Thailand approved pilot study on treatment of COVID-19 with Andrographis paniculata

February 17, 2021
Sebastian Krawiec

The government of Thailand approved a pilot study for the use of Andrographis paniculata as an herbal medicine to treat early symptoms of COVID-19 and reduce the severity of the virus.

At the end of 2020, the government of Thailand approved a pilot study for the use of Andrographis paniculata as an herbal medicine to treat early symptoms of COVID-19 and reduce the severity of the virus. According to a report in HerbalGram, the treatment will be available in five state-owned hospitals, on a voluntary basis for people between the ages of 18 and 60, with minor symptoms. The herb will be given to patients within 72 hours of symptom onset.

Phase one of the Thai research initiative on Andrographis started in late June 2020 at two hospitals. There, 12 patients received either 60 mg or 100 mg capsules of the extract, three times per day if they were confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 and had mild to moderate symptoms for no more than 72 hours. Results showed that the lower dose showed benefits, especially for coughing. Within three days, cough volume and overall symptom severity decreased significantly. After five days, other symptoms improved, and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests were negative for the COVID-19 virus in two patients. After three weeks, real-time PCR tests were negative in all six subjects. Additional studies are needed to confirm the results.

Phase two began in September 2020 with 60 subjects who were given either Andrographis or placebo. The results of this phase are unclear still, but upon approval of the current pilot study, authorities claims that Andrographis can be used as a safe, effective, and less costly treatment alternative, and that it can reduce inflammation.

For Annie Eng, CEO of HP Ingredients (Bradenton, FL), this move bodes well for the global botanical industry. “Thailand is leading the world in allowing use of A. paniculata as a botanical implement to optimize immune function,” says Eng, in a press release. “We support the nation’s decision to justify this use by conceding that human clinicals with favorable outcomes show worthwhile cause to do so.”

Currently, there are two ongoing human clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of HP Ingredients’ branded Andrographis paniculata ingredient ParActin. One study, a continuing open-label clinical trial, is being conducted in Chile to define and evaluate the effects of consuming 150 mg of ParActin per day for three months on frontline healthcare workers. The study is particularly interested in evaluating the efficacy of ParActin in reducing the incidence of contracting COVID-19 and the common cold.

The second ongoing study has four arms: 600 mg of ParActin, 1,200 mg of MaquiCare (also from HP Ingredients), combination of 600 mg of ParActin with 1,200 mg of MaquiCare maqui berry extract, and a placebo group. The double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study will be conducted on 357 men and women, who have upper respiratory tract challenges, for seven days. They will be evaluated with the Wisconsin Upper Respiratory Symptom Survey-21 total severity scores to determine efficacy.

“We expect this study to confirm the efficacy of the Thai study on Andrographis, and we expect to see the unique synergistic combination of ParActin A. paniculata and MaquiCare maqui berry will exert an ability to stabilize immune function, thereby improving longer-term resistance,” says Eng. “Continual research into botanical uses for common health and wellness goals is critical for the industry to evolve to meet the needs of consumers globally. There isn’t just ‘one breakthrough study’ but a steady stream of studies showing the same result time and again that will strengthen the persuasive case for more valuable use of botanicals more straightforwardly in human health.”