Herbal cures for emerging viral infections
*Pawpaw leaf juice, turmeric show promise against Ebola, Dengue fever
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is ‘here’ again! There is also an imminent threat of another deadly virus tagged Disease X by the World Health Organisation (WHO).Indeed, several coronavirus (severe acute respiratory syndrome [SARS], Middle East respiratory syndrome [MERS]), flavivirus (yellow fever, West Nile, dengue, Zika), and alphavirus (chikungunya, Ebola) infections have, in the past 10–20 years, emerged or reemerged as major problems across large regions of the globe.
Several studies have shown that viruses do not have a cure. Generally the body is challenged with conventional drugs or vaccines to fight viruses, which takes a while and often come with undesirable side effects.
However, scientists have identified and validated local herbs that could be used to prevent and treat the dreaded EVD.Top on the list are: Carica papaya (pawpaw/papaya) leaf juice and Curcuma longa (turmeric).Earlier studies by Nigerian researchers had identified and validated local plants for the treatment of viral infections.
The plants include: Bambusa vulgaris (bamboo) and Aframomum melegueta (alligator pepper), Azadirachta indica (neem), Allium cepa (onion), Allium sativum (garlic), rhizomes of Curcuma longa (turmeric), and Aloe vera, Vernonia amygdalina (bitter leaf), Garcinia kola (bitter kola), Citrus medica (lemon), Cymbopogon citratus (lemon grass), Moringa, Phyllanthus amarus, avocado (Persea americana), and Gardonema mushroom.
Researchers had also identified asthma herb (Euphorbia hirta), pawpaw (Carica papaya), bitter melon (Momordica charantia) and guava (Psidium guajava) extracts as potential ‘cures’ for viral infections.
Pawpaw leaf extract and Ebola: an opportunity for a clinical trial?
According to a report published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), pawpaw leaf extract is worth trying for Ebola patients.The BMJ noted: “Papaya leaf extract is now proven to be effective for dengue fever. (Not merely by increasing the platelet count). The pathology of Ebola virus seems to be similar to that of Dengue fever. Especially when considering the endothelial dysfunction and the hemorrhagic stage. Therefore I strongly feel that Papaya leaf extract will benefit Ebola patients.”
Researches have shown many beneficial effects of carioca papaya leaf extract on human body, which will benefits to fight viral infections. They include:
1) Stimulation of the hematopoietic system, which stimulates platelet production, White Blood Cell (WBC) production and Red Blood Cell (RBC) production.
2) In-vitro erythrocyte membrane stabilization properties.
3) Stimulates the immune system, which enhances the activity against the viral infection.
4) Direct anti-viral activity on dengue virus.
5) Animal studies have shown that it prevents chemically induced capillary leakage in mice.
6) Preliminary studies conducted by Dr. Sanath Hettige have shown that Carica papaya leaf extract prevents the drop in serum-Albumin levels in Dengue patients. Randomize open label case control trial is on going to find out whether Carioca papaya leaf extract can prevent fluid leakage in Dengue fever.
7) Many toxicology studies have not shown any significant toxic effects even at higher doses.
The BMJ report added: “I have been conducting extensive research with Papaya leaf extract from 2008 and hold the patent rights in Sri Lanka for two processes, willing to collaborate with any researcher or institute to try this on Ebola patients.
“It could be given to Ebola patients about 30ml to 20ml 3 times a day as early as possible. For dengue the usual dose used in research settings is 20 ml twice a day.“Many dengue confirmed patients in Sri Lanka and in other Asian countries use this medication on their own accord. I have monitored many patients and they did not have any major side effects except for bitter induced vomiting.”
Turmeric stops replication of Ebola virus
A recent study published in Pharmacognosy Resident has shown that curcumin, one of the bioactives of turmeric, has proven antiviral property.The study is titled “Curcumin and Natural Derivatives Inhibit Ebola Viral Proteins: An In silico Approach.”
The current study evaluates the inhibitory activity of curcumin, bisdemethoxycurcumin, demethoxycurcumin, and tetrahydrocurcumin against Zaire Ebola viral proteins (VPs).Molecular simulation of the Ebola VPs followed by docking studies with ligands comprising curcumin and related compounds was performed.
The study concluded: “Bisdemethoxycurcumin shows better binding affinity than curcumin for most VPs. Metabolite tetrahydrocurcumin also shows binding affinity comparable to curcumin. These results indicate that curcumin, curcuminoids, and metabolite tetrahydrocurcumin can be potential lead compounds for developing a new therapy for Ebola viral disease.”Turmeric and its polyphenolic compound curcumin are identified with antimicrobial properties traditionally. Curcumin or diferuloylmethane and other curcuminoids – bisdemethoxycurcumin and demethoxycurcumin – constitute the main phytochemicals of C. longa.
Tetrahydrocurcumin is the major metabolite of curcumin.
Curcumin has broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties. Chen et al. have reported that curcumin specifically inhibits infectivity of enveloped virus by inhibiting hemagglutination activity.Curcumin also interferes in virus application by acting on specific VPs such as integrase and protease. Kutluay et al. also reported that curcumin might inhibit herpes simplex virus infection, and this was perhaps mediated by preventing recruitment of Ribo Nucleic Acid (RNA) polymerase II by immediate-early gene promoters.
