Folk Remedies for Coronavirus from ConsumerLab.Com
Consumerlab.com is a widely respected, highly authoritative source for information about the quality and efficacy of nutritional health supplements. This is a summary of their report on efficacious remedies that may mitigate the coronavirus. Consumerlab.com is not in the business of making medical recommendations for the treatment of any condition. Their business consists mainly of evaluating the quality and cost efficiency of products that are not regulated by the FDA and providing that information to the general public. This information should not be construed as a recommendation by either Consumerlab.com or Bindlesnitch.com. If you are interested in high quality recommendations about nutritional supplements, consider subscribing to Consumerlab.com. (Bindlesnitch.com has NO financial relationship with Consumerlab.com but we do subscribe to their newsletter.
Zinc has become one of the most popular suggestions for reducing symptoms of coronavirus. Notably, an email written by a pathologist, Dr. James Robb, that recommends using zinc lozenges such as Cold-Eeze to ward off the virus, along with other tips, has gone viral. Although there is no direct evidence at this time to suggest that using zinc lozenges can prevent or treat COVID-19 in people, zinc does has anti-viral properties and was shown in a laboratory study to inhibit the replication of coronaviruses in cells (te Velthuis, PLoS Pathog 2010).
Cold-Eeze costs .43 cents per dose on the Walgreen’s website, where they are currently out of stock. Supplies are also depleted in retail stores. Other Zinc lozenges are widely available at an average cost of less than ten cents per dose.
Supplementing with zinc (such as with regular tablets) would not benefit most people unless they are deficient in zinc, which is more common in elderly people due to reduced zinc absorption. In such people, supplementing with zinc (e.g. 20 mg per day) may improve the chance of avoiding respiratory tract infection, as suggested by a study of elderly people in nursing facilities in France. Others who may be low in zinc include vegetarians and people taking certain medications, such as those that reduce stomach acid and ACE inhibitors, on a long-term basis. The daily requirement for zinc varies by age, but, for adults, is about 11 mg.
Be aware that typical daily doses of zinc provided by zinc lozenges generally exceed tolerable upper limits for zinc, and for this reason, they should not be used for longer than about a week. Excessive intake of zinc can cause copper deficiency. Zinc can impair the absorption of antibiotics, and use of zinc nasal gels or swabs has been linked to temporary or permanent loss of smell.
Vitamin C is vital to the function of leukocytes (white blood cells that help to fight infections) and overall immune system health. Vitamin C is also important for iron absorption, and being deficient in iron can make you more vulnerable to infections in general.
However, even for viruses like colds, the evidence that vitamin C supplements can help is modest at best: Taking high-dose vitamin C (e.g., 500 mg twice daily) before getting a cold may slightly reduce the severity and duration of a cold, but, there is inconclusive evidence as to whether taking vitamin C will help after cold symptoms develop. (The normal, recommended daily intake of vitamin C for adults from the diet and/or supplements is 75 to 120 mg. You can get about 80 to 90 mg from a cup of orange juice or sliced orange, or even more from a cup of sweet peppers, tomato juice, or cut kiwi fruit).
There is no evidence that taking a vitamin C supplement, even at high doses, can protect people from infection from coronaviruses. Be aware that there are side effects and risks associated with taking high doses of vitamin C. People sometimes assume there is no harm in taking large doses because vitamin C is water-soluble (i.e. excess vitamin C is excreted from the body), but this is not the case. In addition to causing gastric distress and diarrhea, high doses of vitamin C over the long-term may increase the risk of cataracts. High-dose vitamin C can also reduce the effectiveness of certain medications and interfere with certain blood tests.
Garlic has been shown in laboratory studies to inhibit certain flu and cold viruses, and one clinical trial suggests garlic supplements may help to prevent colds. However, there is no current evidence that eating garlic or taking a garlic supplement can help prevent or treat COVID-19, as noted on the World Health Organization’s Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Myth busters website.
