We are currently navigating an unprecedented time in history due to the Coronavirus AKA COVID-19. Coronaviruses aren’t new, but COVID-19 specifically is a new and highly infectious strain that causes fever, coughs, shortness of breath, upper respiratory symptoms, and, in severe cases, pneumonia, permanent lung and organ damage, or death.
Viruses, including COVID-19, are spread primarily through close contact with droplets expelled from the nose and mouth of a sick person. You can become infected by direct contact (such as close talking) with someone who’s infected. You can also pick up the flu or the coronavirus if you touch a surface or phone that was coughed on or touched by a sick person but not disinfected within hours or days, then you touch your eyes, nose or mouth. (source) The tricky part about transmission is a person may be infected and not yet know it, or may be a carrier and never develop symptoms.
In the face of new viruses, many of us are feeling fear and uncertainty around what we can do to keep ourselves healthy and well. Aside from the general recommendations we can all implement, such as hand washing and social distance, keeping your immune system in tip top shape can help you fight off COVID-19 and any virus. Although COVID-19 is more infectious than the general cold or flu viruses, extra immune support may help you fight off the infection or recover more quickly. This completely depends on your own immune system and health status, however.
There are several nutrients, antioxidants, herbs, and lifestyle practices we can implement to help keep us well. I’m sharing my antiviral protocol below and some tips to stay healthy during cold and flu season. This antiviral protocol offers protection against any virus, and many of these products and ingredients are clinically proven antivirals, but as mentioned, it may not work for everyone.
I recommend having all these products on hand throughout the year, but especially heading into winter when cold and flu season hits. Use these supplements if you
- want to boost immune health and offer superior protection against illness
- start to feel run down or like you are getting sick
- to help you recover if you are already sick
- to prevent your sickness from worsening
- if people around you are sick and you want to remain well
Although many of these products boost your immune health, this protocol is specifically useful in targeting viruses vs bacterial illness. Click the link to access the products.
- First off, there is very strong research correlating healthy vitamin D levels to better outcomes in recovery from COVID. (source) Researchers have discovered a strong correlation between severe vitamin D deficiency and mortality rates. Vitamin D modulates the response of white blood cells, preventing them from releasing too many inflammatory cytokines. The COVID-19 virus is known to cause an excess of pro-inflammatory cytokines. I use these vitamin D supplements. It is never a bad idea to boost vitamin D levels for immune health, especially if you are in the upper latitudes or don’t get much sun exposure. I take a bottle of this one a few times a year to keep my levels up. If you know you have low levels and are looking for more targeted support to raise your D quickly, use this one.
- This immunoberry liquid contains immune boosting mushrooms, soothing herbs, AND elderberry which is a potent antiviral. Safe for kids. I am not certain on a kid’s dose for this, but adult dose is 2 full droppers 3 times daily.
- The most effective antiviral I have used is Cat’s Claw. I use this one because in addition to the cat’s claw, it also contains other immune support like vitamin D and monolaurin, which is a potent antiviral and is made from lauric acid, a compound that makes breast milk so immune supportive.
- Take a probiotic because your gut health is the foundation for your immune health. Here’s my post on how to choose the right probiotic for you. Overall for immune support, I recommend a soil based probiotic like Terraflora (bonus: excellent for constipation) or MegaSpore along with a general probiotic like Renew Life.
- Zinc supreme. If you can buy only one supplement, buy zinc. It’s so important for your immune system.
- This Biocidin throat spray kills viruses, soothes sore throat, and protects the immune system. I have used this over the past few years any time I felt a throat tickle or sore throat and it cleared within a day. This stuff is MAGIC, and especially because COVID causes sore throat and the virus may linger in the throat, this one could be key for this virus in particular. I do three sprays 3 times daily.
- Monolaurin is a potent antiviral and very mild. Similar immune benefits to breast milk as mentioned above. This one is pure monolaurin.
