Covid-19 fear fuels rush for traditional herbal medication

Tablets of the traditional herbal drug fa talai jone on sale at Abhaibhubejhr Hospital in Prachin Buri. People are rushing to buy it as an alternative drug against Covid-19. (Photo: Manit Sanubboon)

PRACHIN BURI: The rise in Covid-19 infections has people queuing to buy the traditional medicinal herb fa talai jone, or andrographis, in the hope it will protect them from contracting the virus.

They are flocking to the sales office of Chao Phya Abhaibhubejhr, a leading traditional Thai medicine hospital in Prachin Buri under the Ministry of Public Health.

A large signboard outside the sales office, in Thai and English, lists "4 anti-viral properties of andrographis".

The four listed properties of fa talai jone are:

  1. Prevent the virus entering to cell,
  2. Reduce virus cell division,
  3. Boost immunity, and,
  4. Ameliorate long inflammation from viral infection.

Rungwithaya Tangkhaprasert, a motorcycle dealer, said she bought bottles of the tablets for distribution to employees at her shop.

Nuanla-or Chantramit, alias Muay, an Abhaibhubejhr Hospital official responsible for advising people about herbal drugs, said more customers have been coming to buy the medication for the last month. 

Those suffering from a sore throat and ague are advised to take three tablets of fa talai jone three times a day. They should see a doctor if they do not recover, Ms Nuanla-or said.

Dr Supaporn Pitiporn, chairwoman of the Thai traditional and herbal medicine strategic committee of Abhaibhubejhr Hospital, said in a telephone interview that the hospital would soon distribute andrographis seeds to people to grow the plant themselves.

In expectation that Covid-19 spread would soon reach the third stage, the hospital has stepped up preventive measures by requiring people seeking medical services to undergo a temperature scan and wash their hands with alcohol before entering hospital buildings. All offices are cleaned with alcohol every two hours, she said.

All hospital staff are provided with face masks.

The hospital has also cancelled all study trips and is providing a new service, delivering health food on order to clients in Prachin Buri.

The hospital is looking into whether any of its staff could work from home, Dr Supaporn said.

Andrographis paniculata is a herb also used in Ayurvedic medicine and sometimes known as Indian echinacea.

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