Ever since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, concerted efforts have been made globally to try and find the best treatment protocols for the disease. Even as some vaccine trials are reportedly nearing success, it’s important to remember that an effective treatment for the disease could be even more useful currently.
A new study, published in the journal Frontiers of Pharmacology, suggests that such an effective treatment protocol may be at hand if we use certain natural and herbal compounds that can inhibit the SARS-CoV-2 virus. If these compounds are found to be effective against the virus then we could have a new treatment protocol or therapy for COVID-19.
Natural methods of treating COVID-19
The study, conducted by researchers in China and the USA, states that herbal and natural compounds have low toxicity, unlike many medications. This is the reason why they can be widely consumed and with adequate tolerance by people across the globe. What’s more, the study says such natural compounds also have prophylactic properties, which can not only make breathing easier for COVID-19 patients but may also help prevent acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
It must be noted here that the Indian AYUSH Ministry also came up with an Ayurvedic treatment protocol in October 2020, which includes natural compounds that are known to have antiviral properties like ashwagandha, mulethi, chyawanprash, etc. Several studies have also shown that herbs and roots used in traditional Chinese medicine like ginseng and bitter apricot seeds are rich in flavonoids, which can help fight against diseases that harm the lungs.
Which natural compounds are effective?
The new study also focuses on the natural compounds mentioned above and suggests that they are already being widely used due to their traditional healing roles and widespread commercial availability. The study indicates that the compounds found in these natural products are able to slow the progression of COVID-19 infection, reduce the time for which a patient is hospitalised and may even help tackle mild symptoms of the disease.
The following are some herbal and natural compounds that the study claims are effective against SARS-CoV-2:
- Plant-based estrogens or phytoestrogens, found in many herbs like turmeric, liquorice, alfalfa, red clover and hops, can target SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins and stop them from binding to human cells.
- The leaves of ashwagandha can reduce the creation of an enzyme called transmembrane protease serine 2 (TMPRSS2), which will inhibit the entry of SARS-CoV-2 into healthy cells.
- Certain compounds present in ginger and galangal can bind with an enzyme in the body called papain-like protease (PL pro), which studies have shown to be capable of breaking down SARS-CoV-2 proteins.
- Quercetin and gallic acid are phytochemical compounds found in many foods like grapes, strawberry, cherries and broccoli. These compounds can inhibit the growth of the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) enzyme and thus prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the body.
While this new study focuses on the above-mentioned herbal compounds, other studies are also being conducted to test the efficacy of natural products on COVID-19 infection and disease progression.
For more information, read our article on How to boost immunity.
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