Three health experts and one lab share their recommendations for preventing COVID-19.
Each practitioner is drawing upon their personal and professional experience on how to prevent and treat similar, known viruses. This expertise guides their approach to dealing with this novel Coronavirus. Remember that your body and your specific needs are different from everyone else’s and each person responds differently. This is a general list and there is no guarantee that any product or combination of products is going to prevent COVID-19. These should be considered in addition to the basic universally acknowledged prevention measures (washing hands, not touching your face, social distancing, etc.) for maximum impact. If you have a pre-existing medical condition or take medications or are pregnant or nursing, please consult with a medical practitioner who understands supplements before trying any of the below. While these may be used preventively and for mild symptoms, if your situation worsens or you cannot breathe properly, it is imperative that you seek hospital treatment.
First, though….What is the mechanism of a virus? Viruses invade cells, replicate themselves, then escape and spread to other cells. Antiviral drugs and natural substances can stop a virus at one of these three points in the infection process:
- Invasion: Viruses use a protein called hemagglutinin to attach to and invade a cell. Once inside, a virus can replicate in large numbers. Anything that interferes with this process is a hemagglutinin inhibitor (HAI).
- Replication: Once inside an infected cell, viruses use an enzyme to replicate themselves. Certain drugs and natural substances can inhibit viral replication.
- Infection: Once a virus has entered a cell and replicated itself, it uses an enzyme to open the wall of the infected cell in order to spread to adjacent cells. Drugs like Tamiflu and natural substances like black elderberry block this process. Once they have multiplied, corona viruses damage human cells by producing an enzyme called 3CL protease, which allows them to spread to adjacent cells.
What is a cytokine storm? This is a phenomenon caused by the immune system going into overdrive and attacking itself. Immune stimulating therapies like elderberry should be used only for prevention or early infection. For severe illness, seek medical intervention. More info.
Jim Meyer/Peoples Pharmacy
Dr. Jim holds degrees in pharmacology and biochemistry. He works at Peoples Pharmacy in Austin, TX and is the most sought-after practitioner at their wellness center—one of the country’s largest group of holistic health providers. He has an expertise in specialty compounding—making custom pharmaceuticals—and also analyzes DNA tests for patients. He has a deep clinical understanding of how pharmaceuticals drugs, supplements, vitamins, and food interact together and can explain the physiology of how each of these impact the human body.
I intended to interview Dr. Jim for this article but he prefers to keep a low profile. Instead, he generously provided his go-to list. For more information, you can set up a telemedicine appointment with him through the wellness department at Peoples Pharmacy. Products can be purchased using their personal shopping assistant or through online retailers.
- Vitamin D3 5000-10,000 units daily and (100,000 units daily for 3 days if sick).
- Vitamin C 3000-4000 mg daily and (5000-10,000 mgs daily if sick).
- Elderberry extract. 2 times daily (4x daily if sick).
- Immun-Mod-A (D4H) 4 caps daily (twice daily if sick).
(Contains Curcuma Longa, Andrographis, and N-acetyl glucosamine)
- Beta Glucan 1 500mg cap daily (twice daily if sick).
- PRP spray (proline-rich polypeptide). 4 sprays twice daily (3x daily if sick).
- Megaspore biotic or other daily probiotic. Corbiotic, Prescripts Assist, Orthobiotic, or Visbiome are also good.
(Contains Bacillus subtilis HU58, Bacillus indicus HU36, Bacillus clausii, Bacillus licheniformis, Bacillus coagulans)
- NEO-40 or Berkley Life beet root capsules. 1 twice daily for nitric oxide production.
(contains vitamin C, Vitamin B12, Nitric Oxide blend, beet powder, hawthorne berry)
- N-Acetyl-l-cysteine. (900 mg) 1 twice daily (2 twice daily if sick) to protect the mucous membranes and increase glutathione.
- Argentyn colloidal Nasal Spray before getting on flight and after getting off. 2 sprays in each nostril.
- Echinacea, Goldenseal, Colostrum (immune boosters)
Will Mitchell, Merritt Wellness Center
Dr. Mitchell is an applied clinical nutritionist. He has a bachelors degree in microbiology, a masters degree in Oriental Medicine from the Academy of Oriental Medicine in Austin, and a Masters degree in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine from the University of Bridgeport. He is also a certified practitioner for the Institute for Functional Medicine. He is the co-founder of Merritt Wellness Center.
- Nasal Irrigation with saline solution, using a Neilmed bottle or Neti pot. When mucus membranes are dry (such as with indoor heating), they are more vulnerable to invasion by viruses and bacteria. Keep mucus membranes moist by irrigating 1-2x per day.