- N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is excellent for lung health and immune health. It’s the precursor to glutathione, one of the most powerful antioxidants in your body and crucial for healthy liver function and detox. Coronavirus attacks and impacts the lungs, so I highly recommend NAC for COVID in particular. Try this one. Dose is 2 daily.
- Olive Leaf extract is also an excellent antiviral. Dose is 1 three times daily.
- BONUS: drink immune boosting mushroom teas that contain cordyceps, chaga, reishi, lion’s mane, turkey tail. Try any from Four Sigmatic. Or take a formula like Host Defense immune support.
I have also recently seen promising info on using vitamin C for COVID-19. Clinical trials in China are underway using IV Vitamin C in patients with coronavirus related illness. Very promising results. I use this vitamin C that you can mix with water. Or you could use this C in capsule form. Always get vitamin C with bioflavonoids, and take 2 grams daily throughout the day for protection.
Additionally, melatonin is emerging as a great COVID-19 contender. Melatonin is anti-inflammatory and helps regulate the immune response in respiratory disorder models induced by infections and associated complications. Melatonin has a high safety profile. Read my article about it here. Bonus: it helps you sleep, which is crucial for immune health!
How to Use The Protocol
You can mix and match products to suit your needs. Typically, to stay healthy in the face of a viral outbreak, I use the zinc supreme, cat’s claw, and a probiotic at a minimum. Also, make sure your vitamin D levels are in the optimal range! Between 40 and 80 ng/mL is optimal; levels below 20 ng/mL is deficient. Use the Biocidin throat spray if you start to experience any throat or lung discomfort, if you start getting sick, or if you are already sick. I would also take the Host Defense mushroom immune support or drink immune boosting mushroom teas. If you already have COVID-19, use zinc, cat’s claw, biocidin, and NAC, which will support lung health.
For children, give them the immunoberry liquid to stay healthy or if they’re sick to reduce symptoms and help them get well. Kids can also do the Biocidin throat spray for sore throats.
Boost Your Immune Health
First off, check out this post with my tips all about how to fight off cold and flu. Secondly, there are some superstar antiviral and immune boosting foods you can include for extra support.
- Bone broth. Get it delivered. Use it as a base for my immune soup, or just sip for a nourishing and immune boosting snack.
- Garlic, which technically should be eaten raw for biggest antiviral boost. Cooking destroys the active antiviral compound. You won’t be socializing anyway.
- Green & herbal teas. Get my fave teas here.
- Berries, especially blackberries and blueberries. Make a smoothie.
- Zinc-rich foods like grass fed meats and oysters (which you can buy in tins. Makes a great snack!)
- C-rich foods like citrus, broccoli, red pepper, kiwi, strawberries. I drink this electrolyte formula that has high dose vitamin C and quercetin, which is also antiviral. It’s great for post workout recovery or to stay hydrated if you live in a dry climate.
- Medicinal mushrooms like shiitake, cordyceps, chaga, reishi, turkey tail. Super antiviral and immune boosting. My immune soup contains shiitakes!
- I haven’t seen anything about black seed oil and COVID-19, but it is highly anti-pathogenic, anti-inflammatory, and immune boosting, so it couldn’t hurt! It’s been called a cure-all and the remedy for everything except death. Here’s my post on it that includes my recommended brand.
Healthy Lifestyle Habits
This post also details ways to boost your immune health.
You know the basics: wash your hands throughly; wipe down surfaces, including your phone and computer keypad! But there are a few extra measures you can take to be healthier.
- SLEEP. Crucial for your immune health. You need a good 8 hours. Click here for my sleep tips.
- Avoid added sugar, junk food, alcohol. These all ruin your immune health.
- Keep mucous membranes hydrated and healthy. That could mean running a humidifier in dry climates (bonus: you can add Thieves oil which may help keep pathogens at bay) and/or using a neti pot to cleanse nasal passages.
- Get outside for some fresh air and sunshine if possible.
- Drink soothing herbal teas. Ginger tea is an especially good choice. Throat coat eases a sore throat.
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.