Article: combating viruses from the inside

As the world-wide quarantine has demonstrated, few people (myself included before this) knew anything about viruses, which prompted my previous post, What exactly is a virus?. Though we generally understand we’re supposed to take precautions, most of us need more detailed information to help prevent outbreaks. And as I pointed out in combating viruses from the outside, trying to assess your risk of contamination and exposure isn’t as simple as it may seem because there are multiple factors to take into consideration, which include:

  • strain variation (which version/ mutation of the virus)
  • concentration (whether the virus was diluted at all)
  • suspending medium (in what substance was the virus when it was developed/ tested)
  • surface type (on what material was the virus)
  • mode of transfer (how the virus was passed)
  • temperature (how hot or cold the virus’ environment must be to weaken or kill it varies)
  • relative humidity (water vapor in the air/ vaporized contaminated liquid will disperse the virus)
  • method of testing (accuracy depends upon both administration of the test and interpretation of results by personnel; reliability depends upon both the inventor and the manufacturer of the test)

Again: it’s better to focus your efforts on avoidance and disinfection rather than trying to determine how likely you are to come in contact with a virus. With that said, I must also point out there is no single guaranteed cure-all; just as multiple factors influence the potency of a virus, those same variables influence the efficacy of potential treatments. Since pharmaceuticals can interfere with medication already prescribed for other things and side effects can exacerbate preexisting conditions, caution should be taken when considering ANY remedy. (I’ll take the opportunity to remind you of my disclaimer, in which I point out that I’m not affiliated with any group or organization and receive no compensation from any company or brand; this blog is intended to be a public service.) Most people should be able to consider preventative measures, such as bolstering their immune system, which can supplement antiviral pharmaceuticals, making them that much more effective but unfortunately, just as many sources tout false hope as claim to discredit viable treatments.

While there are many cheap, simple, readily available treatments that deserve special consideration, I’ll highlight four whose significance is most vehemently downplayed in blanket statements intended to steer people in the direction of the latest pharmaceutical panacea (note how many vaccines for which the US CDC has the patents). Even tested and proven chemical-based treatments won’t help if there are too many competing factors hindering the body’s ability to absorb/ metabolize them.

An underrated immune booster is zinc. One study discovered the replication of RSV and ARI is significantly impeded by a high concentration of zinc salts (zinc acetate, zinc lactate, and zinc sulfate), which are water soluble. Keep in mind they’re much more easily absorbed with food than when ingested separately. Another study found that zinc inhibits the replication of SARS-CoV and EAV. Personally, I drink liquid ionic zinc whenever I fight a virus and can attest to its efficacy at preventing further illness at the onset or at shortening the duration of a cold/ flu. Foods richest in zinc are oysters crab, lobster and beef (Incidentally, dark meat from chicken has more than light meat.) Keep in mind, your body will absorb/ metabolize engineered zinc differently than what’s naturally found within food.

Generally speaking, mammal meats– including eggs– tend to be relatively high in zinc. However, casein (milk protein) has an inhibiting effect. Another reason people don’t experience relief is because phytates (the salt of phytic acid bound to a mineral) bind zinc and inhibit its absorption, hence the avoidance of legumes and whole grains (especially cereal, corn and rice) by proponents of the Paleo Diet. Manufactured iron and cadmium– when taken together with zinc, such as in a dietary supplement– will also decrease its absorption. Unfortunately, most commercial vitamin proprietors fail to take this into account– they just toss in whatever random things they can find and consumers choose whichever brand is cheapest or has the most impressive “all natural” themed marketing. Naturally occurring iron, such as from eating meat doesn’t cause the same problem.

As I pointed out in my prior post, “a dose of Vitamin ‘Doh!’,” it’s a common misconception that increasing Vitamin C intake doesn’t help sickness at all. Recall how C is a water soluble vitamin; it’s not a fat soluble vitamin. It needs to be replenished often because your body won’t store excess for future use, so taking a mega-dose won’t be of any long-term benefit. Furthermore, vitamins don’t naturally exist by themselves. Because you’ll never come across some vitamin in the woods or that you can grow to harvest from a plant, to get any vitamin into an isolated form, it has to be synthetically replicated. Notice how often “citric acid” appears on food labels’ lists of ingredients. Though the highest natural concentrations of Vitamin C are found in citrus fruit, lab-manufactured “citrus” is in fact derived from black mold and/or yeast that’s fed glucosedextrose. This will impact anyone with a mold sensitivity/ allergy and/or a sensitivity/ allergy to corn (most of which is now genetically modified and thus presents its own concerns for those with food allergies), from which most glucose and dextrose (such as in anticoagulants)– including medical dextrose— is made. Even naturally-derived citrus, such as from grinding an orange peel will be structurally modified by the manufacturing process (e.g. for loose leaf/ bagged tea, dietary supplement tablet, or smoothie mix) thus influencing how your body absorbs/ metabolizes it.

Another misunderstood supplement is ginger: Though I’ve posted about it before, my original summary was a general overview and focused more on its ability to relieve nausea. Reports are all so conflicting because the efficacy of ginger depends upon its form, i.e. fresh is better than dried and upon the dosage, i.e. how much is ingested and how often. It doesn’t help that commercial airlines have a long-standing tradition of offering passengers “ginger ale,” which is the quintessential misnomer. Ironically, fresh ginger root is cheap, easy to store, and, from what I’ve heard, simple to grow, yet consumers would rather buy expensive products chocked full of high-fructose corn syrup and other additives, such as artificial coloring and flavoring.

Ginger root has an extremely textured quality; it tears into tough, stringy fibers when you try to slice it, so I recommend keeping some in the freezer in an airtight container. It will last longer and be easier to cut with either a knife or veggie peeler. The pieces can be added to hot or sparkling water, or to a smoothie if you have a high-powered blender. Commercial teas tend to be ineffective because the ginger takes the form of a dry powder. You’re better off making your own concoction by steeping ginger in boiling water, then adding whatever other flavoring you like, such as tea or juice. It’s worth noting that ginger will thin the blood, which is an obvious concern for those already taking medication to that effect.

Finally, I’ll mention essential oils, which I’ve already covered in my post, Good Olfaction because they’re worth highlighting. I won’t rehash points I’ve already made; suffice it to say they have multiple benefits. And they’ve been proven time and again over thousands of years. If it ain’t broke (as the old saying goes), why reinvent the wheel trying to fix it?

All recommended measures for staying safe and healthy are a matter of common sense but it took a pandemic for everyone to start taking them seriously. Hopefully, like previous generations (e.g. my grandmother) that carried over tips and tricks they learned during The Great Depression, the habits we acquire during this time will stay with us. But keep in mind there is no single fail-safe solution. Preventing the spread of viruses is two-fold: decontaminate your surrounding environment AND keep your immune system healthy enough to fight off whatever surface germs remain.


“How Pathogens Cause Disease”

“Vitamin C and SARS coronavirus” from Journal Antimicrobial Chemotherapy

Vitamin C is an essential factor on the anti-viral immune responses to Influenza A (H3N2)

biotechnological production of citric acid

introduction to yeast media

National Institute of Health factsheet: zinc

dietary factors influencing zinc absorption

dietary factors inhibiting zinc absorption

anti-avian influenza activity of aqueous extracts of ginger and garlic

in vitro antiviral activity of clove and ginger aqueous extracts against feline calicivirus

Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: integrative medicine (ginger)

some physicochemical and functional properties of lemon and orange peels

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