|TRENDS JOURNAL TRENDS IN GETTING HEALTHY February 9, 2021
|Natural Love In The Time Of Covid by Gary Null, PhD
As the COVID-19 panic rolls on, health-minded people are eager, and sometimes desperate, to know whether there are ways to strengthen the body’s immune system to protect themselves. Following the first cases of the virus in the U.S. and announcements indicating it would spread rapidly across the nation, I have received numerous requests from my radio and internet audience for information about how they can best protect themselves from infection. Most ask about what foods and supplements may confer protection.
It is impossible for us to avoid exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in every case. We contract and harbor numerous viruses during our lives but are usually asymptomatic. Therefore, no nutrient will prevent infection; however, many will certainly strengthen our defense mechanisms and can protect us from developing a serious symptomatic infection.
Most of us have been infected with a coronavirus strain at some time in our lives. Along with many other common viruses, coronaviruses are associated with a common cold. It is only during the past 19 years that newer strains have become more virulent and pose greater respiratory risks. The first was the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak between 2002-2004 and then the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2014. Since then there has been a remarkable number of studies published to find natural sources to prevent and treat SARS infections.
My producer and I have scoured the peer-reviewed literature on the National Institutes of Health’s Library of Medicine database to identify compelling studies that may warrant vitamin, antioxidant, and botanical supplementation as a means to protect ourselves from coronavirus and other viral infections. These have been shown to either have strong antiviral properties in general or have known biomolecular effects to strengthen the immune system against microbial infection. We are not offering prescriptions. This is just a summary of some important medical information about certain nutrients and botanicals to make better-informed decisions for strengthening your immune system and to protect yourself from serious SARS-CoV-2 symptoms.
Very early into the pandemic, Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University published a paper recommending people have a nutritional evaluation before any conventional treatment. The paper recommends people follow a regimen with Vitamins C, D, and E, Omega-3 fatty acid, Selenium, and Zinc.
I would also follow the recommendations by Dr. Paul Marik in the pulmonary and critical care division at Eastern Virginia Medical School and include a daily intake of quercetin. Quercetin, a flavonoid abundantly found in apples, grapes, onions, and green leafy vegetables, has a synergistic antiviral effect and increases Vitamin C’s immune-modulatory properties. I always recommend Vitamin C be taken with quercetin. Vitamin D is also crucial because serious Covid-19 illnesses and deaths appear among those who are most Vitamin D deficient.
It is necessary to supplement zinc. A common regimen for treating SARS CoV-2 infections now prescribed by maverick American physicians and more approvingly in other nations is a combination of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), the antibiotic azithromycin, and zinc. Zinc has been shown to ward off and reduce the onset of colds and flu-like symptoms.
A 2010 study by scientists at Leiden University’s Center for Infectious Diseases concluded that zinc will block the replication of coronavirus.
Another important nutrient that has an excellent history to back its efficacy is the important antioxidant N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC). Our lungs are especially susceptible to oxidative stress, which becomes a pathway for microbial infections and can trigger inflammatory cytokines. NAC is one antioxidant shown to reduce clinical symptoms following viral infections. Johann Goethe University Department of Virology, for example, recommends NAC to decrease inflammation due to respiratory viruses such as influenza.
There is strong evidence that severe coronavirus cases and deaths are associated with cytokine storms besides secondary infections such as pneumonia. One cytokine in particular, NLRP3, is associated with SARS-CoV infections. The amino acid Melatonin has the unique property of inhibiting NLRP3 elevations after infection. For this reason, it can prevent NLRP3 cytokine storms contributing to acute respiratory distress syndrome and acute lung injury that are characteristic of severe SARS infections.
Early last March, we stumbled unexpectedly upon a botanical compound, Glycyrrhizin Acid (GA), which surprisingly has been studied at a number of different medical institutions to treat the first SARS virus. GA is an active antiviral molecule found in licorice. In the ancient medical systems of China, India, and Greece, licorice is found in their pharmacopeias for treating sore throats, bronchitis, and respiratory infections.
During the past 15 years, GA research has been impressive. In early 2005, German scientists at Goethe University and the Russian Academy of Sciences identified the molecule’s antiviral activity against SARS coronavirus. It had a ten-fold increase in anti-SARS activity compared to other potential treatments tested. One conjugate had a 70-fold increase.
That same year, a separate Chinese Academy of Sciences study arrived at similar results. Virologists at Frankfurt University Medical School investigated several antiviral compounds to treat patients admitted with SARS infections. Of all the compounds tested, licorice’s GA was the most effective. The scientists concluded, “Our findings suggest that glycyrrhizin should be assessed for treatment of SARS.” That study was later replicated at Sun Yat Sen University in China.
Another botanical I would recommend is astragalus, commonly prescribed throughout Asia. Its active compounds, saponins, are well researched and recommended for their effectiveness against viral infections and over-stressed respiratory conditions. Beijing University of Chinese Medicine completed an analysis of previous research looking at the benefits of astragalus herbal formulas against the SARS and H1N1 swine flu. In three studies, among participants who took the formulas against SARS, none contracted the illness. Nor did any contract H1N1 influenza in four additional studies.
I could recommend many other supplements and botanical medicines to complement the above; however, in my opinion, what I am offering seems to be the best selection for your buck and is supported by the medical literature. Other ways to supplement a stronger immune system would include foods that increase the body’s nitric oxide (such as dark chocolate, rhubarb, beets, pomegranate, and leafy greens), elderberry, Echinacea, olive leaf, and extracts from the plant Bupleurum.
However, none of these nutrients, foods, and botanicals can prevent a person from being in contact with an infected person and contracting SARS CoV-2 themselves. Nevertheless, they will strengthen the immune system and effectively fight infection. Besides, they are safe and not expensive.
A hard lesson we are learning is that the U.S. government has no noteworthy competence in dealing with national health crises let alone a pandemic. We are only good at pouring money into the personal coffers of elites and pharmaceutical companies who won’t turn down a good opportunity to capitalize on disasters. If the tiny virus is David, certainly the U.S.’s cumbersomeness and huge bureaucracy is Goliath. Therefore, we need to be responsible for our health to protect us from COVID-19. If progressive voices are unable to leverage themselves to change the face of our civilization for a potentially sustainable future, then the tiny SARS-2 virus is determined to do it for us.