Two medicinal plants commonly found in the Philippines with properties that could potentially treat novel coronavirus patients were identified by a botanist of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).
UPLB’s Dr. Lourdes B. Cardenas, a botany professor at the Institute of Biological Sciences and a curator for medicinal plants at the Museum of Natural History (MNH), named the two plants during the museum’s 44th anniversary webinar, “Rummaging Nature’s Arsenal: Botanicals versus SARS-Cov-2” held on September 29, 2020.
Common weed Berberis barandana (locally known as bagis or subit in Igorot) is native to Luzon and contains “berberine, an isoquinoline alkaloid that can act as an antiviral and antimicrobial agent” against the virus, according to Dr. Cardenas. The plant with thorny leaves grow small yellow flowers and is usually weeded out by farmers to make way for crops.
Curculigo orchioides, known as sulsulitik in Northern Luzon or talaongi in Southern Mindanao, is another medicinal plant considered a weed by locals for its widespread growth in grasslands. Sulsulitik contains saponin, a compound that can treat and boost the immune system of coronavirus positive patients.
Dr. Cardenas wants further research to tap into the full potential of the locally grown plants as potential treatment options against COVID-19 while also emphasizing the need to protect biodiversity in the Philippines and called for collaborations with stakeholders, entrepreneurs, and indigenous communities, to support drug discovery and development of local research initiatives.
Traditional herb Tawa-tawa (Euphorbia hirta), was also mentioned by Dr. Cardenas for its medicinal value. Tawa-tawa, along with Lagundi, is already being studied by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) as potential treatment for patients with the novel coronavirus.
Promising test results from another DOST funded study shows that locally available virgin coconut oil (VCO) is an effective antiviral agent against the COVID-19 virus. VCO is currently undergoing clinical trials at the University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) to test out its capability to boost the immune system of novel coronavirus positive patients.
SEND CHEERS in the comments below to the UP Los Baños Botanist for citing local medicinal plants as potential treatment for COVID-19.
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