Can Herbal Medicines Fight Wuhan Coronavirus?

(Last Updated On: February 11, 2020)

Research over the past two decades shows that certain herbal medicines can fight the new Wuhan coronavirus contagion. Let’s review the evidence showing that certain plant medicines can fight similar viral infections such as SARS, MERS and Ebola, and why this can also apply to the Wuhan coronavirus.

Wuhan coronavirus

The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak is spreading. Can plant medicines help? (Photo Lucis Philippines Press)

Let’s review some of the current science on this coronavirus infection. Then we can discuss what plant medicines can offer.

Latest on the Wuhan coronavirus

The SARS-like coronavirus that appears to have originated in Wuhan, China has now infected thousands of people. As of February 5, 2020, there have been 45,119 confirmed cases around the world. 44,643 of these cases are in mainland China. There are infections in every province of China with the exception of Tibet. Other countries with confirmed infections on February 11, 2020 include Hong Kong (49), Singapore (47), Japan (26) Thailand (33), South Korea (28), Malaysia (18), Taiwan (18), Germany (16), Vietnam (15), Australia (15), U.S. (13), and France (11). Canada, the United Arab Emirates, India, Italy, Russia, Philippines, the UK, Nepal, Cambodia, Belgium, Spain, Finland, Sweden, and Sri Lanka have all reported between 1 and 8 cases.

As of February 11, 1,115 people have died from the virus. So far the death rate is only about 2.5 percent. This is significantly less than the SARS virus, which registered at 9.5 percent. This means that so far, this coronavirus is far less deadly than the SARS virus of 2002 and 2003. There has only been one death outside of mainland China – in the Philippines.

To contain the coronavirus, nearly 50 million people have been quarantined. Quarantine areas include Wuhan and 15 other nearby cities in the region of Hubei province. The Centers for Disease Control said they are monitoring 73 possible infections in 26 states in the United States as of the 28th of January. None of these cases have revealed any person-to-person transmission in the U.S.

Investigators are suspecting that the virus originated at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. The market’s vendors have been selling live or butchered animals in addition to fish and other marine life.

What is the COVID-19?

The virus was initially named novel coronavirus of 2019 (nCoV-2019 or 2019-nCoV) as of now. This has now been renamed as COVID-19.

Sequencing of the virus has determined it to be 75 to 80 percent match to SARS-CoV and more than 85 percent similar to multiple coronaviruses found in bats.

SARS stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome. It is also a coronavirus or CoV.

Researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology published a paper on January 23, 2020. Their paper informs that COVID-19 has a 96 percent genome match with a bat coronavirus.

They also stated that COVID-19 utilizes the same cell entry receptor as the SARS-CoV of 2002-2004. The receptor is ACE2. We’ll discuss the importance of this later.

It has yet been determined whether the infection is as lethal as SARS. SARS is another outbreak that began in China in 2002, infecting people through 2004. More than 700 people died worldwide of SARS.

A study published on January 24 from the University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital in Shenzhen studied six patients of COVID-19. They also determined that the virus was most similar to a SARS coronavirus found in Chinese horseshoe bats.

COVID-19 symptoms and transmission

These and other researchers have determined that the Wuhan CoV is transmitted from person to person when a person comes into contact with the secretions of an infected person. This means the virus is transmitted via the following means:
• Coughing
• Sneezing
• Shaking hands
• Touching infected object then touching eyes, mouth or nose
• Handling the waste of an infected person

Symptoms of COVID-19 include:
• Runny nose
• Cough
• Mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness
• Sore throat

The elderly and young children are most at risk of the infection. This is similar to SARS, though it appears COVID-19 is less lethal than SARS and MERS. About 15 to 20 percent of cases can become severe. The lethal rate is about 1 in 10 according to doctors.

The COVID-19 virus, just as was SARS and MERS, is an enveloped virus. This means the virus is protected by a glycoprotein shell. This is why these viruses are so difficult to treat.

