Ashwagandha can help fight COVID-19, claims IIT-Delhi research

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Ashwagandha superfood powder and root on cutting board on wooden table from above. Adaptogen.

The team claims that while the drug development may take a while, these natural resources (Ashwagandha and Propolis) may offer some preventive or even therapeutic value. The research is currently under review.

  • Published on : The Indian Express

By: Education Desk | New Delhi | Updated: May 18, 2020 6:36:44 pm

While the world is trying to find the coronavirus vaccine through high-end technologies, research teams from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi and The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) Japan are exploring the possibilities of Ashwagandha (a medicinal herb) possessing bio-actives to interact with SARS-CoV-2.

In research, the institute has claimed that the natural compounds from Ashwagandha and propolis have the potential to be effective anti-COVID-19 drug candidates. The research paper has been recently published in J Biomol Struct Dyn, the IIT claims in a press statement.

 “The researchers targeted the main SARS-CoV-2’s enzyme for splitting proteins, known as the main protease or M-pro that plays a key role in mediating viral replication. This is an attractive drug target for this virus, and as humans don’t naturally have this enzyme, compounds that target M-pro are likely to have low toxicity. They discovered that Withanone (Wi-N), a natural compound derived from Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) and Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester (CAPE), an active ingredient of New Zealand propolis, have the potential to interact with and block the activity of M-pro,” the institute claims.

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The team further said, in a release, that the drug development may take a while, however, these natural resources (Ashwagandha and Propolis) may offer some preventive or even therapeutic value. The research is currently under review.

Prof D Sundar, Coordinator of DAILAB @ IIT Delhi and Head of the Department of Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology at IIT Delhi was quoted as saying, “The traditional medicine system ‘Ayurveda’ has been practiced for thousands of years in India. Unlike modern medicine, the mechanism of action of natural drugs has not been resolved so far. IIT Delhi and AIST researchers have been working together for more than a decade and trying to contribute to strengthen this avenue by merging the traditional knowledge with modern technologies.”

He added, “While ashwagandha has a reputation as an immunity enhancer, the current research which is an initiative of Indian government task force, hints at its anti-viral activities.”

Other authors on this paper were Vipul Kumar, a PhD student, IIT Delhi and Jaspreet Kaur Dhanjal, a PhD alumni from IIT Delhi and currently a post-doctoral fellow at AIST.