• Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
  • Last Update : 05:12 am

OP-ED: Is there a way out?

  • Published at 11:05 am May 26th, 2020
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Are you okay? / BIGSTOCK

A guide to well-being in the time of coronavirus

The novel coronavirus pandemic, also known as Covid-19, is currently the most widely featured news worldwide. Covid-19, have been noted to have spread in 213 countries, confirming millions infected and leading to over 330,000 deaths. 

This zoonotic virus affects different people in different ways. Most infected people have fever, dry cough, and sore throat. Other less common symptoms include diarrhea, conjunctivitis, loss of taste or smell, and rash on the skin. 

However, the symptoms are initially mild and deepen gradually with time. The older people with serious medical problems are at a greater risk to suffer from shortness of breath, chest pain, cardiac injury, and loss of movement. 

Sometimes in a few cases, shock syndromes along with the malfunction of the kidney and lungs are observed. Although at the beginning of the pandemic, the intensity of the disease was higher in American and European countries, later it also spread to Asian and Southeast Asian countries. 

This is due to the violation of a few subsequent directives of staying at home and maintaining social distancing provided by World Health Organization (WHO).

Bangladesh is one of the countries where the outbreak has overwhelmed people’s life. So far, no drugs or vaccines have been recognized to work against the novel Covid-19. Although several drugs like Chloroquine, Hydroxychloroquine, Azithromycin, Favipiravir were considered, none showed much effectiveness except Remdesivir. 

Remdesivir got FDA approval on May and has been used to treat serious patients in the hospital. Since none of the developed countries could come up with any a sustainable solution yet, they have encouraged an alternative way which will either boost up the immune system or provide antiviral activities preventing the multiplication of the virus. 

These environmental-bound herbal compounds also contain anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties.

Bangladesh is a densely populated country and it faced noteworthy challenges in combating Covid-19. The very first few confirmed cases were observed at the beginning of March and was seen to shoot up in April. Many newspaper reports and social media broadcasted unnatural deaths of individuals with Covid-19 symptoms. 

A country where most people are living in close proximity, where they live in slums and share the same toilet or kitchen, it is quite hard to follow all the guidelines. 

Low-income groups and garment workers are protesting all over the country demanding food and unpaid wages. Although the government is trying its best to provide enough facilities to the poor, the word “social distancing” is an anathema for many individuals in Bangladesh. 

The treatments of Covid-19 patients are still not available at many hospitals of Bangladesh. The lack of ICUs and enough supplies of PPE are making the scenario worse. 

Some herbal staples of this sub-continent such as Azadirachtaindica (neem), zingiberis rhizome (ginger), zinc, vitamin-C, green tea, ocimumtenuiflorum (tulsi), black seed oil, and cloves have antiviral properties. Therefore they might work against Covid-19.

Ginger is being traditionally used for its rich medicinal values from ancient times. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-cancer as well anti-viral properties. 

Consuming this does not require any mechanical ventilation or intensive care. It can help in getting rid of the respiratory illness and also has a bronchodilating property.

It gained approval from US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A healthy individual can consume about 4 grams of ginger per day. 

Clove is another home remedy used in reducing the symptoms of Covid-19. Cloves are dried flowered buds extracted from clove tree and are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre. 

Clove oil is beneficial for patients with serious illnesses like diabetes, asthma, kidney problems, and hypertension. It opens the respiratory passage and works as a painkiller. Both of the preceding herbs provide a spicy, pungent taste which keeps the infectious agent away.

Green tea also has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties. Recent studies showed that catechin, especially epigallocatechin 3 gallate from green tea, has antiviral properties. 

Tannic acid and 3-iso theaflavin-3-gallate found in tea leaves showed protection against the severe acute respiratory syndrome. Noticeably, SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 are genetically very similar. 

And so three to five cups of (720 to 1200 ml) green tea are suggested to be consumed right after a meal per day. They will contain about 180mg of catechin and 60mg of tannin.

Tulsi has been used to treat viral flu for ages. It has some antibacterial activities which boost up the immune system, increasing T helper cells and natural killer cells activity inside the body.

Ethanoic extract of tulsi can exert anti-inflammatory properties by suppressing the function of interleukin-6 and NF-kappa B. 

Neem leaves have over 130 beneficial active compounds which help in treating different health ailments. It contains a component gedunin which helps treat malaria fever. 

One research done on rats showed that it can provide relief from severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). One can safely consume 60mg of tulsi per day over a time period of 10 weeks.

Black seeds or black seed oils were used from generations to generation. Numerous studies demonstrated its antioxidant, antidiabetic, anti-microbial, anti-viral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic effects. 

In one of the studies, viral loads in murine model was found to be suppressed by using black seed oil. This occurred due to the increase in number of T helper cells and interferon gamma production and decrease in the functions of macrophages. Therefore about 5ml of black seed oil are recommended per day without any side effects.

Apart from taking in all the herbal medications, a proper supply of macronutrient is necessary to maintain the function of the immune system. A nutrient deficient body can easily fail in defending against the invaders. 

It is like opening the doors of your house for the robbers to enter. Each cell component requires different types of nutrients for its metabolism and defense mechanism. 

Vitamin D regulates the expression of a gene encoding antimicrobial peptides. Once the virus enters the body they are attacked by antimicrobial proteins and phagocytes. A Covid-19 affected patient grows some pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines inside them. 

Vitamin D can maintain their amounts. Simultaneously, Vitamin C plays a major role in the production of antibodies. They help in the formation of reactive oxygen species inside the body. 

The species acts as warriors against the intruding viruses. Hence, an individual is recommended to intake 100 grams of Omega-3 oil per day and a sufficient amount of vitamins with their meal. 

Zinc is also very critical for our immune system. It provides protection against many viruses including SARS-CoV 2. It even inhibits the RNA polymerase enzyme of SARS-CoV 2 which is essential for viral multiplication. CDC, USA recommends 11 milligram of Zn for adult male and 8 milligram of Zn in adult female. 

Zinc can be obtained from red meat, chicken, yoghurt, cashew nuts, and peas. 

The economy should only be stimulated with proper maintenance of healthcare. A number of business enterprises have already been allowed to resume operations conditionally, considering the contribution of SMEs in the economy and the poor conditions of the underprivileged daily-wage earners. 

This might alarmingly increase the chances of Covid-19 transmission in a densely populated country like Bangladesh. Therefore, it has become more relevant to look for a substitutable treatment/therapy for Covid-19 prevention and cure. 

There are a few minerals, vitamins, and herbal remedies which can play a good role in prevention of this virus/disease. They help in strengthening our immunity system and therefore assist us in fighting this disease. 

They can also have a significant effect in the overall progress of the treatment. Thereby, these inexpensive and scientific alternatives may not only help us to prevent and treat coronavirus, but also other diseases. Hopefully, we will all be able get through this crisis soon. 

Md Anowar Khasru Parvez is Professor, Department of Microbiology, Jahangirnagar University, and Treasurer, Pabna University of Science and Technology.

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