Red algae for SARS and MERS coronavirus

A few years ago we published research showing that an extract from red algae – called Griffithsin – can fight SARS and MERS infections. Red algae Griffithsin has also proven to be antiviral against HIV-1 (human immunodeficiency virus), HSV-2 (Herpes simplex virus), HCV (Hepatitis C) and the Ebola virus.

What do these viruses have in common? Along with COVID-19, they all have glycoprotein shells around them. According to doctors at the University of California at Davis:

“Griffithsin is a marine algal lectin that exhibits broad-spectrum antiviral activity by binding oligomannose glycans on viral envelope glycoproteins.”

The researchers are discussing what is also called a mannose-binding lectin. Mannose-binding lectins have been shown to penetrate and break down the shells that surround this class of viruses – which includes COVID-19 virus.

The red algae extract above was found in the Griffithsia species of red algae. This is not the only species of red algae that contains mannose-binding lectins.

Another mannose-binding lectin found to be antiviral against these viruses is the Scytonema varium red algae, also called Scytovirin. Another one was found in the Nostoc ellipsosporum algae species – called Cyanovirin-N.

A 2019 study from France’s Institut de Recherche et Développement tested a number of other species, and found the Ulva pertusa algae species contained lectins that fight these viruses. They also found the Oscillatoria agardhii blue-green algae halt the replication of these viruses.

A 2016 study from the University of Louisville School of Medicine also studied Griffithsin and found it also inhibited SARS-CoV as well as HIV and similar viruses. The researchers wrote:

“These findings support further evaluation of GRFT [Griffithsin] for pre-exposure prophylaxis against emerging epidemics for which specific therapeutics are not available, including systemic and enteric infections caused by susceptible enveloped viruses.”

Studies have found that these mannose-binding lectins break down the glycoprotein shells of the viruses mentioned above, including Ebola and SARS. A number of animal tests and human cell laboratory tests have shown that these mannose-binding lectins are successful in halting replication of the virus.

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In a study on mice with Ebola, researchers found that Griffithsin halted not only replication, but made mice immune to the virus. Similar results were found with SARS and MERS infections.

A 2018 study from New York’s Center for Biomedical Research tested the effectiveness of Griffithsin against enveloped viruses. The researchers found that Griffithsin extracts from red algae inhibited HIV infections, HPV (human papillomavirus) and herpes simplex-2 viruses. The researchers also found that Griffithsin protected monkeys from HIV and mice from being infected with HSV-2.

This means that Griffithsin – from red algae – could make an effective vaccine of sorts. Are researchers testing this?

It is currently unknown what scientists are studying. But often the commercial focus is upon compounds that can be patented.

In the 2018 study from the University of California mentioned above, the researchers reviewed the technical ability to mass-produce Griffithsin, in this case, for HIV infections, using plants to produce the extract. They illustrated the end cost to be quite low:

“In this study, we conducted a techno-economic analysis (TEA) of plant-produced Griffithsin manufactured at commercial launch volumes for use in HIV microbicides. Data derived from multiple non-sequential manufacturing batches conducted at pilot scale and existing facility designs were used to build a techno-economic model using SuperPro Designer® modeling software. With an assumed commercial launch volume of 20 kg Griffithsin/year for 6.7 million doses of Griffithsin microbicide at 3 mg/dose, a transient vector expression yield of 0.52 g Griffithsin/kg leaf biomass, recovery efficiency of 70%, and purity of >99%, we calculated a manufacturing cost for the drug substance of $0.32/dose and estimated a bulk product cost of $0.38/dose assuming a 20% net fee for a contract manufacturing organization (CMO).”

This is the nature of treating disease with plant medicines: Plants are economical and productive on a large scale, as we know from food and herbal medicine production.

Licorice for SARS

Licorice root has been used for thousands of years for lung infections with similar symptoms as viral infections.

We have also published evidence that licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) can fight SARS and MERS CoV infections. Studies have found that licorice root extracts were able to reduce SARS and MERS-CoV replication.

