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A Naturopathic Approach to Prevention and Treatment of COVID-19: Immune Support (Part 3)

mushrooms for immune support

In addition to ways to support your health and immune system covered in parts 1 and part 2, Part 3 covers how to support your Natural Killer cells (NK cells – one of the innate or first lines of defense) and T cells (a type of lymphocyte), which are active in killing of viruses.

Early studies on SARS-CoV-2 have shown that the virus has the ability to evade the immune response by destroying Natural Killer cells, macrophages and lymphocytes.  Those most severely affected by COVID-19 have significantly reduced lymphocyte counts (Lymphopenia).  Before beginning any regimen, talk with your doctor to make sure it’s right and safe for you.  Natural medicine is powerful, but has potential side effects and drug interactions.


NK cell support:

Astragalus: the most widely used antiviral in traditional Chinese medicine. Dose: 500mg 2-3 times per day

Andrographis: promotes NK cells and reduces inflammation.  It is also an adaptogen, which decreases the negative effects of stress. Dose: 400mg 2-3 times per day

Reishi mushroom: activates both NK cells and TH1 cells, as well as decreases inflammation in lung cells. Dose: 400mg 2-3 times per day

Consider 1 or 2 of the above to support NK cells.


T cell (lymphocyte) support:

Berberine: from the plants Hyrastis canadensis and Coptidis chinensis.  Has activity against a broad range of viruses.  Additionally, berberine lowers blood sugar and may prevent clotting associated with Covid infection and inflammation.  Berberine may be useful in both the infection and inflammatory phase of Covid. Dose: 500mg 2-3 times per day.  Caution in those on medications to treat diabetes as it reduces blood sugar levels.

Baicalin (skullcap): activity against a broad range of viruses including influenza viruses H1N1 and H3N2. Dose: 300mg 2-3 times per day.

Echinacea, Elderberry and Goldenseal are alternatives to T cell/lymphocyte support.  Echinacea is not recommended in autoimmune disease.

In escalating inflammation during a COVID infection, it may be reasonable to shift from immune support to reducing inflammation (Part 4 of this series).  Berberine is active in both the immune support and anti-inflammatory responses.
Leann Silhan, MD

If you’re in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and looking for a doctor who offers affordable and reliable concierge medicine services, contact Diamond Health today for more information on creating a customized plan to meet your specific health care needs.