Herbs Block COVID-19 Cell Invasions

Effectively blocking enzyme reduces replication

Herbs for coronavirus

Herbs for coronavirus

Three herbs that contain a phytochemical called emodin appear to hold promise for COVID-19 prevention. Used in traditional Chinese medicine, these three members of the Polygonaceae family block the SARS interactions between the coronavirus spike protein and angiotensin-converting enzyme, which is found on host cells. Since the SARS coronavirus has 70% similarity to the coronavirus called COVID-19, researchers are now examining the use of such herbs as novel preventive, immune-enhancing protectors against virual infection.

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Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is caused by a coronavirus (SARS-CoV) too, which bears a resemblance to COVID-19. The SARS-CoV spike (S) protein is bound to its outer membrane or envelope and is needed by the virus to attach to a host cell receptor via its interaction with angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). This may also be how the COVID-19 strain attaches to host cells too, says researchers led by Qiang Zhou, a research fellow at Westlake University in Hangzhou, China, who have revealed images of how the new virus attaches to ACE-2 receptor on respiratory cells.

By screening 312 controlled Chinese medicinal herbs supervised by Committee on Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy at Taiwan, the scientists identified that three Chinese medicinal herbs of the family Polygonaceae inhibited the interaction of SARS-CoV S protein and ACE2.

Da Huang

Da Huang

The active ingredient that seems responsible is called emodin and was found at its highest concentrations in Polygonaceae family. Da huang, also known as Chinese rhubarb, is a root edicine that is used as a purgative. The root's direct translation is “big yellow,” demonstrated by its vibrant yellow hue.

He Shou Wu (Fo-Ti), also obtained from the root, is used to promote healthy aging and treat conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

The vines of Reynoutria multiflora, a flowering plant in the buckwheat family Polygonaceae, are also plentiful in emodin. Emodin, an anthraquinone compound. “significantly blocked the S protein and ACE2 interaction in a dose-dependent manner," they say. “It also inhibited the infectivity….”

Each of these herbs is available to consumers but should be used under the supervision of a qualified health professional.

ReferencesHo TY, Wu SL, Chen JC, Li CC, Hsiang CY.Emodin, the active phytochemical in several herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine, blocks the SARS coronavirus spike protein and angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 interaction. Antiviral Res. 2007 May;74(2):92-101. Epub 2006 May 15.
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