In addition to antiviral activities, Sordillo and Helson have hypothesized that curcumin may help counteract cytokine storm in Ebola fever.Curcumin analogs have also been identified with antiviral activity, sometimes showing better activity and sometimes showing lesser but comparable affinity.Tetrahydrocurcumin is the major metabolite of curcumin, and the researchers are trying to assess whether tetrahydrocurcumin is superior to curcumin at a molecular level.
Coffee, fermented soy, homeopathic spider venom and vitamin C
Coffee, fermented soy, homeopathic spider venom and vitamin C, may all hold promise as anti-Ebola virus therapies, despite the common belief that nothing can stop this lethal virus from spreading uncontrollably worldwide.
Published in the journal Archives of Virology and titled, “Inhibition of Lassa virus and Ebola virus infection in host cells treated with the kinase inhibitors genistein and tyrphostin,” researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch, investigated the potential therapeutic role of two so-called ‘kinase inhibitors’ in interfering with Ebola virus: 1) the plant compound genistein 2) the pharmaceutical drug tyrophostin.
The authors reference a previous animal study showing genistein was able to reduce harm from infection from a virus that causes an Ebola-like viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF) in hamsters (namely, Pichinde ́virus (PICV)), reporting the results as follows:
“Infection of hamsters with PIRV produces VHF manifestations, including inflammation/lesions in various organs, core temperature increase, weight loss, viremia, petechial rash, hemorrhage, and mortality. Treating the animals with the kinase inhibitor genistein led to a significant increase in survival and to the amelioration of VHF disease signs. None of the treated mock-infected animals had any adverse signs of disease associated with the treatment. Therefore, this study served as a proof-of-concept for using a kinase inhibitor as a therapeutic or prophylactic in an animal model.”
The researchers sought to identify genistein and tyrophostin’s ability to inhibit viral entry of various viruses known to cause hemorrhagic fever, including Ebola, Marburg virus (MARV), Vesicular Stomatis virus (VSV) and Lassa virus (LASV). Proteins from these four viruses were engineered to be expressed by a special type of virus, known as vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV).The study found both genistein and tyrophostin individually inhibit the entry of these viruses into the cells, both through interfering with endocytosis (the process by which a cell pulls in a virus) and uncoating proteins (the process by which a virus alters proteins on the surface of the host cell to gain entry). It was also observed that a synergistic effect occurred when genistein and tyrophostin were added together.
The researchers discussed their findings: “In all, these data demonstrate that infection of host cells with the filoviruses MARV and EBOV and the arenavirus LASV is inhibited when cells are pretreated with genistein or tyrphostin AG1478. In both cases, the inhibition was found to be concentration dependent. Although the inhibition of EBOV in cells pre-treated with 100 lM genistein appeared to differ slightly, the addition of increasing concentrations of tyrphostin AG1478 led to a synergistic antiviral effect. In all, these data demonstrate that a kinase inhibitor cocktail consisting of genistein and tyrphostin AG1478 may act as a broad antiviral against EBOV, MARV, and LASV in vitro.”
Where does genistein come from? While primarily found in soy products, especially fermented soy foods, wherein beneficial microbes cause the biotransformation of the precursor phytocompund genistin into genistein, it is also found in fava beans, kudzu, coffee and red clover, and many other lesser known medicinal plants.
Other potential natural therapeutics for Ebola.Ebola does appear to be a uniquely pathogenic virus to which the human body has yet had adequate time to properly adapt, and therefore it is instructive to point other potential natural therapies that have been studied in the past:
Garcinia kola: As reported in 1999, extracts from the seeds of this traditional African medicinal herb were found to”…inhibit this virus [Ebola] in cell culture at non-toxic concentrations.”Vitamin C: According to the late Dr. Robert Cathcart, who had extensive experience treating deadly infections with high dose vitamin C, “the Ebola virus kills by way of free radicals which can be neutralized by massive doses of sodium ascorbate intravenously.” Indeed, Ebola virus disease — as is the case with viral hemorrhagic disease in general — resembles features of acute scurvy, and vitamin C is well known to have a broad range of benefits, including immune-boosting and antiviral properties, with an incredibly high safety margin.
Homeopathic interventions: A study published in 1999 explored the therapeutic potential of a homeopathic preparation of the six-eyed spider venom (Sicarius) at treating symptoms associated with Ebola virus infection.
Nigeria develops herbal drugs for treatment of Ebola
The National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) says it has successfully researched and developed six traditional herbal products for the treatment of Ebola, Malaria and other diseases.The NIPRD Director-General, Prof. Karniyus Gamaniel, said that ‘NIPRIBOL’, a fixed dose combination drug was developed by the institute for the treatment of Ebola Virus Disease, adding that the institute had completed the Phase I study of the drug.
Others are: ‘NIPRIMUNE’ an immune-stimulant, which can also be used to manage Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) in Nigeria and ‘NIPRIFAN’ for the treatment of fungal skin infection.
Protocol of ozone, vitamin C, and a supplement containing multiple antioxidants
Dr. Robert Rowen demonstrated that a protocol of ozone, vitamin C, and a supplement containing multiple antioxidants is highly effective in resolving (curing) clinically symptomatic, documented cases of Ebola virus infection in Sierra Leone. The ozone was administered by direct intravenous gas administration, rectal ozone gas insufflation, and the ingestion of ozonated water. A daily dose of four to eight grams of vitamin C was given, along with two tablets daily of a supplement containing thiamin, riboflavin, selenium, N-acetyl cysteine, glutathione, lipoic acid, and an additional small amount of vitamin C.
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