DOST study: Lagundi helps reduce Covid-19 symptoms

Virgin coconut oil and lagundi

Clinical trials showed that lagundi decreases the symptoms of mild Covid-19 cases, especially the loss of the sense of smell, and provides overall relief of discomfort due to other symptoms.

However, although virgin coconut oil (VCO) was found effective among suspected Covid-19 persons, the clinical trial on patients at the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) showed “no significant” effect and still “has to be analyzed at the molecular level.”

The studies were led by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) with the UP-PGH and the UP Manila National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Science Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña and Undersecretary for Research and Development Rowena Cristina L. Guevara said at the recent online news conference “Talakayang HeaRT [Health Research and Technology] Beat” that the studies on lagundi and VCO were focused on “repurposing” the two natural supplements—that were already found to be effective against some illnesses—as “adjunct” treatments for Covid-19.

Lagundi’s efficacy

Lagundi has been proven years back to be an effective medicine for cough and asthma.

Described by Guevara as “one of success stories” of the DOST, it was developed years ago as herbal medicine for cough under the department’s National Integrated Research Program on Medicinal Plants, the predecessor of its Tuklas Lunas Program. This resulted in making the herbal treatment available in the market.

The recent study was to check its efficacy and safety for mild Covid-19 patients without comorbidities.

In the first stage, two doses of lagundi tablet or syrup—high dose against normal dose—were assessed for efficacy and safety among a total of 75 participants.

De la Peña said the result showed that “lagundi can be safely used for the symptomatic treatment of mild Covid-19.”

It was determined in the dose-finding study that the standard dose of 600mg of lagundi is as safe and efficacious as high-dose of 1.2g.

“Hence, the suggested Lagundi dose for adult is 600mg to be given three times a day for 10 days,” de la Peña said.

Lagundi was found to “have promising results…in decreasing the [coronavirus] symptoms during mild Covid-19 disease, especially for anosmia [loss of the sense of smell] and overall relief of discomfort due to other symptoms,” the Science Chief said.

Observed to be eased by lagundi were influenza-like symptoms, including cough, colds/nasal obstruction, sore throat, body malaise, fatigue, feverishness.

“In conclusion, lagundi can be safely used for the symptomatic treatment of mild Covid-19,” he added.

It can be prescribed to children with the dosage based on their body weight.

Dr. Cecilia Maramba-Lazarte, director of the Institute of Herbal Medicine at UP-NIH, pointed out that lagundi is very beneficial for the general public, especially because it is a “cheap medication.”

VCO good for mild cases; further studies for hospital patients

VCO was found in earlier studies to be having antiviral properties and can upregulate the immune system.

De la Peña recalled that recent community trials that the DOST has funded and led, demonstrated that VCO can be used as an adjunct—or supplement to be taken with the main medicines—for patients with suspected or probable cases due to its viral and immunomodulatory properties.

It was observed on the second day of intervention that symptoms in the VCO group demonstrated significant clinical improvement compared to the control group.

The VCO group was found having no Covid-19 related symptoms by Day 18.

Director Dr. Dr. Imelda Angeles-Agdeppa of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) pointed out at the webinar that VCO as a “functional food” it is important that it can help a person improve from Covid-19 “before it becomes severe.”        However, on the clinical trial at UP-PGH, de la Peña said “there is no established benefits yet in hospital trial.”

Dr. Marissa Alejandria, director of the Institute of Clinical Epidemiology at UP Manila NIH, said VCO has “no significant” difference among moderate, severe and critical Covid-19 patients in UP-PGH.

“The analysis of the results for the hospital trials is still ongoing. Further study at the molecular level is needed to determine the actual effects of using VCO among hospitalized Covid-19 patients,”he said.

Alejandria explained that it is the 48 percent of lauric acid in VCO which is the active component against the coronavirus.

Guevara noted  that the UP-PGH clinical trial is among the three studies made on VCO. The other two were the earlier in-vitro study led by Dr. Fabian Dayrit of Ateneo de Manila University, and the recent community trials by the DOST-FNRI.

More projects

Guevara said the Lagundi and VCO trials are only some of the  initiatives the DOST’s Big 21 program.

“I hope that you will also look forward to the next set of projects, which will include our ongoing clinical trial on tawa-tawa, two studies on drug discovery and development, and two more studies on Covid-19 disease surveillance,” Guevara announced.

Foreign interests on lagundi, VCO against Covid-19

Executive Director Jaime Montoya of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development said some countries are interested in doing research on VCO, including Indonesia.

He added that since the researches are publicly funded, they are open to developers and are available to other countries.

De la Peña also said that there is demand for lagundi in other countries.

Maramba said India is doing a study, while China has three studies.

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