A 2008 study from the UK’s Luton & Dunstable Hospital NHS Foundation Trust tested licorice root extracts against a number of viruses, including HIV and SARS. They found that the extract broke down the viral envelope and also boosted immune activity.

The researchers stated that their studies,

“revealed antiviral activity against HIV‐1, SARS related coronavirus, respiratory syncytial virus, arboviruses, vaccinia virus and vesicular stomatitis virus.”

For the mechanisms, the researchers stated,

“Mechanisms for antiviral activity of Glycyrrhiza spp. include reduced transport to the membrane and sialylation of hepatitis B virus surface antigen, reduction of membrane fluidity leading to inhibition of fusion of the viral membrane of HIV‐1 with the cell, induction of interferon gamma in T‐cells, inhibition of phosphorylating enzymes in vesicular stomatitis virus infection and reduction of viral latency.”

Other plant lectins that fight these viruses

We have published other research evidence showing that mannose-binding lectins from other plants can also fight SARS-related viruses. A number of studies have shown that plants that contain mannose-binding lectins can significantly stimulate the immune system and help prevent a number of infections.

A 2007 study from Belgium’s University of Gent studied plant-derived mannose-binding lectins on SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) coronavirus and the feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIPV).

The researchers studied known plant lectins from 33 different plants in the laboratory, using infected cells. The researchers wrote:

“A unique collection of 33 plant lectins with different specificities were evaluated. The plant lectins possessed marked antiviral properties against both coronaviruses with EC(50) values in the lower microgram/ml range (middle nanomolar range), being non-toxic (CC(50)) at 50-100 micrograms per ml. The strongest anti-coronavirus activity was found predominantly among the mannose-binding lectins.”

Of the 33 plants tested, 15 extracts inhibited the replication of both coronaviruses. Those antiviral lectins were successful in inhibiting the replication of the viruses.

The 15 coronavirus-inhibiting plants were:

• Amaryllis (Hippeastrum hybrid)
• Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)
• Daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus)
• Red spider lily (Lycoris radiate)
• Leek (Allium porrum)
• Ramsons (Allium ursinum)
• Taro (Colocasia esculenta)
• Cymbidium orchid (Cymbidium hybrid)
• Twayblade (Listera ovata)
• Broad-leaved helleborine (Epipactis helleborine)
• Tulip (Tulipa hybrid)
• Black mulberry tree (Morus Nigra)
• Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica)
• Tobacco plant (Nicotiana tabacum)

With regard to the last plant mentioned, much of the research now in development for large scale production of Griffithsin is focused on utilizing tobacco plants. This is because tobacco is easily produced in grow operations. But it should be noted – contrary to some information found online – that the tobacco plant does not naturally contain Griffithsin. Researchers have genetically implanted the Griffithsin gene into some tobacco plants in order to possibly mass-produce the antiviral compound from these genetically modified tobacco plants.

But as we see from above, tobacco, along with taro, nettles, and leeks, is also antiviral against coronaviruses. This doesn’t necessarily mean that smoking tobacco will convey its antivirul properties, however.

Note about commercial availability of red algae

As mentioned in another article, Griffithsin extract is currently being pursued by commercial interests looking for a long term patent with a pharmaceutical model. Thus, this product is not available commercially at this time.

Red algae is a supplement that can be purchased in health food stores and online. Most of the commercial supplements labeled red algae utilize the Gigartina species of red algae (such as Gigartina skottsbergii). This species has been tested against HSV and HIV in laboratory testing, but not on CoVs to date.

These studies indicate that the ability to break down the glycoprotein shell of these enveloped viruses is also a feature of the Gigartina red algae.

