There is a lot of stress around the spread of Coronavirus in the United States. I get questions daily about recommendations. What can you do? This blog discusses four easy to obtain and safe supplements to boost your immune system against coronovirus, as well as the scientific findings about them. These can be used daily as well as increased in dosage in the event of an illness.
As with the intake of any new supplement, I strongly recommend consultation with your primary care physician as well as any other specialty MDs who are part of your health care team.
Please do an MD consult prior to starting any supplements, especially if you are currently taking prescribed medications, preparing for a surgery, have chronic illnesses, are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. The supplements I am addressing here are considered to be generally safe but there are some cautions and rare, but possible side effects, which are also noted in this blog. It is wise to delve into your own research too.
The first proactive measure you can take to keep yourself healthy is to get acupuncture.
An enormous amount of research shows that acupuncture improves your immune system. Acupuncture has the unique ability regulate and balance production of lymphocytes which are key players in your immunities. Most of my patients see me once per month as a simple “tune up” to keep themselves healthy through cold and flu seasons. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
That being said, this is a small supplements list for you to consider: Quercetin, Bromelain, L-Theanine and L-Lysine. I take these each night before bed. All are easily and inexpensively obtained at your local health food store. This blog details some science about Quercetin, Bromelain, L-Theanine and L-Lysine. We do know that these all boost your natural immunities, improve the response time, and increase numbers of your protective immune cells. Please see below for detailed information.
It is wise to consider adding extra Vitamin C and Vitamin D to your daily intake during this Coronavirus outbreak too. Since it is readily available information, I am not going over science, dosages or side effects for Vitamin C or Vitamin D in this blog
You may or may not have heard the term biofilm. For lack of a better description, biofilms are layers of slime on the outsides of viruses and bacteria. These layers allow the microbes to easily stick to your cells and get inside them, causing you to get sick.
The flavonoid Quercetin has multiple unique abilities to break down biofilms. Firstly, it makes biofilm less able to “stick” or anchor onto your cells and cause harm. Secondly, along with other cellular components in your immune system, Quercetin can blow up the biofilm walls. That helps your other immune cells take apart and dispose of viruses or bacteria. 8,9,10
Quercetin dosing 500mg-1,000mg per day in divided doses.*
*Please note that testing for specific dosing of Quercetin is limited. That being said: most clinical research studies use and common daily doses are: 500mg-1,000mg per day in divided doses.11
Cautions & possible side effects of Quercetin
! Avoid taking if you are on the medication Digoxin, which is a cardiac glycoside.
! Regarding Pregnancy and Lactation: Quercetin in foods is considered safe. However, it is recommended to avoid supplementing with Quercetin if you are pregnant or breast feeding, because there is no information regarding safety for pregnancy and lactation.
! Can cause headache and tingling in arms and legs.
! Kidney damage may occur in very high doses.
! Caution if you are on antibiotics, cyclosporine, warfarin or drugs cleared by the liver.
! Always check with your doctor prior to starting supplementation.12
Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapples, especially the stems of pineapple. It is now recommended as a complimentary therapy for chronic inflammatory diseases, autoimmune diseases and certain cancers.
Bromelain strengthens and improves functions of T cells, macrophages, natural killer cells and peripheral blood mononuclear cells of your immune system to be more effective.13
Bromelain dosing 180mg 3x/day
Please note: Bromelain is often taken as a digestive enzyme with food or for inflammation such as osteoarthritis or chronic diseases. However our immune systems are very active during sleep. For that reason and the purposes of immune support, I simply take a dose Bromelain before bed.14
Cautions & possible side effects of Bromelain
! May cause side effects like diarrhea, stomach or intestinal discomfort.
! May cause allergic reactions, especially if you are prone to allergies to: pineapple, latex, wheat, celery, papain, carrot, fennel, cypress, pollen, or grass.
! It is recommended to avoid supplementing with Bromelain if you are pregnant or breast feeding, because there is no information regarding safety for pregnancy and lactation.
