Herbal Strategies for COVID

This is a summary of a talk given by Roy Upton, President, American Herbal Pharmacopoeia.

So with regards to COVID, similar with the flu, COVID is really serious health condition. We all know that and I think we have to learn to contend with this long term. The most important thing I think I want to get across is that there's a tremendous amount that we can do ourselves, in order to both prevent and initially treat COVID. These things aren't often talked about. Obviously, we have to know when we need to seek medical care, which is typically if we have high fever or difficulty breathing or something like that, then that's when we seek medical care. But we can actually do a lot for ourselves. 

The entire world has been put into fear and the primary reasons because we don't have any herd immunity, currently, no vaccines, no approved treatments. It's an unknown entity. And I think this is what drove us, mostly is that it's an unknown entity, and we didn't know what was going to happen. But really the true extent of what's happening with regards to for example, case fatality rate rates and mortality rates, i.e the number of people who are exposed, versus the number of people who die isn't really known, the best guess estimate is 0.6%, which is a little bit above the fatality rate associated with flu. But I have a sense that that's going to come down really fast in the second and third year of COVID as we develop immunity.

So obviously, we all know that we're sheltering in place, we're told to wash our hands, we're told to stay away from each other wear masks. We're not told anything else, what else can we do to improve our health? While we're, for example, just coming down with symptoms? What's the first thing that we should do? What about if we're waiting for a diagnosis, which may not come back for a week or week and a half? or four days? What do we do for those four days? Do we just let the disease progress? Or do we take active measures, and our job is to teach people how to take active measures.

Most of the highest rates of COVID deaths correlates with those people that have heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. So unlike flu - flu actually is pretty indiscriminate: it takes out elderly people preferentially but it also takes out children and healthy aged people, middle aged people that are relatively healthy. 

COVID mortality mostly targets the elderly, and those that are most sick - heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure, immune diseases and those with asthma. We can actually target those susceptible populations. A large population of those people are actually in old age homes as well. So we have the ability to actually target who the most vulnerable populations are, and then take the most active measures to protect them. The single most important point that anybody dealing with COVID should make is that our general health, being good health is the primary predictor of whether we're going to get sick and whether we're going to get die.

So here are first step nutritional interventions: the primary nutritional superstars are vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc. 


Vitamin A

First, vitamin A, it's essential for maintaining the health of the mucous membrane. The mucous membrane is our first layer of physical and chemical defense against the contraction of viral pathogens. So that's extremely important. Hydration is important. Vitamin A deficiency is not uncommon, even in developed countries, especially among vegetarians or vegans. Most Americans don't get the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A that they should.


Vitamin C

The next one is vitamin C, which probably most people know about, with regards to potentially preventing colds and flu. Vitamin C is a superstar specifically for stimulating immune responses against almost all bacterial and viral pathogens. It's integral to the health of tissue, immune function, and reducing respiratory symptoms, especially in elderly people. This was shown in clinical trials of patients that were hospitalized with pneumonia. It reduces the severity of acute respiratory symptoms. Intravenous administration is widely used in China, in clinical studies showing that it reduces the severity of COVID specifically, and they also looked at that with SARS. 

How much Vitamin C should we take? Most animals manufacture from 5,000 to 10,000 milligrams a day, but the recommended daily allowance is only 90 milligrams a day, and that's ridiculously low. Dr Anthony Fauci recommends a couple of grams of vitamin C in his protocol.


 A cofactor of Vitamin C is quercetin. Whatever you take vitamin C, it should always be coupled with quercetin. Quercetin is a very specific anti inflammatory and immunomodulator, very specific against influenza virus, potentially, a number of strains of flu viruses. About 1000 milligrams a day reduce the total sick days and symptoms of those with upper respiratory tract infections. 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is probably the one nutrient you should take. It is classically deficient in a large number of people, both worldwide and in the United States. It is probably the single most specific nutrient that's correlated with decreased risk of viral contraction. There are several studies that looked at the populations of people in Europe who are dying of COVID. And those people who are most at risk, were literally correlated with vitamin D deficiency, meaning the lower their serum of vitamin D levels, the higher the incidence and exposure and the higher the greatest severity that they were hit with COVID. 


Zinc is the next one. President Trump was given vitamin D, zinc, and melatonin. On the nutrient side Dr Fauci recommends both Vitamin C and D.


On the herb side, 92% of patients in China were treated with herbs. The primary superstars are elderberry, astragulus, medicinal mushrooms and echinacea.

Elderberry has been shown to have strong antiviral activity specifically against several strains of flu. It's delicious and easy to take.

Astragulus root is the number one immune supportive herb literally in the world, I don't know of a single better one.

At the first stage of feeling symptoms coming on you should take echinacea. Echinacea is the immune superstar of the United States. Echinacea has both direct antiviral activity as well as immune potentiating activity. 

So that's the kind of herbal and nutritional strategies for COVID in a nutshell. The single most important thing is that we have to take care of ourselves. 

-Roy Upton, President, American Herbal Pharmacopoeia 

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