Natural Ways to Prepare for COVID-19

While we may not be able to avoid exposure, there's much we can do to get our bodies into top virus-fighting form
March 13, 2020 Updated: March 24, 2020
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What can you do about a virus with no known treatment?

Although there is currently no direct treatment, there are many interventions available to optimize your general health and immunity, which could streamline the course of illness or even prevent you from contracting COVID-19 in the first place.

The most recent threat to global health is the current spread of the respiratory disease known as COVID-19. It was first recognized in December 2019, in Wuhan city in China, as being caused by a novel coronavirus—a strain that hasn’t been previously identified in humans—that’s structurally related to one of the primary viruses that cause the common cold.

The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mishandling allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.

Moving in the more pathogenic direction, the CCP virus is also related to viruses that caused prior outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS, in 2002 and 2003) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS 2012 to the present).

While the initial mortality reports seem to be hovering somewhere between 1 and 3 percent, the overall clinical consequences of this communicable disease are more along the lines of a severe seasonal influenza (mortality rate of about 0.1 percent) rather than a SARS or MERS (mortality rates of 10 percent and 36 percent, respectively).

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause a broad range of illnesses ranging from the ubiquitous common cold to more serious and deadly SARS and MERS. Common signs of infection include fever, as well as respiratory symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. More severe cases can cause pneumonia, respiratory failure, and even death.

The World Health Organization has the following recommendations to prevent the spread of infection: regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs, and avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

Avoidance is the best initial course of action, but in the near future, that may not be a realistic option for many of us. What else can you do to curtail or prevent this potentially deadly infection?

The following list of interventions has been used for generations to prevent viral infections that cause colds and flu. These interventions should be just as effective against a novel coronavirus as it would be against the typical coronavirus strains we all battle annually. If you have a chronic medical condition or think you may already be infected with the virus, see your doctor immediately. Don’t rely on a newspaper for your medical advice.

Hydration: The average adult should be drinking 32 to 64 ounces of water daily, depending on the climate they live in and their level of activity.

Sleep: Most adults need seven to nine hours daily. If you wake in the morning without an alarm and feel refreshed, you are probably getting enough sleep. Your immune system can’t function optimally without good quality, restorative sleep. You can also use an extra pillow to improve sinus drainage by elevating your head while you sleep.

Nasal Irrigation: While this can be tremendously helpful for keeping your sinuses clear prior to contracting an illness, use caution with this intervention once you are sick. Never use tap water for nasal irrigation.

Vitamin D: Maintaining a healthy immune-boosting blood level of 60 to 100 ng/mL is essential for fighting off infections. There is some evidence for the benefit of short-term mega-dosing, but this should be done with doctor supervision.

Vitamin C: While this has never been proven to prevent cold symptoms, it has been proven to decrease the duration of the illness by boosting immunity. Doses vary, but starting at 500 mg three to four times per day can be helpful for most.

Zinc: It has demonstrated antiviral activity and reductions in the duration of colds and flu. Anti-viral activity seems to work topically in the mouth and throat. Lozenges containing zinc gluconate seem to be the best choice.

Echinacea Tea With Manuka Honey: Echinacea is a potent immunomodulatory herb that can be used for limited times as a sort of immune booster. Pairing this with antiviral and antimicrobial properties of Manuka honey makes this beverage a potent natural “corona-buster.”

Elderberry: This herb has antiviral properties and may reduce mucus production as well.

Chicken Soup: Your grandma was right, it really does help. Hot liquids will help reduce mucus buildup while maintaining hydration. Its anti-inflammatory properties have even been established in medical literature.

Garlic: Crushing garlic cloves will generate a compound known as allicin, which has potent antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties.

Astragalus: This Chinese medicine herb has been used for more than a millennium for its antiviral and immune-strengthening effects. You can use astragalus along with garlic as part of an immune-enhancing chicken soup broth.

Essential Oils: You can use camphor and menthol to reduce mucus buildup, peppermint and eucalyptus to reduce congestion, and oregano for its potent antiviral and anti-microbial effects.

Probiotics: This can be taken in the form of supplements or fermented foods such as sauerkraut. These healthy gut bacteria boost immunity and may help reduce the severity and duration of viral infections. Higher colony counts tend to be more effective in boosting immunity.

With the help of these interventions, in conjunction with good infection-control practices, such as proper handwashing and avoidance of infected people, you can minimize your chances of falling ill with COVID-19.

Armen Nikogosian, M.D., practices functional and integrative medicine at Southwest Functional Medicine in Henderson, Nev. He is board-certified in internal medicine and a member of the Institute for Functional Medicine and the Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs. His practice focuses on the treatment of complex medical conditions, with a special emphasis on autism spectrum disorder in children, as well as chronic gut issues and autoimmune conditions in adults.