Herbal Medicines in management and
prevention of COVID-19
Ritav viralbhai Brahmbhatt
Traditional herbal medicines are widely accepted in the world. Certain countries and WHO have research investment in traditional
herbal medicines. COVID-19 came as a major Health care challenge for human in 2019. 480 deaths have been recorded
ll 18th
of April 2020 in India. No pharmaceutical products have yet been shown to be safe and effective for the treatment of COVID-19.
Major 3 types of targets of COVID-19 were identified by researches, which are as follow 1) Inhibit coronavirus at structural level,
2) Inhibit coronavirus RNA synthesis and replication and 3) Inhibit virulence factor of Coronavirus. Certain Herbal medicines
like Tribulus terrestris, Withania somnifera, Curcuma longa, Ocimum sanctum, and Phyllanthus emblica have potent Anti-COVID
properties, which is indicating new sunrise in the direction of Herbal medicine.
Keywords: Traditional Herbal Medicine; COVID19; Structural levels; RNA synthesis; Tribulus terrestris; Withania somnifera;
Curcuma longa; Ocimum sanctum; Phyllanthus emblica
Traditional herbal medicines are getting significant attention
in global health debates. India, The United States of America
(USA), China, Nigeria and World Health Organization - WHO
have all made substantial research investments in traditional
herbal medicines [1]. Herbal medicine finds itself in a race to
develop new medicines, with fewer or no adverse effects, for
therapeutic and preventive application in illnesses [2].
Herbal medicine finds itself in a race to develop new
medicines, with fewer or no adverse effects, for therapeutic
and preventive application in illnesses$.
As per the Ministry of Health and Family welfare, Govern-
ment of India, their are 11, 906 Active Cases of COVID-19. 480
deaths has been reported, 1991 patients were discharged till 18th
April 2020 [3].
The Himalaya Drug Company, Makali, Makali Aluru Main Rd, opp. JCB,,
Bengaluru, 562162, Karnataka, India
Full list of author information is available at the end of the article.
But Still, No pharmaceutical products have yet been shown
to be safe and effective for the treatment of COVID-19. How-
ever, a number of medicines have been suggested as potential
investigational therapies, many of which are now being or will
soon be studied in clinical trials, including the SOLIDARITY
trial co-sponsored by WHO and participating countries [4].
Targets of COVID-19
Major 3 types of targets of COVID-19 are (i) Inhibit coronavirus
at structural level (ii) Inhibit coronavirus RNA synthesis and
replication (iii) Inhibit virulence factor of Coronavirus [5].
Effective Herbal Plants in COVID-19
Certain natural products from Indian natural medicines, bind to
the active sites of COVID-19 proteases, hence are likely to hin-
der viral replication [6].
Tribulus terrestris
Tribulus terrestris fruits are well known for their usage in phar-
maceutical preparations and food supplements. The methanol
International Journal of Phytomedicine
Received: 22 Apr 2020, Accepted:08 Sep 2020
Table 1 Targets of COVID-19
Major Targets of COVID-19
# Inhibit SARS-CoV-2 RNA synthesis and
Inhibit SARS-CoV-2 at structural
Inhibit virulence factor of
1 Papain-like proteinase (PLpro) Spike Protein Nsp1
2 3C-like main protease (3CLpro) E protein Or N protein Nsp3c
3 RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) ORF7
4 Helicase
extract of T. terrestris fruits showed potent inhibition against the
papain-like protease (PLpro), an essential proteolylic enzyme
for protection to pathogenic virus and bacteria. Major bioac-
tive compounds, are six cinnamic amides and ferulic acid, were
showing inhibition of Papain-like proteinase (PLpro), which is
major protein target of COVID-19 [7].
Withania somnifera
Withania somnifera contains variety of phytoconstituents like
Withanolide A & B, Withaferin A, Withanone, Withano-
sides [8].
WSG (Withania somnifera glycoprotein) isolated from With-
ania somnifera root tubers revealed (protease inhibitor) an-
timicrobial activity against few bacterial and phytopathogenic
virus [9].