! May increase bleeding risks. Stop Bromelain 2 weeks before any surgical procedure.15
Bromelain Drug Interactions
When considering any supplements, please always consult your MD, especially if you are taking prescription medications.
! Bromelain can increase the amount of antibiotics your body absorbs and/or increase side effects of some antibiotics. These include: Amoxicillin and Tetracycline antibiotics. Interestingly research reflects that there is a benefit to some combined bromelain and antibiotic therapies.16
This quote is taken from a 2016 National Institutes of Health study:
Combined bromelain and antibiotic therapy was shown to be more effective than antibiotics alone in pneumonia, bronchitis, cutaneous Staphylococcus infection, thrombophlebitis, cellulitis, pyelonephritis, and in perirectal and rectal abscesses, sinusitis and urinary tract infections.17
! Bromelain can interact with medications which slow blood clotting such as anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs. This can also lead to bruising and bleeding risks. Some commonly used medications that slow blood clotting: Aspirin, Clopidogrel (Plavix), Diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, and others), Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, and others), Naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, and others), Daleparin (Fragmin), Enoxaparin (Lovenox), Heparin, Warfarin (Coumadin), and others.18
L-theanine is an amino acid which is naturally found in black tea, green tea and some mushrooms. Science reflects that L-theanine “primes” the T-lymphocyte cells of your immune system. This makes your cells respond more quickly if you are exposed to cold and flu microbes.19
L-Theanine Dosing 100mg once per day.20
Cautions and Possible Side Effects of L-Theanine
! Mild adverse side effects such as headache or sleepiness.
! It is recommended to avoid supplementing with L-Theanine if you are pregnant or breast feeding, because there is no information regarding safety for pregnancy and lactation.
! L-theanine is POSSIBLY SAFE for children as an oral, short term supplement. 200mg of Theanine has been safely taken 2x/day for 6 weeks in boys aged 8-12 years old.
! Theoretically theanine may lower blood pressure. If you are prone to low blood pressure, theanine may lower your blood pressure more. Always discuss supplementation with your MD before starting it.21
L-lysine is what is called an essential amino acid. Some amino acids can be made by our bodies. However essential amino acids must be consumed. L-lysine is found in: red meat, chicken, eggs, some fish, lentils, beans, cottage cheese, wheat germ, nuts, soybeans, brewer’s yeast and spirulina algae.
Research shows that L-lysine is helpful for recurrent infections. Specifically, it speeds up the response time of neutrophils in your immune system to attack and take apart pathogens. It also increases the overall number lymphocytes made by your immune system.22
L-Lysine Dosing 1000mg per day.23
Cautions and Possible Side Effects of L-Lysine
! Side effects such as stomach pain or diarrhea.
! It is recommended to avoid supplementing with L-Lysine if you are pregnant or breast feeding, because there is no information regarding safety for pregnancy and lactation.
! One report of kidney disease is linked with lysine. Always discuss supplementation with your MD before taking, especially if you have known kidney issues.
! Lysine may increase calcium absorption. Please be aware if you currently supplement with calcium or are taking calcium supporting medications.
! May cause diarrhea or stomach cramping in children who are intolerant to lysinuric protein.24
As I mention above, I take these 4 supplements at night before bed. In addition to these I take Vitamin C 1,000mg and Vitamin D 10,000 units. I wish you good health!
Thank you for reading!
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~Karen Reynolds, RN, MS, LAc
We encourage you to become fully informed from multiple reliable sources about all health related topics and/or practices or products discussed on this blog. Please consult a team of licensed and trusted health care professionals before making health related decisions for yourself, family or loved ones. The information here is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.
1McDonald, JL, Cripps, AW, Smith, PK. (2015). Mediators, receptors, and signaling pathways in the anti-inflammatory and antihyperalgesic effects of acupuncture. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Vol. 2015, Article ID 975632, 10 pages.
