Cathing COVID – whether you are fully vaccinated or not – may lead to a fever, sneezing, coughing and feeling unwell.
Green chiretta (Andrographis paniculata), a traditional Thai herbal cure, to treat asymptomatic and mild COVID is unlikely to come as a surprise to the average Thai citizen.
In Thailand, healthcare professionals and the public alike are familiar with green chiretta – nicknamed the “king of bitters” – which is as popular as paracetamol for treating cold and flu.
After a clinical experiment, researchers at Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand, reported in 1991 that chiretta (6g per day) was equally effective as paracetamol (4g per day) at relieving fever and sore throat in patients with pharynx and tonsil inflammation (pharyngotonsillitis). Several reviews since then have revealed that chiretta may be more helpful than placebo in treating simple upper respiratory tract infections. The reported negative effects are typically mild and short.
In line with a global trend of using cold and flu medicines to In keeping with a global trend toward the use of cold and flu pills to alleviate the symptoms of mild COVID, and in response to an emergency situation, the Thai Corrections Department administered the herbal remedy to 11,800 inmates suffering from mild upper respiratory infections and now claims that 99 percent of them recovered, prompting the Thai Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research, and Innovation to recommend that asymptomatic patients take 180mg of chiretta daily, divided into two doses.
Thailand’s Cabinet has approved the use of Fah Talai Jone (green chiretta or Andrographis paniculata) to treat asymptomatic cases of #COVID19, after a successful trial of the herbal remedy in prisons. pic.twitter.com/8FhxtrFLmc— PR Thai Government (@prdthailand) July 29, 2021
As far as we are aware, the whole data set for this intervention has not been made available to the international scientific community, and the study’s details are limited. For instance, we do not know whether a control group was used (a group that received a placebo or a different treatment for comparison) and, if so, whether inmates were assigned randomly to one group or the other.
This sort of “randomized, controlled trial” is considered to be the gold standard of clinical research. Particularly if the study is “double blind,” meaning that neither the volunteers nor the researchers are aware of who received the new treatment and who received a placebo. This method eliminates the study’s conscious and unconscious biases.
Furthermore, recovery rates from COVID are very difficult to calculate and are only useful if people are initially diagnosed with a validated SARS-CoV-2 test. By comparison, the recovery rates declared by Thai authorities are slightly higher than the overall COVID recovery rates in India (32%–83%) or Australia (96 percent recovered after 120 days).
When the risks and benefits of chiretta were weighed in a review of herbal treatments that may be effective for treating COVID, it was deemed “promising.” It includes the active ingredient andrographolide. According to a laboratory test, purified andrographolide was found to be somewhat efficient at inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 replication.
Additionally, a recent computer simulation demonstrated that it may bind well to the coronavirus’s spike protein (the spike protein is the part of the coronavirus that latches on to human cells to gain entry to them). However, the validity of these studies in terms of real-world value can only be established by a well-designed clinical trial.
Pending further data from more research
Fortunately, similar research is currently underway. In Thailand, a randomized controlled trial involving slightly more than 3,000 participants is comparing chiretta extract (20mg andrographolide per capsule, for a total of 180mg per day, divided into three capsules taken before each meal for five days) to “standard care” in people with asymptomatic COVID. The researchers are primarily interested in how many persons in each group are hospitalized within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test. The study is scheduled to end in May 2022.
A clinical trial at Georgia’s Tbilisi State Medical University is evaluating the efficacy of a combination of chiretta and Siberian ginseng extract in the treatment of mild COVID symptoms. Additionally, the results are expected in early 2022.
The king of bitters is being seriously considered as a possible contender to combat COVID, but we will have to wait a few months to see if it lives up to its potential.
Image Credit: Getty
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