COVID-19 can cause a range of illness from minor cold-like symptoms to severe disease with respiratory collapse, abnormal blood clotting, and organ failure.
Of course, the first thing you want to do is to prevent yourself from becoming infected in the first place. The best ways to do this are to get your COVID-19 vaccination, practice good handwashing, and wear a mask when indoors in public places. Other important prevention strategies include instituting immune-boosting habits and taking supplements that help support your innate immune system. See our recent blog, Boost Your Immunity, for more details on these.
However, despite your best efforts, you or a loved one may contract COVID-19. Should this happen, it is important to know that there are things that you can do to decrease your risk of developing severe disease.
To understand some of the interventions you can take, it is helpful to know a bit about how the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) causes infection and how it causes damage to the lungs and other tissues. The virus enters cells by using a spike protein which is located on the outside of the virus. The virus makes its way into the nucleus of the cell and begins to replicate. A specific protein called M protease (main protease) is needed for viral replication. As the virus is being replicated, viral proteins are made. These can both directly and indirectly stimulate NLRP3 inflammasomes. These are large complexes that, when activated, trigger the release of a large amount of proinflammatory cytokines and can cause cell death. This is what is believed to be responsible for the massive cytokine storm that leads to severe illness. It remains unclear why some people develop this cytokine storm while others do not.
With this knowledge, we can now explore some possible interventions and treatments.
Decrease Chronic Inflammation
People with chronic medical conditions including diabetes, obesity, autoimmune illness, and heart disease are at increased risk for severe illness. These conditions all create a baseline level of inflammation which makes the body even more sensitive to added inflammation caused by COVID-19. If you have any chronic health conditions, you should work with a functional medicine provider to address the root cause of these problems so you can decrease and resolve any chronic inflammation.
strong baseline innate immune system
This helps so your body can better eliminate the virus in its early stages of infection. Supplements and lifestyle habits to boost innate immunity are highlighted in our blog Boost Your Immunity.
Monoclonal antibody treatment
Monoclonal antibodies are an experimental treatment that are approved for use by an emergency authorization from the FDA. These are lab produced proteins that function like antibodies from our own immune system. These generally target the spike protein of the coronavirus. The antibodies bind to the spike protein and prevent the virus from entering cells, thus reducing the amount and the severity of the infection.
To qualify for treatment with monoclonal antibodies, you need to meet several qualifications:
- Be ≥ 12 years of age and weigh at least 88 pounds
- Have a positive COVID-19 test
- Have had mild to moderate symptoms for ≤ 10 days (you cannot have an increased oxygen requirement or need hospitalization)
- Be at high risk for progression to severe disease (Age ≥ 65, Obesity, other chronic medical conditions)
If you test positive for COVID-19, you should ask your medical provider if you qualify for this treatment. If so, they can help get you set up for treatment at an infusion center.
There are a variety of supplements that can help decrease the inflammatory response. All of the supplements listed below are natural inhibitors of the NLRP3 inflammasome. Importantly, unlike pharmacologic agents, which are designed to target one specific thing, these agents function in multiple ways to modulate the inflammatory cascade and prevent viral infection.
Combinations of these products, at lower doses, can work synergistically. If taking these for an acute COVID-19 infection, they should be started as close to the onset of illness as possible and continued for 3-4 weeks.
- Curcumin – Inhibits the NLRP3 inflammasome, inhibits M protease, inhibits inflammatory response.
The typical dose is 1000 mg twice daily of regular curcumin. Curcumin is difficult to absorb and because of this, there have been a variety of different formulations created to try to help increase absorption. Some of the best absorbed forms are Theracurmin and BioCure. The doses of curcumin in these formulations is lower since the absorption is much better. Generally one capsule twice daily is a good dose.
- Quercetin – Has natural antiviral effects, inhibits the NLRP3 inflammasome, inhibits M protease, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and is a mast cell stabilizer.
The typical dose is 1 gram twice daily of a regular formulation or 500 mg twice daily of the phytosome form.
- Melatonin – Inhibits the NLRP3 inflammasome, helps to fine-tune the immune response, and strengthens innate immunity. Melatonin is being evaluated as a prescription therapy for COVID-19. It also helps with sleep which is important for proper immune system function.
The typical dose is 5-20 mg each night.
- EGCG – Inhibits NLRP inflammasome, inhibits inflammation, inhibits M protease
This can be taken as tea (4 cups of green tea daily) or at a dose of 225 mg once daily.
- Resveratrol – Inhibits NLRP inflammasome, inhibits inflammation, and has been shown in an animal study to have invitro activity against MERS-CoV (a different coronavirus)
The typical dose is 100-150 mg once daily
- Specialized Pro-Resolvin Mediators – These are exciting compounds that are a more recent discovery. They are naturally produced within our bodies and play a key role in calming and resolving inflammation. As a supplement, these agents can have a powerful effect on inflammatory cytokines.
For acute COVID-19 a recommended dose is usually 4 capsules twice daily.
We wish you a healthy fall and winter.
If you would like to obtain these supplements at 20% off send an email with your name to email@example.com
This article is educational only and meant to identify things that may help decrease inflammation and decrease the severity of viral infection. Always consult your medical provider before using any of these supplements.