The Covid-19 virus is largely an unknown to us right now. We know only what we’ve been told and much of that may not be accurate. There is very little actual studies or tests to tell us how to prevent or treat it. But we do have data on preventing and treating similar diseases and we can use that data to design a personal plan for preventing and treating Covid-19.
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 against Covid-19 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 the Corona virus, also known as Covid-19, 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:
Elderberry May Not Be Recommended
Elderberry is controversial for use in preventing Covid-19 and I will cover both arguments here. I’ll tell you what I am doing and allow you to decide for yourself.
First, there is no research on the use of elderberry for Covid-19.
So it is safe to say that we are making assumptions here based on research with similar diseases and what we know about how elderberry acts.
Elderberry is a medically proven antiviral for influenza and respiratory diseases. It prevents the multiplication of the virus and increases the body’s ability to fight the infection by an increase in antibodies and the production of cytokines.
However, there are fears that by increasing the production of cytokines, elderberry could contribute to the cytokine storm that causes lung damage in Covid-19. My family has chosen to use elderberry to prevent infection of Covid-19.
If one of us should become infected, we will stop taking elderberry and use an herb such as Chaga to suppress the cytokine response. However, many herbalists are recommending avoiding elderberry completely at this time.
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.
Recent research out of China showed evidence that astragalus helps prevent Covid19, along with SARS and H1N1 flu. We take it in addition to elderberry.
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 in Covid19.
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 or in treating Covid-19, 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.
Intravenous high-dose vitamin C is being tested for the treatment of Covid-19, but the research is in early stages and I could find no conclusive results at this time. However, taking a vitamin C supplement is considered safe and could be preventative.
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 such as Covid-19.
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. According to recent research, zinc inhibits the replication of a variety of RNA viruses, including the SARS-CoV, and may have an effect on Covid-19.
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 and may be active against Covid-19. 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 for Covid-19
Several of the herbs listed above are used in traditional Chinese medicine in the prevention of viruses and Covid-19.
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. Anecdotal evidence shows that patients taking Chaga mushrooms for cancer and other uses had a low incidence of infection with Covid19. Chaga is believed to reduce the cytokine response which causes the lung damage in Covid19.
- Baicalein, extracted from Scutellaria baicalensis (Chinese Skulcap), another Chinese herb, was found to inhibit SARS-CoV.
- Gingseng stem-leaf saponins can enhance the antibody responses for some viruses and infectious bronchitis.
Additional Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbal Treatments for Covid19
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 (recommended by the Indian government to prevent Covid19), 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 and was the basis for the development of the synthetic drugs we now are testing for use against Covid-19.
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.
My research says that each glass of tonic water contains about 20 mg of quinine. Covid-19 patients are taking 200 mg of hydroxychloroquine daily.
I don’t recommend trying to treat yourself, but, since the risks associated with drinking a glass of tonic water are extremely low, my household is taking a glass daily as a preventative for Covid19.
There is no proof that it is effective in preventing Covid-19, but we see no downside. The only real problem is that as others begin drinking tonic water, the supply is dwindling. If you find it on your supermarket shelves, look for “contains quinine” on the label.
Unfortunately, Covid-19 is probably going to be a problem for us for quite a while. Once we get back to our “normal” activities, the danger may be greater than ever. Don’t lower your guard just because life is getting back to normal. The threat is still there, only hidden.
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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