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Coronavirus - Which Supplements Can Help?

Clinically proven ways to bulletproof yourself with immune-boosting and antiviral nutraceuticals

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Coronavirus (specifically Covid-19) has had an unprecedented impact on our lives. With vaccines in development and months away from distribution, it is becoming more and more important to take a proactive approach. Before we get into what you can do, let’s get the basic info out the way.

How does coronavirus spread?

Coronaviruses cause infections of the nose, throat and lungs.  They are most commonly spread from an infected person through:

  • respiratory droplets generated when you cough or sneeze
  • close, prolonged personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands

Current evidence suggests person-to-person spread is efficient when there is close contact.

At time of writing, the virus has a basic reproduction number of about 2.6. That means typically people spread the virus to between 2 and 3 people. Some people might infect more people, some less.

Infected people without symptoms can also spread the virus. In other words, they can spread the virus before they start showing symptoms.

Basic recommendations to stop the spread of coronavirus

  • Self-monitor, self-isolate or isolate (these are implemented according to the following government guidelines)
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water
  • Don’t touch your face
  • Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
  • Stay at home and only go out for basic necessities

The above guidelines are the simplest and most effective measures we have right now. By not self-quarantining and isolating, you increase the risk of spread. If you are young, healthy and feel you are not at risk; consider that you may spread this to someone else who is high risk (see my previous point on asymptomatic carriers)

Who is considered high risk?

It is important to point out that infection rates are considered low (~ 0.6%) and the death rate around 2-3%. That said, we must consider both the exponential rate at which this is spreading; as well as those most likely to be affected.

At risk groups: 

  • people over 65
  • more men than women are affected
  • smokers
  • Those with preexisting medical conditions – heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cerebrovascular disease
  • Those who have been previously exposed to SARS or MERS viruses tend to have a more severe reaction to Covid-19

If you or a loved one falls into the high-risk group, self-quarantining is absolutely essential. In addition, you want to avoid anyone who has recently visited coronavirus “hot-spots”. These include China, Italy, Iran and localized outbreaks such as West Chester county in New York.

Supplements and nutraceuticals that may help you

Supplements and nutraceuticals fall into 2 general categories – immune modulators and antivirals. I am seeing alot of people taking dozens of supplements in an effort to protect themselves. While I understand the concern, this could potentially backfire for a number of reasons.

  1. too many antivirals (which are often also antifungals, antibacterials and so on) can actually deplete our own probiotics. Probiotics in our gut are responsible for 70% of our overall immune system. We do not want to destroy them
  2. trying to schedule in dozens of supplements is stressful – both mentally and physically (and financially!). Stress lowers our immune system, making us more susceptible to infection
  3. taking too many supplements at high doses can impair cellular functioning. Without getting super technical, it impairs redox reactions and mitochondrial function. The implications of this are far-reaching.

There are MANY supplements that fall into the following categories. My goal is to recommend things that a) have good evidence behind them, b) easily accessible and c) easy to take without overwhelming you.

DISCLAIMER: Please speak with a competent practitioner who understands natural medicine if you are unsure of anything. 

DISCLAIMER #2: The Covid-19 coronavirus is extremely new. Currently there is “very little scientific research” that shows any measures to be effective against this virus specifically.

That said, I will include citations and references where possible with regards to how the following natural compounds influence the immune system and viral activity. At this point in time we have to out our best foot forward and work with things that are most likely to work. Anecdotal evidence should also not be dismissed.

 

Top 10 supplements for immune support & viral infections (in no particular order)

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of the most popular immune support vitamins when it comes to the common cold and flu.

Taking 3000 mg per day is ideal for adults. Even a low dose of vitamin C saves lives. This is very important for those with low incomes and few treatment options. For example, in one study, just 200 mg/day vitamin C given to the elderly resulted in improvement in respiratory symptoms in the most severely ill, hospitalized patients. And there were 80% fewer deaths in the vitamin C group.