- Stomach pH must be acidic enough to kill off anything that drips down from the sinuses. Take apple cider vinegar in water a couple of times per day, or use Standard Process’ Zypan, which also has digestive enzymes, pepsin, betaine hydrochloride and everything needed for good stomach pH. 2 with each meal.
- Make sure your vitamin D levels are sufficient — take 5,000 I.U’s per day and ingest it with some fat. It doesn’t absorb well if taken on an empty stomach.
- A good immune multivitamin if your nutrition is not ideal, Immuplex is a complex of several ingredients designed to strengthen the immune system. 3 twice a day.
- Epimune Complex contains a patented form of maitake mushroom extract, dried yeast fermentate, and turkey tails mushroom. Ramps up the immune system for a quick response and should lessen the severity and frequency of colds, etc. 2 twice a day.
- Echinacea Premium helps in two ways: it boosts the immune system with long-term use, as it combines the roots of Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea for longer action and it also manages a cytokine storm. Comes from Australia, which requires pharmaceutical standards for its herbs and supplements (unlike the U.S.) so these have been tested for the optimal quantity of alkylamides per tablet to ensure efficacy. 1 tablet, two to three times per day.
If you start to feel sick, don’t panic. Statistically it’s probably just a bad cold. Rest and stay hydrated. To be safe, take one of these at onset in order to avoid a cytokine storm:
- Quercetin has been shown to slow or halt a cytokine reaction, so make sure you have some on hand. If you feel sick, take 500mg 2-3 times a day. Best to have in your medicine cabinet ready to go. You can pick it up in any health food store.
- Echinacea has also been shown to slow or halt a cytokine reaction, so increase the dose of Echinacea Premium to 6-8 per day. This only helps if you have been using 2 per day for two weeks prior to prime your system.
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The first priority is to ensure that the body’s immune system has the nutrients it needs, either to fight infection or to control its inflammation response.
- Seafood sources of Omega-3 fatty acids appear to suppress replication of most flu viruses. They also counter inflammation in the body, thereby reducing the potential of cytokine storms that are responsible for triggering excessive inflammation and killing COVID-19 patients.
- Vitamin D. Higher blood levels of vitamin D help prevent respiratory infections. More specifically, vitamin D may help prevent a potentially deadly overreaction by the immune system, in the form of a deadly cytokine storm.
- Black elderberry extract contains neuraminidase inhibitors as well as a hemagglutinin inhibitor, both preventing the virus from entering the cell wall.
- Curcumin has a range pharmacological activities, such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-microbial. Curcumin interrupts virus-cell attachment, which prevents the virus from infecting other cells.
- Goldenseal. Its main component, berberine, inhibits various strains of influenza much like Tamiflu (Oseltamivir).
- Andrographis is a powerful medicinal plant widely used in Asia and Africa. Its antiviral compounds appear to inhibit avian influenza A (H9N2 and H5N1) and human H1N1 influenza.
Consumer Lab is an independent company that evaluates products and rates them based on quality, authenticity, and affordability, much like Consumer Reports. They have detailed reviews and comparison charts on a huge range of products. Some information is available to all but access to full content requires a subscription.
Vitamins and minerals that can help with Corona if you’re deficient
Vitamin C is necessary for the white blood cells to fight infections and is critical for overall immune system health. You also need it to absorb iron efficiently, and iron deficiency is a risk factor for infection. High-dose vitamin C (500 mg twice daily) appears to reduce the severity and duration of colds. The research is mixed about whether it will prevent a cold.
Potassium. Doctors in China found that over a third of severe patients had low blood potassium. One theory is that the virus causes the body to excrete potassium. Deficiency can cause heart problems, especially for those who already have hypertension. Potassium is widely available in food like beans, potatoes, and squash and can also be taken in supplement form.
Vitamin D. Research shows that vitamin D can reduce the risk of respiratory infections like influenza in those who are deficient. Getting 30 minutes of sun three times a week is important, as well as consuming Vitamin-D fortified products and supplementing where necessary. 2,000 IU are recommended to boost low levels.
Zinc. Low levels are common in the elderly due to decreased absorption. Supplementing may help reduce respiratory tract infections. Vegetarians and those taking medication like proton pump inhibitors may also be low in zinc.
Supplements that may help reduce symptoms of COVID-19
Astralagus. This herb is commonly used in Chinese medicine to strengthen the immune system and to treat colds. Studies show that the herb increases the production of white blood cells, notably T cells and macrophages. It also appears to have anti-inflammatory and anti-viral effects. The Chinese are employing it as a preventive medicine in the battle against Coronavirus.
Coconut Oil. There is preliminary research on the anti-viral effects of one of its components, lauric acid. Studies have showed an increase in blood cell counts in HIV patients. Only found in virgin— not refined—coconut oil.
Echinacea. One study on a branded formula showed that it inhibited three kinds of Coronaviruses and yielded some benefit for viral respiratory infections like colds.
