PH researchers study herbal plants' benefit in fight vs. Covid-19

By Ma. Cristina Arayata

June 4, 2020, 7:00 pm

MANILA --Filipino researchers are currently studying the possible benefits of herbal plants -- particularly tawa-tawa and lagundi -- to reduce a person's infectivity from coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said Thursday.

"There are existing formulations using tawa-tawa for dengue, and lagundi for cough. Now we have researchers who created a formulation, which they think can be used against Covid-19," he told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in a phone interview.

The proponents of this study involve a group of pharmaceutical industry people from the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital, he said.

"We would send this formulation to Singapore, to check its efficacy in reducing the infectivity from Covid-19. This is an in-vitro study, which will be done in a laboratory. No humans or animals would be involved," he said.

Once the formulation is found to be effective, dela Peña said the DOST would support and would immediately start a clinical trial in the Philippines.

"Currently, there are fewer workers reporting in the laboratory abroad. Once the in-vitro study starts, it would probably take a month. The clinical trial, on the other hand, would take some months, but won't take a year," he said.

Earlier, the DOST also supported the production of a herbal supplement against dengue using tawa-tawa.

Tawa-tawa was proven to have anti-viral properties, dela Peña said earlier.

Virgin coconut oil (VCO), meanwhile, is another natural product that the DOST has been exploring. The DOST is currently studying VCO's efficacy in a Covid-19 patient's recovery. (PNA)