Thailand’s herbal heroes stand ready to fight against COVID-19
Green Chiretta (Fah Talai Jone) and certain other medicinal herbs are selling like hotcakes now that the public has realized they can help keep COVID-19 at bay.
The Public Health Ministry recently endorsed Fah Talai Jone (also known as Andrographis paniculate) as a medication for mild symptoms of the viral disease.
“Other herbs like fingerroot [krachai] can also be used to fight COVID-19 and boost immunity,” said Dr. Amporn Benjaponpithak, who serves as director-general of the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine (DTAM).
With Thai herbs rising in prominence, traditional practitioners are now playing a more active role in helping doctors in the battle against the pandemic, she said.
As of August 1, Thailand had 205,002 COVID-19 patients, with thousands relying on herbal medicines to treat mild symptoms.
Weapon against COVID-19
Fah Talai Jone has long been a proven remedy for cold symptoms, coughs, and sore throat. Over the past few weeks, people have been queuing outside Abhaibhubejhr Hospital in Prachin Buri province to buy pills made from the herb.
“Green Chiretta contains Andrographolide, which helps fight viral infections,” Amporn said, explaining why this herbal remedy has become so popular recently.
Health authorities say adults with mild COVID symptoms can take 180 milligrams of Green Chiretta per day, divided into three doses taken before meals. A single course of the pills usually lasts five days.
A recent study showed that 90 percent of mild COVID-19 cases improve after taking Fah Talai Jone pills. The results of this research are so encouraging that DTAM is now considering using the herb on patients with more severe symptoms.
“It should be noted that Green Chiretta can also help lower blood pressure and ease lung inflammation,” Amporn said.
COVID-19 patients who want to be treated with Green Chiretta can register via DTAM’s Line account, @fahdtam.
The Thai Ministry of Public Health has approved the use of Fah Talai Jone (andrographis paniculata), a Thai traditional herbal medicine, in the treatment of mild symptoms of COVID-19 infection.
Word of caution
Amporn, however, warns people against hoarding Fah Talai Jone or taking the pills if they don’t have any symptoms.
“Please consider those who need the pills for treatment,” she said.
Though research shows Green Chiretta is safe to use, taking more than the recommended dose can have side effects such as vomiting, headaches and numbness. Doctors say it is also not safe to consume Fah Talai Jone for a long time or for people who are also taking anti-blood clotting medications or drugs to reduce high blood pressure.
Pregnant women and those breastfeeding are advised not to take Green Chiretta, while those suffering from severe bacterial infections should also avoid it.
Patients taking the herb to treat cold symptoms must consume no more than 60 grams daily, and if they don’t improve in three days, they should stop and seek other medical help.
Other herbal heroes
Dr. Khwanchai Visithanon, DTAM deputy director-general, said drinks brewed from fingerroot and triphala are also being handed out to at-risk people as effective remedies against viral symptoms.
Triphala, a mix of Myrobalan wood, Beleric and Indian gooseberry, is believed to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunity-boosting effects. It also eases coughs and releases phlegm and is useful for people who are starting to develop COVID-19 symptoms.
Fingerroot, meanwhile, has been found to be effective in inhibiting the reproduction of COVID-19 cells.
“We will conduct further studies to determine the appropriate dose for COVID-19 treatment,” Khwanchai added.
He also recommends that COVID-19 patients isolating at home add herbs and spices like ginger, lemongrass, bergamot, galangal, garlic and shallot to their meals. These traditional ingredients are known for their immunity-boosting properties.
“But most importantly, don’t overconsume,” he said.
By Thai PBS World’s General Desk