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You’ve heard about the 20-second hand washing and the social distancing. Now let’s open up the herbal war chest and see what else we have at our disposal… as it happens, quite a lot…
Last week I wrote to leading herbalist Stephen Jarrod Buhner, author of the groundbreaking Herbal Antivirals: Natural Remedies for Emerging And Resistant Viral Infections, asking him if he had updated information on coronaviruses since the publication of his book in 2013.
He is slammed at the moment as you can imagine, but he kindly responded! Yes! He has written up a detailed, up to date COVID-19 herbal protocol and here it is (full text):
Herbalists take note! This is some of the most important, up to date and accurate herbal information you can possibly get on herbs vs. coronavirus. But this info is a bit technical for the average person. These texts are dense, scientific and contain much information that is aimed at trained herbalists who also have the skill to make the preparations from the herbs.
However there are some simple and widely available herbs and other natural remedies that can be utilized.
WELL KNOWN TINCTURES and COMMONLY AVAILABLE HERBS:
Ginger while not yet noted as specific to coronaviruses, is regarded as an excellent general herbal antiviral. Note that the ginger should be fresh, not dried or powdered. Take a thumb-sized piece, chop or slice finely, put in a cup, add boiling water, honey (raw!) and a couple of slices of organic lemon for a superb supportive drink that can be taken liberally whether unwell or not.
Ginkgo biloba – this herb upregulates ACE-2 function , which is a function specifically damaged by the COVID-19 virus. ACE-2 support is especially important in the elderly as this function tends to be decreased with age, part of the reason why the virus is more dangerous in the elderly. Widely available in tincture or capsule form.
Glycyrrhiza (Licorice) – increases T cell count and protects ACE-2; may reduce symptom picture and severity.
Garlic, while not specifically cited as a ‘coronavirus herb’ is a well known antiviral with much scientific study behind it. It can be considered giving “generally useful antiviral support”. It has also, perhaps importantly, been found active against viral pneumonia in vitro. Its antiviral effects have not been as heavily studied as its well-known antibacterial effects, however “studies have reported that garlic extract showed in vitro activity against influenza A and B (Fenwick and Hanley, 1985), cytomegalovirus (Meng et al., 1993 ; Nai-Lan et al., 1993), rhinovirus, HIV, herpes simplex virus 1 (Tsai et al., 1985), herpes simplex virus 2 (Weber et al., 1992), viral pneumonia, and rotavirus.” . Raw is best, but crunching down whole cloves is ‘only for the hardcore’; fresh garlic chopped very finely and added to other savory foods makes it bearable.
Cordyceps – immune support, recommended by Buhner as part of the coronavirus protocol.
Rhodiola – immune support, adaptogenic.
Angelica Sinensis – immune support
Astragalus – immune support
Cinnamon and other plants high in procyanidins and lectins – supports ACE-2.
Oregano – typically in tincture form – is a web known “herbal antiviral” that is typically used for gastro-intestinal viruses such as noroviruses. Scientific research supports this use  and I have personally found oregano tincture highly useful against the typical “seasonal colds and flu”, however research specific to coronaviruses is lacking. However oregano essential oil has been found to reduce the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6  which is spiked in coronaviruses, thus indicating that it may be supportive in reducing symptom severity in COVID-19.
Panax Ginseng – this is the Korean / “red ginseng” – listed by Buhner as active against coronaviruses. 
Other Plants Found Active Against SARS-group Coronaviruses (according to Buhner): Scutellaria baicalensis, Artemisia annua, Cassia tora, Cibotium barometz, Dioscorea batatas, Eucalyptus spp, Gentiana scabra, Linera aggregate, Lonicera japonica Polygonum multiflorum, Taxillus chinensis, Pyrrosia lingua, and Rheum officinale. 
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) – this “medicinal mushroom” has a long history of use in herbal medicine and significant support for use with viral infections. May be a useful supportive herb. Other fungal antivirals to consider include Chaga and Turkey Tail.
