I’ve grown frustrated and concerned over the degree to which the news surrounding COVID-19 focuses on fear and the promise of a ‘super hero’ vaccine that will eventually save us.

Every week, I come across research that supports the use of herbal and nutritional compounds, diet, and lifestyle that have been shown to be of potential benefit in bolstering our immune defense against the virus. It’s unfortunate that these studies are not being more widely reported and implemented in our approach to this disease.


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Although statistics show that people over the age of 65 have an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and dying from complications due to underlying conditions, it appears that it has more to do with nutritional status than age alone. It’s true that the older we get, the more nutritional deficiencies we may have, primarily because of poor dietary choices throughout life.

Unfortunately, nutrition is often overlooked in favor of pharmaceuticals and other medical interventions. But diet plays a critical role in fortifying the immune system and in helping the body fight off and overcome infections such as COVID-19.


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Viruses are one of the oldest organisms on Earth. They consist simply of a protein envelope and nucleic acids, which renders them unable to replicate outside of a host.  Some viruses, such as influenza, can both rearrange compatible genes and mutate on a regular basis in order to remain invisible.[1] 

Interestingly, the main benefit of herbs is their working relationship with our own innate ability to ward off pathogens, such as viruses. This in part is what makes herbal medicine so unique. Although herbs provide some direct anti-viral activity, they primarily act in a non-specific, adaptive manner.


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In the attempt to tame the COVID-19 virus, scientists around the world are working to understand how the disease is spread and how best to approach prevention and treatment. But with the avalanche of information we’re presented with every day, it’s easy to come away with more questions than answers. 

There are a couple of recent findings that stand out as particularly important. One relates to the method of transmission, and the other to individual susceptibility to the disease.


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Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are plenty of good reasons to be outdoors this summer, and now we can add ‘safe haven’ to the list. As we all know, strict isolation strategies have been employed since mid-March to curb the spread of the pandemic. The resulting isolation, combined with fear of contagion and misinformation overload (“infodemic”) is creating a great deal of confusion and stress.[1]

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There is no question that reducing the contact rate of latent individuals, and interventions such as quarantine and isolation, can effectively reduce the potential peak number of infections and delay the time of peak infection. However, as much as I believe this to be true as it applies to being indoors, I question whether being outdoors—even in groups—poses much risk at all. While there is still so much we don’t know about the virus transmission, we have yet to see proof or a strong likelihood that the outdoors poses a significant risk.  In fact, research suggests it may be safer compared to indoors.


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The distribution of community outbreaks of the current global pandemic shows seasonal patterns associated with latitude, temperature, and humidity, which is similar to the behavior of seasonal viral respiratory tract infections.[1]

The seasonality of many viral infections is associated with a lack of sunlight, which results in low 25(OH)D concentrations and an uptick in diseases such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection.[2],[3],[4] While it’s obvious that winter in temperate climates interferes with sufficient exposure to ultra violet rays, the rainy season in tropical climates also results in low UVB exposure.


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