Care should be taken in the consumption of herbal products, which are preferred especially for strengthening the immune system during the pandemic process.
Indicating that medicinal and aromatic herbs such as sumac, thyme, black elderberry, turmeric and ginger were the most popular in this period, experts say that many points should be taken into consideration from their collection to their storage. Experts warn, "Even if there is a quality product in the wrong storage conditions, the active ingredient can turn into a harmful, allergic, toxic product."
Üsküdar University Health Services Vocational School Medical and Aromatic Plants Program Head Dr. Tuğba Kaman drew attention to the points to be considered in the consumption of medicinal plants used to strengthen the immune system during the pandemic process.
Used for many ailments
Stating that the use of medicinal plants for protection from diseases is as old as human history, Dr. Lecturer Tuğba Kaman said, “Herbal products traditionally prepared from medicinal plants are used to strengthen immunity and in chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, upper respiratory tract infections, psychological disorders, gastrointestinal disorders. In addition, many drugs used in modern medicine are obtained from plants. It has been reported in the literature that medicinal plants prevent viruses from attaching to the cell and entering into the cell, reduce airway inflammation, stimulate interferon secretion and the immune system ”.
Demand for antioxidant plants increased
Dr. Lecturer Tuğba Kaman, during the pandemic process we are experiencing due to Covid-19, from plants known for their antioxidant effects and having antimicrobial potential to strengthen immunity; He said that the demand for medicinal and aromatic herbs such as sumac, black elderberry, turmeric, ginger, black cumin seed and oil, olive leaf, sage, carob fruit and extract, lemon balm, lavender, thyme and licorice root has increased considerably.
Make sure it is the correct type
Emphasizing that the safety of medicinal and aromatic herbs is as important as their effectiveness, Dr. Lecturer Tuğba Kaman said, “Health problems and unwanted effects can be seen, especially due to adulteration of herbal products, wrong plants and insufficient standardization. First of all, it is necessary to make sure that the type to be supplied is the correct type. Because many species of the same genus can be found in plants, and not all species may have the same effects. For example, thyme plant became one of the most talked about plants during the pandemic period. In fact, thymol-bearing essential oils and thymol-bearing plant extracts are the most preferred herbal products as a respiratory tract antiseptic and cough suppressant from common cold. However, in our country, there are many types of thyme containing thymol and carvacrol and these effective substances are not found in the same amount in all types ”he warned.
Harvesting at the right time and storage conditions are important ...
Dr. Faculty Member Tuğba Kaman said, “Apart from this, the quality of the plant is significantly affected by many situations such as cultivation under suitable climatic conditions, harvesting at the right time, and proper storage, and the active ingredient ratios in it may vary. Of course, it is necessary to pay attention to the shelf life. In summary, the active ingredient may be lost in herbal products at every stage from the production of the plant to consumption, and even if the product is of high quality under the wrong storage conditions, the active ingredient can turn into a harmful, allergic, toxic product ”.
Attention to herbal product-drug interaction!
Kaman stated that many reasons such as the perception that herbal products are natural and have no side effects, and that they are easily accessible, cheap, and there are many news in the press / media that can be shared without scientific grounds, lead people to seek solutions for herbal products. One of the major problems is herbal product-drug interactions. Many herbal supplements can change their pharmacological effects by interacting with certain medicines that are used regularly, changing their absorption, metabolism, distribution, excretion, and increase their potential for toxicity or side effects. People with chronic diseases should be especially careful about this issue and should not apply to herbal products without consulting a physician.
Liver patients should be careful
Stating that some of the compounds found in medicinal and aromatic plants, especially some flavonoids, glycyrrhizin in licorice and polyphenolic compounds such as curcumin in turmeric, there have been studies reporting that they have antiviral effects, prevent inflammation, reduce oxidative stress and prevent the reproduction of SARS coronavirus when used in certain doses. "However, considering that hypersensitivity to the active ingredients may develop, it is of great importance for those with bile duct, liver disease and gallstones to use these herbal products carefully," said Tuğba Kaman, a faculty member.
Licorice can increase the risk of miscarriage
Stating that licorice plant is a breast softener and expectorant with mucolytic effect for the upper respiratory tract, which is used in respiratory and digestive problems and diabetes, Kaman said, “However, it can interact with antihypertensive and antiarrhythmic drugs due to its active ingredient glycerin, it can increase the risk of bleeding by acting with warfarin, and it is also low in pregnant women. It has been reported that it may increase the risk. As with licorice, ginger can increase bleeding in individuals using some anticoagulant drugs. He warned, especially those who use antiplatelet agents, aspirin, blood thinners such as warfarin and calcium channel blockers (high blood pressure medication).
Be careful when consuming echinacea and olive leaves.
Stating that echinacea is a plant that is widely used to help fight cold and flu and is considered a natural immune booster, Dr. Tuğba Kaman, Faculty Member, said:
“However, attention should be paid to the use of echinacea in individuals with known sensitivity to plants of the Asteracea family or those with systematic disorders and individuals with autoimmune diseases. It is stated that oleuropein and other phenolic compounds identified from extracts of olive leaf have antioxidant, antihypertensive, hypoglycemic, hypocholesterolemic, cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. Studies have also proven that oleuropein shows antiviral activity against hepatitis viruses, mononucleosis herpes viruses and rotaviruses.
It is stated that olive leaf used in appropriate therapeutic dose does not cause any side effects, but it can trigger colic in patients with gallstones, increase the effect of drugs that reduce blood pressure and affect blood glucose level by interacting with antidiabetic drugs, and it is recommended that diabetic patients should be followed up carefully. It is known that sage plant has antibacterial, fungistatic, virustatic, secretion-stimulating and antiperspirant, potent antioxidant effects in vitro and in vivo. However, care should be taken because it consists of cytotoxic compounds such as α and β tions it carries.
Method, temperature and storage conditions are important in Çörekotu oil.
Timoquinone, the important component of black cumin oil, is a phenolic compound and is widely used in strengthening immunity, respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis and many other diseases due to its high antioxidant properties. However, in order to see these effects, the amount of effective substances is important. The amount of timoquinone in Nigella oil; The method of obtaining the oil depends on the conditions such as being exposed to very high temperatures while obtaining the oil, waiting for a long time or storing the oil. "
Scientific studies are needed
Drawing attention to the plants whose consumption increased during the pandemic period, Dr. Lecturer Tuğba Kaman, stating that studies are needed to prove their effectiveness with coronavirus, “Black elderberry fruit extracts, whose use has increased during the pandemic period, are used in the treatment of febrile diseases, cough and moderate upper respiratory diseases, as well as Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1), There are studies showing its effectiveness on HIV, Influenza A-B. It is known that gallic acid, which is found as a phenolic substance in carob, is an effective antioxidant. Sumac plant was also one of the most popular plants in the early stages of the pandemic. There are studies reporting the positive effects of the sumac plant on herpes simplex virus and showing that it has antibacterial properties. However, although the efficacy of some herbal products on a specific virus or a bacterium is presented by scientific studies, these results do not give the conclusion that these herbal products are effective on all kinds of bacteria or viruses. Scientific studies are needed to prove the effectiveness of the sumac plant or other herbal products against coronavirus ”warned.