Health officials have issued a warning after a soaring demand for the herb green chiretta from people who believe it can protect them from Covid-19.
A hospital in Prachinburi province has also warned people that consuming green chiretta in large amounts can damage the kidney and liver.
People are rushing to buy green chiretta (Fah Talai Jone) after the Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine recently announced that the herb had allegedly cured more than 300 Covid-19 patients of mild symptoms.
Fah Talai Jone can prevent Covid-19 from entering body cells and therefore dividing itself, announced Department of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine director-general Dr Amporn Benjaponpitak.
“The department has been conducting research into the effectiveness of Fah Talai Jone in Covid-19 patients in cooperation with the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Chulabhorn Research Institute, the Department of Medical Sciences and the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation,” she said.
“Since December 2020, we have given Fah Talai Jone to 304 Covid-19 patients with non-severe symptoms. Most of the patients responded to the herb immediately and their condition actually improved in five days. The medication also did not have any adverse effects,” she explained.
“Each patient was given the herb containing 180 milligrams of Andrographolide three times a day before meals. However, the use of the herb must be under doctor supervision only,” she advised.
Since the first wave of Covid-19 emerged in Thailand, certain hospitals including Chao Phraya Abhaibhubejhr have been using green chiretta together with other medicines to treat Covid-19 patients. The patients have reportedly recovered without side effects.
Last December, the Public Health Ministry approved the use of Fah Talai Jone to treat early-stage Covid-19. However, Thai experts warn there is no solid scientific evidence that green chiretta can boost immunity or relieve the symptoms of Covid-19. The herbal extract has been used for centuries in Asia to combat flu and related diseases.
Chao Phraya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital added that research indicated the herb can help prevent flu if consumed in low amounts continually for three months. A medic at the hospital said fah talai jone boosted immunity.
Health experts on Tuesday said a herbal medicine currently flying off the shelves across the country will not help protect against the novel strain of coronavirus.
Despite, experts’ warnings, shoppers are hoarding stocks. Since Monday, the hospital’s herbal shop has been crowded with queues of people buying multiple bottles of the herb.