There are still many unanswered questions about the new coronavirus, or COVID-19, and how it affects our bodies once we are exposed. Aside from basic sanitation tips, many are asking their functional medicine doctors if there are ways we can bolster our immune systems to limit the effects of the virus should we contract it. What additions to our diet or supplements can we add that might help?
First, you should know, coronaviruses have actually been around for a long time, with the first case being acknowledged back in 1937 in birds and in the 1960’s in humans. Known as the common cold and eliciting symptoms such as a sore throat, cough, fever, and runny nose, these viruses can be passed in several ways, like through shaking hands, touching a surface with the virus and then touching your face, or through a cough or sneeze in the air.
COVID-19, however, is a version of the coronavirus that has caused heightened concern because of its contagiousness and rapid progression of symptoms. First identified in China, the virus has touched nearly every country around the globe, leading the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic and resulting in nations shuttering entire economies while citizens shelter in place, self-isolate and quarantine anyone with symptoms. In fact, to date, millions have been infected and hundreds of thousands have died.
Daily headlines can be overwhelming as our government and health professionals work to produce a vaccine and contain this global pandemic. Aside from the basic sanitation tips and tricks you can implement in order to keep yourself healthy in the meantime, there is another important body system that can help: your immune system! While there’s no data right now to answer definitely how or whether one supplement or another might help fight off the virus completely, we know the immune system is first in line to recognize and fight off any harmful bacteria or viruses that enter the body, and for the majority of the time, it does its job well…until you get sick. As functional medicine shows, this is where natural supplementation can come into play, helping your body to stay healthy and minimizing symptoms if you do become infected.
A natural antioxidant that is probably unfamiliar to most is something called glycyrrhizin. Found in liquorice roots, glycyrrhizin has been noted to prevent the growth of coronavirus in relation to SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). Research has found that utilizing glycyrrhizin makes it hard for the virus to invade cells, slowing the overall growth and production of this disease, and making it a good contender for effectively helping to treat this infection.
One of the most important micronutrients in regards to proper immune system functioning is zinc. Zinc not only helps protect against oxidative stress and helps the body maintain proper immune system functioning; it has also been shown to inhibit the growth and replication of the coronavirus. Nearly half of the world’s population is deficient in zinc, which can lead to issues with the GI tract, reproductive system, and immune system. Deficiency can even lead to death by infection. Being deficient in zinc can cause cells to be more susceptible to oxidative stress, which can lead to the immune system not responding the way that it should to different types of inflammatory stress. Since a lack of this micronutrient accounts for 16% of the lower respiratory infections in the world, enhancing the diet with the appropriate foods and supplements would appear to help lower these risks. The US Food and Nutrition Board recommends consumption of 11mg/day for males and 8mg/day for females, and this can come from sources like red meat, whole grains, and legumes, just to name a few. We have found doses of 100mg/day effective at supporting colds, with the only side effect being temporary nausea. Decrease this dosage if that happens!
Two other micronutrients that can aid in boosting the immune system to fight off disease are Vitamins C and D. Studies have shown that taking a supplement of Vitamin C can actually prevent the occurrence of upper respiratory infections, and not getting enough Vitamin D can make the immune system more open to infection. Boost your health by ensuring your diet contains enough fruits, veggies, healthy fats, and lean proteins in order to supplement the immune system appropriately!
As we wait and see how this particular strand of the coronavirus progresses throughout the world, wash your hands, practice social distancing, and do your best to maintain your health and wellness through natural supplementation. Contact your local Boulder or Denver functional medicine doctor for more information on boosting your immune system naturally.
Ian Hollaman, DC, MSc, IFMCP
PS Don’t panic! Practice healthy breathing and avoid the frenzy of attention-grabbing headlines. Help people, treat people with respect and dignity, and maintain your positive mental attitude.
PSPS Xymogen supplements are high quality and can be delivered without delay with an easy online ordering option (use referral code REDTAIL and practitioner code HOLLAMAN). Consider these specific immune supporting supplements:
- Immune Essentials – featuring Xymogen’s patented, naturally derived beta 1,3/1,6 glucan
- MinRex – A highly absorbable and balanced multi-mineral formula
- D3 liquid – Supports immune, brain, and nervous system health
- NAC – Promotes antioxidant and detoxification activity in the body
- Bio C 1:1 – Most agree that Vitamin C protects from cold viruses. The coronavirus displays similarities to cold viruses