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Milk thistle extract investigated as a therapeutic option against SARS-CoV-2

The Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products 
(AEMPS) has approved clinical trial for milk thistle extract substance in oncohematological patients with coronavirus. The clinical trial is in partnership by Euromed S.A., known for their clinical studies regarding their milk thistle extract over the past few decades on thousands of patients worldwide.


Europe Dietary Supplements Market Share by Type Milk thistle (latin name: Silybum marianum), is an herbaceous plant of which their seed extracts have confirmed benefits for liver health. Being used preventively and curatively to protect the liver from heavy metals, the death cap mushroom and aspirin, alcohol, and acetaminophen. The flavonoid silymarin is the active component of milk thistle seeds (fruits), of which silibinin is the key component. Furthermore, recent investigation suggests that it may have additional benefits beyond liver support. A recent study by the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO) and the Girona Biomedical Research Institue (IDIBGI) has been published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine. [1] In this study, the clinical-molecular evidence of silibinin has been recognized for its antitumor activity, which could also be effective in the fights against the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 2019.


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Echinacea as a supposed remedy against the new coronavirus

The Swiss Medic institute has published an article in which they mention a laboratory study published in the "Virology Journal" on 9.9.2020 of which media reports indicate that a herbal extract of Echinacea purpurea – among other sub-stances – is also capable of killing coronaviruses, resulting in strong demand for preparations containing these extracts. [1]

However, a corresponding effect in humans has not been demonstrated.


The published study results have been partly misinterpreted. The investigations in the laboratory were

conducted with cell cultures (in vitro), and no investigations to date have shown any effect against the new coronavirus in humans (i.e. in vivo). The conditions prevailing in cell cultures cannot be compared with those in an organism (human body). The data from an in vitro study do not provide proof of the efficacy of an active substance in humans (in vivo). Substances/active substances that show an effect in cell cultures (in vitro) frequently prove to be ineffective in human trials.

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Scientists test artemisia plant against coronavirus

A derivative of the Artemisia annua plant, also known as sweet wormwood, has long been used in the treatment of malaria. Scientists are currently testing the plant’s potential against the novel coronavirus Sars-CoV-2. Researchers at Germany's Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Pots-dam have been working with researchers from Berlin's Free University and other institutions, testing whether Artemisia annua plant extract and its artemisinin derivatives, could eventually be used to fight the novel coronavirus.


Importance of clinical trials

Plant extracts have long been used in different parts of the world to treat infectious diseases. Artemisia has traditionally been used to treat fever, and its derivative artemisinin is now used as the basis of an anti-malaria combination therapy used to successfully treat millions of adults and children each year. The Chinese pharmaceutical chemist and malariologist Tu Youyou discovered artemisinin in 1972 and was the co-recipient for the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2015 for her discovery. However, with regard to the novel coronavirus, Seeberger warns that people should be vigilant, considering there is growing resistance to Artemisia annua. The World Health Organization "urges extreme caution over reports touting the efficacy of such products.” WHO also warns that there is "no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be prevented or treated with products made from Artemisia-based plant material.”

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