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翻译:Abacus Chinese Translation Services

过去二十年的研究表明,某些草药可以抵抗新型武汉冠状病毒的传染。 让我们回顾一下这些表明某些草药可以抵抗类似的如SARS,MERS和埃博拉病毒感染的证据,以及为什么这些也可以应用于武汉冠状病毒。


似乎起源于中国武汉的类SARS冠状病毒现已感染了数千人。 截至2020年1月28日,中国官员已确认6,000多起案例。 除西藏外,在中国每个省份都发生了这些事件。 截至28日,官方数字统计已有132人死于该病毒。

为了遏制冠状病毒,中国已经隔离了近5000万人。 隔离区包括武汉和湖北省附近的其他15个城市。 疾病控制中心表示,截至1月28日,他们正在监视美国26个州的73种可能的感染案例。 这些案例均未显示在美国有任何人与人之间的感染。

调查人员怀疑该病毒起源于华南海鲜批发市场。 市场供应商除了出售鱼类和其他海洋生物外,还出售活的或屠宰的动物。


到目前为止,该病毒已正式命名为COVID-19 冠状病毒。


SARS是严重急性呼吸系统综合症的缩写。 它也是一种冠状病毒。


他们还指出,COVID-19利用与2002-2004年SARS-CoV相同的细胞进入受体。 其受体是ACE2。 稍后我们将讨论其重要性。

尚未确定感染是否与SARS一样致命。 SARS是2002年在中国的另一起疫情,直到2004年一直感染着人们。全球有700多人死于SARS。

1月24日,香港大学深圳附属医院发表的一项研究报告包括了对6例COVID-19患者进行的研究。 他们还确定该病毒与在中国马蹄蝠中发现的SARS冠状病毒最为相似。


这些研究人员和其他研究人员已经确定,当一个人接触到被感染人的分泌物时,COVID-19就在人与人之间传播。 这意味着病毒通过以下方式传播:
• 咳嗽
• 打喷嚏
• 握手
• 触摸受感染的物体后触摸眼睛,嘴巴或鼻子
• 处理感染者的排泄物

• 流鼻涕
• 咳嗽
• 轻度到中度的上呼吸道疾病
• 咽喉痛

老年人和幼儿受感染的风险最大。 尽管COVID-19的致命性低于SARS和MERS,这与SARS相似。 大约15%至20%的病例会变得很严重。 根据医生的说法,致死率约为十分之一。

与SARS和MERS一样,COVID-19病毒是一种包膜病毒。 这意味着病毒被糖蛋白壳保护。 这就是这些病毒很难治疗的原因。

大西洋红皮藻 冠状病毒红藻以及SARS和MERS冠状病毒

几年前,我们发表的研究表明,红藻萃取物-Griffithsin(红藻素) -可以抵抗SARS和MERS感染。 红藻素还被证明对HIV-1(人类免疫缺陷病毒),HSV-2(单纯疱疹病毒),HCV(丙型肝炎)和埃博拉病毒具有抗病毒作用。

这些病毒有什么共同点? 与COVID-19一起,它们周围都有糖蛋白壳。 据加州大学戴维斯分校的医生们说:



上面的红藻提取物被发现于Griffithsia 的红藻物种中。这不是唯一包含甘露糖结合凝集素的红藻物种。(译者注:大西洋红皮藻也属于红藻类海洋植物,可直接食用)

另一种含有对这些病毒具有抗病毒作用的甘露糖结合凝集素的是Scytonema varium红藻,也称为Scytovirin。在Nostoc ellipsosporum 藻类中发现了另一种凝集素 -Cyanovirin-N。

法国研究与发展研究院(Institut de Recherche et Développement)于2019年进行的一项研究对许多其他物种进行了测试,结果发现百日草(Ulva pertusa)藻类物种中含有与这些病毒对抗的凝集素。他们还发现Oscillatoria agardhii 蓝藻阻止了这些病毒的复制。


“这些发现支持对GRFT [红藻素]进一步评估其对新兴流行病的暴露前预防,这些流行病尚无特定的治疗方法,包括易感性包膜病毒引起的全身和肠道感染”。

研究发现,这些结合甘露糖的凝集素会破坏上述病毒(包括埃博拉病毒和SARS)的糖蛋白壳。 许多动物试验和人体细胞实验室试验表明,这些结合甘露糖的凝集素可成功阻止病毒复制。