2Xiao, QS, Ma, MY, Zhang, XS, Deng, MH, Yang Yan, Z. (2015). Effect of acupuncture on prognosis and immune function of sepsis patients. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. Jul; 35(7): 783-786.
3Kim, S K, Bae, H. (2010). Acupuncture and immune modulation. Autonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical. Oct 28; 157(1): 38-41.
4Ding, SS, Hong, SH, Wang, C, Guo, Y, Wang, ZK, Xu, Y. (2013). Acupuncture modulates the neuro-endocrine-immune network. Quarterly Journal of Medicine, 107(5): 341-345. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/hct196
5Mori, H, Nishijo,K, Kawamura, H, Abo, T. (2002). Unique immunomodulation by electro-acupuncture in humans possibly via stimulation of the autonomic nervous system.Neuroscience Letters, 320(1-2):1-24. doi.org/10.1016/S0304-3940(02)00012-5
6Kavoussi, B, Ross, BE. (2007). The Neuroimmune Basis of Anti-inflammatory Acupuncture. Integrative Cancer Therapies. doi.org/10.1177/1534735407305892
7Takahashi, T, Sumino, H, Kanda, T, Yamaguchi, N. (2009). Acupuncture Modifies Immune Cells. Journal of Experimental & Clinical Medicine, 1(1): 17-22. doi.org/10.1016/S1878-3317(09)60006-1
8Vazquez-Armenta, FJ, Bernal-Mercado, AT, Tapia-Rodriguez, MR, Gonzalez-Aguilar, GA, Lopez-Zavala, AA, Martinez-Tellez, MA, Hernandez-Oñate, MA, Ayala-Zavala, JF. (2018). Quercetin reduces adhesion and inhibits biofilm development by Listeria monocytogenes by reducing the amount of extracellular proteins. Food Control, 90:266-273.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2018.02.041
9Bilal, A, Hashmi, A, Saghir, M, Musarrat, J. (2018). ROS mediated destruction of cell membrane, growth and biofilms of human bacterial pathogens by stable metallic AgNPs functionalized from bell pepper extract and quercetin. Advanced Powder Technology. 29(7): 1601-1616. doi.org/10.1016/j.apt.2018.03.025
10Wang, J, Song, M, Pan, J, Shen, X, Liu, W, Zhang, X, Hongen, L, Deng, X. (2018). Quercetin impairs Streptococcus pneumoniae biofilm formation by inhibiting sortase A activity. Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. 22(12). doi.org/10.1111/jcmm.13910
11 Taken from WebMD re: dosing Quercetinà https://www.webmd/com/vitamins-and-supplements/quercetin-uses-and-risks#1
13Pavan, R, Jain, S, Kumar, S, Kumar A. (2012). Properties and Therapeutic Application of Bromelain: A Review. Biotechnical Research International. Published online. doi: 10.1155/2012/976203
14Taken from WebMD re: dosing Bromelainà https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-895/bromelain
17Rathnavelu, V, Banu Alitheen, N, Sohila, S, Kanagesan, S, Ramesh, R. (2016). Potential role of bromelain in clinical and therapeutic applications. Biomedical Reports. 5(3): 283-288. doi: 10.3892/br.2016.720
18Taken from WebMD re: dosing Bromelainà https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-895/bromelain
19Bukowski, J,F, Percival, S,S. (2008). L-theanine intervention enhances human T lymphocyte function. Nutrition Reviews. 66(2): 96-102. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2007.00013.x
20Taken from WebMD re: dosing Theanineà https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1053/theanine
22Azzara, A, Carulli, G, Sbrana, S, Rizzuti-Gullaci, A, Minnucci, S, Natale, M, Ambrogi, F. (1995). Effects of lysine-arginine association on immune functions in patients with recurrent infections. Drugs Under Experimental And Clinical Research 21(2): 71-78.
23Taken from WebMD re: dosing Theanineà https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-237/lysine