Increasing the dose to 1 to 2 g in children and 3 to 4 g in adults at the onset of common cold symptoms can reduce the duration of infection. This may be a result of increased anti-microbial, and immune cell activities, as well as improved anti-oxidant capacity. (51)(105)

Several studies also suggest that the combination of vitamin C and quercetin can provide synergistic effects for immune-boosting activity by reducing oxidative stress, and DNA damage. (3)(92)(98). Vitamin C generally works best when taken with bioflavinoids like quercetin, rose hips and rutin

For active infections, take 9000 mg per day, in divided doses.

Absorption is an issue. For this reason many people prefer liposomal vitamin C. While it is absorbed, it is also expensive. The recommended dose for this type of Vitamin C is at least 3 sachets per day for an active infection. 1 sachet is good for prevention

See Livon Liposomal-C

 

Vitamin D

Deficiency is strongly linked to lowered immune function. Consider that the rate of vitamin D deficiency in this study was 41.6%, with the highest rate seen in African Americans (82.1%), followed by Hispanics (69.2%). Optimal vitamin D levels are 100 – 150 nmol/L in Canada or >75 ng/ml in the US.

It is preferable to take vitamin D3 (not D2). Depending on how deficient you are, you should be taking 5000-10000 IU’s per day with food containing fat. It is also wise to take it with K2.

Genestra D3 K2 Mulsion is widely available and good quality.

 

Medicinal Mushrooms

Mushrooms and their active components have been extensively used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for their immune-stimulating, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-tumor, and anti-viral properties. (138)

Several in vitro studies have shown broad anti-viral effects, including anti-viral effects against influenza, using a variety of mushroom extracts including Ganoderma lucidum, Lentinus edodes, Grifola frondosa, Agaricus brasiliensis, (5)(35) Phellinus igniarius, (72) and Rozites caperata. (100)

Further, mushroom blends appear to be even more effective, increasing natural killer cell by 315%, and macrophage activity by up to 3267%!

My Community by Host Defense is my preferred choice.

NOTE: this is a true immunomodulator and is particularly good for those with autoimmune disease.

Echinacea

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) is a medicinal herb widely used for its immune-boosting properties. For common cold prevention, the use of a liquid extract, 0.9 ml three times per day (equivalent to 2400 mg of extract) for a minimum of four months has been used, while in the acute phase of cold development, up to 4.5 ml (4000 mg) has been used. (60)

Meta-analysis shows that echinacea use may reduce the risk of common cold development by 10-58%, and days with cold by approximately a day and a half. (63)(109) Echinacea may reduce the incidence of cumulative viral infections by 26% and recurring infections by 59%, including the influenza virus and parainfluenza virus. (60)

Its immune-boosting effects may be related to associated increases in immune cell counts including white blood cells, monocytes, neutrophils, and natural killer cells, which fight infection.

Echinaforce Extra (A. Vogel) has recent research with regards to viral outbreaks and is my preferred choice. Buy here

 

Astragalus

The roots of Astragalus membranaceus have been used therapeutically for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine for its bioactive polysaccharides. As demonstrated in various studies, these polysaccharides possess widespread immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-oxidant, and cardioprotective activities. (140)

The use of 7.5 ml twice per day (equivalent to 1.23g of dry herb) for one week has also been shown to stimulate expression of white blood cells within 24 hours, which is maintained during the week of ingestion.

Astragalus membranaceus has also been shown to possess anti-influenza virus properties as well as to reduce inflammation induced by pathogens (77)

 

Goldenseal (berberine)

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) has been traditionally used as an anti-infectious ingredient, and now used in supplements for colds and respiratory tract infections, however, there is a current lack of human clinical trials using the whole plant or an extract. (90). Berberine, the active compound in goldenseal. It is also found in barberry, tree turmeric, Oregon grape, yellowroot, Amur cork tree, Chinese goldthread, prickly poppy, and Californian poppy

Goldenseal has been shown to inhibit the growth of influenza A and inflammatory markers in vitro. (14) It has also demonstrated anti-microbial activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Helicobacter pylori in vitro, which are two pathogenic bacteria responsible for the development of a variety of health conditions. (13)(27) Goldenseal may also modulate the anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory response as it may reduce the production of inflammatory biomarkers

Berberine is good for the heart. Berberine reduced serum cholesterol by 29%, triglycerides by 35%, and LDL-cholesterol by 25%, according to a 2004 study.(10).

