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P.O. Box 144345, Austin, TX 78714-4345 
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Website: www.herbalgram.org



Review on Clinical Implications of Using Immunomodulatory Herbs and Fungi in COVID-19 Patients Published in Phytotherapy Research

Dear Valued ABC Supporter,

On December 29, 2020, the scientific journal Phytotherapy Research published a review on the role and limitations of herbal and fungal ingredients in helping to prevent and address viral infections. The publication discusses Indian frankincense (Boswellia serrata, Burseraceae), turmeric (Curcuma longa, Zingiberaceae), echinacea (Echinacea spp., Asteraceae), licorice (Glycyrrhiza spp., Fabaceae), umckaloabo (Pelargonium sidoides, Geraniaceae), elder (Sambucus spp., Adoxaceae), herbal adaptogens, salicylate-yielding herbs, and medicinal fungi. The focus of the paper, entitled “Botanical drugs and supplements affecting the immune response in the time of COVID-19: Implications for research and clinical practice”,¹ is on the safety of these herbs in patients during onset and progression, and convalescence from respiratory infections caused by various viruses.

The paper was written by 13 experts in virology and immunology or in herbal medicine and phytotherapy of the specific ingredients discussed. The effort was led by ABC Advisory Board member and ethnobotanist and herb industry consultant Thomas Brendler. Co-authors include, among others, ABC Advisory Board members Rudolf Bauer, PhD, Mary L. Hardy, MD, Michael Heinrich, PhD, Alexander Panossian, PhD, and Elizabeth M. Williamson, PhD, and ABC’s Chief Science Officer Stefan Gafner, PhD.

The article starts with a brief introduction on the current therapeutic approaches for patients with COVID-19 and an up-to-date review on the immune response after exposure to the virus. This is followed by a summary on the immunomodulatory mechanisms and clinical data on the safety and efficacy of the selected herbs and fungi in respiratory infections. Data from mechanistic studies is discussed in the context of how the observed effects might impact the outcome of disease in COVID-19 patients.

The authors stress that none of the botanical ingredients discussed in the paper has sufficient data to warrant active recommendation in patients with COVID-19. However, they conclude that “the balance of the evidence suggests that they are safe enough to permit use by members of the public, with appropriate caution.” The review has been published as an open-access paper and can be viewed using the link here.


1. Brendler T, Al-Harrasi A, Bauer R, et al. Botanical drugs and supplements affecting the immune response in the time of COVID-19: Implications for research and clinical practice. Phytother Res. 2020;1–19. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.7008