Note – if taking medications pls check with medical professionals before using herbs. We also advise using these herbs under the guidance of a qualified herbalist. Buhner’s full recommended regimen is listed at the link above from his website.
VITAMIN, SUPPLEMENT and OTHER IMMUNE SUPPORT PROTOCOLS:
Zinc – well known immune booster – increases T cell count (T cell inhibition is one of the mechanisms via which the coronavirus enters and severely damages the lymph organs in the lungs); zinc may reduce symptom picture and severity.
Vitamins C and D. Well known immune support nutrients.
Vitamins A and E are linked to general immune health.
Good food (organic if possible). Lots of fresh berries, citrus fruits, green and orange vegetables. Nuts and seeds.
Get plenty of rest. Stay positive, reduce stress and anxiety as these are known to weaken general immune system function.
AIR PURIFICATION / DECONTAMINATION:
Eucalyptus Essential Oil – has been found active against SARS-group Coronaviruses! If you have an essential oil diffuser, a few drops of this diffused into the air may be a highly useful addition to your antiviral arsenal; especially if you are required to receive persons into your home or other establishment. Eucalyptus EO is also a very useful antibacterial and has even been included in hospital surface cleaning agents to protect against MRSA (staph). If you are making up a hand sanitizer / surface cleaner using isopropyl alcohol, adding a few drops of Eucalyptus EO should be highly beneficial! Furthermore, steam inhalation may be useful. The typical practice is to pour boiling water into a large bowl, add a couple of drops of the essential oil and breathe the steam.
HEPA FILTRATION: – HEPA air filters are somewhat active against coronaviruses, with some caveats. You might see sales pitches saying that “HEPA Filters filter out over 99% of the coronavirus in one pass” – yeah right – but that requires some clarification because not all HEPA filters are exactly the same. The size of the coronavirus is approximately 0.06 to 0.14 microns  – however viruses seldom exist alone and will clump together to make a larger particle. They also “ride around” on droplets or particles larger than they are, such as a tiny water droplet or dust particle which may be 0.8 to 1 micron. A high rated face mask (N95) which filters 95% of particles of 0.3 microns therefore certainly appears somewhat helpful. HEPA-based air purifiers fare better – especially if they have a UV sterilization component, which targets airborne viruses specifically. There are different grades of HEPA filters:
HEPA H14: pass up 0.005% of 0.1 micron particles per liter of air.
HEPA H13: pass up 0.05% of 0.1 micron particles per liter of air.
HEPA H12: pass more than 0.5% of 0.1 micron particles per liter of air.
HEPA H11: pass a maximum of 5% of 0.1 micron particles per liter of air.
HEPA H10: pass more than 15% of 0.1 micron particles per liter of air. 
Summary: Combination of HEPA with UV sterilization and activated carbon bed layer should be the most effective.
IONIZERS are not advised, as they do not actually remove particles (including viruses) from the air. They merely move them onto other surfaces.
PROBIOTICS – POTENTIALLY VERY IMPORTANT!
Our tip? Get some now. While the antiviral effects of probiotics are still not fully researched and understood, there is much encouraging scientific research to support the use of probiotics as general antivirals; a brief summary of this is below.
Science (Important): Probiotics May Lead To Increased Antiviral Response: An important 2017 scientific review reported that there is significant evidence from numerous studies that probiotics enhance immune response. Administration with the well known probiotic strains Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus exert a beneficial effect on mucosal immunity.  Other study has also reported that these strains have the ability to decrease viral infection. 
Scientific evidence suggests that probiotics have the therapeutic potential to shorten the length of common respiratory conditions. A recent meta-analysis reported that, at least in adults administered vaccinations to protect against influenza viruses, the co-administration of probiotics and prebiotics was efficacious.  The effect is perhaps attributed to a fine–tuning of the mucosal barrier and metabolic system.
