Dr Patrick Ogwang, the mastermind behind making Covidex, a herbal treatment for viral infections, shared an intriguing story about what inspired the drug to be made.
In the midst of the second wave of the covid-19 pandemic in Uganda, the introduction of Covidex to the market has been a much needed beacon of hope in dealing with the dominant virus for many.
For over 17 years, Ogwang has been studying the plants he eventually used to make covidex. These plants are said to be found mainly in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.
The lecturer from Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) said her love for natural medicine research dates back to her childhood, when her mother could administer herbal medicine when she contracted any type of disease.
Growing up with a single mother who preferred natural remedies to modern medicines, Ogwang and his siblings hardly ever made it to the hospital.
âSo whenever we had a disease like measles, malaria, she would go to that fireplace where the herbs were hung and take some for us. In two days we would be back to school, âhe said.
Adding: âThe only illness we took to the hospital was anemia. But other illnesses like malaria, cough, whatever it was, mom was treating us at home.
Dr Ogwang holds a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy. His interest grew in pharmacognosy, the study of drugs produced from natural sources.
âWhen I was doing my masters, I joined the Natural Chemotherapeutics Research Institute (NCRI) Wandegeya headed by Dr. Grace Nambatya,â Ogwang said.
Aspiring to be a volunteer, he was then recruited on merit and started interacting with Ugandan herbalists and focused on Ugandan plants.
âSo working there allowed me to apply the knowledge of the class to the Ugandan practical situation,â he added.
Using natural herbs to cure illnesses
Ogwang says he has been researching two plants for 17 years.
After promising results on a formula he administered to a relative with sickle cell disease, Dr. Ogwang stepped up research.
Zanthoxylum chalybeum, known as Eusuk (ateso), and Ntale ya ddungu (luganda) was a major component of the formula.
âSo I started doing research on this plant, to help this boy. I had read an article from Nigerians that a similar plant was used to treat diseased cells. I started studying it to look at its safety, the compounds it contains and have published articles about it. Then I made a formula for this young man. He stopped having painful attacks, swelling in his joints, and now he’s copying with life, âhe revealed.
That, he says, got him exposed to parents whose children struggle with sickle cell disease and the magic bullet has since worked for many.
Ogwang explains that plants contain various compounds and that a plant can contain more than 200 compounds.
âThe most important thing is how you extract them and how you organize them to deal with a particular disease. I discovered that these plants have components that kill malaria parasites, viruses. Knowing that this plant has antiviral properties, which we used in the village against measles and coughs, considering that covid-19 is a virus, I knew that the two could be linked, âhe said. declared.
Dr Ogwang’s first patient was a friend who had rushed during the first wave of covid-19, to help them start a new program at Mbarara University.
The professor was infected after sharing a vehicle with an infected person, while they went to bury Dr Ogwang’s uncle. He was then admitted and put on oxygen.
âI felt personal guilt because I asked myself; What if this American died from here and came alone with no family? ” he said.
After asking for his consent, Dr Ogwang shared the formula with the friend.
According to him, the friend used 3 drops of the formula in his mouth with the medicine prescribed in the hospital and he felt much better on the third day. He was eventually fired.
âIt’s because Covid-19 stays in your nose and throat first. This is where it initially multiplies before moving down to the lungs. So if you can handle it from your throat and nose, you’ve weakened it, âhe explained.
Ogwang says he continued to share his unlabeled formula among his friends out of pity, “and it worked.”
Recently, the National Drug Authority (NDA) approved covidex as support for the treatment of viral infections, including Covid-19.