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Good news for asthmatics. Help is at hand with the famed fish therapy of Hyderabad, capital of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Knowledge of this unique treatment has been zealously guarded by a Goud family of the city for over a century. Doctors have expressed doubts over the benefits of the fish treatment for asthma given by the Hyderabad-based Gaud family who administered the therapy to thousands of persons, including Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Chandrababu Naidu. The takers are asthmatics-young, old, toddlers and invalids.

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Over a million asthma patients congregate in Hyderabad on the sixth day of the second fortnight (Shukla Pakshya) in the month of “Jyestha” in the Hindu calender that falls in early June, and stand in long queues for the treatment by the Gaud family who have learned it from their ancestors by word of mouth and have strictly kept it as a family secret. The family provides the "treatment" free of charge and claims the secret remedy was gifted to one of its ancestors by a wandering Hindu saint in return for his hospitality.

The treatment involves swallowing a small live fish with the medicine inside the fish’s mouth followed by a strict dietary regimen. A patient needs to undergo the treatment for three consecutive years for complete relief.

"The formula is kept secret because we don't want others to try and commercialise this remedy for asthma," family patriarch Bathini Vishwanath Goud told. The medicine, a yellow paste, is first stuffed into the mouth of a two- to three-inch-long (five to 7.6-centimeter-long) "murial" fish, which is inserted into the mouth of the patient. Goud claims it clears accumulated phlegm in the windpipe as the wriggling fish makes its way down to the stomach. They strongly believe that the medicine works only when it is made from the water of the old well at our ancestral house at Doodbowli in Old City of Hyderabad. Three doses of this medicine taken every fortnight from June 8 and a regimented diet during these 45 days, repeated for three years, promises a complete cure for asthma. In an annual pilgrimage, thousands of people from all over the country and abroad pour into Hyderabad to try this medicine.

"The cure is effective only if it's taken three years in a row and accompanied by a special diet for 45 days," said Goud. "If all our instructions are properly followed we can guarantee a 100 percent cure for any patient no matter how bad their asthma," he added.

Despite such scepticism, the queues of patients waiting for the Goud family's mystery medicine only seem to get longer every year. Special bus services, Indian railways is running a number of "asthma specials" to ferry in people from across the country. Many patients line up outside the Goud family grounds overnight to get a head-start on the seemingly endless lines. And despite rain and oppressive humidity, most say the medicine is more than worth the long wait.


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