BISHKEK -- An effort by Kyrgyz authorities to promote a toxic root for treatment of COVID-19 has been met with criticism in the Central Asian nation.
On April 16, Health Minister Alymkadyr Beishenaliev announced at a press conference that a solution with extracts of aconite root had been given to 300 coronavirus-infected patients.
He also sipped from a cup containing the poisonous root's extract in front of journalists and said that "the solution is not dangerous for health."
"The solution must be consumed when it is hot only and in two to three days anyone who tested positive on coronavirus will immediately feel better," Beishenaliev said.
The previous day, President Sadyr Japarov announced on Facebook that his country found an "effective" method to treat COVID-19.
Japarov posted a video on Facebook showing men without protective equipment bottling the solution with the extracts of the aconite root, warning that drinking the solution while it is cold might result in death.
The World Health Organization’s mission in the Central Asian nation harshly criticized the idea, saying that there’s no proof aconite root is safe for treatment of any illnesses, including coronavirus infection.
Several physicians who spoke with RFE/RL said use of the root to treat COVID-19 violates Kyrgyzstan’s law on public safety
Aconite root is found in China's northwestern region of Xinjiang and some parts of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
Some people use the root in herbal soups and meals, believing in its health benefits. But aconite roots contain aconitine, a cardiotoxin and neurotoxin. Consuming aconite root can lead to sickness or even death.