Can neem help prevent COVID-19?

Be it cough, cold, fever or other diseases or disorders, many time we turn to ‘Dr. Google’ rather than going to our trusted doctor. And, with the second wave of COVID-19 causing havoc, the habit doing a Google search for every small symptom, and looking for alternative ‘gharelu’ treatments has seen a rise.

Over the last one year, many have resorted to kitchen ingredients to boost immunity. Turmeric, pepper, ginger, honey, ayurvedic concoctions suddenly found a few fan base world over. And now, a there’s a new entrant in the ‘immunity boosting’ category…it’s none other than Neem!

Neem is said to have antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and antimalarial properties and as far as COVID-19 is concerned, it also has proinflammatory cytokine inhibitor and immunomodulator effect. This means, it may help stop cytokine storms in severe Covid patients. Cytokine storms is a condition where the body starts to attack its own cells and tissues rather than fighting the virus. Along with that, neem also has hepatoprotective elements, and prevents harmful chemicals from damaging the liver. Neem is also one of the most popular antioxidants, which prevents cell damage. Neem also has ACE inhibitor, meaning it contains Angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors that are a class of medication used primarily for the treatment of high blood pressure and heart failure.

A research study, published in International Journal of Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences (IJRPS), shows that neem has high inhibition against COVID-19 Main Protease, which is the central enzyme that allows the virus to replicate and infect other human cells. IJRPS is a quarterly publishing online peer reviewed scientific journal sponsored by JK Welfare & Pharmascope Foundation (pharmascope.org/ijrps). A Molecular Docking study showed that neem has 20+ compounds that show high inhibition against COVID-19 Main Protease (6LU7).

Since the research was conducted on a small scale, there is a need to expand the horizon of the study be conducted on a mass level to further expand the finds of the study.

Another research article by IAR Journal of Agriculture Research and Life Sciences published on ResearchGate, says, “Neem and its parts can be used as antibacterial, Antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, cure many other diseases. It is therefore suggested that Neem and its extracts can be used as an intervention to reduce the risk of COVID-19 among more susceptible populations.”

To conclude, according to the studies, neem can be a potential silver bullet against COVID-19. But, the studies need nod from key medical bodies and health experts.

Social media feeds are abuzz with several claims when it comes to Covid cure. It is important that one doesn’t fall for claims, unless they are approved by national institutions and the health ministry.

(Sources: pharmascope.org, www.researchgate.net/)

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