Viruses were first identified as “filterable” particles by Loeffler and Yersmin in 1898 and yet remain untreatable even today by any of the modern techniques or medicines. Vaccines to prevent occurrence of many lethal viruses are certainly available, however the fact remains that there is no definite cure for any virus. The only reliable defense consists of the Immune system present in the body. This system has high efficiency and specificity against most pathogens and is responsible for maintenance of good health provided that it remains in perfect balance.
In recent years there has been an increasing imbalance in immune response allowing the emergence of a large number of disorders such auto immune diseases, immuno suppressor diseases and inappropriate reactions to infections. These then require some form of support such that the control could be restored to the immune system.
Infections affect humans who have decreased immunity in general, apart from other risk factors. Viral spread has brought this lack of immunity to the fore front especially recently with the advent of the Corona Virus which has no cure as of now from Modern Medicines.
It is then in this context, we have to turn to alternative therapies. In India, a country steeped with abundant knowledge in the use of herbs, plants and trees to help aid the sick and the ailing, three compounds stand apart requiring to be researched into for use against viruses in addition to simultaneously improving the Immune System a great deal. These compounds are Turmeric, Neem and Ginger. These compounds have been in use for more than 5000 years in India without adhering to any definite rules or regulations regarding medicinal preparations or their issues to patients. The knowledge in Ayurveda and Siddha medicines have been passed on from generations of “Vaidyas” often by word of mouth alone. Dr. Anupama of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association, states that these compounds have never been standardized in India., for example Turmeric is used for many different conditions and it is a time tested herb “Unfortunately our science does not fit into complete randomized control trials. This is alternative medicines biggest challenge”.
Turmeric (curcuma Longa) is apart of the ginger family (Zingiberacece) which grows ubiquitously in India, Several molecules constitute the Rhizome, such as Curcuminoids, sequiterpenas and steroids. The Principal component being Curcumin, the bright yellow pigment called “Manjal” in Tamil. This is the major bioactive substance which is endowed with many major activities .
A large number of studies have been attempted and carried out using various different aspects of the molecule and the literature abounds with nearly 11,000 articles all of which are replete with multivarious desirable activities of manjal in general and its medicinal values in particular Nevertheless, the National center for Complementery and Integrative Health says that there is not enough reliable evidence in humans to recommend turmeric or curcumin for any condition.However,results obtained invitro/ using both animals and human epithelial cell cultures are astonishing and compelling.The active ingredients in turmeric are antioxidative, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory,antiparasitic anti fungal
With regard to antiviral studies, curcumin has been found to have an effective anti viral activity against several different viruses such as the ZIKA Virus (ZIkv) the pox viruses , Chicken Gunya Antiviral activity of Curcumin have been researched into in the following
Name of the Virus Particles Productivities inhibition Author
HBV – Hepatna Viridae Replication Inhibitor CCC DNA Inhibitor Kun etal, 2009, 2011; Rechtma etal, 2010; Nei etal, 2017
HCV Flavi viridae Entry inhibitor Anggakusuma etal, 2014
HIV Retro viridae Protease inhibitor
Tatprotein inhibitor Sui etal, 1993
Mazumder etal, 1995
Balasubramaniam etal, 2004
Ali and Banergea 2016
HPV Papillomaviridae Gene expression inhibition Maher eta,l 2011
Mishra etal, 2015
Herpes viridae Gene expression inhibition Kutlucy etal 2008
IAV orthomyxo viridae Entry inhibitor Chen etal 2010
JEV Flavi viridae Particle production
Entry inhibitor Chen et al 2013
MNV Calci viridae Entry inhibitor Yang M etal 2016
RSV Entry inhibitor
Replication and budding inhibition Yang XX etal 2016
Yang etal 2017
Obata etal 2017
RVFV Phenui viridae Replication inhibitor
Narayanan etal 2012
ZIKV Flavi viridae Entry inhibitor Maince etal 2017
Summarizing the anti viral activity, it can be seen that the major effect of Curcumin is to prevent replication and budding of viruses in the Human epithelial cell cultures.It also increases the epithelial barrier function Other scientists were able to demonstrate the ability its effects on, cell membrane. Similar results were seen by others working on Dengue virus (JEV, ZIKV, HCV) and influenza virus of all varieties. In all these treatment with Curcumin, not only viral inhibition Interestingly cells already infected with this virus, showed accumulation of virus inside the cells and these were recognized as debris of viral proteins. There was also a total reduction of the viral particles (Dutta Etal 2009, Paditta 2014) and similar results were also seen in the Rift Valley Fever Virus (Narayana Etal 2012)
Curumins activities have a two fold effect 1. It is an excellent immune booster
2It can prevent replication and budding of viruses while increasing the cell membranes barrier function
Despite its excellent tolerability with low or minimum toxicity even at high oral doses of upto 12 gms per day, its clinical corelation has not been found to besatisfactory using the present day techniques. This is the result of two disadvantages present in curcumin. (1) the poor absorption leading to low serum concentration (2) it is very rapid metabolization of the absorb molecule, that is within one to 2 ½ hours giving limited time for adequate destruction of virus. However these are challenges which can be handled with newer techniques which will allow slower absorption and relatively longer duration before metabolization.
