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Antiviral Supplements

You’ve no doubt had a cold or flue at some point in your life. Hopefully, you haven't experienced the fringes of sanity experienced when a strong dose of flue "goes to the chest". This means there is a secondary infection in the lungs—usually opportunistic bacteria. And now you have two infections to fight off. At this point people tend to shy away from food, supplements and water. It is of paramount importance to avoid dehydration when suffering from an infection with fever.

 

 

This is simply because fluid loss is high, via sweat, as your body heats up in order to reduce viral replication and assist with fighting the infection. And with sweat loss, also goes a group of minerals called electrolytes, which are sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium and calcium. Supplementing with at least the former four minerals is important to maintaining blood volume and hydration, as calcium losses through sweat are minimal.


 

Anything we can do to help remove some of the burden from our immune system during these times can be a boon— though prevention is also an important point to consider. There are many herbal medicines and nutrients that can assist in supporting immune cell synthesis in the bone marrow as well as activity of those cells, and even some compounds that target viruses directly, helping to slow replication. 


 

Some of the most powerful compounds on the market today to support a robust immune response are the medicinal mushrooms. These are quite different from the common field variety, and have been used in traditional medicines such as Chinese medicine for a long time, and also in Naturopathy, which often draws upon both traditional and scientific approaches. Some common medicinal mushrooms are Shiitake, Reishi and Cordyceps. Just the Shiitake mushroom itself has been shown to increase the proliferation of Natural Killer T Cells, according to research published by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2015. This suggests an improvement in human immunity and our ability to fight infections, such as viruses.


 

There are many herbs that are also effective in supporting immune function, such as Andrographis, and nutrients such as Zinc. Zinc plays an important role in not only supporting the production and activity of white blood (immune) cells, but can also have a direct anti-viral effect. Andrographis, also known as The King of Bitters, was reported in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2013 as an powerful immune system supportive herb with anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial activity. This is certainly a herb better taken in capsule or tablet form, for obvious reasons. However, it is one of the many that can be useful in supporting the functioning of the body’s natural defences, and also acts directly against some viruses, hence its status as an anti-viral. 


 

There are many herbs and nutrients that can assist with viral infections. However, it is important to remember that the basics assist with prevention of viral infections by keeping the body healthy and the immune system strong. These are adequate water, a quality diet including plenty of protein, stress management, adequate sleep and regular exercise.

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