Clinical trials on the use of the Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO), lagundi (Chinese chaste tree), and tawa-tawa (Euphorbia hirta) as a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) therapeutic or supplement are expected to be completed by June, the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) said on Monday, May 3.
DOST-PCHRD Executive Director Dr. Jaime C. Montoya expressed optimism that studies on the herbal medicines as a potential supplement that could help prevent the worsening of condition in patients afflicted with the COVID-19 virus will be concluded next month.
“Itong lagundi, tawa-tawa at VCO, sana ay matapos na at ang target po natin ay katapusan ng Hunyo, pero po maraming pag-aaral na nagsisimula rin na bago na iba ibang indikasyon ang tinintingan so maaari na magoverlap (These clinical trials on lagundi, tawa-tawa and VCO, hopefully, they will be completed soon, and our target is by end of June, but there are many studies that are also starting and other indications are being looked at so it can overlap),” he said during a televised public briefing on Monday.
“Pero sa pangkalahatan nakikita po namin basta wala pong problema at ma-achieve yung target na sample size po sa mga pag-aaral, sana po ay matapos around June (But in general, we see that as long as there are no problems and we can achieve the target sample size in the studies, we hope to finish around June),” he added.
In April last year, the DOST started looking into the effectiveness of certain herbal medicines against COVID-19.
During his weekly report on Friday, April 9, DOST Secretary Fortunato “Boy” T. de la Peña announced that the screening and recruitment for participants of VCO clinical trials are still ongoing. VCO clinical trials are being conducted at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and in Valenzuela City.
De la Peña said they were bracing for the immediate completion of the Stage 2 of the lagundi clinical trials with the inclusion of more trial centers, such as quarantine centers in Quezon City.
The DOST chief said over 150 COVID-19 patients were enrolled to participate in the Stage 2 of the lagundi clinical trials.
In late March, Dr. Cecilia Nelia C. Maramba-Lazarte of the University of the Philippines (UP) Manila announced that the lagundi clinical trials are expected to be completed soon.
She said they completed the Stage 1 of the trials or the dose-finding and safety study at the Quezon Institute and at the PNP Camp Bagong Final Special Care Facility.
In July 2020, it was announced that the clinical trials for lagundi were approved by DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD).
Lagundi is widely used as a cough remedy.
In early April this year, de la Peña announced that Quezon Institute will serve as a “new study site” for clinical trial on the use of tawa-tawa as an adjunctive treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 patients.
In late March, Dr. Philip Ian Padilla of the University of the Philippines (UP) Visayas relayed to de la Peña that the taw-tawa clinical trial is just starting.
He said the clinical trial for tawa-tawa has been slightly delayed “because of bureaucratic red tape.”
Tawa-tawa is known as a supplement for dengue.