Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 29) — The Food and Drug Administration approved clinical trials for herbal medicine ‘lagundi’ as a supplement coronavirus treatment, Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña announced Saturday.
De la Peña said in a briefing that participants will be around 200 COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms and admitted at the Quezon Institute quarantine center, Sta. Ana Hospital, and Philippine National Police-National Capital Region community quarantine center.
Experts from the Philippine General Hospital will lead the medical research.
“Ang hangad natin ay ma-address ang symptoms gaya ng ubo, lagnat at mga sore throat,” De la Peña said.
[Translation: We hope that lagundi could address symptoms such as cough, fever and sore throat.]
He added that the research will also try to find out if ‘lagundi’ may reduce severity of symptoms.
Other clinical trials
The FDA has yet to approve the studies which aim to look into the possible effects of another traditional medicine, ‘tawa tawa,’ to COVID-19 patients, Dela Peña said.
A doctor from the University of the Philippines Visayas will be in charge of these studies once they get the green light from the food and drug regulator, he added.
Meanwhile, in vitro clinical studies conducted abroad support the potential of lauric acid, the fatty acid found in virgin coconut oil, as well as its derivative, as antiviral agents against SARS-CoV-2 or severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, the virus that causes COVID-19, the DOST chief pointed out.
“So far ang finding, meron pong modest reduction noong infectivity ng ating SARS-CoV-2 with the use of lauric acid and monolaurin,” he said.
[Translation: So far, the finding is there is modest reduction of infectivity of SARS-CoV-2.]
“Dahil doon (Because of those findings), even if the reduction is modest, it still justifies our experiments or clinical trials involving virgin coconut oil against COVID,” he added. The clinical trials on coconut oil are ongoing.
Monolaurin, the substance formed by the body’s own enzymes upon ingestion of coconut oil and lauric acid “have been known for many years to have significant antiviral activity,” Fabian M. Dayrit and Mary T. Newport said in a research paper published on the website of the Ateneo de Manila University.
In March, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, a key official in the coronavirus inter-agency task force, said the National University of Singapore has agreed to the request of the Philippines to test coconut oil as a COVID-19 prophylactic since the country has no virology institute where in vitro studies could be carried out.
Other efforts of the government to combat COVID-19 include distribution of free face masks, DOH spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said in the same briefing.
The government has started distributing locally made reusable face masks to those who cannot afford to buy them, Vergeire said.
This is to enjoin them to comply with minimum health standards, which are seen to reduce people’s risk of getting the coronavirus, she added.