A study has already been made in this regard with the use of nano particles, either as Nano crystals or nano carriers which should overcome the disadvantage of low serum level and fast bio degradation.
Dr. Young from Ohio University who just added castor oil to curcumin, before administrating it to the Human lung epithelial cells found a tenfold increase in Bio availability and was able to demonstrate high activity in the attachment of curcumin which appeared to latch itself on tothe viral membrane enzymes, essential for replication, thus inhibiting replication either directly or by suppressing signals responsible for stimulating replication. The killed virus and the debris stand as proof of ability for its use in Therapy.
Further work is necessary to overcome any disadvantages in the use of nano particles themselves etc. However due to the great potential in therapy for a development and refining of curcumin formulation for anti viral therapy, it becomes urgent now as never before to fully look into the context of using modulation to assist and obtain the utmost from curcumin to help save humanity. Any research in this direction to achieve the goal of either killing the virus or even inhibiting replication would fulfill the most immediate need to overcome tragic human deaths.
Neem (azadirachta indica ) is a tree found all over India and it has got very great effect upon bacteria, viruses fungi and parasitic. It is most importantly an anti oxidant and it not only protects itself from multitude of pests but also protects Humans, animals and plants from multitudes of pesticidal ingredients.
Neem and its constituents play an important role in the scavenging of pre radical generation and inhibition of pathogens. A number of pharmacological studies have shown that the major chemicals are 4 to 5 and minor 20 to 25 chemicals which are called limonoids or triterpenes These have anti bacterial, anti viral, anti fungal, anti arthritis, anti pyretic, hypoglycemic, anti gastric ulcer and anti tumor activity activity as seen in the volumes of literature on the uses of Azadirachtin the best known limonoid- salannin,mekantriol and mimbin among many others
Neem can be used either as Neem leaf or the neem fruit or its seed or neem bark. Neem bark extracts have shown significant blockage of viral entry into cells. There is also a direct anti viral activity against the HSV-1 coxsacchie virus and a host respiratory viruses. (this probably explains the principle of allowing hot water in steam inhalation in which the boiling water is soaked with neem leaves). Scientists working with neem leaf extracts have shown early inhibition of replication and inactivation of the virus neems ability to breakdown microbes cell wall has been documented the ability being attributed to its very rich source of antioxidants
Neem appears to have to two methodologies.
The first is to boost immunity by stimulating the B and T cells both of which end up with killing the virus initiated by the entry of the toxic neem chemicals in to the cell
Neem also boosts the bodys macropage response which in turn stimulates the lymphatic system into increased production of leukocytes
Neem leaf extracts given to HIV patients for a thirty day period in clinical studies have shown an increase in the CD+ cell counts, an increase in Hb , an increase in platelets and a 3Kg increase in body Wt as well. Further the anti vral studies by many researchers have confirmed the ability by demonstrating itsearly presence in the viral genome inhibiting viral replication
Despite all these studies we still have to await the scientific presentation of clinically proven data of each of the definitive molecules in the leaf, fruit seed or bark to be able to scientitifically use for medical treatment