The government continues to promote herbal remedies for Covid-19 despite previous studies showing they have no benefit and could actually be dangerous.
The Public Health Ministry said Saturday it is integrating traditional Thai medicine to help treat Covid-19 patients, with herbs such as green chiretta now promoted as an effective symptom reliever.
There’s no scientific evidence green chiretta has any effect on Covid-19. In fact, studies show it actually can be harmful.
Nonetheless, the ministry recently allocated 246 million baht to the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine to supply symptom-relieving herbal products.
Testing two herbs for use against Covid-19’s delta variant, the Department of Medical Sciences claimed Ha Rak and Prasa Proh Yai were very effecting in “controlling” Covid-19. However, DMS’s use of the word “control” is deceptive, as the herbs are only used for suppressing fever and inflammation.
They do nothing to kill the virus itself.
Ha Rak, or “Five Roots”, is a combination of five plant roots including Ching-Chi (Cappahs horrida L.), Tao Yai Mom (Tacca pinnatifida Forst.), Ma Due Chum Porn (Ficus glomerata Roxb.), Kon Tha (Harrisonia perforata Merr.), and Yah Nang, (Tiliacora triandra Diels.). They have been used against fevers, to purify blood, headaches, and muscle aches.
DMS Director-General Dr. Supakit Sirilak said researchers found that water-based Ha Rak extract could control 96.2% of Delta at the concentration of 10 milligrams per milliliter. What he meant by “control” was not explained.
Meanwhile, water-based Prasa Proh Yai extract could control 76.6% of delta at the concentration of 10mg/ml and Prasa Proh Yai extracted with 50% alcohol solution could stop 88.7% of delta at the concentration of 2.5mg/ml.
It’s noteworthy that pouring 50% alcohol mixed with just about anything likely would damage a virus cell.
The herb is commonly known as “Indian echinacea” or “battler stick”. It is widely used in India and has seen limited use throughout Southeast Asia, but misinformation spread on social media has caused a run on the herb in Thailand, with back orders running several months and, now, the govermetn apparently buying into the fantasy.
There is no scientific evidence that chiretta has any effect on the coronavirus, but there is plenty of evidence the herb, especially if overused, can cause serious health ailments.
Use may trigger fatigue, headache, nausea, diarrhea, and allergic reaction. It has been known to lower blood sugar levels to dangerous levels for diabetics and can cause bleeding ulcers and prevent blood clotting leading to excessive bleeding.
But on Friday there was DTAM Director-General Yongyot Thammavudhi saying claiming chiretta can be used as an effective symptom reliever for omicron patients.
With the help of traditional medicine clinics across the country and the rapid response teams serving the greater Bangkok area, the department now aims to provide patients with green chiretta, Triphala and herbal inhaler products.