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Coronavirus Prevention and Support

Coronavirus Prevention and Support

Coronavirus prevention is challenging since there’s currently no cure. It’s possible the right herbal support could help.

Research over the past two decades shows that certain herbal extracts can support the fight against viral infections. Before we review the current science on the COVID-19 coronavirus disease and discuss what plant extracts can offer, it is important to note that prevention is always a better strategy than treatment.

Coronavirus Prevention

The COVID-19 virus can be transmitted via secretions from an infected person by any of the following means: coughing; sneezing; shaking hands; touching an infected object and then touching eyes, mouth, or nose; and handling the waste of an infected person.

Coronavirus prevention begins with avoiding exposure to the virus. Everyday preventive actions to help limit the spread of this and other respiratory viruses include the following:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick, and keep children home from school when they are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

In addition to these steps, take care of your core health. Those most at risk from this outbreak have poor cardiovascular health, diabetes, or weakened respiratory systems. Get eight hours of restful sleep, eat nutrition-rich foods, and exercise regularly.

Latest Science on Coronavirus Prevention and Support

The virus was initially named novel coronavirus of 2019. The virus is now known as SARS-CoV-2. The illness that develops from this virus is called coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The 2019 virus is in the family of coronaviruses, and like all coronavirus strains SARS-CoV-2 has a glycoprotein shell. The 2019 virus uses the same cell entry receptor as the SARS-CoV of 2002-2004. That receptor is ACE2, a membrane protein found on cells in the lungs, GI tract, heart, vascular cells, and kidneys.

Knowing this information helps us understand the progression of the disease. For starters, the virus breaks into a cell via an enzyme receptor and in so doing destroys that receptor. The receptor that is destroyed previously played a key role in the regulation of organ-wide activity. In the lungs, the loss of the receptor contributes to increased permeability, fluid retention, and neutrophil accumulation, along with decreased lung function.

The body’s immune response is a cascade of inflammatory cytokines. In some cases, the inflammation that can be part of a healthy immune response gets out of control and causes further cellular damage. In the most severe cases, this inflammation along with the destruction of cilia (the hair-like cells that move mucus out of the lungs) leads to pneumonia. The lack of oxygen (hypoxia) leads to organ stress and eventual organ failure throughout the body. Massive organ failure leads to death.

Herbal Support as a Preemptive Strike

Coronavirus prevention is best. However, if coronavirus disease occurs, early intervention could help reduce the severity of the illness. Early symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, dry cough, mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness, muscle ache and fatigue. The average incubation period is 6 days (with a range of 2 days to 24 days).

Knowing that the virus has a glycoprotein shell is helpful. Various active plant constituents can either bind to that shell or penetrate and break it down. Disrupting the outer-surface proteins (OSPs) can block the ability of the virus to enter a host cell. Viruses cannot replicate outside of a host cell. Disabling the virus’ ability to enter a cell will inhibit viral replication. Reducing virulence by reducing the ability of the virus to enter a host cell also reduces the cellular damage caused by the virus.

The protoglycans of the polypore Larciformes officinalis can inhibit viral binding to host cells by preemptively binding to the viral envelope. Cistus incanus extract may help break down glycoproteinsPhyllanthus niriri (Chanca Piedra) tea and extract may also disrupt viral outer surface proteins to block cell invasion. Using these extracts prior to or upon the onset of the first symptoms could help reduce the severity of the coronavirus disease.

Herbal Support as a Means of Damage Control

Frequently, infection by SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus starts in the upper respiratory tract and moves to the lungs. The virus entering the lungs triggers an aggressive immune response. This immune response can become a self-reinforcing cascade. The body’s runaway inflammatory immune response can cause a significant amount of cellular damage. The progression from first symptoms to severe illness usually takes 3-5 days but can be as fast as 24 hours.

Extracts That May Provide Damage Control

A number of well-studied herbal extracts may help balance the immune response, reduce inflammation, and ameliorate the cellular damage normally associated with the illness.

Vitamin C, proanthocyanidins, and flavonoids from the extract of Rosa acicularis may help modulate the immune response and reduce damage caused by inflammation. Studies looking at immunomodulation have shown its significant ability to repair mitochondrial membrane function, as well as decrease gene and protein expressions of inflammatory markers in lung tissue.

Phyllanthus niruri (Chanca Piedra) is an immunomodulator known to reduce inflammation. It is also protective of the liver and kidneys, organs heavily taxed during a viral infection.

Torilis fructus extract can both inhibit viral replication and reduce inflammation. In one laboratory study, Torilis fructus inhibited CoV production more strongly than the control drug, ribavirin. Researchers observed 60% reduction in inflammatory markers in a study looking specifically at the anti-inflammatory effects of Torilis extract.

Phyllanthus niruri, Cistus incanus, Rosa acicularis, and Torilis fructus extracts may be able to support and modulate the immune response, which could help reduce the cellular damage normally associated with a severe infection like that found with progressed cases of coronavirus disease.

All this is to say that there are many opportunities and waypoints in the developing course of illness to seek herbal extract support against viral infection.

What Should You Do?

Be prepared. Don’t panic. Practice intentional preventative measures.

Coronavirus prevention should involve getting good, restful sleep. It should also involve eating nutrient-dense foods and avoid sugar. Treat early symptoms seriously, and if in doubt self-isolate. And supplement with herbal supports when and where appropriate.


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