By Red Mendoza
The Department of Science and Technology (DoST) has started studying if melatonin, virgin coconut oil (VCO) and the tawa-tawa (Euphorbia hirta) plant can cure the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
The DoST’s Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) said the study, titled “Melatonin as Adjuvant treatment for Covid-19 in Patients Requiring hospitalization (MAC19 PRO): A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial (RCT),” would examine whether high doses of melatonin could lessen the need for intubation or ventilation of hospitalized Covid-19 patients and improve their survival rate.
Melatonin, which is commonly used as a sleep-aid supplement, is also known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidation and immune-enhancing effects that may help alleviate respiratory distress.
The PCHRD, together with the Manila Doctors Hospital, said the study would be the first “randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled” trial worldwide that would explore the effectiveness and safety of using high doses of melatonin as part of therapy against Covid-19.
The project will run for four months in select hospitals in Metro Manila and Cebu City.According to a pilot study, patients who were given high doses of melatonin had shown faster clinical improvement.
“We are aiming to build on the use of melatonin as a commonly available supplement to support our fight against Covid-19,” PCHRD Executive Director Jaime Montoya said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the DoST and the Department of Health were also looking at VCO and the tawa-tawa plant as a possible cure for the coronavirus disease.
Tests regarding the use of VCO are ongoing among patients that have possible symptoms of the virus, while tawa-tawa herbs have active ingredients that may help dengue hemorrhagic fever patients.
But Health Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire warned that the public should only use registered traditional medicine methods because there is no cure yet for Covid-19 and all possible cures are just experimental at this stage.
“Ang lagi lang naman po nating sinasabi na as long as ito po ay nakarehistro at hindi naman po makakasama sa mga tao, ito naman po ay hindi pinagbabawal, pero hindi po tayo maging complacent (We always remind the public that as long as it is registered and it won’t harm people, we allow them, but we should not be complacent),” Vergeire said
The country is taking part in the World Health Organization solidarity trials in the cure for Covid-19, where antiviral drugs Remdesivir, Lopinavir with Ritonavir and Lopinavir with Ritonavir plus Interferon beta 1a have been involved in clinical trials since March.
The Health department is also researching the use of convalescent blood plasma for severe or critical Covid-19 patients.
Meanwhile, the department reported 490 new virus cases on Monday, raising the total number of cases to 26,420.
There were 298 new recoveries, the highest number of recoveries posted in a day, and 10 new deaths.