Scientists have discovered and evaluated more herbal remedies for the prevention and treatment of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Researchers have in recent studies demonstrated how cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabis compound, could help avert lung destruction in coronavirus patients as well as mitigate sickle cell disease pain.
They also found that nutritional supplements made of turmeric compound, curcumin, and artemisinin from Artemisia annua plant, ginger with vitamin C, zinc, soybean among other natural products could help protect against viral infections including COVID-19.
Also researchers at Imo States University, Owerri, have identified potential plants for treatment and management of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
The study focused on some plants containing bioactive compounds that showed promising results against previous coronaviruses. Potential plants identified include Zingiber officinale (ginger), Allium cepa (onions), Allium sativum (garlic), echinacea, Euphorbia hirta (asthma herb), Garcinia kola (bitter kola), Curcuma longa (turmeric), Aloe vera and Olea europaea.
The study was published in Academic Journal Chemistry.
The researchers wrote: “Although inhibition of viral replication is seen as the possible mechanism for antiviral activity of most of the natural compounds, recent research has shown that some natural compounds can interact with major viral proteins associated with virulence. Thereby, showing they could be a valuable tool for possible inhibition, management and treatment of SARS-CoV-2. However, further research is required to investigate and validate their potential use as anti-SARS-CoV-2.”
Also, researchers have developed a protocol for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 called Covalyse.
The study published by Jean-Noël Mputu Kanyinda of the University of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo noted: “… Based on our current knowledge of this virus and in the absence of a vaccine, this article is an attempt to propose ways to prevent, treat and control the COVID-19 virus, using medicinal plants such as Eucalyptus globulus (eucalyptus), Cymbopogon citratus (lemongrass), Mentha, citrus lemon/medica (lemon/lime), Zingiber officinale (ginger), Syzygium aromaticum (cloves), which have been shown to be effective.”
Also, MGC Pharmaceuticals will be testing the efficacy of treating COVID-19 patients using an oral spray made of curcumin and artemisinin – a bioactive derived from the Artemisia annua plant, in clinical trials.
Known as ArtemiC, the new product is jointly developed by MGC and Switzerland firm Micelle Technology based on a product originally developed by the latter. New adaptations have been made to the product in response to COVID-19.
The supplement, which also contains vitamin C and Boswellia serrata, will be tested on COVID-19 patients in Israel’s Nazareth Hospital EMMS.
Meanwhile, researchers found CBD reduced the cytokine storm and excessive lung inflammation that is killing many patients with COVID-19.
The study was published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.
While more work, including clinical trials to determine optimal dosage and timing, is needed before CBD becomes part of the treatment for COVID-19, researchers at the Dental College of Georgia and Medical College of Georgia (MCG), United States, have early evidence it could help patients showing signs of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) avoid extreme interventions like mechanical ventilation as well as death.
Immunologist and interim associate dean for research at MCG and corresponding author of the study in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, Dr. Babak Baban, said: “ARDS is a major killer in severe cases of some respiratory viral infections, including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus type 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and we have an urgent need for better intervention and treatment strategies.”
CBD is a compound from Cannabis, also known as marijuana among other names. It is a psychoactive drug from the Cannabis plant used primarily for medical or recreational purposes. The main psychoactive component of cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is one of the 483 known compounds in the plant, including at least 65 other cannabinoids, including CBD.
CBD is available without a prescription and is used to treat problems like seizures as well as Parkinson’s, Crohn’s and other conditions where pain and/or inflammation are a major factor. It is derived from the hemp and cannabis plant, which are essentially the same although hemp has a much lower concentration of the “high” producing THC. Other investigators have shown the calming effect of CBD, for example, can block IL-6 in other models of inflammatory disease.
ARDS is a rapid, severe infection of the lungs that results in widespread inflammation, shortness of breath, rapid breathing and the inability to sustain adequate oxygen levels to the body and brain. Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing are some of the early signs of COVID-19. ARDS is a major cause of death in patients who are critically ill for a variety of reasons, including common sepsis.
Co-author, physician-scientist and chief of pediatric plastic surgery at MCG, Dr. Jack Yu, said: “Our laboratory studies indicate pure CBD can help the lungs recover from the overwhelming inflammation, or cytokine storm, caused by the COVID-19 virus, and restore healthier oxygen levels in the body.”
Also, cannabis could be a safe and potentially effective treatment for the chronic pain that afflicts people with sickle cell disease, according to a new clinical trial co-led by the University of California, Irvine researcher Kalpna Gupta and Dr. Donald Abrams of UC San Francisco, United States (U.S.). The findings published in JAMA Network Open.
“These trial results show that vaporized cannabis appears to be generally safe,” said Gupta, a professor of medicine on the faculty of UCI’s Center for the Study of Cannabis. “They also suggest that sickle cell patients may be able to mitigate their pain with cannabis — and that cannabis might help society address the public health crisis related to opioids. Of course, we still need larger studies with more participants to give us a better picture of how cannabis could benefit people with chronic pain.”
Also, research published in the journal Phytotherapy Research has demonstrated the potential effects of curcumin in the treatment of COVID-19 infection.
