COVID-19 Herbs: New International Study To Explore South African Herb Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) As A Possible Adjuvant To Treat COVID-19
: Rooibos a popular herbal tea that is obtained from the leaves of a South African shrub Aspalathus linearis, is now being the center of focus in a series of international studies to assess its possible use as an adjuvant to treat COVID-19 and also as a ingredient in a series of herbal products to treat COVID-19 and also as a prophylaxis against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
Despite the Aspalathus linearis plant being basically found only in the Western Coast of South Africa, a team of enthusiastic herbalist has successfully cultivated the plant in Dokkhamthai district in Phayao Province in Thailand along with hundreds of other herbs from around the world.
The plant is famous for use as a herbal tea called Rooibos, known for its distinctive red hue and often simply called red tea. Consumed in southern Africa for centuries, it has become a beloved drink around the world. It’s a flavorful, caffeine-free alternative to black and green tea and is also low in tannins and is free from oxalic acid. (as oxalic acid can cause kidney stones, rooibos is good even for those with kidney issues) https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02858780
Traditional rooibos is created by fermenting the leaves, which turns them a red-brown color.
Rooibos has been associated with aiding with numerous medical ailments such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and mental issues involving mood swings, concentration and has also been said to help in controlling cholesterol levels. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20833235/
It is not rich in minerals but has a high concentration of various phytochemicals and antoxidants including quercetin. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19156714/
(Thailand Medical News has already done a major focus on Quercetin as an adjuvant to treat COVID-19 )https://www.thailandmedical.news/news/breaking-supplements-for-covid-19-quercetin-emerging-as-an-adjuvant-for-covid-19-treatments
Our interest is however one of the major phytochemicals unique in rooibos called aspalathin
. Aspalathin makes up between 4-12% of the plant. Aspalathin is a dihydrochalcone glycoside which has thus far only been isolated from Aspalathus linearis. Aspalathin has been shown to possess biological activity which imparts it with multiple health beneficial effects. Studies on the biological properties of aspalathin have linked it to being an antioxidant and also with properties that are antidiabetic, cardioprotective, antihypertensive and antimutagenic effe
cts. Given its multiplicity of biological effects, aspalathin is a natural phytochemical which has potential to be incorporated into current medical therapeutic regimes in light of recent preferences for the use of natural medicines. https://www.ajol.info/index.php/jaaps/article/view/160610
Interestingly, past studies have shown that Rooibos can significantly inhibit angiotensin-converting enzymes, a process that can help reduce blood pressure. However, researchers found that despite enzyme inhibition, no blood pressure reduction was realized in those who drank it. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/effects-of-green-tea-black-tea-and-rooibos-tea-on-angiotensinconverting-enzyme-and-nitric-oxide-in-healthy-volunteers/55DFF0B72B8CE7F51EDDB518FCF39AED/core-reader
In the current COVID-19 scenario, as we know that the ACE2 receptor is the main point of entry in the human host by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus ,such a usage of the herb to decrease ACE2 receptors could help in both the prophylactic and treatment aspects of the COVID-19 disease.
Interesting another study by Dr Michelle Smit-van Schalkwyk from Stellenbosch University, South Africa showed that Rooibos also plays a role in the healthy maintenance of vascular vessels which is also interesting facet in the current COVID-19 scenario. file:///C:/Users/Administrator/Downloads/smitvanschalkwyk_rooibos_2016.pdf
Another significant aspect of Rooibos is that in past studies using it as anti-viral to treat respiratory disease including influenza, not only has it demonstrated its antiviral efficacy but it was shown that it was even more effective that Oseltamivir in inhibiting the influenza virus in vitro and was also able inhibit Oseltamivir-resistant influenza strains! https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1934578X1701200432
Its mode of antiviral activity is unlike Oseltamivir and was not only due to the quercetin and rutnin phytochemicals present but was more due to Aspalathin along with other phenol based phytochemicals also present in it ie nothofagin, isoorientin, orientin, vixetin.
Also important in the COVID-19 context is that aspalathin in rooibos is known to have anti-diabetic effects. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23238530/
Both phytochemical Aspalathin and Nothofagin from found Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) are also found to be anti-inflammatory and would be useful in the COVID-19 context. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25655391/
Rooibos also contains the phytochemicals dihydrochalcones which are known to have besides antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, also immunomodulatory properties. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6943545/
Rooibos also is known to have protective bronchodilatory effect and also protects the heart. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17080260/
Also interestingly, there is some evidence that rooibos tea can increase protective antioxidant levels in your body. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0308814610005923
Studies have also shown that Rooibos is safe to consume and also has protective effects. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/ptr.1992
The new study to explore Rooibos in the COVID-19 context is being spearheaded by Thailand Medical New and has also been broken down into various segments:
- collaboration with researchers from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Nagasaki University, involving vitro testing both extracts from Rooibos fermented and unfermented leaves and also isolated Aspalathin on infected Vero E6 Cells to test the effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
-collaboration with researchers from Laboratory of Immunometabolism, Department of Genetics, Microbiology and Immunology, Institute of Biology, University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Campinas, Brazil; to conduct vivo studies with infected SARS-CoV-2 mice models and also to determine exact possible mechanism of antiviral properties of Rooibos extracts and isolated Aspalathin.
-collaboration with ICMR India and state hospitals in the States of Tamil Nadu in India to conduct observational studies using rooibos extracts with infected patients and to also assess details such as viral loads, immunity response including various biomarkers and the effects of rooibos extracts.
-in talks to also conduct actual controlled clinical trials in Italy and Brazil (still in negotiation status)
The project is being coordinated by Thailand Medical News and already Aspalathin is being used as one of the active ingredients in our patented TMN phytochemical complex that is also used in our blend of therapeutic teams. https://www.thailandmedical.news/news/new-therapeutic-teas-
We at Thailand Medical News also need help from generous donors to support our various researches into herbs, supplements and repurposed drugs to help treat COVID-19 or be used as adjuvants or as prophylactic drugs. We do not have the support from any government entities or big corporations to date and have been self-financing all projects by ourselves but we are desperate for funding at this stage.https://www.thailandmedical.news/p/sponsorship
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