Role Of Plant Secondary Metabolites In Fight Against Covid-19

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Corona virus history

The family of corona virus contains RNA strand that is single stranded and are enveloped. This nucleic acid composition was previously known to be of the viruses that cause upper and lower respiratory diseases and cold to people with weak immunity and old people. The occurrence of SARS epidemic caused by SARS Cov corona agent in 2003 urged scientist to search about the Coronaviridae family. Middle East respiratory syndrome – MERS appeared after nine years of the previous corona virus occurrence in Saudi Arabia and affected 2492 people and caused 858 deaths. However the present pandemic is caused by a novel coronavirus SARS-Cov2 that has caused millions of deaths worldwide and affected billions of people. This process of corona deaths and illness is statistically increasing day by day and therefore researchers and scientists are working desperately to find a cure out.

Possible treatments to COVID 19

Inhibition or deactivation of RNA virus propagation to diffuse in tissues and cells can be done using various methods like RNA transcription inhibition, inhibition of RNA modification, the capsid, and the enzymes used for virus packaging and surface proteins. Drug administration such as that of chloroquine, remdesivir, favipiravir, arbidol and interferon therapy are recently used for the treatment of COVID 19.compounds and biochemical materials that can be used for the inhibition of virus propagation rate in cells or the main protein enzymes of virus are currently under studies these days. SARS Cov 2 and SARS Cov treatment can be found in plants as inhibitors of enzymes and virus propagation are naturally present in some medicinal plants.

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The SARS Cov and SARS Cov 2 virus are considerably relatable both with respect to their genome and identity the studies and researches done on SARS Cov can be implicated on SARS Cov 2 which is the new corona virus of 2019 and this study is very helpful while looking for a treatment of covid 19.

Plant secondary metabolites as an effective treatment for COVID 19 infection

SARS treatment can be provided by plants as they are source of inhibitors of viral proteins. Certain plant metabolite expression provide inhibitory effect to viral proteins, enzymes and its propagation. Plant secondary metabolites are the non-essential part of plant living cells but they are very useful for medicinal purposes. Abiotic and biotic stresses cause these metabolites to express themselves. And their appearance is increased whenever a stress condition occurs .Carotenoids, Flavonoids, Tarshinones and Diaryheptanoids are some examples of active plant metabolites.

Certain plant secondary metabolites having the inhibitory effect for COVID 19 infection and that are antiviral are described below


The root of Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) contains Glycyrrhizin in major amounts. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties and traditionally this has been used for the treatment of bronchitis, gastritis and jaundice. The process of interferon formation in the body gets stimulated by its use.

During the early phases when the cycle of viral infection starts, the attachment of the SARS Cov agents to the cells of the body is decreased by glycyrrhizin. It contains hydroxyl coumarins, β-sitosterol, Glycyrrhetinic acid and flavonoid and gas been observed to have observable anti-SARS-Cov effect.

Glycyrrhizin and Licorice plant are considered effective enough to make a commercial drug against SARS Cov using it as there are no chances of any other commercial drug availability against it for a long time.

All the studies of Glycyrrhizin effectiveness were against SARS Cov and since now there has not been any studies for the calculation of its effects against COVID 19 but considering the similarities between the genome of two, it would likely be effective against COVID 19 infection.


The plants of scutelleria genus contains baicalin as one of its major components. And the pharmaceutical properties of Scutellaria baicalensis is due to the presence of this compound. It has been used previously used for the treatment of hypertension of pulmonary atrial due to its antioxidant and anti-apoptotic properties. It has less toxicity for in-vitro cell line and a better inhibitory effect as compared to Glycyrrhizin, Interferon-beta, Interferon-alpha, and can be used as anti SARS Cov compound. An allowance for the patency of the production of anti-SARS dug formation by this compound with its biochemical activity was approved because of its strong anti-viral effect.

The flavonoids extracted from Scutellaria baicalensis were seen to have a strong anti-viral effect on the activated cells of lipopolysaccharide when assessed in-vitro. It was also seen that when administered orally in mice infected with influenza A virus, it increases their rate of survival.

In case of COVID 19, it was demonstrated that Baicalin have a favorable potential to inhibit the conversion of ACE2 (Angiotensin converting enzyme 2). The inhibition of 3CL activity of the SARS Cov 2 using the Scutellaria baicalensis extract, was also demonstrated in-vitro.


The plants of Allium genus like onions, leek and garlic are an abundant source of organosulfur compounds. These are organic macromolecules and in their structure sulfur is present.

Organosulfur compounds present in Allium porrum have potential to inhibit the SARS Cov connection to cells because of their tendency to inhibit the conversion of ACE2 enzymes of humans.

Garlic and onion species contains a flavonoid in abundant amounts called Quercetin and exists as sulfonic vitro studies confirmed that both Quercetin-3-β-galactoside and Quercetin have the inhibitory effect against the 3CL of SARS is one of the major component regarded in the treatment of COVID 19 as its toxicity in the cells is very low.


Another natural flavone Scutellarein present in the plants of Scutellaria genus has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral effects. Its strong inhibitory effect was found on the helicase activity of nsP13 corona virus.

It showed its strong inhibitory activity for the replication of new COVID 19 infection.


Plant secondary metabolites can serve and are serving as a source of many medicinal compounds. Various plant secondary metabolites having the anti-viral properties as discussed above can serve as important compounds for treating the infection of COVID 19. The mechanism of herbal medicines in comparison with the chemical drugs is less understood. Now that everything is coming back to the preference of naturals, more research needs to be done on these secondary metabolites as they can provide some very best treatments to most infections.

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Role Of Plant Secondary Metabolites In Fight Against Covid-19. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from
“Role Of Plant Secondary Metabolites In Fight Against Covid-19.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
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Role Of Plant Secondary Metabolites In Fight Against Covid-19 [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2024 Jun 24]. Available from:

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