• Monday, August 15, 2022

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South Africa’s plant based treatment for Covid-19 enters clinical trial

The PHELA is a herbal product made of four medicinal plants

Prof Motlalepula Matsabisa

By: Pramod Thomas

THE clinical trial of a plant-based product, PHELA, on mild to moderate Covid-19 patients developed by South African scientists has just started, according to a statement.

The department of Pharmacology at the University of the Free State is conducting the first South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA)-approved multicentre controlled test, the statement added.

The PHELA is a herbal product made of four medicinal plants which have been scientifically tested and found effective as an immune modulator benefiting persons with a compromised immune system. These plants are found in most provinces of South Africa and are being cultivated to produce raw materials.

“The main purpose of the clinical trial is to confirm that the product can treat Covid-19 and be registered as a medication for this indication. We believe the medication works as an immune modulator to modulate the cytokine storm due to Covid-19 and also restores and normalises the patient’s immune system. We are testing it on 250 patients who suffer from confirmed mild to moderate Covid-19,” said Motlalepula Matsabisa, professor and director of Pharmacology at the University of the Free State.

“The efficacy studies have shown convincingly that PHELA is an immune reconstitution product and does have an effect in killing the SARS-COV-2 virus and most of its variants. PHELA efficacy, therefore, needs to be confirmed through randomised controlled multicentre clinical trials in Covid-19 patients.”

The study is based on the modification of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Master protocol for clinical trials. The efficacy of PHELA as both an immune modulator and an anti-SARS-COV-2 has been proven in vitro and in vivo with reproducible results conducted by three independent research institutions and a science council.

According to the statement, though medicinal plants were used to combat previous pandemics such as the Spanish flu, avian influenza and others these should be supported by scientific research and development. 

We have better technologies and resources now, which is why we should take the next step in research to promote consumer safety and to offer them effective health alternatives. We do the science to aid in building the herbal industry and develop sustained consumer confidence in traditional medicines,” added Prof Matsabisa, the current chairperson of the WHO’s regional expert advisory committee on traditional medicines (REACT).

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