First off, as a holistic practitioner, let me say that I understand the unsettling feeling that’s sweeping across the world right now.
I’ve been hearing and seeing a lot of anger, fear and confusion out there and so I wanted to take this time to share my top 6 supplements and herbs to help boost our immune systems to help prevent coronavirus.
If you are immunocompromised, elderly or even young (although we know they are less affected), you should be hypersensitive to your symptoms and take extra precaution during these times. It’s of course important to limit social interactions, wash hands frequently (20 seconds with soap and water), use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, cough/sneeze into your arm and wash your hands and don’t touch your face. All of those will be very helpful in spreading an infection.
That said, the best line of defense we have right now is our immunity. Our bodies are strong and resilient and they have the power to protect us from a lot of things, including infectious diseases like coronavirus.
Here are my top recommended immune boosting herbs and supplements to help you stay strong during this time:
Liposomal Vitamin C or Buffered Vitamin C. So, somewhat bad news is that liposomal vitamin C is either sold out or in a shortage in most places because everyone is ordering it like crazy. Liposomal vitamin C is preferred because it is more easily available to our cells. If you can’t find liposomal vitamin C, then look for buffered vitamin C, especially in powdered form, because it’ll be easier to digest and absorb compared to a capsule or pill. I like the Seeking Health brand but I know they are selling out fast. It’s recommended to take between 1,000 to 3,000 mg per day of buffered vitamin C if your digestive system can tolerate it for a short period of time.
If you want to get your vitamin C from food sources, too, definitely stock up on the citrus. Lemons actually have more vitamin C than oranges, but all citrus fruits, as well as tomatoes, peppers and berries are an excellent natural source.
Vitamin A. This is one of our best immune protections against viruses. Vitamin A has been shown to reduce morbidity and mortality in different infectious diseases, such as measles, diarrhoeal disease, measles-related pneumonia, human immunodeficiency virus infection and now, coronavirus. You’ll want to be careful if using a supplemental form because vitamin A can be toxic to the body in high doses for an extended period of time but it’s fine for short term use and in low doses. I recommend getting a blend of Vitamins A, D, E and K for overall immune support, which has carefully measured doses of each. My favorite brands that you can purchase direct to consumer are Pure Encapsulations and Bulletproof. I personally use Bio-ADEK Emulsion from Biotics Research. It is pharmaceutical grade, tested for contamination and toxins, and everything is GMO free.
The best food sources of Vitamin A (which is a fat soluble vitamin) are cod liver oil, and organ meats like beef liver, eggs and foods rich in beta-carotene: broccoli, spinach, and dark green, leafy vegetables.
Liposomal Vitamin D3. One of the reasons we have “seasonal” flu is because of low vitamin D levels. Same goes for coronavirus. We get a majority of our vitamin D from sunshine, which there is usually less of in the winter, especially considering we spend more time indoors. Vitamin D is incredibly effective for boosting our immune system and our mood. Recommended dosing is anywhere from 400 to 800 IU per day to up to 5,000 IU. Dr. Mercola is a great brand, and if you can’t get liposomal form for easier cell absorption and utilization, opt for a D3 paired with K2. Some reputable brands are Seeking Health, Dr. Mercola, Pure Encapsulations, and Thorne Research.
Foods high in D3 are cod liver oil (vitamin D and A work best together), egg yolks (organic and pasture raised is best), butter from grass fed cows, fish eggs and fatty fish like wild caught mackerel and salmon as well as lard from pasture raised pigs.
N-acetylcysteine (NAC). Viral infections like the flu and coronavirus cause inflammation in the body, particularly in the lungs, which increases the risk of an upper respiratory infection that if not treated, could lead to pneumonia. NAC is a form of cysteine, one of the important amino acids in the body that replenishes our biggest antioxidant: glutathione. Glutathione is needed to support detoxification and improve lung health.
Studies show that NAC can help boost type 1 interferon response to viruses, which is primarily how our bodies create antiviral antibodies to fight off viral infections. Thorne Research and Pure Encapsulations have a good NAC supplement.
Foods high in cysteine include pasture raised organic meat, dairy products, eggs, nuts/seeds like sunflower seeds and some legumes. But you may choose to supplement with NAC as well.
Elderberry Syrup. Elderberry syrup has been shown to boost overall immunity and can shorten the duration of symptoms from the cold and flu and can be used as a preventative measure for coronavirus. The berries contain chemical compounds called anthocyanidins, which are shown to have immunostimulant effects.
