After two years of learning how to survive in the new ecosystem created by the COVID-19 pandemic, even after the emergence of effective vaccines to aid in preventing Covid, there is yet no additional pharmacotherapy besides the very recently FDA-approved Paxlovid.
This has led to a surge in demand for alternative medicines and practices to aid in symptom relief of the illness. Due to the prevalence of these remedies, the popular media has had no shortage of coverage for these newfound health options.
The lack of pharmacotherapies has also inspired patients to turn to their physicians and pharmacists for suggestions on complementary approaches such as vitamins or dietary supplements that can offer some reprieve during recovery. Alternatives being used around the world
Europe & North America
The West has recently developed a profound interest in healing elixirs and practices widespread in the East. In Norway, for example, a literature review done for the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health refers to a study where individuals stated that “relaxation techniques, prayers, ginger, and fish oils were some of the key practices they recommended to service users.”
The effectiveness of herbal medicine-infused masks designed to decrease infection rates are also being observed, however, there is currently no sufficient evidence to support their usage.
Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, is still highly respected and practiced in China. Currently, multitudinous studies, including clinical research and therapeutic monitoring, are being done to ensure that their usage is safe and effective. While TCM practitioners recommend 15 different oral formulations and eight injectable formulations of herbs, the China Food and Drug Administration, or the CFDA, has only approved two.
The Xuebijing injection is used to treat coronavirus pneumonia with systemic inflammatory response syndrome or organ failure. In contrast, Lianhua Qingwen capsules is used for fever, fatigue, or cough caused by milder forms of Covid.
In South Asia, wherein there is limited access to Western medicine in many rural locations, people are relying on herbal remedies to lessen the severity of their Covid-19 symptoms. The most prevalent ingredients utilized in these communities are basil and Indian gooseberry for their immune-boosting properties.
Other ingredients such as echinacea, curcumin, and quinine with antiviral and antimicrobial benefits are also commonly used. You can even find some of these, such as echinacea, in over-the-counter syrups sold in the West. There is still very little evidence of their success.
A recent study on acclaimed African Home Remedies found that the steam-inhalation or oral ingestions of the leaves of Eucalyptus, Neem, Mango, Papaya, Guava, Mandarin orange, and plantains can provide not only relieved Covid symptoms they also help in restoring the psychological functions of the treated patients.
The Madagascar Institute of Applied Research also released a home remedy that involves boiling Neem leaves with Artemisia, paw leaf, garlic, ginger, limes, and oranges to clear your lungs as the ingredients are being boiled, if done for 30 minutes. Multiple studies are being conducted across the continent to test the effectiveness of these various home remedies.
Should these act as a replacement for medical treatment?
We’ve briefly touched on the relevant findings stating whether or not these complementary medicines are effective. While you may have had some positive experiences with them yourself, the limited research on these practices can at least serve as a suggestion that they should remain supplemental instead of serving as a primary source of treatment. If possible, of course.
Still, it is fascinating to see how various traditions around the globe have provided a source of comfort in these trying times and have also brought to light some treatments that show promise in the medical field. Perhaps we’ll see a more diverse set of cures and therapies with a natural inclination in the future.