Elderberry extract has been shown in laboratory studies to inhibit the replication and hemagglutination of human flu viruses, including certain strains of Influenza A and B, and H1N1. Small, preliminary trials in people with the flu suggest that, taken within the first day or so of experiencing symptoms, elderberry shortens the duration of the flu, but more studies are needed to corroborate this. There is no evidence that elderberry extract can prevent COVID-19 or reduce symptoms in people who have been infected.
Vitamin D supplements, taken daily in moderate doses, may help to reduce the risk of respiratory infections and viruses such as influenza A in children and adults who are deficient (< 20 ng/mL) or severely deficient (< 10 ng/mL) in vitamin D. Although there is not currently any research suggesting vitamin D supplements decrease the risk of coronavirus infection specifically, maintaining an adequate blood level of vitamin D (20 to 30 ng/mL — although best not to exceed 39 ng/mL) Four hundred to 800 IU (15 to 20 mcg) is required daily, but, to boost low levels, higher doses, such as 2,000 IU daily, are used and are generally safe. Very large doses, which have been taken periodically (such as 100,000 IU taken monthly) may not be as helpful and could even increase the risk of respiratory infections in some people.
Coconut Oil: Two researchers have highlighted preliminary research on the anti-viral effects of lauric acid, found in coconut oil, and the metabolite of lauric acid — monolaurin. They have proposed a clinical trial using virgin coconut oil (3 tablespoons daily), monolaurin (800 mg daily), and/or monocaprin (800 mg daily) in patients with COVID-19. Their suggestion was published on the Integrated Chemists of the Philippines website. They note that coconut oil, lauric acid, and monolaurin have been used to help prevent viruses in farm animals, and two small trials in people with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) given coconut oil showed some improvements in immune system blood cell counts. However, there is no evidence to date that consuming coconut oil can prevent or treat coronavirus infections in people.
NAC (N-acetyl cysteine) is a synthetically modified form of the amino acid cysteine (cysteine occurs naturally in foods, whereas NAC does not). In the body, NAC is converted to the antioxidant glutathione. There is very preliminary evidence that NAC may improve certain blood markers of immune system health but there is not sufficient evidence to suggest that NAC supplementation improves the immune system to the extent that it will reduce the occurrence of illness, nor prevent coronavirus infection. A clinical study using 600 mg of NAC taken twice daily during flu season found that it did not prevent infection but fewer infected people were symptomatic. Evidence is weak for its purported ability to thin mucus during infections like colds.
Miracle Mineral Solution (which contains 28% sodium chlorite in distilled water) and chlorine dioxide “kits” are not a solution for COVID-19 and are dangerous to drink. A number of websites and social media posts promote these products to combat coronavirus. For example, on her website, marketer Kerri Rivera touts Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS) as a “secret weapon” to fight coronavirus and keep illness from progressing. (She was banned in the state of Illinois in 2015 from making any earlier claim that MMS can cure autism.) Ingesting these products has not been shown to prevent or treat coronavirus.
Colloidal silver (a solution with silver particles) has antiseptic (disinfectant) activity on surfaces and has been promoted by several companies to prevent or treat coronavirus. However ingesting colloidal silver has not been shown to prevent or treat coronavirus, and there are serious potential risks.
See the FDA and FTC’s joint warning to companies selling colloidal silver and other products to treat coronavirus. The agencies emphasized “There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).”
The bottom line on supplements for coronavirus:
Although several supplements may potentially reduce symptoms of a cold or flu, none can prevent infection with coronavirus or any other virus. Nevertheless, it is always worthwhile to fortify yourself to be in the best position to fight an infection. In addition to getting adequate sleep and general nutrition, the safest way to do this with supplements is to be sure you are getting sufficient vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc, as all are important for a well-functioning immune system. As described above, this can typically be done with foods and/or supplements (or, for vitamin D, adequate sun exposure if you’re able to get out in the sun for extended periods each week).
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