Antivirals for the advanced health conscious individuals.

In the last post I wrote about measures to strengthen the immune system in general.

But some people could be interested to step it up a little bit.

Note: the information below is not meant as a medical advice and should be used at your own responsibility, always consult a medical doctor before you start using these products.

While stimulating the immune system is a good step in the direction of staying healthy, it is not a specific measure. Below I will talk about specific antiviral measures.

Viruses have always been around and are tough to deal with, Also because they cannot be seen with the naked eye, unlike fungi or worms, or under a normal microscope, like bacteria. They are also hard to grow and thus to detect in a test tube. These simple organisms also don’t have many points in their simple structures that we can attack. And they mutate at a very fast pace.

In the past viral pandemics cost the lives of millions of people:, the Spanish flu of 1918, but also HIV Ebola, MERS,SARS, and Zika are still lingering in our minds.

Many attempts have been made to produce antiviral medication, most of these not very successful for various reasons, mostly because of the side-effects of the anti-virals. But in the end if one has the choice between dying from a lethal viral infection or suffer some side effects and still be alive, for many the choice is easy. Still, one is looking for products that will kill the virus, or stop or inhibit its multiplication within the body.

Natural products still play an important role in these processes. Nature is one gigantic and superb chemical production plant or a battlefield and testing ground for chemical warfare.  No wonder that the pharmaceutical industry for a large part still is based on the natural products.

There are some exotic natural products, that none of us will ever lay our hands on, since they are not for sale in the pharmacy or health food store. But some other products you might already have at home or seen in the health food store.

Some of these products were researched during the last SARS epidemic, but by the time the research was complete, the SARS epidemic was under control again.

Let me start with the “hard stuff”.

Kagocel is a Russian antiviral. It works by stimulating interferon, a glycoprotein that interferes with viral replication. (1)  It is based on Gossypol, coming from the family of the cotton plant. A substance used in the past for its male contraceptive qualities, but never found its way to the market. Before you jump to conclusions: the gossypol structure has been changed so it has lost its contraceptive properties but kept its antiviral effect.  The product has been thoroughly studied. It has been on the market for almost 20 years now.

Chloroquin is a 90 years medication  and much used anti-malarial compound, millions of people have used it in the past.  It also has been used to counteract hepatitis C virus and even HIV. It is very well studied, cheap and easily available. Its side-effects, mainly connected to eye, only appear after long-term use. It has already been successfully used against the COVID-19 virus. (2)

Isoprinosine: a compound based in inosine, a well-known sport supplement. It is on the market since 1971. It stimulates the immune-system and has been used as prevention and treatment of influenza virus as well. (3, 4)

Natural antiviral products.

Licorice: available in the famous stick or often found in herbal teas and black candies. It has been  used for a long time as an antiviral.  (5)

Curcumin: better known as turmeric, the yellow root that gives the color and flavor to curries. A great addiction to your diet anyway as an anti-inflammatory and cancer chemo preventive compound (6)

Green tea (Matcha) as healthy drink or as a supplement (Matcha) in capsules (7)

Andrographis paniculata: originally used in Ayurvedic medicine, already in use against the common cold and other infections, available in commercially available preparations. Well researched in Europe as well. (8)

Astragalus membranaceous: originally used in traditional Chinese medicine, a excellent stimulant of the immune system (9)

Betulin derived from the birch tree has a proven antiviral effect as well (10)

Sambucus nigra or elderberry has been part of folk/herbal medicine for many years, and recently its antiviral properties were proven (11)

Quercetin: an important flavonol, component of apples, berries, tea and onions, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, mast cell stabilizer and antiviral (13)

Some researchers have written extensive reviews about the use natural products that can be used, to counteract viruses and other infections (14,15,16,17)

Limited bibliography: (I won’t bore you with a massive amount of the research articles, you can look everything up yourself))

1 Borovskaya, T.G: Preclinical and clinical evidence of safety of antiviral drug with immunomodulatory activity;  Ser J Exp Clin Res 2018; 19 (3):pg. 271-276.

2 Gao, J; Tian, Z;  Yang, X: Breakthrough: Chloroquine phosphate has shown apparent efficacy in treatment of COVID-19 associated pneumonia in clinical studies; BioScience Trends Advance Publication

3 Beran et al.: Inosine pranobex is safe and effective for the treatment of subjects with confirmed acute respiratory viral infections; BMC Infectious Diseases (2016) 16: pg.648.

4  Sliva et al.: Inosine Pranobex: A Key Player in the Game Against a Wide Range of Viral Infections and Non-Infectious Diseases  Adv Ther (2019) 36: pg.1878–1905.

5 Cinatl, J: Glycyrrhizin, an active component of liquorice roots, and replication of SARS-associated coronavirus; The Lancet,  Vol 361, June 14, 2003, pg.2046.

6 Mathew, D; Hsu, W.L: Antiviral potential of curcumin;  Journal of Functional Foods 40 (2018) pg. 692–699.

7 Xu, J; Xu, Z;  Zheng. W: A Review of the Antiviral Role of Green Tea Catechins; Molecules 2017, 22, 1337.

8 Melchior , J; Palm, S; Wikman, G:  Controlled clinical study of standardized Andrographis paniculata extract in common cold – a pilot trial; Phytomedicine Vol. 3 (4), pg. 315-318, 1996/97.

9 Cho, W.C.S; Leung, K.N: In vitro and in vivo immunomodulating and immunorestorative effects of Astragalus membranaceus; Journal of Ethnopharmacology 113 (2007) pg. 132–141.

10 Pohjala, L:  Betulin-Derived Compounds as Inhibitors of Alphavirus Replication; J. Nat. Prod. 2009, 72, 11, pg.1917-1926.

11 Porte, R.S;  Bode, R.F: A Review of the Antiviral Properties of Black Elder (Sambucus nigra L.) Products; Phytother. Res. (2017).

13 Gansukh, E: Probing the impact of quercetin-7-O-glucoside on influenza virus replication influence; Phytomedicine 23 (2016) pg. 958–967.

14 Patwardhan, B; Gautam, M: Botanical immunodrugs: scope and opportunities Drug Discovery Today,Volume 10, No.7, April 2005, pg. 495-502.

15 Marathe, S.A;  Datey, A.A;  Chakravortty, D: Herbal Cocktail as Anti-infective: Promising Therapeutic for the Treatment of Viral Diseases; Recent Patents on Anti-Infective Drug Discovery, 2012, 7, pg. 123-132.

16 Dhama, K, et al: Medicinal and Therapeutic Potential of Herbs and Plant Metabolites / Extracts Countering Viral Pathogens – Current Knowledge and Future Prospects; Current Drug Metabolism, 2018, 19, pg. 236-263.

17 Tiwari, R, et al.: Herbal Immunomodulators – A Remedial Panacea for Designing and Developing Effective Drugs and Medicines: Current Scenario and Future Prospects; Current Drug Metabolism, 2018, 19, pg. 264-301

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