Ant (Oecophylla smaragdina) as Food and Medicine in Mayurbhanj district’ revealed that the tribes use the species as medicine for different diseases like common cold, fever, jaundice, enteric problems, whooping cough and to increase hungriness.

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