Published on May 17, 2021

AHMEDABAD: Traditional wisdom of using herbs and ayurvedic medicines such as yashtimadhu (liquorice/jethimadh) and harde (haritaki) along with allopathy medicines in treatment of Covid-19 just got a scientific thumbs up.

An in-silico (virtual simulation) study carried out by the scientists from Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre (GBRC) and Gujarat State Biotechnology Mission (GSBTM) revealed yashtimadhu and harde had a good bonding score with Covid-19 virus along with few antivirals currently in use.The study ‘Repurposing of the herbal formulations: Molecular docking and molecular dynamics simulation studies to validate the efficacy of phytocompounds against SARS-CoV-2 proteins’ has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Biomolecular Structure & Dynamics.

“According to the present study, the formulations tested in this study had significantly higher binding efficacy against their SARS-CoV-2 targets. In-silico results reveal that these formulations may be effective inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 through their binding to the spike glycoprotein, RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, protease, which can be further studied in vitro,” said the paper.

“In simple parlance, we checked the binding affinity of base compounds of allopathic medicines and several popular herbs against Covid proteins in computer simulation. The average score of remdesivir was -7.3 and favipiravir -5.4. Yashtimadhu gave a score of -13.6 and harde -13. Here lower values show higher binding. Thus, in principle, it can prevent both viral attachment to human cells and replication in the human body,” said a researcher.

The researchers insisted that through their research they do not promote use of these herbs alone for treatment of the Covid infection. “The purpose of the study was to assess the scientific basis of use of some herbs prominently in Covid treatment,” GBRC scientists said. The study may give impetus to hybrid approach when applicable and more studies among patients.

Several city-based hospitals give optional ayurvedic treatment – primarily consisting of medicines like Ayush-64 and concoctions like Pathyadi Kwath – if the patient agrees for the same. For example, at Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad, over 4,000 patients were given ayurvedic treatment as assistive therapy, said officials.

Vd Ram Shukla, a faculty at Akhandanand Ayurvedic College who is associated with Civil Hospital for ayurvedic treatment in Covid ward, said that ingredients like yashtimadhu and harde are used for throat infection and gastric trouble for years. “Jethimadh can reduce incessant coughing among Covid patients, for example. Of course, ayurveda is not applicable for patients with severe symptoms and should not be seen as an option, but we have seen good results of assistive therapy among mild to moderate patients in the past one year,” he said.

Allopathy targets disease, whereas ayurveda targets the human body, said Vd Bhavdeep Ganatra, head of ayurvedic department at SGVP Hospital. “Virus may change tomorrow, but our understanding of the human body has helped us improve immunity. We have got good results in post-Covid recovery. But it must not be practised by self and must be done under expert supervision,” he said.

Dr Devendra Patel, president of Indian Medical Association (IMA) Gujarat chapter, said that they are against ‘mixopathy.’ “We cannot say that the Ayurvedic concoctions should be taken with allopathic treatment ,” he said.

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