在一项针对埃博拉病毒的小鼠的研究中,研究人员发现红藻素不仅停止了病毒的复制,而且使小鼠对病毒免疫。 SARS和MERS感染也发现了类似的结果。

这意味着来自红藻的红藻素应该制造出有效的疫苗。 研究人员正在进行实验吗?(译者注:已有专利,用大西洋红皮藻提取物以对抗病毒的专利网址:

目前尚不清楚科学家正在研究什么。 但是通常其研究重点是商业的,着重于可以申请专利的化合物。

在上述来自加利福尼亚大学的2018年研究中,研究人员回顾了利用植物生产提取物的大规模生产红藻素的技术能力,在这种情况下,这种药物可用于治疗艾滋病病毒感染。 他们指出其最终成本相当低廉:

“在这项研究中,我们对以商业投放量生产的用于HIV杀微生物剂的从植物中提取的红藻素进行了技术经济分析(TEA)。 使用SuperProDesigner®建模软件,以试点规模和现有设施设计为基础,从多个非顺序生产批次中获得的数据用于建立技术经济模型。 假设以670万剂3 mg /剂量的红藻素杀微生物剂的商业投放量为每年20 公斤红藻素,瞬时载体表达产量为0.52 g 红藻素/公斤叶片生物量,回收效率为70%,纯度> 99 %,我们假设原料药的制造成本为0.32美元/剂量,假设合同生产组织(CMO)的净费用为20%,则估计大宗产品成本为0.38美元/剂量。”




我们还公布证据表明, 甘草根(Glycyrrhiza glabra)可以抗击非典和MERS冠状病毒感染(。有研究发现,甘草根提取物能减少SARS和MERS冠状病毒的复制。

英国卢顿与邓斯特布尔医院NHS基金会信托(NHS Foundation Trust)于2008年进行的一项研究对甘草根提取物针对多种病毒(包括HIV和SARS)进行了测试。 他们发现甘草根提取物破坏了病毒的包膜,还增强了免疫活性。






我们已经发表了其他研究证据,表明来自其他植物的甘露糖结合凝集素也可以抵抗SARS等相关病毒(。 大量研究表明,含有甘露糖结合凝集素的植物可以显著刺激免疫系统,并有助于预防多种感染。


研究人员使用感染的细胞在实验室研究了来自33种不同植物的已知植物凝集素。 研究人员写道:

“我们评价了33种具有不同特异性的植物凝集素的独特组合。 植物凝集素对两种冠状病毒均具有显着的抗病毒特性,其EC(50)值在较低的微克/毫升范围内(中等纳摩尔范围),而其在50-100微克/毫升下无毒(CC(50))。 在与甘露糖结合的凝集素中主要发现了最强的抗冠状病毒活性。”

所测试的33株植物中,有15种提取物抑制了两种冠状病毒的复制。 这些抗病毒凝集素成功地抑制了病毒的复制。


•雪花莲(Galanthus nivalis)
•黄水仙(Narcissus pseudonarcissus)
•红蜘蛛百合(Lycoris radiate)
•韭菜(Allium porrum)
•Ramsons(Allium ursinum)
•芋头(Colocasia esculenta)
•Cymbidium orchid (Cymbidium 混种)
•Twayblade(Listera ovata)
•阔叶树莓(Epipactis helleborine)
•郁金香(Tulipa 混种)
•黑桑树(Morus Nigra)
•烟草植物(Nicotiana tabacum)
•荨麻(Urtica dioica)

文献 (See above for references)

Case Adams, PhD

Case Adams has a Ph.D. in Natural Health Sciences, is a California Naturopath and is Board Certified as an Alternative Medicine Practitioner, with clinical experience and diplomas in Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling, Homeopathy and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 27 books and numerous articles on print and online magazines. Contact:

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