During this time of great societal stress, there is a high level of interest in evidence-based integrative strategies to augment public health measures to prevent COVID-19 virus infection and associated pneumonia.
Although no integrative measures have been validated in human trials specifically for COVID-19, this is an opportune time to be proactive, said Dr. Lise Alschuler. These supplemental considerations should be used in addition to the current recommendations that emphasize regular hand washing, physical distancing and avoiding non-essential travel.
Adequate sleep: Shorter sleep duration increases the risk of infectious illness. Adequate sleep also ensures the secretion of melatonin, a molecule that may play a role in reducing coronavirus virulence.
Stress management: Psychological stress disrupts immune regulation; various mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, breathing exercises and guided imagery, reduce stress.
Zinc: Coronaviruses appear susceptible to the viral inhibitory actions of zinc. Zinc may prevent coronavirus entry into cells and appears to reduce coronavirus virulence. Typical daily dosing of zinc is 15-30 milligrams daily, with lozenges potentially providing direct protective effects in the upper-respiratory tract.
Vegetables and Fruits: Vegetables and fruits provide a repository of flavonoids, considered a cornerstone of an anti-inflammatory diet. At least five to seven servings of vegetables and two to three servings of fruits are recommended daily. Some foods and/or dietary supplements to consider include: tomatoes, apples, onions, oranges, nuts, parsley, celery, berries, licorice and Chinese skullcap.
Vitamin C: Clinical trials have found that vitamin C shortens the frequency, duration and severity of the common cold and the incidence of pneumonia. The typical daily dosing of vitamin C ranges from 500-3,000 mg daily, with even higher doses utilized during times of acute infection.
Melatonin: Melatonin has been shown to be anti-inflammatory; it also reduces oxidative lung injury and inflammatory cell recruitment during viral infections.
Curcumin: Curcumin, a key component of turmeric, has anti-inflammatory actions and antiviral effects against a variety of similar viruses.
People with symptoms of infection or a positive understanding of COVID-19 continues to change rapidly test for the covid-19 virus may want to avoid certain supplements. In the absence of human clinical data, caution is warranted with the following immune-activating agents due to their possible stimulation of an inflammatory response:
- Sambucus nigra (Elderberry)
- Polysaccharide extracts from medicinal mushrooms
- Echinacea angustifolia and E. purpurea
- Larch arabinogalactan
- Vitamin D
Other commonly used natural immune-stimulating and antiviral agents are available, several of which may work to restore immune balance, or homeostasis. These likely are safe to use both prior to and during COVID-19 virus infection. Whether these agents mitigate the symptoms or severity of
COVID-19 is unknown and, therefore, the benefit of these agents during COVID-19 infection is unknown.
- Allium sativum (garlic)
- Astragalus membranaceus
- Full mycelium mushroom extracts
- Mentha piperita (peppermint)
- Andrographis paniculata
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
While these integrative measures have not yet been validated in human trials specifically for COVID-19, this is an opportune time to be proactive. All recommendations will be based on scientific evidence.
Material supplied by Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine