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Science Or Superstition: Covid-19 Patients Lie Under Peepal Tree To Boost Oxygen Level

Unlike most plants, Peepal tree can produce oxygen at night too.

With hospitals refusing admission of Covid-19 Patients due to lack of beds and medical oxygen, Covid-19 patients are forced to sit under a Peepal tree in Uttar Pradesh's Shahjahanpur district. They are being told that the Peepal tree gives out maximum oxygen. Is it true? Read to know the fact.

A group of helpless relatives of Covid patients have camped under a Peepal tree in Uttar Pradesh's Shahjahanpur district believing that it emits a higher level of oxygen, after the patients were allegedly refused admission in a hospital. A woman Covid patient, named Urmila, who was lying under the tree told media person that she was having a problem in breathing and there was no hospital or oxygen support. Her family brought her under the Peepal tree in the Bahadurganj area in Shahjahanpur after they were told by someone that the Peepal tree gives out maximum oxygen. The woman said she is now feeling better and can breathe better and that she did not want to be shifted to the hospital. Her family members also said that she is improving and does not need oxygen support. We do not care what people say. About half a dozen were spotted lying under the Peepal tree for a dose of oxygen, IANS news agency reported.

Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Roshanlal Varma visited the area on Saturday and met the people who had been camping under the secret tree for the past five-six days. Disappointed over the state of affairs in health care, he called up district officials and asked them to shift the patients to hospitals. However, Chief Medical Officer S P Gautam claimed that there was no shortage of oxygen in the area. He told PTI that they had sent a team to the spot on getting the information that some people were camping under the tree due to shortage of oxygen but found only one person there. The person tested positive for COVID-19 and was hospitalised, he added.

Can Peepal tree actually help to boost oxygen level?

Peepal tree, also known as Ashwattha or sacred fig, is regarded as a most sacred tree in Hinduism. According to the Hindu Mythology, Lord Brahma resides in the roots of the peepal tree, Lord Vishnu resides in the trunk of peepal tree and Lord Shiva resides in the leaves of the peepal tree. But does Peepal tree release maximum amounts of oxygen?

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Most plants uptake Carbon dioxide (CO ) and release oxygen during the day and the process is reversed at night (i.e. they uptake oxygen and release CO during the night). But some plants such as Peepal tree, neem tree, snake plant, can produce oxygen at night too because of their ability to perform a type of photosynthesis called Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM). But the amount released at night is very small, say experts. Also, whether a Peepal tree would either release or not release oxygen in the night is dependent on whether it is epiphytic or not. Epiphytes are plants that live on other plants. Peepal tree is a hemi-epiphyte in its native habitat. This means that the seeds germinate and grow as an epiphyte on other trees and only when the host-tree dies, they establish on the soil. According to experts, when a peepal tree lives as epiphyte, its uses CAM pathway to produce carbohydrates and when they live on soil, they switch to the most common method of photosynthesis.

According to medical experts in Lucknow, the impact is more psychological than physical. "It is probably fresh air that is helping people breathe easy," a King George's Medical University (KGMU) doctor told IANS.

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