It is also well-known to reduce blood sugar levels. In the first study on people with newly diagnosed diabetes, the blood sugar lowering effect of berberine was similar to metformin with a 2% decrease in A1c and fasting blood glucose. In the second study, patients with poorly controlled type-2 diabetes took a berberine supplement for 3 months. Hemoglobin A1c decreased from 8.1% to 7.3%. (8)

This is particularly important for those people who are at high risk from COVID-19 death due to comorbidity factors – heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and metabolic syndrome

Dose is 500 mg, 3 times daily, away from food. Can be taken long-term

 

Elderberry

Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) contains various bioactive constituents such as anthocyanins, which have been shown to have anti-viral and immune-stimulating properties. A 2019 meta-analysis showed that elderberry supplementation substantially reduced the symptoms of viral URTIs, particularly for the influenza virus. (47)

It also has anti-inflammatory properties which may activate a healthy immune system by promoting inflammatory cytokines (98)

Sambucol was shown to be effective in vitro against 10 strains of influenza virus. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study, Sambucol reduced the duration of flu symptoms to 3-4 days (98)

Doses and forms vary. Follow manufacturers guidelines. Preferred product is Sambucol 

Oregano Oil

The herb, oregano (Origanum vulgare) is commonly used in the food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical industries. The essential oils are now also used for their anti-microbial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties. (76)

Studies have assessed the anti-viral activity against certain viruses, including different types of coronavirus (NOT Covid-19), the murine norovirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), Coxsackie virus B3 (CVB3), and herpes simplex virus type 1 in vitro. (40)(136)

Preferred product is by North American Herb and Spice and is called Oreganol P73

N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)

N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), a precursor for glutathione, which has been shown to be protective in rodents infected with influenza.16. 17.18.

Glutathione is involved with detoxification and reducing inflammation. It is also a powerful antioxidant.

NAC has been shown to have beneficial effects in conditions characterized by decreased glutathione or oxidative stress, such as heart disease, and cigarette smoking. NAC has been shown to aid lung function by down-regulating viral assaults. For example in this study, NAC was shown to “inhibit virus replication and expression of pro-inflammatory molecules in A549 cells infected with highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza A virus ….. It was also shown to protect against H9N2 swine influenza virus-induced acute lung injury.”

The particular utility of NAC in the elderly might reflect the fact that plasma cysteine levels and cellular glutathione levels tend to decline with advancing age.2

Dose is 600-800 mg/day in divided doses.

Silver

I will refrain from getting into a debate over which type of silver is best. Instead, know that silver has broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties. Bactericidal concentrations are reduced rapidly by adding colloidal silver, which has a high surface area. Even objects with a solid silver surface (e.g., table silver, silver coins, or silver foil) have a bactericidal effect.

Several studies have yielded positive results with the use of silver. In 1972 at Department of Microbiology, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan demonstrated that the Herpes Simplex Virus types I and II were totally inactivated by low concentrations of silver nitrate

In June 2005, the prestigious journal Nanobiotechnology published a ten page study that demonstrated tiny nano-scale particles of silver were able to inhibit HIV-1 (i.e., the AIDS virus) from binding to host cells, in vitro. A 2010 study came to similar conclusions

Zhang Panhe, professor at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in China, recently stated, “We tested the compound against a four-hour, eight-hour, and 24-hour exposure period and found no surviving SARS virus upon 24 hours of exposure to the polymer…”

In other words, when the polymer was purposely contaminated by the SARS virus, it began killing the virus within four hours, and had killed all SARS viruses on the surface within 24 hours. (please read disclaimers 1 and 2 above)

I personally use 2 brands. Oxy Silver by Dr Len Horowitz and Thank You Silver by Dr Nigel Pederson

 

Other Nutraceuticals To Look Into

Spirullina and N-acetlyglucosamine (NAG) both work to inhibit viral replication. There are numerous other benefits from taking spirullina – B12, trace elements, protein, alkalizing and more.

NAG is particularly useful for healing leaky gut as it stimulates intestinal cell growth while strengthening barrier function.

 

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