There is some concern that taking elderberry once sick with a virus might create something called a “cytokine storm,” which would exacerbate your illness. Not all experts believe this. I think Dr. Ben Lynch has a really great Facebook video on coronavirus and this topic.
Zinc. Zinc is an essential nutrient (meaning our body can’t make it so we must get it from food sources or supplementation) found in our cells. It supports a strong immune system by fighting off invading bacteria and viruses. We also rely on zinc to make protein and our DNA, which is found in all cells. Pure Encapsulations has a great zinc supplement as does Thorne Research and Garden of Life.
You can also eat zinc-rich foods, including grass fed lamb, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, grass fed beef, some legumes like chickpeas and lentils, cacao powder and cashews.
I’d be remiss here if I left out the importance of nourishing your body during a time like this (but also ALWAYS) to stay strong and resilient against coronavirus. Foods like high quality organic bone broth with gelatin and collagen, manuka honey, citrus, colorful vegetables, garlic, ginger and healthy fats like coconut oil and cod liver oil will keep your body’s defenses up. Making a bone broth chicken soup can be the best thing to do for your body right now!
I know it’s easy to peruse the grocery aisles and grab pantry items, processed carbohydrates like white pastas, canned goods, microwavable ramen and frozen pre-packaged meals, but these do not nourish the body and in fact can create additional inflammation.
Instead, I encourage you to buy things like frozen organic vegetables, lots of root vegetables like sweet potato, squash, etc. that can last long in cool dark places, and buy organic pastured and grass fed poultry and meat that you can freeze. We bought whole organic chickens, wild caught frozen shrimp and grass fed ground beef to keep on hand in the freeaer.
Lastly, I will offer a few tried and true ways to protect yourself and your family from contracting the virus from others.
Wash your hands. A LOT. 95% of Americans simply do not wash their hands correctly. Let that sink in, friends. So what is the right way? You need to create friction, because that’s how soap and water work. They create friction on the hands/body that remove cells and other viruses/bacteria. You need to wash and lather, scrub back of hands and in between fingers and under finger nails for at least 20 seconds (that’s the equivalent of two happy birthday songs), then rinse for 10 seconds and dry hands with a paper towel (preferably). Hot or cold water will do.
Don’t touch your face holes. Yes. Those are your eyes, nose and mouth. We spread germs by touching openings in our body, which give the virus direct access to us. You’ll notice just how much we touch our faces when you make a concerted effort to NOT do this. It’s hard at first, but try to keep your hands busy doing other things, and if an itch comes up, distract yourself or use a clean tissue. Even our clothes can have bacteria and viruses on them from coming into contact with things in the world.
Sneeze/Cough into your arm. Do that to minimize the “spray” of respiratory drops from your mouth/nose that will spread the virus, and immediately wash your hands after, or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer that is at least 60-62% alcohol. I love Dr. Bronner’s natural hand sanitizers with essential oils for fragrance instead of toxic and synthetic perfume chemicals.
Clean and disinfect surfaces with safe nontoxic products. I ask you: when was the last time you cleaned your phone? Yeah…. same. Make sure you are regularly wiping surfaces down, especially things like our phones that travel with us just about everywhere, including the bathroom.
What you don’t want is to introduce toxic chemicals to the body that will weaken our immune response and create toxic buildup that can disrupt our hormones. Some of my favorite brands for household cleaners are Dr. Bronner’s (get the Sals Suds, you won’t regret it), Ms. Meyer’s Clean Day and Branch Basics. Method Home and Seventh Generation are decent, but not my top picks for overall nontoxic properties. But still, better than using Dawn soap and other conventional disinfectants.
Rest, sleep, move, destress. Lastly and most importantly, get adequate rest and do not stress. Stress is one of the most harmful things to our body and will lower our immune system significantly. Combined with lack of sleep, you have a recipe for disaster brewing. I know this is a stressful time for many people especially amid economic uncertainty, but do things that make you happy (and don’t break the bank or require you to be around large crowds) like meditation, yoga, taking a walk in the park, and spending time with loved ones.
Some light exercise can help keep our immunity up and our stress levels down. Movement stimulates digestion and our detoxification pathways which is crucial when fighting off foreign invaders.
Stay strong and support the best line of defense you have: your body and its immunity and you’ll be much more equipped to deal with the looming threat of coronavirus!
Quick disclaimer: None of the above information is intended to be medical advice. Always consult your doctor and follow the guidelines from WHO and CDC if you suspect you might be infected with coronavirus. Also some links in the post are affiliate links.