Federal policies keep us from learning about the ability of natural medicine to offer protection from COVID-19. Action Alert!
As the COVID-19 crisis has unfolded, the health system has focused on finding a pharmaceutical treatment for the COVID-19 virus. Once found, this treatment will likely be expensive and carry dangerous side effects. Meanwhile, we’re told there’s little else we can do other than stay home and wash our hands. This is not bad advice, but of course ignores the role of low-cost, safe, and effective natural medicines that can be used to great effect. Government policies that throttle natural medicine are causing real harm right now by hampering our ability to take control of our own health during this pandemic.
Longstanding government policies privilege pharmaceutical drugs above natural products, ensuring that drug companies have a monopoly on the healthcare market. Free speech about natural products’ benefits is censored by the FDA and the FTC: only FDA-approved drugs can make claims to treat, prevent, mitigate, or diagnose a disease, even if good science supports a range of health benefits for supplements. What health claims natural products can make are then severely restricted by the federal government. The FDA is also directly threatening our supplement access through its “new dietary ingredient” (NDI) guidance we’ve written at length about.
These are not the policies of agencies truly dedicated to promoting public health, but of agencies dedicated to promoting Big Pharma profits.
The FDA and the CDC are surely aware of the millions of Americans who are not receiving the proper amount of micronutrients, and that these inadequacies have profound implications for long term health, including chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease: two conditions that make us more susceptible to COVID-19 infection. This is our crony medical system at work. Government agencies don’t promote natural products to correct imbalances to prevent these chronic diseases when billions can be made for the drug industry in selling prescription drugs for chronic illnesses that patients will take for years on end.
The benefits of natural medicine go beyond preventing chronic disease. An excellent podcast featuring Jeffrey Bland, PhD, puts some of these issues into context. The conventional view of the current health crisis is that a single agent, the COVID-19 virus, is the only culprit. What’s missed is that, for the virus to be able to infect us, it needs to be able to bypass our body’s immune defenses. If the immune system is not resilient, the virus is able to do immense damage. Our environment, our diet, exercise, how much sleep we get, genetics, and many other factors help determine the strength of our body’s defense against viruses and other stressors.
There are also a host of natural medicines that can help rejuvenate our immune systems. You can visit our COVID-19 page to review some of the highlights of what some of the experts in the field of natural medicine are recommending to fortify our immune systems and offer protection from viral infection.
Note though that there are key differences in approaches to treatment as opposed to prevention. Prevention strategies are aimed at getting the immune system operating at optimal efficiency. The severe respiratory damage of advanced coronavirus cases, however, is due to an overactive immune system that produces a “cytokine storm.” Some suggest immune-boosting strategies should therefore be used only for prevention, not treatment—you don’t want to stimulate an already overactive immune system at more advanced stages of infection. For treatment, the goal is to reduce inflammation and to down-regulate the NLRP3 inflammasome. Some nutrients that can be helpful may include resveratrol, curcumin, melatonin, andrographolides, luteolin, and thymoquinone (from black cumin seed). Silver also has its proponents as an anti-viral or to prevent follow up bacterial infections. Crucially, evidence has shown that silver hydrosol may be effective against certain strains of coronavirus like SARS.
Potassium appears to be one key nutrient implicated in COVID-19 cases. Preliminary data show that COVID-19 patients exhibit hypokalemia (low potassium in the blood) and that potassium supplementation assisted recovery. Note that a national survey of 16,444 Americans found that 100% were not getting the estimated average requirement (EAR) of potassium (EAR is the intake level for a nutrient at which the needs of 50 percent of the population will be met). This critical nutrient could be saving lives, but the government is too busy searching for pharmaceutical interventions that can make drug companies rich.
Many news reports have covered the clinical use and a few small trials of hydroxychloroquine as a Covid-19 treatment. This drug has many serious potential side effects. News accounts rarely mention that in the clinical trials it has been combined with the mineral zinc and that the Chloroquine may be helping by getting more zinc into certain cells. Some researchers believe that zinc in general is one of the most important things we can take both to avoid Covid-19 infection and to treat it.
In addition to the supplements that experts recommend, there are general lifestyle considerations to keep in mind to reduce our risk of contracting infection.
- Adequate sleep is key, as studies have shown that less sleep increased the risk of developing rhinovirus associated colds by 350%.
- Psychological stress reduction is important, as this stress disrupts immune regulation and is associated with pro-inflammatory cytokines.
- Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables that are rich in flavonoids is also helpful, as many flavonoids have been found in vitro to down-regulate the NLRP3 inflammasome. Experts recommend at least 5-7 servings of vegetables and 2-3 servings of fruit daily to deliver a daily repository of flavonoids in an anti-inflammatory diet.
- Research has demonstrated that physical activity improves the body’s response to viral infections. A March 2020 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that a greater number of daily steps was associated with lower all-cause morbidity.
Here are some excellent resources on this topic, in no particular order:
- Ronald Hoffman, MD (disclosure: Dr. Hoffman serves on ANH’s Board of Directors)
- The American Nutrition Association
- Life Extension
- Mark Hyman, MD
- Leo Galland, MD
- Jeffrey Bland, PhD
There are currently no drugs that can treat COVID-19 infection, but the science tells us that a number of nutrients can help us prevent and perhaps treat the virus. But companies are barred from telling you of such benefits. Worse, if the FDA completes its (NDI) guidance without significant changes, thousands of products will be swept off store shelves anyway.
It is irresponsible for health authorities not to inform people of natural ways of supporting immunity, especially in the absence of pharmaceutical treatments for COVID-19. The FDA and the medical establishment willfully ignore the benefits of these natural products because they cannot make billions for the drug industry, on whose funding the FDA relies. The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the real harm caused by these policies.
Action Alert! Write to the FDA and Congress, urging them to stop blocking Americans from learning about the benefits of natural products. Please send your message immediately.