In the middle of a dengue outbreak that has attacked 2,000 people and claimed 20 lives in Delhi, yoga guru Baba Ramdev held a press conference to announce that drinking juice from the plants giloy, aloe vera, pomegranate and papaya could help increase a person’s platelet count and also immunity. To lend weight to his suggestions, Ramdev said that medical science had established no cure for the disease.

Ramdev’s comments are certainly ill-advised if they give anyone among the dengue-stricken Delhi populace the impression that giloy and papaya will help instead of rehydration at a hospital. Ramdev’s prescriptions, which coincide with hundreds of quick home remedy searches on the internet, have also not been scientifically proven to be effective against dengue.

Papaya leaf juice, for instance, is widely used as a home remedy for dengue. A recent review of studies into such treatment published in the Annals of Medical and Health Science Research is ambivalent about its efficacy. No study has identified an active principle that maybe responsible for increasing platelet count. The review finds that it is “necessary not to rely not entirely on the leaf extract and ignore standard treatment for dengue until the benefits are established.”

Ramdev also proclaimed that drinking cow and goat’s milk will help. The recommendation from Ayurveda practitioners has sent the price of goat’s milk soaring in the capital to Rs 2000 per litre.

While there is no vaccine or medicine for dengue, the standard method of treating the disease is through oral rehydration, isotonic intravenous solutions or blood transfusions. The most effective way to control the disease is to control the vector – the Aedes aegypti mosquito.