While observational studies point towards safety and efficiency, a clinical trial is still needed to confirm its preventive qualities.
HAVANA TIMES – Different studies are being undertaken in Cuba in an attempt to prevent Covid-19, which has caused over 48,441 infections and 314 fatalities up until last Friday.
Natural and traditional medicine has also contributed to the fight against COVID-19, taking advantage of the health benefits of turmeric (Curcuma longa L), an herbaceous plant from the Zingiberaceae family that is native to south-eastern India.
In January, a study began on the product Curmeric, which is underway in the Cuban capital, being observed in dental personnel, considered to be among those most at risk, because of suction equipment used during dental procedures.
Led by Dr. Tania Valdes, the head of the Diagnosis and Therapy Lab, located in the Calixto Garcia Hospital in Havana, the study seeks to prove the efficiency of Curmeric in dental professionals. The study involves a high-risk group of infection with SARS-CoV-2, at two clinics in the capital.
Registered in the country’s regulatory body, the National Institute of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Microbiology, Curmeric was created with a formula that contains extract of Curcuma longa.
It’s a topical solution of standardized gargling mouthwash made with a turmeric concentrate, Cuban doctor Alberto Hernandez said, at an international seminar about the contribution of traditional medicine during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Taken orally and nasally, it forms a kind of “natural mask that prevents respiratory disease,” said Tania Valdes. The lab, founded in 2015, seeks scientifical evidence for natural products in the fight against different diseases.
Nevertheless, the investigator warned that people won’t stop becoming infected if they eat it, because if it worked, then India wouldn’t have so many cases.
“Turmeric has many health benefits and Curmeric contains extracts of this plant, but it is a complex natural formula, that includes other natural products,” Valdes explained. Plus, she repeated that the product compliments, but doesn’t substitute, measures such as social distancing, washing hands and wearing a mask.
The study on dental professionals follows trials undertaken in 2020, based on teamwork, which, ever since the epidemic began in China, has focused on a preventative formula that helps to prevent respiratory problems caused by both viral and bacterial infections.
The antimicrobial action of the solution is applied as nasal drops and mouthwash. It has proven to fight different strains of isolated bacteria in patients with respiratory disease, who were admitted into the hospital. Likewise, in health professionals.
According to Valdes, at the beginning of the pandemic, Curmeric was used at the Calixto Garcia hospital and “108 professionals from high-risk areas didn’t test positive for COVID-19; while 91 of those working in less high-risk areas weren’t administered Curmeric, and 12 tested positive.”
Valdes is also the head of the Curcuma Longa Nutraceutical and Phytopharmaceutical Development project. It is a Ministry of Public Heath’s Natural and Traditional Medicine program. She said that between September and late November 2020, observational studies were carried out on primary healthcare practitioners.
Curmeric mouthwash and Curmeric nasal drops were administered to 488 people in quarantine because of COVID-19, with the aim of confirming the safety and preventive effect of the topical solution. “There weren’t any serious adverse reactions, nor were there any positive cases after the product reached areas with people in quarantine, at medical clinics located in the Plaza de la Revolucion and Regla municipalities,” Valdes told the local press.
In her opinion, “it was widely accepted, and in high demand. Those who used it said that they noted improvements in people with allergies, asthma sufferers and sinusitis patients.” According to her, the same happened with residents in different areas where Covid spread last May; we gave Curmeric to people there and trained people responsible for sales.
She stressed that these are just clinical observations, that can indicate a trend in the safety and efficiency of a product in general terms. “A clinical trial will then be needed to allow for the final verdict on whether it really does prevent COVID-19,” she said.
The search for new uses of turmeric continues. She noted the Ministry of Health recently approved a project for developing nutritional supplements using curcuma longa and is analyzing its preventive effects in cognitive deterioration and infectious respiratory diseases in geriatric patients.
Other scientific institutions have taken part in these studies. These include the Technological Applications and Nuclear Development Center, the National Coordination Center for Clinical Trials and the Cuban Center of Further Education.
– Turmeric used comes from farms that employ good agricultural practices, ensuring the quality of the raw material.
– In the form of mouthwash, Curmeric is being sold at the natural and homeopathic medicine drugstore on 6th street, between 23rd and 25th streets, in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood.
– The solution is indicated for all ages, and can be used for gargling or mouthwashing three times a day, after each meal.