As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, what tools do we have to slow the spread of this virus and perhaps defend ourselves against it?   In the absence of a vaccine,  the best way to accomplish this is to deny the virus its host — which is u hand washing, avoidance of touching our face (eyes, nose mouth), avoiding crowds, social distancing and face coverings are effective and should be done by everyone.

No natural supplements, herbs or medical solutions are as effective as doing these things.  However, if we desire to boost our immune system function, there are a number of ways to do so.  Today, I will discuss herbs and a couple of nutritional compounds that are well supported in the literature for this purpose.   I will also discuss sourcing options including a supplement blend that contains everything on our list.

Echinacea purpurea: Echinacea has been shown to have numerous physiological impacts, such as immunostimulatory, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial. (1,2,3,4)  It also reduces the risk of respiratory infections.  (8)

Astralagus membranaceus:  Astralagus is a traditional Chinese herb whose use dates back 2,000 years.  Primarily, it has an immunomodulatory function, meaning it helps regulate the immune system.  (9)  To do so, it improves the function of the T cells, B cells, macrophages, lymphocytes and dendritic cells.  (10,11,12)

Licorice (Glycrrhiza glabra):  Licorice is another ancient healing herb which has demonstrated antiviral properties.  (15,16,17)

Maitake (Grifola frondosa):  Maitake is a mushroom with a long history of use in Eastern medicine.  It to has immunomodulator and anti-bacterial properties and it reduces immunosuppression (immune weakening). (20,21,22)

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis):  Lemon Balm is a medicinal plant long under use in Europe and the Middle East for its anti-viral effect.   (25,26,27)   It appears to interfere with cell surface proteins to prevent binding of virus particles to cellular receptors.  (28)

Pomegranate (Punica granatum):  Pomegranates have high levels of polyphenols which promote antiviral activity. Additionally, Pomegranate Polyphenol Extract (PPE) inhibits viral replication, causes structural damage to viruses, inhibits inflammation and decreases oxidative stress.  (29,30,31)

Additional Nutritional Compounds with antiviral properties and support the immune system: 

Zinc and Vitamin C:  Have been demonstrated to diminish the length and severity of colds (which is a carona virus) (3,5)

Vitamin A and D:  Play important roles in T cell activity and help prevent respiratory infections.  (3)

Each of these herbs or extracts can be obtained separately, but one would want to make sure they were pharmaceutical grade, not food grade to assure potency and purity.  However, Apex Energetics makes a supplement called X-Viromin which is a blend of all of the herbs and nutritional compounds mentioned.  We have made it available in our office during the course of the pandemic.  If you are interested in it, just let us know during a future visit or contact the office.

Stay well and stay safe!

Dr. Shawn Phelan

 1. Sharma M, Schoop R, Hudson JB. Echinacea as an antiinflammatory agent: the influence of physiologically relevant parameters. Phytother Res. 2009 Jun;23(6):863-67.

2. Fonseca FN, Papanicolaou G, Lin H, et al. Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench modulates human T-cell cytokine response. Int Immunopharmacol. 2014 Mar;19(1):94-102.

3. Mousa HA. Prevention and treatment of influenza, influenza-like illness, and common cold by herbal, complementary, and natural therapies. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017;22(1):166-74.

4. Vimalanathan S, Schoop R, Suter A, Hudson J. Prevention of influenza virus induced bacterial superinfection by standardized Echinacea purpurea, via regulation of surface receptor expression in human bronchial epithelial cells. Virus Res. 2017 Apr 2; 233:51-59.

5. Schapowal A, Klein P, Johnston SL. Echinacea reduces the risk of recurrent respiratory tract infections and complications: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Adv Ther. 2015 Mar;32(3):187-200.

6. Auyeung KK, Han QB, Ko JK. Astragalus membranaceus: a review of its protection against inflammation and gastrointestinal cancers. Am J Chin Med. 2016;44(1):1-22.

