The 3rd September issue of ‘The Print’ carries a news which shows how difficult it is to fight a virus, as one another potential anti-viral drug Pimodivir was withdrawn from the last phase of clinical trial as it failed to show any improvement against the existing standard of care in Influenza A infection.
The viral challenge
Over ages, medical science has been struggling to find definitive cure for viral infections but has had little success. The resilience of viruses is what has made them a menace and has led to numerous pandemics and outbreaks. The search for cure becomes more difficult because viruses “hijack” the human cells and anti-viral drugs can’t readily target the virus without causing damage to host’s cells. Moreover, viruses possess different “keys” to break into cells which leaves fewer targets for the anti -viral drug to act.
Countering the challenge
With new anti-viral becoming a distant dream, scientists are exploring other ways to combat viral diseases, strengthening of multiple system immune defence is one of them as body’s immunity which is often the first defence & attack against a viral pathogen. A study published in Biomedical Journal highlights the role of immunity in viral infections , the study illustrates an example of viral infections of respiratory system and points out that first few days are critical in the development of disease & without a vigilant system capable of immediately detecting the presence of pathogen, the virus would spread from the initial focus in upper respiratory tract to lower airways and deeper tissues. Likewise, one of the components of multiple immune system – Innate immunity not only mounts immediate defensive responses but also triggers the subsequent production of anti-bodies & T-cells. It is therefore, the only weapon that host can use to prevent or slow down viral replication early during infection.
Multiple strategy of immune system
Immune responses limit viral growth, promote viral clearance, induce tissue repair & trigger long lasting adaptive immunity against the infecting strains. These immune responses are orchestrated by involvement of multiple systems of immunity viz. the respiratory immune system, gut associated lymphatic tissues (GALT), bone marrow system, complimentary system involving liver and lymphatic system. Various researches have indicated that overall well-being of these systems prepares the body against the viral & bacterial infections.
Our own indigenous system of medicine, Ayurveda also resonates with the concept of multiple system immune defence as it calls for strengthening of “Sahaj Bal” the innate immunity and “Yuktikrit Bal” the acquired immunity. The “Vyadhishamatva” principle of Ayurveda clarifies that in a reaction between “Pratijan” – antigen & “Pratikaya” – antibodies
Whosoever is more powerful will win the battle.
Many herbs mentioned in the text runs parallel to the modern researches and have been proved to ensure the overall well-being of the multi-system immune defence. For e.g. Nigella sativa (Kalonji) increases alveolar macrophage activity and reduces inflammation, Zingiber officinalis (Ginger) increases the length of cilia to strengthen the barrier immunity in the respiratory system. Herbs like Solanum xanthocarpum (Kantkari) and Viola odorata (Banafsha) exerts positive effect on the respiratory system as it improves the ventilation in airways and prevents lung damage which is the much needed effect in any respiratory infection.
Herbs such as Moringa oleifera (Sigru) and Linum usitatissimum (Flax seeds) supplements amino acids like glutamine, arginine, methionine & cysteine which are essential for optimum functioning of Gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) which neutralizes the pathogens inside the intestinal lumen by activating T-cells in peyer’s patches and generating IgA antibodies without causing the inflammatory reactions.
The foundation of immune system i.e. Bone marrow can also be potentiated by the alkaloids in N.arbortrsitis (Harsingar) which increases positive bone marrow cells and restores WBC count. Adhatoda vasica (Vasa) also modulates the delayed type hypersensitivity reactions and activates macrophages to start phagocytosis.
The compliment immune system – liver which is a single largest site of resident macrophages, the Kupffer cells is activated by Tinospora cordyfolia (Giloe) & Mentha piperata (Pippermint), these herbs encourage the normal functioning of Kupffer cells by working on C3 receptors and removes the circulating pathogens from the blood stream.
For a robust immunity the flow of infection fighting immune cells should be smooth and unrestricted, the lymphatic system the unsung component which ensures the elimination of waste & toxins and is site of major lymphocyte action in lymph nodes should remain active round the clock, herbs like Ficus religiosa (Pipal) & Azadirachta indica (Neem) lessens the congestion in lymphatic system, reduces toxic load in body and improves the function of lymphocytes.
Essential oils of Syzygium aromaticum (Clove), Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Dalchini), Cymbopogan nardus (Citronella) and Cymbopogan citratus (Lemon grass) regulates the immunological functions by improving gut microbiota, increasing phagocytic activity and protecting against various infection along with modulating the histamine release.
The innate immunity which is the first barrier to any pathogen can be modulated by Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Ocimum sanctum (Tulsi) which increases the phagocytic activity & capacity of natural killer cells. Herbs like Terminalia chebula (Harad) & Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Dalchini) ensures the activation of acquired immunity by strengthening T-lymphocytes & B-lymphocytes activity and by increasing serum immunoglobulins level of IgG and IgM which fights & kills viruses and bacteria.
This novel phyto based approach to boost the multi-system immune defence prepares the body to fight viral infections in more effective manner as it stages a combination of both attack and defence at various checkpoints of the human body. And by working in tandem, these herbs shows synergistic action to eliminate the pathogen in shorter duration of time.
The concept has now been capitalized by Aimil Pharmaceuticals in their new innovative product “AMYNITY PLUS” which is a blend of 51 herbs and 8 essential oils mentioned above and qualifies as a novel multi-system immune defence (MSID) which prepares the body to fight viral infections and exerts positive effects on respiratory system.
The future of Anti-viral therapy
Anti-viral drugs due to their unpredictable response needs an augmentation of a therapy which boosts the multiple system immune defence to conquer over viral infections. This combined therapy holds a promising future in the cure of viral infections and could save us from the disappointment of failed clinical trials of new anti-viral.