Elderberry. Studies show that the extract inhibits the replication and hemagglutination of human flu viruses. If taken at the onset of symptoms, elderberry shortens the duration of the flu. Note that the concentration of elderberry in a dose varies widely from product to product and there is no “regulated” dose. Note that there are concerns that once a person is infected, elderberry may actually contribute to the cytokine storm because of its immune-stimulating properties. See the report.
Garlic. Studies show that garlic inhibits some cold and flu viruses.
Melatonin. Lab experiments show that melatonin increases levels of certain cytokines (which are immune-regulating molecules) in mice with viruses and that it reduces mortality.
N-acetyl cysteine. An amino acid which is converted in the body to the antioxidant glutathione. NAC may improve certain blood markers of immune system health. In one study it reduced symptoms in people with flu.
Quercetin. Lab studies show that this plant extract inhibits a range of viruses including SARS. Quercetin appears to work by preventing viruses from entering cells. A quercetin-COVID-19 trial is currently in effect in China.
Turmeric/Curcumin. Animal studies have shown that injected curcumin protect lungs from injury and infection, including viral acute respiratory syndrome. Note that many supplements do not contain the amount of curcumin claimed on the label.
Zinc lozenges. Zinc has anti-viral properties and studies show that it inhibits the replication of coronaviruses in cells. Zinc lozenges and other oral dissolving formulas appear to reduce the severity and duration of colds. They do this by their presence in the throat, so it’s important to take with the onset of illness. Zinc cannot help with respiratory illness in the lungs.
There is quite a bit of overlap in the recommendations of all four independent sources and that is encouraging!
What is the Good Food Fighter taking right now?
I get as many nutrients and vitamins as possible through diet. I exercise daily (power-walking, tai chi, floor work, weight lifting). I do other things to maintain a strong immune system—keeping in touch with friends and family, doing meaningful work that inspires me, finding purposeful at-home projects, listening to music while doing the inevitable extra housework-dishes-cleaning, and watching funny TV shows. I also take lavender when I’m feeling anxious. Here’s my virus-prevention cocktail:
- Xymogen Vitamin D3 5000IU/daily
- Gaia Elderberry syrup 1-2 tbsp/daily
- Echinacea Premium 2 pills daily
- Mega sporebiotic 1 pill daily
- Wellmune Beta Glucan 500 mg daily
- Vitamin C in the form of kale, sweet peppers, strawberries and oranges.
- Omega-3s in the form of fresh fish 2-3 times a week.
- Potassium in the form of avocados, sweet potatoes, and beets.
- Zinc in the form of lamb, chicken legs, yogurt, hummous, pumpkin & hemp seeds. I wish I liked oysters, crab & lobster because they contain the most.
- Curcumin (turmeric root), raw garlic, and coconut oil in my daily smoothies.
- Extra probiotics in whole plain greek yogurt and sauerkraut.
- Nitric oxide by power-walking every day.
Why are authoritative sources like the World Health Organization warning against the use of all kinds of promising foods and supplements? Three reasons:
1. We don’t know enough about COVID-19 yet to predict with certainty how it will respond to specific vitamins, foods, and supplements. So we keep hearing and reading (like on the “myths” page of the WHO website) “There is no scientific evidence that garlic (for example) can prevent COVID-19”. But this doesn’t mean it hasn’t helped with similar viruses or that it won’t help with this one, only that it hasn’t been tested in a randomized double blind placebo study in humans and therefore has not met the Western medical standard for proof. (Ironic note: this is also the case with pharmaceutical drugs currently used to treat COVID-19—there is no proof, no long term studies, and yet doctors are using medications that they think will work based on what has worked for similar diseases or what other doctors are doing that are yielding good results. Is this acceptable to the medical establishment? To the FDA? Is it good science? Is it a good idea? Look what happened next: an FDA authorization without a double blind placebo study:
“Based upon limited in-vitro and anecdotal clinical data in case series, chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate are currently recommended for treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in several countries…”
2. Scammers like to prey upon people’s fears with miracle cures that make them a lot of money. Same with self-appointed nutrition gurus with cult personalities that attract devoted audiences who are likely to believe what they are told. Critics point out that our government and medical organizations are protecting the profits of Big Pharma, but it is also true that we have consumer protection agencies (and now Facebook, Google, etc) that are tasked with protecting vulnerable consumers from snake oil salesmen who are running afoul of FDA regulations.
