A group of researchers from the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State, in collaboration with partners from the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) Abuja and Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD) has come up with a herbal preparation, tea and soap that have shown immense capability to cure and prevent the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19).
The herbal preparations were produced from a local plant Aframomum melegueta (alligator pepper also called grains of paradise) While the team from AAUA was at the forefront of research, design and subsequent pre-clinical studies were contributed by partners at ABUAD and the Centre for Genomics Research and Innovation of NABDA.
The team relied on the ABUAD Multi-System Hospital (AMSH) for clinical trials while patents and approval from the Federal Government via the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) are being awaited.
Speaking on the development, the corresponding leader of the team, Dr. Omotuyi, said that the team leveraged on the experiences gained from six years of research into anti- viral medicine for Ebola and Lassa Fever by the Centre for Bio-Computing and Drug Development of AAUA.
In his words, “the team was put together to look into finding a cure for the Corona Virus Disease using locally available materials and we were able to find a local plant from which we got three fractions that showed excellent promise of curative and preventive properties as far as COVID-19 is concerned.
“Our laboratory trials were able to prove that if the herbal drug we discovered is administered on a COVID-19 patient, the probability of being cured is very high. In addition, we produced soap and herbal tea from this same local plant, and the result we got was that the soap shows the ability to kill the Corona Virus that might be on the surface of the body. The tea, on the other hand, shows properties that literally render whoever regularly takes it protected.
“We have done our bit and we have our results. Our various laboratory tests show that the products are safe for human use and have no adverse effect whatsoever. We are in the process of patent registration; we now await funding for further development and distribution. Our capacity to produce these products is not in doubt. In fact, the ABUAD end has come up with its own drugs, but cannot distribute until the government grants the approval.”
Omotuyi further stated, “These ones we have come up with are well researched, documented, trialed and analysed by experts both from within and outside the country.”
“Extract of A. melegueta was however inhibitory on both measles and yellow fever viruses. Measles virus was inhibited at a minimum concentration of 125 µg/ml and yellow fever virus was inhibited at a minimum concentration of 250 µg/ml. Polio virus was resistant to extracts of both plants. This is a characteristic of this virus. Poliovirus is a non-envelop virus infecting through the gastrointestinal tract and causes poliomyelitis due to its ability to evade the acidic nature of this tract. This is a kind of natural defense mechanism. It is therefore not surprising that extracts of the two plants had no effect on the poliovirus type 1. Although, extract of B. vulgaris was only potent on measles virus in-view of medicinal plant applications, extracts with broad-spectrum activities and minimal cytotoxic effects might be more important.
“It is interesting to attempt to correlate the traditional applications of the plant extracts with the microbial targets. In the case of B. vulgaris, this is feasible since the extract of this plant had activity only on measles virus.
“Antiviral activities observed with extract from A. melegueta had a broader activity since it inhibited the growth of both measles and yellow fever viruses. The antiviral activities observed with these plants are most probably due to the phytochemicals in the plants. Such phytochemicals, according to Ekwete (1992) include tannin, phenolic compounds, saponins, flavonoids and protocatectic acid among others.
Nigerian researchers had identified ginger, garlic, onion, bitter kola, alligator pepper, black seed, turmeric, bitter leaf, zinc and vitamin C to have the capacity to prevent and treat COVID-19.