POTENTIAL LIFE SAVER?? – Actual Human Trial Finds That Probiotics May Prevent Severe Pneumonia: A 2016 human trial (small scale, 150 patients) with Lactobacillus rhamnosus found that probiotics significantly decrease the incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) and the overall incidence of infection in critically ill patients. It is theorized that probiotics potentially inhibit pneumonia by enhancing intestinal barrier function and reducing the load of pathogenic bacteria.  Other studies and meta-analyses have supported these findings.
Probiotic Lactobacillus gasseri has also been found effective against influenza in mice: A 2014 scientific study reported that this probiotic increased their survival rates by up to 40%: “The body weight losses were lower with the [Lactobacillus gasseri] administration after the PR8 virus infection. At 5 days after the infection, the virus titer [amount of the virus present] was significantly decreased, as was the amount of produced IL-6 in the lung tissue, the number of total cells in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid was reduced by the [Lactobacillus gasseri] administration. The expression of the Mx1 and Oas1a genes, critical for the viral clearance in the lung tissues was increased by the pre-treatment with [Lactobacillus gasseri]. These findings suggest that the [Lactobacillus gasseri] administration is effective for the protection against influenza A virus infection by the down-regulation of viral replication through the induction of antiviral genes expression.” 
Now this is potentially highly relevant in the case of coronavirus also because IL-6, mentioned in the above study, is particularly upregulated by SARS-group viruses as part of the “cytokine storm” that can be potentially fatal. So while noting that this is only an animal trial, lowering IL-6 by the use of probiotics would make sense logically.
Note: Probiotics may be contraindicated in patients with gut perforation, pls check with medical professional.
LIVER AND KIDNEY SUPPORT
In all viral infections, supporting the other organs of the body to do their work effectively is important as this may reduce the severity of illnesses. Herbs that may be valuable in this regard include pomegranate, milk thistle, cranberry.
Further Research: The field of “antiviral fungi” is one which holds much potential. Fungi represent a vast source of bioactive molecules, which could potentially be used as antivirals in the future. 
Standard Medical Disclaimer:
We cannot make actual medicinal recommendations for legal reasons. Please treat this information as general research information not intended to supersede or take the place of actual consultation with a qualified medical professional. By all means show your doctor or caregiver this report! We do not make actual medical claims but report on widely available scientific research.
That’s what we have covered so far; please ask questions and if you have specific inquiries about other herbs / natural remedies let us know in the comments and we will look into it!
 Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects (2014) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4103721/
 Antiviral efficacy and mechanisms of action of oregano essential oil and its primary component carvacrol against murine norovirus https://sfamjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jam.12453
 Essential Oils of Oregano: Biological Activity beyond Their Antimicrobial Properties (2017) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6152729/
 “Herbs And Natural Remedies For Coronavirus Infections”. Buhner. (2020) https://www.stephenharrodbuhner.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/coronavirus.txt.pdf
 How Small Are Coronavirus Particles? https://smartairfilters.com/en/blog/can-air-purifiers-filter-out-the-coronavirus/
 Do HEPA filters catch viruses? (Berkeley Microbiologist answers) https://www.quora.com/Do-HEPA-filters-catch-viruses
 Adjuvant Probiotics and the Intestinal Microbiome: Enhancing Vaccines and Immunotherapy Outcomes (2017) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5748616/
 Interactions of macrophages with probiotic bacteria lead to increased antiviral response against vesicular stomatitis virus (2007) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17512614
 Effect of Probiotics and Prebiotics on Immune Response to Influenza Vaccination in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials (2017) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5707647/
 Probiotics: Prevention of Severe Pneumonia and Endotracheal Colonization Trial—PROSPECT: a pilot trial https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4970233/
 Oral administration of Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 is effective for preventing influenza in mice https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3982165/
 Antiviral Agents From Fungi: Diversity, Mechanisms and Potential Applications (2018) https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2018.02325/full
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