Until now, curcumin and its analogues are the main phytonutrients of turmeric (Curcuma longa) and other Curcuma species, which are widely used around the world as culinary spices, traditional medicine as well as a popular dietary supplement ingredient due to its wide range of health benefits including anti-inflammation, anti-cancer, cardiovascular regulation, respiratory and immune system benefits.
The researchers concluded: “To sum up, this review shows that curcumin as an antiviral and anti‐inflammatory agent can be helpful for both prevention and treatment of new emerging coronavirus. However, well-designed clinical trials are needed to demonstrate the potential efficacy of curcumin against SARS-CoV2 infection and its ensuing complications.”
Another study published in the Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry concluded that curcumin is a wonder drug as a preventive measure for COVID-19 management.
The researchers said nutritional supplements of curcumin with vitamin C and zinc have shown promising results in boosting the natural immunity and protective defense against the coronavirus infections have been noted in many hospitalised patients in Indian setting. It is also noted that the pharmacological formulation of curcumin in the nano-emulsion system proved increased solubility and bioavailability and with enhanced antihypertensive effect.
The researchers noted: “Henceforth, it is clear that the biological properties including advance mode of drug delivery system of curcumin could be considered while formulating the pharmaceutical products and its application as a preventive measure in the inhibition of transmission of SARS-COV2 infection among humans. However, further large-scale clinical trials are warranted to understand the usefulness of curcumin for the pharmacological application in the nano-emulsion system. In conclusion, we propose that curcumin could be used as supportive therapy in the treatment of COVID19 disease in any clinical settings to circumvent the lethal effects of SARS-CoV-2.”
Researchers have also demonstrated how a novel combination of vitamin C, curcumin and glycyrrhizic acid potentially regulates immune and inflammatory response associated with coronavirus infections.
The researcher noted: “Based on recent advances in nutrients and phytonutrients research, a novel combination of vitamin C, curcumin and glycyrrhizic acid (VCG Plus) was developed that has potential against coronavirus infection….
“Therefore, our findings suggest that VCG Plus may be helpful in regulating immune response to combat coronavirus infections and inhibit excessive inflammatory responses to prevent the onset of cytokine storm. However, further in vitro and in vivo experiments are warranted to validate the current findings with system biology tools. Our current approach provides a new strategy in predicting formulation rationale when developing new dietary supplements.”
Glycyrrhizic acid (GA) is a major phytonutrient found in licorice root (Glycyrrhiza uralensis, G. inflata, G. glabra), which is considered an ingredient for both food and medicinal use in China.
Also, a study published in the Journal of General Virology showed that curcumin could prevent Transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV)- an alpha-group coronavirus that infects pigs- from infecting cells. At higher doses, the compound was also found to kill virus particles.
Infection with TGEV causes a disease called transmissible gastroenteritis in piglets, which is characterised by diarrhea, severe dehydration and death. TGEV is highly infectious and is invariably fatal in piglets younger than two weeks, thus posing a major threat to the global swine industry. There are currently no approved treatments for alpha-coronaviruses and although there is a vaccine for TGEV, it is not effective in preventing the spread of the virus.
To determine the potential antiviral properties of curcumin, the research team treated experimental cells with various concentrations of the compound, before attempting to infect them with TGEV. They found that higher concentrations of curcumin reduced the number of virus particles in the cell culture.
Curcumin has been shown to inhibit the replication of some types of virus, including dengue virus, hepatitis B and Zika virus. The compound has also been found to have a number of significant biological effects, including antitumor, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial activities.
Meanwhile, pigs that eat soybean, as a regular part of their diet may be better protected against viral pathogens, a new study from the University of Illinois showed. The researchers attributed the effect to isoflavones, a natural compound in soybeans.
Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) is a widespread disease that costs U.S. swine producers around $650 million every year. There is evidence that feeding soy helps protect pigs against the disease, but it’s not clear why or how it works, says Ryan Dilger, a co-author on the study and associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences, Division of Nutritional Sciences, and Neuroscience Program at U of I.
Dilger and his collaborators previously pointed to dietary soy isoflavones as the active ingredient, and they wanted to explore that hypothesis further.
“In this study, we’re looking specifically at isoflavones and whether they have a beneficial effect on the immune response,” Dilger said. “We wanted to understand how we can take a primary protein source in a diet that’s already used for pigs and provide a practical way for producers to combat the endemic PRRSV.”
Isoflavones are a flavonoid compound that occurs naturally in plants, with a particularly high concentration in soybeans. It has well-known health benefits and is used as a dietary supplement for humans, explained Brooke Smith, lead author of the study and graduate researcher in the Veterinary Medical Scholars Program at U of I.
“When they are included in the diet of infected pigs, these isoflavones seem to be supportive by either helping the pigs clear secondary infections or setting them up for a more successful immune response so they clear the infection and don’t succumb to it,” Smith said.
The first study, “Dietary soy isoflavones reduce pathogen-related mortality in growing pigs under porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome viral challenge,” is published in the Journal of Animal Science.
The second study, “Alterations of fecal microbiome characteristics by dietary soy isoflavone ingestion in growing pigs infected with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus,” is also published in the Journal of Animal Science.