There is no magic medicine or vaccine for COVID-19. For most of people, their focus is on preventive measures. For people already infected with no or little symptoms, the question is how to get back to their normal life.
Why some people get infected and some don’t, even they all get exposed to the virus? Among people infected, why some died but some survived? While there is no universal answer, an important reason is that we have different level of immunity that responds differently to Coronavirus.
Our immune system is designed to recognize things that are foreign in our body and clear those foreign things out of our body, but the responses has to be finely tuned. If the immune system is too active, it would attack our own healthy cells and tissue. If there is not enough immune system activity, frequent infections can occur.
General Preventive Measures
From the perspective of physical “quarantine”, the general advice is: wash your hands, don’t touch nose and mouse, wear face masks if needed, social distancing.
Equally important are: sufficient sleep, moderate exercise, keep hydrated, being positive, no smoke.
Treatment is a complicated topic beyond this article. We suggest you get advice from your doctor.
Another important issue is food. When sheltering in place, make sure to eat nutrient-dense food. One particular recipe is chicken soup with ginger and mushroom, consisting of a good amount of protein, polyphenol and polysaccharide.
There is a middle ground between medicine and food, called nutritional supplements or dietary supplements, of which some are antivirus, antibacterial and anti-inflammation. This article discuss which ones can probably prevent or even treat COVID-19, what should be the proper dosage, and where to buy. Our Information on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professionals
The following vitamins and minerals play crucial role in human immune system. They are by no means magic medicine. However, a deficiency puts your life in jeopardy during the pandemic.
Vitamin D is not only critical for calcium and bone homeostasis, but also acts in an autocrine manner in a local immunologic milieu. Vitamin D can modulate the innate and adaptive immune responses. Deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection.
In 2009, the National Institute of Health warned that low vitamin D levels are associated with frequent colds and influenza. In 2017, a large analyses of prospective clinical trials showed that taking vitamin D reduces the odds of developing a respiratory infection by approximately 42% in people with low baseline levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D ( below 25 ng/mL).
Taking vitamin D daily or weekly is more effective than larger doses taken in single manner. We believe 2000 IU is necessary, especially for people who tend to be deficient.
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and a cofactor for a family of biosynthetic and gene regulatory enzymes. Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system. Vitamin C deficiency results in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections.
Our body relies on vitamin C to launch an effective immune response while sustaining minimal damage. Since vitamin C is water-soluble and is excreted in the urine, the best way to meet your daily requirement is to consume vitamin-rich fruits, vegetables and fortified foods.
At this point, no evidence suggests that vitamin C supplements can help prevent COVID-19. Some scientists and clinicians, both in China and U.S, are testing if vitamin C could alleviate symptoms and improve outcomes for patients with COVID-19, if given in a high dose. Results are pending.
The animal and human studies show tocotrienols (a type of Vitamin E) may be useful against inflammation-associated diseases due to its antioxidant properties and its varied effects as a signaling molecule. Tocotrienols exhibit biological activities such as neuroprotective, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and cholesterol lowering properties.
When a pathogen is recognized, a series of molecules wake up from dormancy to create a process that activates the innate immune response. A major part of this process involves the NF-κB pathway, where a gene is expressed that produces a zinc transporter called ZIP8. The transporter then rapidly mobilizes to the cell’s wall, where it can then shuttle zinc from the bloodstream into the cell to halt any further activity in that process. The cumulative impact of this feedback loop is that it prevents excessive inflammation, which can be damaging to cells and the body.
The recommended daily allowance for zinc is about 11 milligrams for most adults. Red meat and poultry provide the majority of zinc in the American diet. Other food sources include beans, nuts, whole grains, and dairy products. Zinc is also available in supplement form.
A well known pathologist, James Robb, says that “ lozenges have been proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus (and most other viruses) from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx. Use as directed several times each day when you begin to feel ANY “cold-like” symptoms beginning. It is best to lie down and let the lozenge dissolve in the back of your throat and nasopharynx”. We believe 30 mg daily dosage is safe. Do not take zinc more than 150 mg a day, and don’t take it for an extended period of time.
