A Functional Medicine Approach to the Coronavirus (COVID-19): What You Need to Know to Stay Healthy


Currently there is no medication available to treat the COVID-19 and no vaccine to prevent the illness.  This new strain of coronaviruses, which started in Wuhan, China in December 2019, is now spreading around the world. And we are now facing a pandemic. 

However, you still have options to stay healthy by boosting your immune system naturally. A strong immune system and preventative strategies will help you fight this and other viruses in the event of an exposure. 

What is the coronavirus (CoV)?  

Microscopic Image of COVID-19 by CDC

CoV belongs to a large group of viruses with different strains causing a variety of different illnesses. The COVID-19 (pictured to the left) is a new strain of these coronaviruses. Research studies explain that it is spread from animal to human, but we don’t yet know which animal it came from. 

What are the Symptoms 

Like the symptoms of the flu (influenza) and the common cold, coronavirus may cause severe symptoms and complications, especially in the elderly and in those with chronic health conditions. The incubation period of this virus can be up to 2 weeks, and symptoms may occur within 2 days to 14 days after exposure of the virus. 

Symptoms may include the following:

  • Fever
  • Cough (usually dry)
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Headache
  • Sore Throat (less common)
  • Runny Nose (less common)
  • Feeling Fatigued and Achy

The symptoms can be mild to severe. Some people develop bronchitis or pneumonia. (7,8,9). If you have any of these symptoms accompanied by fever put a mask on and see your primary care provider!

General Cold & Flu Self-Care Tips

Self-care: When battling upper respiratory infections hydration and rest should be your top priorities. Drink plenty of fluids; homemade vegetable or bone broths are also extremely beneficial. Various herbal teas/hot drinks can help with hydration and reducing symptoms; good choices include peppermint, ginger, eucalyptus, chamomile, and hot water with lemon, honey, and cinnamon.

Sore throats: Salt-water gargles are excellent for loosening mucus and helping fend off bacterial throat infections. Hot teas and lozenges containing slippery elm are excellent demulcents (to relieve minor pain and inflammation of mucous membranes) for soothing irritated sore throats. Adding two tablespoons of honey into hot water can also help to soothe and decrease throat inflammation and pain. Chamomile and peppermint teas are also helpful for soothing irritated sore throats, as are teas or infusions made from marshmallow root and licorice root, both of which can act as soothing demulcents.

Respiratory congestion & sinuses: For respiratory congestion, use a humidifier, vaporizers, or steam inhalers, or spend time in steamy baths or showers. Vaporizers and inhalers can also be used with decongestants or essential oils such as eucalyptus, menthol, peppermint, or frankincense. Nasal xylitol sprays are also very beneficial, as is nasal irrigation using a neti pot or nasal irrigation bottle. Buffered saline is easy to make or can be purchased in packets and eliminates any irritation to delicate, irritated mucous membranes.

Immune Boosting Supplement Recommendations

Here are some of my favorite supplements for boosting your immune system and for preventing and treating viral upper respiratory infections:

  • Allimax PRO 450 mg – Allimax supports your body’s immune system through natural allicin, a natural compound, extacted from fresh, raw garlic
  • Umcka® ColdCare Original Drops – Shortens the duration & reduces severity of common cold, nasal throat and bronchial irritations
  • Phytogen® 60 caps Thorne– It particularly supports immune function in the respiratory tract, GI tract, and bladder. A fully functioning immune system is an important component of wellness. Phytogen combines four American and Chinese botanicals – Echinacea, Coptis, Astragalus, and Schisandra – in a formula that supports optimal immune function.
  • Olive Leaf Extract 60 vegcaps Thorne – Olive Leaf Extract is derived from the leaves of the olive tree (Olea europaea) and contains compounds, specifically oleuropein, that have demonstrated antioxidant and immune-supporting properties.  Olive leaf can help maintain a healthy balance of cytokines in the body.* Cytokines are proteins secreted by cells of the immune system that act as chemical messengers, helping to regulate the body’s immune response.
  • Vitamin C with Flavonoids 180 caps Thorne – Vitamin C with flavonoids optimizes the beneficial effects of vitamin C – including support of immune function – by replicating the way it’s found in nature.
  • Andrographis 120 vegcaps Advanced Orthomolecular – Andrographis paniculata is a plant found primarily in Asia and India. It has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, Thai medicine, and the Scandinavians have used it for centuries for immune support
  • Bromelain 60 vegcaps Thorne – Bromelain is a mixture of proteolytic enzymes derived from the pineapple plant. Bromelain’s efficacy is attributable to its significant proteolytic activity.
  • Bio-Active Sil Hydrosol™ Dropper ARGENTYN 23 – IMMUNE SYSTEM ENHANCING
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D, known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is one of the most important and powerful nutrients for supporting the immune system. Numerous studies have shown that it helps reduce the risk of colds and flu. Unfortunately, a high percentage of the population is deficient, so daily supplementation (ideally in the form of vitamin D3) offers the best protection.
  • Zinc: Zinc plays a significant role in boosting immunity. Often available as lozenges, zinc can help to reduce the frequency of infections as well as the duration and severity of the common cold when taken within 24 hours of onset.
  • Selenium: Selenium, a key nutrient for immune function, is also an antioxidant that helps boosts the body’s defenses against bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells. It may particularly help to protect against certain strains of flu virus. Selenium is easily obtained from foods, with the richest source being Brazil nuts.
  • Probiotics: Probiotics contain “good bacteria” that not only support the health of the gut but also influence immune system functioning and regulation. Studies have shown that probiotic use can decrease the number of respiratory infections, particularly in children.

Note: To purchase any of these supplements with a 25% discount visit the Anthea Health Dispensary on Wellevate and create an account.

Behavioral Recommendations

  • Wash your hands: The most well-established way to prevent respiratory infections such as influenza and coronavirus is frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water. Scrub your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use hand sanitizer: Hand washing with soap and water is the best way to reduce germs, but if they are not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol can help to reduce the spread of infection. Note: avoid any products containing triclosan, a known hormone-disrupting chemical.
  • Cover your mouth and nose: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. If your hands are not free or you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve, not your bare hands.
  • Don’t touch your face: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, which can help provide the virus with a route of entry into the body. Since the average individual touches their face an average of 15 times per hour, remain vigilant!
  • Keep surfaces clean: Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, especially when someone is ill. Surfaces to consider include doorknobs, phones, computer keyboards, remotes, and other surfaces that are frequently touched in rooms such as the bathroom and kitchen.

Lifestyle Recommendations

  • Reduce Stress: Chronic stress can negatively alter immune system responses, making you more likely to get sick. Identify your personal stress reduction strategies and practice them regularly.
  • Prioritize Sleep: Sleep has a big influence on immune function, so it is essential to get plenty of sleep. Practice good sleep hygiene and maintain consistent sleep hours—turn off screens, ensure the room is cool, quiet, and dark, and set a reminder to help yourself go to bed on time.
  • Exercise: Moderate, regular physical activity helps to boost immune system function by raising levels of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies, increasing circulation, and decreasing stress hormones. Establish and follow an exercise program to not only help prevent respiratory infections but also to improve cognitive and physical resilience.
  • Eat nutritious foods/ follow a diet: Research indicates that brightly colored vegetables and fruits boost immunity better than most supplements. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables—aim for 10 servings per day. Include fermented vegetables or other probiotic-containing foods.

Disclaimer: This document is only intended to identify modalities that may boost your immune system. It is not meant to recommend any treatments, nor have any of these modalities been proven effective against coronavirus. Always consult your physician or healthcare provider prior to using any of these modalities. For up-to-date information on COVID-19, please consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov.


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