By Emily FishelThe Iranian herbal health movement is thriving as the country struggles with a devastating pandemic.
But it is not only the government that has invested in the burgeoning industry, which has gained popularity thanks to an abundance of affordable products, experts say.
Many doctors in Iran say they are increasingly seeing the benefits of using a range of herbs in their work.
The country has the world’s largest population of chronic cough sufferers and, for many Iranians, cough medicines are their life-saving medicine.
But the government’s strict rules on the manufacture and sale of cough syrup and other herbal medicines have curtailed its potential, leading to an industry that has grown from $300 million in 2013 to more than $6 billion in the past five years.
“The government has been really supportive of the herbal medicine industry, but there is a lot of uncertainty about what they will do with it,” said Mohsen Gholam, a pharmacist in the capital Tehran.
The United States, Canada and the European Union have banned imports of the Iranian medicines and the United Nations says Iran has banned all trade in its exports of medicines.
Some say the government has a duty to protect its herbal medicines from abuse by the country’s drug gangs, but that the authorities are not doing enough to control the burgeoning trade.
A government statement on March 1 warned of the “serious consequences” of importing the medicine and accused foreign governments of “direct and indirect interference in the health and welfare of Iranian citizens.”
Iran’s National Anti-Corruption Commission says it has seized 2,600 illegal cough syrup pills and another 1,600 synthetic cough syrup.
The agency has also closed dozens of pharmacies and seized more than 200 kilograms of raw opium.
Last month, Iran banned imports from Canada, Britain, Germany and France.
The country has also blocked the import of more than 5,000 Chinese medicines.
But many Iranians say they have little interest in the pharmaceutical industry and are instead more interested in their traditional healing practices.
“It’s very difficult to find something that is good for me.
The only thing I want is to be healthy and have a good life,” said Mohammad Raghavi, a 34-year-old who was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2014.”
My grandmother has tried to tell me about herbal medicine for years, but it is so expensive.
She has lost her job and she’s afraid of the government.
She cannot afford the medicines.”
Raghavi said he is not particularly concerned about the rising price of the medicine because it is more affordable than buying it online, but he does worry about the possibility that people could be infected if they ingest the products.
The health ministry says there are about 2,500 pharmaceutical products imported into Iran each year, most of them from China, but the actual number is likely higher.
The ministry does not release data on how much drugs are worth, but estimates that about $1 billion worth of cough syrups and other medicines are imported annually.
Iran has the second-largest population of cough sufferer in the world and is facing one of the worlds most severe pandemic, but government-sanctioned imports of cough medicine have also been a source of concern.
“We are concerned about a number of things,” said the head of the Tehran-based Association for the Health of the Elderly, Ali Asgharian.
“They are trying to ban the importation of medicines and that’s very unfair,” he said.
Some patients are also wary of paying high prices for products they are not sure how they will use.
“If they take this medicine, we are worried about the health of our patients.
We don’t know if it is good or bad.
If we get sick, we won’t be able to buy the medicine.
We are afraid,” said Ahmad Shojaei, a 31-year old resident of Tehran.
He said he had taken a cough medicine and prescribed it to his sister and daughter-in-law, but was worried that the family members could be exposed to the medicine if they consumed it.
“I would be willing to pay double or triple the price to get the medicine,” Shojayei said.
“We will wait for the medicine to be produced.
The medicine is expensive, so if I don’t have enough money to buy it, I will take it and take it to the doctor.”
Iran’s National Counter-Coronavirus Center, a health ministry unit, estimates the total number of deaths due to the coronavirus has been nearly 2 million.
But Hassan Hosseini, the countrys head of research and development, said the figures do not include deaths from other diseases such as tuberculosis, which accounted for about 800,000 deaths.
“In all cases, there is no way to be certain of the number of people who have died because of the coronovirus,” Hosseinis statement said.
The government’s crackdown on the drug industry has created