3. As noted in #1, the ultimate test for credibility according to traditional Western doctors and medical institutions is the randomized double blind placebo study. If a drug has undergone the rigor of multiple rounds of testing, including in humans, and yielded a statistically significant result based on a peer-reviewed article in a scientific or medical journal, it gets a stamp of approval. However, the double-blind placebo study was developed to evaluate the efficacy of drugs and is a flawed mechanism for evaluating other things such as herbs and food. The system is uniquely beneficial for testing: pharmaceutical companies have the budgets needed to conduct long and large trials, and the investment pays off when a drug is approved by the FDA and paves the way for millions or billions of dollars in revenue. Companies who make supplements do not have such budgets or access to this infrastructure and so herbs are rarely tested in humans. Food ingredients are more problematic: No one is going to spend millions to fund a study on zinc, garlic, or echinacea because these things can’t be patented and there is no money to be made. Thousands of small scale studies have been done on food but most of them are in vitro (lab) or in vivo (animals). A third phase double blind placebo study—the highest bar—on carrot juice simply is not possible, and so it will probably never happen. Does that mean that the claims about these foods or herbs are dubious or bogus? Does that mean that thousands of years of Chinese medicine are invalid? Or does it simply mean that we can’t use the Western method to evaluate everything? Keep this in mind when your doctor tells you, “It’s not proven science”. You might also mention that hydroxychloroquine sulfate has saved hundreds of lives so far, with only anecdotal evidence.
No one has the all answers, but I’ve gathered here the wisdom of some of the smartest people I know. As always, I’m happy to share my trusted resources with my readers.
For more good tips, check out:
Be safe and stay well,
-your Good Food Fighter
- Vitamin D and the Immune System
- Vitamin D: Effect on Haematopoiesis and Immune System and Clinical Applications
- Study confirms that vitamin D protects against colds and flu
- Vitamin D Supplementation to Prevent Acute Respiratory Infections
- Vitamin D Likely Fights Lung-Focused Viral Villains
- Top food sources of Vitamin D
- Vitamin C and Immune Function
- Enhanced Human Neutrophil Vitamin C Status…with Vitamin C-rich kiwifruit
- Intravenous Vitamin C as Adjunctive Therapy for…Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome
- Vitamin C Supplements Review
- Top 10 foods highest in Vitamin C
- Effect of Zinc salts on respiratory syncytial virus replication.
- Zinc inhibits coronavirus and arterivirus RNA polymerase activity
- Coronavirus: to zinc or not to zinc
- Top 10 foods highest in Zinc
- In vitro antiviral activity of Echinacea against common cold coronavirus…and MERS -CoV
- Echinacea for prevention of upper respiratory tract infections in children.
- Penn State Hershey: Echinacea
- Efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B…
- The effect of an elderberry-based product on the production of human cytokines
- Elderberry compounds could help minimize flu symptoms
- Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses
- Prophylactic Efficacy of Quercetin 3-β-O–d-Glucoside against Ebola Virus Infection
- Antiviral activity of quercetin-3-β-O-D-glucoside against Zika virus infection
- Binding interaction of quercetin-3-beta-galactoside and its synthetic derivatives with SARS-CoV
- Montreal researchers propose a treatment for COVID-19
- Bacillus Subtilis HU58: a shocking message from a probiotic
- Probiotic treatment increases the immune response.
- The spectacular role of the human microbiome…
- Efficacy of Bacillus clausii spores in the prevention of respiratory infections…
- Bacillus Coagulans: The Gut Microbiome in autoimmune diseases
- The Impact of the Gut Microbiota on Human Health
- The interplay between the intestinal microbiota and the immune system
Argentyn colloidal Nasal Spray
- Effect of Beta-Glucans on the Immune System
- Scientific research brought this traditional nutrient to forefront of nutritional medicine.
- Nutraceutical functions of beta-glucans in human nutrition
- Curcuma Longa Extract Modulates…Inflammation and Potentiates Cytotoxicity
- Medicinal properties of Andrographis Paniculata for diseases…
- Control of immune cell function by O-GlcNAcylation
NEO-40/Berkley Life beet root capsules
- Nitric oxide and immune response
- Studies she light on how nitric oxide is produced
- The function of nitric oxide in the immune system
- A review on various uses of N-Acetyl Cysteine
- The role for N-acetyl cysteine in the management of COPD
- Efficacy of oral long-tern N-acetyl cysteine in chronic bronchopulmonary disease
PRP spray (proline-rich polypeptide)
- Proline-rich polypeptide…its effect on immune response
- Cytokine-inducing activity of a proline-rich polypeptide complex…and its active onapeptide fragments analogs
- Colostroal proline-rich polypeptides–immunoregulatory properties and prospects of therapeutic use
- The effect of Allium sativum (Garlic) extract on infectious bronchitis virus
- Immunomodulation and anti-inflammatory effects of garlic compounds.
- Immunomodulatory effects of aged garlic extract
- Supplementation with aged garlic extract improves both NK and γδ-T cell function and reduces the severity of cold and flu symptoms
- Preventing the common cold with a garlic supplement