W. somnifera would be an effective agent in the manage-
ment of COVID-19 through modulation of host Th-1/Th-2 im-
munity. WS may be beneficial in inducing anti-viral immunity
(owing to increased IFN-gamma responses) and optimum anti-
inflammatory activities (down-regulation of IL-1, IL-6, TNF-
alpha and other inflammatory mediators), which are the key tar-
gets relevant to COVID-19 [10] .
As per the recent Molecular Docking Studies, Withanolide
D, Withaferin A, as most appropriate inhibitors against 3C-like
main protease (3CLpro), which can be further explored to test
against Coronavirus (COVID-19) in pre-clinical and clinical set-
tings [11].
Withanolide-B, Withanone and Withaferin-A, major phyto-
chemicals of W. somnifera have predicted binding energy lower
than the pharmacological inhibitor, N3. The binding of these
phytochemicals with main protease may slow down the cleav-
age of PPs to releases NSPs and decrease the process of viral
replication and transcription [12].
Curcuma longa
Curcuma longa contain demethoxycurcumin, curcumin, Di-
acetylcurcumin [13], as a major phytoconstituents, which are
the most recommended compounds found in medicinal plants
that may act as potential inhibitors of COVID-19 Main Protein
(Mpro) [14].
Curcumin is strongly bind to 3CL-protease of COVID–19
in comparison to the antimalaric drugs and promote important
structural changes in this viral protease, inducing folding of the
enzyme [15].
Diacetylcurcumin present in Curcuma longa have been found
as more effective on COVID-19 (Mpro) than Nelfinavir [16].
From the recent Docking studies, it can be concluded that
Binding energy of Curcumin (-38.84 kcal/mol) had greater than
hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) (-35.87 kcal/mol) in case of S1 re-
ceptor binding domain. Therefor, Curcumin could be used as
combination therapy along with hydroxychloroquine for disrupt-
ing the stability of SARS-CoV2 receptor proteins [17]. Cur-
cumin and HCQ interact with the C-terminal of S1 domain with
binding energies of -7.1 and -5.6 Kcal/mol [18].
Ocimum sanctum
Ocimum sanctum extract can be included as a preventive mea-
sure against COVID-19 due to its potential to inhibit replication
of COVID-19 supported with its immune-modulatory feature
and ACE II blocking properties. Ocimum sanctum containing,
Tulsinol (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) and dihydrodieuginol-B inhibit
SARS Coronavirus Main Protease and Papain-like Protease [19].
O. sanctum is being used in the management of pain, di-
arrhea, cough and fever, which are the common symptoms of
COVID-19 [20]. O. sanctum boosts the immunity of the body
and helps to defense the threatening virus and bacteria [21].
Phyllanthus emblica
Phyllanthus emblica also have immunomodulatory properties,
and may have the potential to bolster health and immunity of the
community in the fight against SARS-CoV-2 infection [10] .
Phyllaemblicin-B and phyllaemblinol from P. emblica
showed high binding affinity to helicase protein, which is one
of the major targets of COVID-19. Phyllaemblicin G7 from
Phyllanthus emblica exhibited high binding affinity to the Spike
Protein of COVID-19 [5].
Brahmbhatt : International Journal of Phytomedicine, 2021;13(1):001-004
The antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties of Phyl-
lanthus emblica are the key to its therapeutic effect.
Table 2 Herbal medicines and its effective targets againstCOVID-19
Effective Targets of COVID-19 Ref.
1 Tribulus
Papain-like protease (PLpro) (7)
2 Withania
3C-like Main protease (3CLpro) (11)
3 Curcuma longa 3C-like Main protease (3CLpro) (15)
4 Ocimum
Main Protease and Papain-like
5 Phyllanthus
Helicase protein and Spike
Novel evidence based approach of Herbal medicine plays pre-
ventive role in the COVID-19 pandemic. Naturally occurring
plants are source of wide variety of Phytoconstituents. Tribulus
terrestris, Withania somnifera, Curcuma longa, Ocimum sanc-
tum, Phyllanthus emblica are primarily observed as effective
against COVID-19. Moreover, In-vitro and In-vivo studies re-
quire to-identify efficacy of Herbal medicine. However, Com-
bination therapies of Allopathy and Herbal medicines lead to-
wards the Best treatment options. Still, many unknown Herbals
medicines are waiting for their Identification and Purification
and pharmaceutical evaluation.
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