The last couple of years have been tragically marked by the pandemic; and to this date, we are still struggling against it. Since a significant portion of current medical research has been dedicated to developing treatments for COVID-19, most people affected by the virus only experience symptoms of moderate respiratory illness and recover at home.
However, scientists have yet to establish a treatment that works equally for every case, due to the virus shifting shape and symptoms varying from patient to patient. Older people and those with chronic health issues and medical conditions such as cancer, obesity, respiratory and heart diseases, and HIV are the ones at higher risk.
This has led to people turning to botanical medicines and supplements to fight against the virus by boosting their defenses, strengthening the body as a whole. That is why, based on recommendations by The Institute for Functional Medicine, we bring you a guide of agents that a person can consume to protect themselves against COVID in a natural and safe way.
Micronutrients: Vitamins and Minerals
The World Health Organization states that micronutrients “are critical for a well-functioning immune system and play a vital role in promoting health and nutritional well-being.” That is why they are a staple in the diet of anyone looking to enjoy a healthy lifestyle.
• Vitamin A
Aside from being good for your eyesight, Vitamin A has anti-inflammatory benefits and protects the respiratory tract, so it can help reduce symptoms like breathing problems and cough sores.
• Vitamin C
This vitamin has been used for ages to prevent common viral infections and allergies because it is known to raise the body’s defenses and decrease viral growth.
• Vitamin D
Some studies have shown that vitamin D is proved to “decrease the incidence of viral respiratory tract infection”. Additionally, it has the ability to enhance immune system functions, so it is recommended to protect against the virus and reduce its effects.
Zinc is a trace mineral and nutrient that is frequently used in combination with vitamins A, C, and D as supplements to improve immune response. It has strong anti-viral properties and has been proved to increase the absorption of medications.
Compounds Extracted From Plants
Quercetin is a pigment found in many vegetables and fruits. As with all flavonoids, it is said to have the ability to help prevent many heart diseases and even cancer. It also aids in decreasing viral growth.
This natural compound is found in red grapes, and it’s the one that grants antioxidant properties to red wine. It is also an anti-inflammatory agent and can help protect the body against harmful external pathogens.
They are naturally occurring polysaccharides that have been shown to decrease cold and flu symptoms and could even train the immune system to fight against viral infections.
Ancient Botanical Medicine
The primary substance in turmeric, curcumin is widely known for its anti-inflammatory effects, and may also help in reducing viral diseases. However, studies recommend that curcumin is consumed along with enhancers like black pepper, in order to activate their multiple health benefits.
• Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG)
This is the herbal compound found in the famous Green Tea. Not only does it reduce inflammation, help get rid of toxins, and grant other health effects just as many teas, it could also be linked to the interruption of viral replication, such as that of COVID-19.
• Licorice Root
Treatments with this root have been around for ages, and have proved to help cure respiratory and digestive conditions. Its main benefits come from the active compound glycyrrhizin, which gives it its characteristic taste and may also have antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Other Common Immune Boosting Supplements
Numerous studies have shown that Elderberry can be beneficial against influenza symptoms. It is also high in fiber and usually prescribed to help enhance the immune system, as it is full of vitamin C and antioxidants.
• N-Acetylcysteine (NAC)
It is the name given to the amino acid cysteine when it is in supplement form. It is said to boost immune response, and people often use it to treat coughs and other pulmonary conditions, like the flu.
This hormone is the primary ingredient in many sleep-inducing products since it is the one in charge of regulating sleep. It has also been implemented as a treatment for viral diseases because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Remember that you should always receive guidance from medical experts before deciding if any of these natural agents is the right choice for you. Not all cases are the same, and supplements should be fundamentally used as a complementary treatment for COVID-19 only after you have consulted a professional in the matter.
Nonetheless, improving your overall immune functions with natural alternatives is certainly beneficial to you, if you strive for a healthier lifestyle.