Finding a safe, effective, and affordable vaccine is not an easy feat. It could take years to find one, if at all any can be found. While scientists are working doubly hard for a vaccine and the right treatment for the disease, research has also turned to nature for answers. Could the cure for the coronavirus be right under our noses after all?

Functional medicine, a form of alternative medicine, aims to identify the underlying cause of a disease based on different factors instead of treating symptoms alone that may lead to a lifetime of medications at high costs. According to the non-profit educational organization IFM, or the Institute of Functional Medicine, the following nutraceuticals and botanical agents may help patients with Covid-19 in various ways, from preventing cytokine storms or a severe immune response, managing inflammation, to inhibiting viral replication. Although there are no specific studies of its effectiveness against Covid-19, IFM says that its efficacy has been evidenced by published studies with other viruses. Sixteen agents have been identified by IFM that may be beneficial for patients: Curcumin, quercetin, Zinc acetate, citrate, picolinate, or glycinate; zinc gluconate, N-Acetylcysteine (NAC), vitamins A, C, and D, melatonin, elderberry, Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), green tea or epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), reservatrol, Beta glucans, medicinal mushrooms, Chinese skullcap, and licorice root all enhance the immune system. Also, these can decrease viral growth (except for NAC and vitamin A). In addition, these agents could also reduce symptoms of Covid-19 (except for melatonin, elderberry, reservatrol, and medicinal mushrooms).

Alongside these suggested treatments, IFM also recommends a lifestyle modification to strengthen one’s immune response even more, including a diet rich in fruits and vegetables (from nine to 13 servings per day), increasing fiber intake ( from 28 to 35 grams), adding fermented vegetables and probiotic food, and avoiding or minimizing inflammatory food such as excessive sugar, salt, and saturated fat. Moreover, IFM also says that it is important to manage stress levels and sleep, as chronic stress and lack of quality sleep may also trigger inflammation and poor immune function. The same goes for maintaining regular physical activity, which has been proven time and again to reduce stress levels and improve overall health.

While these nutraceutical and botanical options may be safer treatments than others, IFM stresses that these are not replacements for actual treatments being used for Covid-19. Specific studies must be conducted to test for efficacy and effectiveness of these agents against the virus. That being said, its use must not be undermined because of its immune-strengthening capabilities. IFM suggests that these nutraceuticals and botanicals may be considered as an immunoadjuvant, or included alongside current treatments to help with the patient’s immune response to the virus. The vaccine may not be here yet, but with proper precautions and health and lifestyle modifications, together we can prove that we are stronger than the virus.

Source: Manila Bulletin (