First, let me say that I am not a doctor. I am a writer and researcher with a background in chemistry and biochemistry. I read the research and make my own conclusions and so should you.
I’ve included links to many of the studies here, but you will usually only find abstracts, a summary. If you wish to read the entire study, you can usually read it for free, if you have access to a student account or a research library. Many libraries carry actual copies of the study publications, but they are most likely closed now.
I see the fight as a four-stage approach with these components:
- Cultivate a healthy body through lifestyle. Eat a healthy diet, get plenty of exercise. You want your body ready to fight any virus that comes along.
- Avoid exposure. You have likely already learned the rules of social distancing and hand washing. Avoiding exposure is a high priority in avoiding the illness.
- Strengthen your immune system to allow it to fight off the virus when you are exposed.
- Treat the symptoms and underlying disease, should you become ill.
Strengthen Your Immune System
Our best individual weapon in fighting is a healthy body and a strong immune system.
Unless you practice extreme social distancing, you will likely come into contact with infected people.
A healthy immune system can quickly ward off the infection. Follow these tips for strengthening your immune system:
- Reduce your alcohol intake – Alcohol suppresses the immune system and disrupts your sleep.
- Get more sleep.
- Manage your stress.
- Get regular exercise, but don’t overdo it. Excessive exercise can compromise the immune system.
- Take magnesium to counter stress, help relax your muscles, and enhance your sleep.
- Eat healthy foods high, in vitamins and minerals. Aim to increase your intake of vitamins A, C, and zinc. Nourish your gut with probiotic and prebiotic foods. Watch your sugar intake.
- Practice deep breathing.
- Get out in the sunshine for 30 minutes or more a day. Sunshine is the best way to increase your vitamin D levels.
Herbs That Boost Your Immune System:
Astragalus also has antiviral properties and is known to strengthen the immune system. It is a common remedy used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat upper respiratory diseases.
Stinging nettle, Urticae dioicae, is also a strong antiviral with effectiveness against HIV and other viruses.
It stimulates the immune system by increasing the production of T-lymphocytes.
It is thought that stinging nettle helps in reducing cytokines and may be an effective weapon in treating the “cytokine storm” that causes lung damage.
Stinging nettle can be taken as a supplement, or by drinking stinging nettle tea.
Related: How to Cook Spring Nettles
Quercetin is a polyphenol, naturally found in fruits and vegetables. It stimulates the immune system, inhibits virus action in the body, and can be useful in inhibiting allergic responses.
It blocks the viral infection of healthy cells and inhibits virus reproduction in infected cells for HIV, herpes, and other viruses. It also boosts the activity of the immune system in repelling the virus.
Andrographis is another herb used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat inflammation and infections.
Known as “Indian echinacea,” Andrographis is an antiviral widely used to treat the cold and the flu.
It acts as a booster for the immune system and as a preventative for viral infections.
Research published in 2017 shows that Andrographis is beneficial in treating symptoms of acute upper respiratory tract infections.
Vitamin Supplements to Consider
I’m a big proponent of getting your vitamins through your food sources and I rarely recommend vitamin supplementation, however it is important that you get all the required vitamins necessary at this time.
We know vitamin deficiency can make you vulnerable to lowered immunity and an unhealthy body in general. Now is a good time to make sure you are getting all your recommended vitamins and minerals and consider extra doses of the most important ones.
The ones listed here are known to be important to the immune system but you should consider your intake of all the essential vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin C may help boost the immune system and prevent infections, including those caused by viruses. Vitamin C also has been shown to help you heal faster from colds and viruses.
It boosts the activity of phagocytes that help eliminate harmful bacteria and viruses from the body. It also promotes the growth and spread of lymphocytes, which carry proteins that attack harmful particles in the blood.
Vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients for the immune system. Known as the “sunshine vitamin”, it has been shown to help reduce the risk of infections by colds and flu viruses. A high percentage of Americans are deficient in vitamin D and that number may be climbing as we stay indoors more during this pandemic.
You can increase your vitamin D levels by spending more time outdoors with your skin uncovered (and no sunscreen). Thirty minutes a day is usually sufficient. If you choose to take a supplement, a vitamin D3 form offers the best protection.
For those with vitamin A deficiency, supplementation with Vitamin A can be important in helping support the body’s ability to fight infections, especially respiratory infections..
Supplementation with zinc can help reduce the frequency of infections and reduce the duration and severity of colds and flu, when taken immediately after onset.
Currently, zinc is being given with hydroxychloroquine to increase the effectiveness of the treatment.
Selenium is another key nutrient for good immune functions. It boosts the body’s activity against bacteria, viruses, and cancer. It helps protect the body against flu viruses.. Selenium is found in many foods. The richest source is Brazil nuts.
Garlic is rich in compounds that boost immunity. Both fresh and aged garlic increase the immune function in preventing viral infections and reduces the severity of upper respiratory viruses.
Thieves Essential Oil
Essential oil blends, known as Thieves Oil or Robbers Oil, contain a mixture of antibacterial and antiviral oils that are shown to help prevent infection.
I am using one of these blends in an infuser to disinfect my home (I also use a steam cleaner.). We also add a few drops to our hand sanitizer. The use of essential oils is controversial with viruses, so do your own research on these.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatments
Several of the herbs listed above are used in traditional Chinese medicine in the prevention of viruses.
In addition, the ones listed below are being used, but there is no recognized evidence to their efficacy.
Do your research and speak to your medical advisor about these treatments:
- Glycyrrhizin found in liquorice roots is used to inhibit the replication of the virus and is being used to treat SARS.
- Chaga Mushrooms reduce inflammation and fight harmful bacteria and viruses.. Chaga is believed to reduce the cytokine response which causes the lung damage.
- Baicalein, extracted from Scutellaria baicalensis (Chinese Skulcap), another Chinese herb.
- Gingseng stem-leaf saponins can enhance the antibody responses for some viruses and infectious bronchitis.
Additional Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbal Treatments for
Here is a list of additional vitamins, minerals and herbak treatments: vitamin B-Complex, colloidal silver, Mullein tincture, Usnea and Reishi Mushrooms, Camphora-1M, Arsenicum-album, Bryonia-alba and Oscillococcinum.
Quinine, Tonic Water
Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are synthetic chemicals based on a natural compound, quinine. Quinine is extracted from the bark of several species of Cinchona trees.
According to historical accounts, the tree was used to treat malaria and other types of fever for centuries, before the Europeans discovered it. The powdered bark of the tree was the first effective treatment for malaria.
Quinine is the source of the bitter flavor in tonic water. The drink was used to prevent malaria by military officers as late as WWII.
I know of the use of quinine because my father-in-law, a naval officer in WWII, drank it daily believing it would prevent malaria..
If you are not sure which of these herbals to use, remember you are not limited to only one. We take all the recommended vitamins and minerals, plus several of the herbs. And I have purchased others now while they are still in stock, in case someone in my household becomes infected, or if new research shows that one is more effective.
Please do your own research and consider your own medical condition before making a decision this important. I wish you all health and safety during these trying times.
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