Elderberry refers to several varieties of the Sambucus tree. Elderberry extract has been shown in laboratory studies to inhibit the replication of human flu viruses, including certain strains of Influenza A and B, and H1N1. Taken within the first day or so of experiencing symptoms, elderberry may shorten the duration of the flu, but more studies are needed to corroborate this. There is no evidence that elderberry extract can prevent COVID-19 or reduce symptoms in people who have been infected.
Echinacea is one of the most popular herbs worldwide, best known as an over-the-counter herbal remedy for the common cold or flu. However, it’s also used to treat pain, inflammation, migraines and other health issues.
Certain species of echinacea may inhibit coronaviruses. Taking echinacea by mouth while still healthy may help prevent colds. But the benefit is probably small. Taking echinacea after catching a cold doesn’t seem to have much benefit.
Quercetin is naturally found in food such as onions, apples, and certain berries, and people get about 25 mg of quercetin daily from their diets. Available as a dietary supplement, quercetin also possesses antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties. Quercetin have been found in laboratory studies to inhibit a wide variety of viruses, including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), which is related to COVID-19).
It’s not clear if taking quercetin supplements can help prevent or treat COVID-19 or what dosage would be effective.
Turmeric and Curcumin
Turmeric and curcumin are best known for their modest anti-inflammatory effects. In animal studies, curcumin injections have been shown to protect the lungs from injury and infection, including viral-induced acute respiratory distress syndrome, possibly by reducing inflammatory cytokines and other mechanisms. However, we are not clear if turmeric or curcumin supplements can prevent or reduce the symptoms of viral infections such as colds, the flu, or COVID-19.
Astragalus is an herbal supplement that has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. It’s purported to enhance the immune system and reduce inflammation, as well as help treat heart conditions, kidney disease and more. Some evidence shows that astragalus may increase your body’s production of white blood cells, which are the cells of your immune system responsible for preventing illness. Up to 60 grams daily for up to four months appears to be safe for most people.
Ginger is a popular spice. It is high in gingerol, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Ginger is antibacterial so it helps support the immune system and it can help to prevent nausea and soothe an upset stomach.
Reishi mushroom is a popular fungus used in Eastern medicine. It can enhance immune function through its effects on white blood cells, which help fight infection and cancer. This may occur primarily in those who are ill, as mixed results have been seen in those who are healthy.
Oregano is a flowering plant in the mint family. Oregano essential oil is especially high in carvacrol and thymol, two antioxidants that can help prevent damage to cells caused by free radical and can decrease the activity of viruses in some test-tube studies. Oregano is available either fresh, dried or as an oil, or as supplements.
The following supplements, while not directly antivirus, may provide benefits to boost your immune system:
Fish oil exert an inhibitory effect on the activation of immune cells from both the innate and the adaptive branch. Interestingly, some specific immune functions are promoted by dietary omega-3 fatty acids in specific immune cell types, i, suggesting that omega-3 fatty acids do not act as unspecific immune-repressors. Read our article How to Choose Fish Oil.
CoQ10 is present in every cell of the body, with the highest concentrations found in organs with the greatest energy demands, such as the heart, kidneys, lungs and liver. One of CoQ10’s primary functions is to help generate energy in the cells. It’s involved in making ATP, which is involved in transferring nutrients to energy within cells. Its other crucial role is to serve as an antioxidant and protect cells from oxidative damage.
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a supplement form of cysteine. Consuming adequate cysteine and NAC is important for a variety of health reasons — including replenishing the most powerful antioxidant in your body, glutathione. These amino acids also help with chronic respiratory conditions, fertility and brain health, and help loosen mucus.
We suggest you discuss with your doctor or nutritionist, and make purchase decisions based on your health conditions. High quality is the key. We hereby provide some recommendations for your to buy at Amazon or iHerb.com. Beware that some products are out of stock during the pandemic.