Glycyrrhizin shows a lot of promise in treating the coronavirus. Read on to understand why health professionals are eager to learn more about it.
In This Article:
Everything You Need to Know About Glycyrrhizin and COVID-19
How Do You Treat COVID-19?
Unfortunately, there are no standard protocols that treat COVID-19 directly. The current treatment for COVID-19 focuses on symptom management.
COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 is a relatively new disease, but it’s genetically similar to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV). In 2003, the SARS-CoV epidemic led to over 8,000 cases in 26 countries.
This similarity between these two viruses allows scientists to apply what they learned from SARS-CoV in the current pandemic. Glycyrrhizin showed promise in treating SAR-CoV, so researchers are now exploring it as a potential treatment for COVID-19.
What Is Glycyrrhizin?
Glycyrrhizin is a compound in licorice root. It’s what’s responsible for the sweetness in licorice.
Licorice root has a long history of medicinal uses dating back to ancient Egypt. The food and tobacco industries use it as a sweetener, but it also has other functional uses.
Studies show that its compounds have the following biological activities:
- anti-inflammatory effects
- cell-protective abilities
- chemopreventive effects
- antiviral effects
So researchers want to find out if this natural compound is useful for preventing or even treating COVID-19.
Why Could It Help Against COVID-19?
Researchers believe that Glycyrrhizin may be an effective therapeutic agent against COVID-19 because of the following findings:
- ACE2 binding potential – Just like SAR-CoV, COVID-19 enters cells through the angiotensin-converting enzyme II (ACE2) receptor. Studies show that Glycyrrhizin can bind to the ACE2 receptor. With its antiviral effects, it can potentially prevent infection.
- Cytokine-modulating activity – Doctors observe that many patients who have severe COVID-19 illness also experience a cytokine storm. A cytokine storm is an extreme inflammatory immune response. When this happens, the body begins attacking its cells, and this can lead to severe respiratory issues and multiorgan failure. Glycyrrhizin can downregulate the proinflammatory cytokines, so it may be able to modify this troublesome immune response.
- Reactive oxygen species (ROS) inhibition – Viral infections lead to an accumulation of ROS. ROS are unstable molecules that can harm cellular health and cause inflammation. Studies show that Glycyrrhizin has antioxidant effects and may be able to inhibit the accumulation of ROS.
The pharmacological effects show that Glycyrrhizin is a promising treatment for COVID-19. This natural compound is generally safe, but there are a few side effects that researchers are cautious about.
One of the potential side effects of Glycyrrhizin is potassium wasting. This is a condition where the kidneys remove too much potassium from the body.
This is especially problematic for COVID-19 because studies show a high prevalence of hypokalemia among coronavirus patients.
What is hypokalemia? This is a potentially serious medical condition where potassium levels in the blood are too low.
So if doctors intend to use Glycyrrhizin to treat COVID-19 patients, they will need to monitor their potassium levels closely. Otherwise, it may lead to severe kidney or cardiovascular problems.
How Can You Stay Safe During the Pandemic?
Glycyrrhizin is a promising treatment agent against COVID-19, but researchers need to conduct more studies. As you wait for a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine and treatments, it’s important to continue practicing the following infection prevention measures:
- Clean your hands regularly. Try to use soap and clean water when you can. Otherwise, you can use alcohol rub or an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Practice social distancing measures. Try to stay six feet away from people who are sick or people you don’t live with.
- Wear a mask in public. Wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose at the same time. This is especially important when it’s difficult to maintain social distance.
- Practice proper respiratory hygiene. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Dispose of the tissue right away and sanitize your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, use your inner elbow.
- Disinfect your home. Use household disinfectants to regularly clean high-touch surfaces. This includes phones, computers, switches, handles, and doorknobs.
Apart from these tips, it’s also essential to monitor your health. Consult a doctor right away if you begin experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.
Unless you’re experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms, the World Health Organization recommends calling a health professional ahead of time before heading to a medical facility. Staying home as much as possible may help prevent further transmission.
That’s why many people choose telemedicine services during a pandemic—even if their medical concern isn’t COVID-related. With telemedicine, you can talk to a medical professional without leaving your home.
You can even get screened by a doctor for COVID-19 through telemedicine. If you’re interested in setting an online appointment with a doctor, visit the StreamMD website.
How have you been handling this pandemic so far? Please share your experiences with us in the comments section below.
- International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents: Pharmacological perspective: Glycyrrhizin may be an efficacious therapeutic agent for COVID-19