Recently, researchers of IIT-Delhi in collaboration with Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) have found that the ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha has “therapeutic and preventive value” against Covid-19 infection.
- The publication of the coronavirus genome and structure have triggered drug designing, devising and development using informatics and experimental tools across the world.
- Researchers from IIT-Delhi and AIST have used Ashwagandha and propolis based compounds to target the main coronavirus’s enzyme, known as the Main protease or Mpro.
- Mpro plays a key role in mediating viral replication.
- Enzymes are biological molecules (typically proteins) that regulate the rate of virtually all of the chemical reactions that take place within living organisms. E.g digestion.
- Replication is the process by which a DNA molecule is copied to produce two identical DNA molecules.
- In replication whenever a cell divides, the two new daughter cells contain the same genetic information, or DNA, as the parent cell.
- The researchers have found that Withanone (Wi-N), a natural compound derived from Ashwagandha and Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester (CAPE), an active ingredient of New Zealand propolis, have the potential to interact with and block the activity of Mpro.
- Recently, the Indian government has also set up a task force to launch its clinical research studies on some Ayurvedic medicines that can be used to boost the immune system and control coronavirus.
- The government has also launched the ‘AYUSH Sanjivani’ App.
- The app intends to generate data on usage of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa-rigpa and Homoeopathy) advocacies and measures among the population and its impact in prevention of Covid-19.
- Ashwagandha (scientific name- Withania somnifera) is a medicinal herb. It is reputed as an immunity enhancer.
- It is classified as an adaptogen, which means that it can help the body to manage stress.
- Ashwagandha also boosts brain function and lowers blood sugar, and helps fight symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Ashwagandha has shown clinical success in treating both acute and chronic rheumatoid arthritis.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that can cause joint pain and damage throughout your body.
- An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body.
- Propolis or bee glue is a resinous mixture (a sticky chemical compound) that honey bees produce by mixing saliva and beeswax with gums gathered from tree buds, sap flows, or other botanical sources.
- Propolis is used against infections caused by bacteria, viruses, fungus etc.
- It is used for boosting the immune system and for treating gastrointestinal problems.