Leafy greens found to fight off COVID-19 and common cold viruses

April 5, 2022
Leafy greens found to fight off COVID-19 and common cold viruses

A chemical derived from cruciferous plants such as broccoli has been found to inhibit the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and of the common cold coronavirus, which researchers at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center have reported in lab experiments with cells and mice. The phytochemical, known as “sulforaphane,” has been shown to have cancer- and infection-prevention properties by way of interfering with certain cellular processes.

Sulforaphane is particularly abundant in broccoli, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts.

In experiments, Johns Hopkins researchers exposed cell cultures to varying concentrations of purified, synthetic sulforaphane before infecting them with SARS-CoV-2 and the common cold coronavirus, HCoV-OC43. The researchers also examined the effects of sulforaphane when combined with remdesivir, an antiviral medication for severe COVID-19 infection needing hospitalisation.

Sulforaphane was seen to reduce the replication of the respective viruses by at least 50%, despite an already established virus infection. In addition is the fact that sulforaphane and remdesivir interacted synergistically – synergism means that lower doses of both sulforaphane and remdesivir, when combined, are more effective against the viruses than either administered alone.

Meanwhile, sulforaphane studies in mouse models show a decrease in the loss of body weight that’s typically associated with virus infection i.e., a statistically significant decrease in both the viral load, or amount of virus, in the lungs (17% decrease) and upper respiratory tract (9% decrease) as well as the amount of lung injury (29% decrease) compared with infected mice that were not given sulforaphane.

Sulforaphane also decreased inflammation in the lungs, protecting the cells from a hyperactive immune response characteristic of COVID-19 fatalities.

“What we found is that sulforaphane is antiviral against HCoV-OC43 and SARS-CoV-2 coronaviruses while also helping control the immune response,” said Dr. Alvaro Ordonez, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “This multifunctional activity makes it an interesting compound to use against these viral infections, as well as those caused by other human coronaviruses.”

Although sulforaphane is readily available commercially, the researchers caution the public against rushing to buy sulforaphane supplements available online and in stores, emphasising the lack of regulation covering such supplements.

Category: Features, Wellness and Complementary Therapies

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