Results of the clinical trials for Lagundi were presented during the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Health Research and Development’s (DOST-PCHRD) Talakayang HeaRT Beat virtual presser on 26 October 2021.
The study conducted by Dr. Cecilia Maramba-Lazarte and her team at the University of the Philippines, Manila – National Institutes of Health (UPM – NIH) revealed that 600mg of the over-the-counter Lagundi products, already approved by the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) as herbal medicine for cough, taken three times a day by patients in home quarantine can be safely used to treat mild COVID-19 symptoms.
At the time of the clinical trials, there were only a few drugs, such as remdesivir (3), barticinib, and tocilizumab (4) given emergency use permits to use in patients who have severe to critical symptoms of COVID-19. With the heavy demand of these drugs, supply shortage is inevitable. This could be prevented through early treatment.
The clinical trials were conducted to investigate the efficacy and safety of the National Integrated Research Program on Medicinal Plant (NIRPROMP) formulation of Lagundi as early treatment for those with mild COVID-19 infection. By treating symptoms at the onset, hospitalizations could be averted and further spread could be prevented by limiting the duration of infectiousness.
The two-stage, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted from July 2020 to August 2021. All participants of the study were patients without comorbidities.
The first stage of the trial aimed to find the right dosage of the standard formulation to be administered. Seventy-five adults who tested positive for COVID-19 after rtPCR tests were enrolled for the first phase of the study. Patients were grouped and were either given the standard dose (600mg, three times a day) or high dose (1.2g, three times a day) Lagundi syrup or tablet for 10 days.
The standard dose was chosen for use during the second phase as findings on the first phase of the study revealed that both dosages are safe and effective in terms of clinical recovery time, global evaluation scale, and modified early warning score.
The second stage aimed to confirm the safety and efficacy of the dosage through the placebo-controlled study. Two hundred COVID-19 positive adults were enrolled for the second phase of the study and were grouped into those who received Lagundi treatment (101 patients) and those who received the placebo (99).
Results of the second phase of the study found that Lagundi is effective in decreasing mild COVID-19 symptoms especially anosmia (loss of sense of smell) and providing overall relief of discomfort from other symptoms. There is also no significant adverse event and incidence observed during intervention.
The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) has already included Lagundi as one of the items in its homecare kit for mild COVID-19 symptoms. (DOST)