As long as pandemic still exists, researchers remain to dedicate their efforts to develop Covid-19 drugs. One of which is Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) as a herbal medicine from natural ingredients. Dr. Ika Trisnawati, M.Sc., Sp.PD., KP., FINASIM., as the expert of UGM FKKMK as well as the Head Team of the Airborne Disease in Dr. Sardjito Hospital, revealed the pilot study regarding VCO as the adjuvant therapy for Covid-19 is currently used in four hospitals in Yogyakarta. They consist of Dr. Sardjito Hospital, Academic Hospital of UGM, Wonosari, and Sleman Hospitals. VCO has a good antiviral activity, such as lauric acid (C12) and monolaurin (ML) and its derivatives. Therefore, it is highly recommended as a natural herb to lessen the Covid-19.
"VCO is considered a medium-chain fatty acid (MCA) containing lauric acid to be transformed into monoglyceride and monolaurin. Those both have the potential to destroy viral lipid membrane," she said in the Webinar of Clinical Trial and Handling for Covid-19 organized by UGM FKKMK Center for Herbal Medicine on Thursday (15/4).
When the VCO enters the human body, it will damage the virus's cell membrane and turn off its activity. Pilot studies in the four hospitals revealed a significant result (p <0.05) of VCO use in reducing TNF α in the VCO group compared to placebo. Besides, there was a reduction in inflammatory markers among other CR, ferritin, and IL6, although it was not too significant in statistical terms. Another discovery revealed a significant decrease in D Dimer and ferritin (p <0.05) before and after the VCO group intervention. Then, there was a little decrease in CRP, IL6, and procalcitonin.
"VCO can reduce the inflammatory markers for Covid-19 patients to reduce the severity level," she said.
Meanwhile, Dra. Riri Indriani, Apt., M.Si. from the National Agency of Drug and Food Control (BPOM) said that Indonesia had potential and abundant natural ingredients and more than 30.000 plant species. According to the Data from Research on Medicines and Jamu, it recorded 2,848 medicinal plants spread across 405 ethnicities in 34 provinces.
"Indonesia is very potential to produce jamu, standard herbal drug, and phytopharmaca including adjuvant therapy of Covid-19," Riri said.
She added that BPOM had conducted assistance and counseling regarding herbal research for Covid-19. Recently, there are 15 kinds of research employing natural ingredients in which they have their trial stages, including protocols arrangement for clinical trials, pra clinical, and clinical trials itself. Pra clinical trial aims to build anti-inflammation, immune, antipyretic, and anti-Covid-19. There were also some challenges in conducting the trials. For instance, the challenge in finding an animal model that can describe the overall pathophysiology of Covid-19 in humans.
Meanwhile, in clinical trials, there were so many influential aspects for the clinical trials final result. There were also other challenges such as differences in sample size, subject population, to subject category. Some various manifestations for Covid-19 patients sue the researchers to be more careful in administering the operational definition of clinical symptom improvement.
Utilizing this potential nature for the development of herbal drugs towards the product downstream requires collective support from many parties, including higher education.
"BPOM will always support the downstream effort for the natural herbal drugs," she included.
Several important speakers were invited to the webinar. They were UGM FKKMK Professor, Prof. Dr. Apt., Mae Sri Hartati Wahyuningsih, M.Sc., who presented material about the potential magnitude of Indonesia's natural/herbal ingredients for Covid-19. Then, LIPI researchers, Dr. Masteria Yunovilsa, explained herbal clinical trials as immunomodulators for Covid-19 patients. He conveyed that natural ingredients as traditional medicine. Also attending Prof. Myeong Soo Lee, an expert from university in South Korea, and Prof. Tzou Chi Huang from China, who also explained the practice of using herbal medicine in Covid-19 therapy.