7. Jin M, Zhao K, Huang Q, Shang P. Structural features and biological activities of the polysaccharides from Astragalus membranaceus. Int J Biol Macromol. 2014 Mar; 64:257-66.

8. Qi Y, Gao F, Hou L, Wan C. Anti-Inflammatory and immunostimulatory activities of astragalosides. Am J Chin Med. 2017; 45 (6):1157-67.

9. Bratkov VM, Shkondrov AM, Zdraveva PK, Krasteva IN. Flavonoids from the genus astragalus: phytochemistry and biological activity. Pharmacogn Rev. 2016 Jan-Jun;10(19):11-32.

10. Wang L, Yang R, Yuan B, Liu Y, Liu C. The antiviral and antimicrobial activities of licorice, a widely-used Chinese herb.   Acta Pharm Sin B. 2015;5(4):310-15.

11. Michaelis M, Geiler J, Naczk P, et al. Glycyrrhizin exerts antioxidative effects in H5N1 influenza A virus-infected cells and inhibits virus replication and pro-inflammatory gene expression. PLoS One. 2011;6(5):e19705.

12. Michaelis M, Geiler J, Naczk P, et al. Glycyrrhizin inhibits highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza A virus-induced pro-inflammatory cytokine and chemokine expression in human macrophages. Med Microbiol Immunol. 2010 Nov;199(4):291-97.

13. Seo YR, Patel DK, Shin WC, Sim WS, Lee OH, Lim KT. Structural elucidation and immuneenhancing effects of novel polysaccharide from Grifola frondosa. Biomed Res Int. 2019;2019:7528609.

14. Vetvicka V, Vetvickova J. Immune-enhancing effects of Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) extracts. Ann Transl Med. 2014;2(2):14.

15. Meng M, Guo M, Feng C, Wang R, Cheng D, Wang C. Water-soluble polysaccharides from Grifola Frondosa fruiting bodies protect against immunosuppression in cyclophosphamideinduced mice via JAK2/STAT3/SOCS signal transduction pathways. Food Funct. 2019 Aug 1;10(8):4998-5007.

16. Shakeri A, Sahebkar A, Javadi B. Melissa officinalis L. – A review of its traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology. J Ethnopharmacol. 2016 Jul 21;188:204-28.

17. Dimitrova Z, Dimov B, Manolova N, Pancheva S, Ilieva D, Shishkov S. Antiherpes effect of Melissa officinalis L. extracts. Acta Microbiol Bulg. 1993;29:65-72.

18. Miraj S, Rafieian-Kopaei, Kiani S. Melissa officinalis L: a review study with an antioxidant prospective. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017;22(3):385-94.

19. Pourghanbari G, Nili H, Moattari A, Mohammadi A, Iraji A. Antiviral activity of the oseltamivir and Melissa officinalis L. essential oil against avian influenza A virus (H9N2). Virusdisease. 2016;27(2):170-78.

20. Sundararajan A, Ganapathy R, Huan L, et al. Influenza virus variation in susceptibility to inactivation by pomegranate polyphenols is determined by envelope glycoproteins. Antiviral Res. 2010 Oct;88(1):1-9.

21. Haidari M, Ali M, Ward Casscells S 3rd, Madjid M. Pomegranate (Punica granatum) purified polyphenol extract inhibits influenza virus and has a synergistic effect with oseltamivir. Phytomedicine. 2009 Dec;16(12):1127-36.

22. Zhao F, Pang W, Zhang Z, et al. Pomegranate extract and exercise provide additive benefits on improvement of immune function by inhibiting inflammation and oxidative stress in highfat-diet-induced obesity in rats. J Nutr Biochem. 2016 Jun;32:20-28.

23. Rondanelli M, Miccono A, Lamburghini S, et al. Self-care for common colds: the pivotal role of vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, and echinacea in three main immune interactive clusters (physical barriers, innate and adaptive immunity) involved during an episode of common colds-practical advice on dosages and on the time to take these nutrients/botanicals in order to prevent or treat common colds. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018;2018:5813095.

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