Supplements Can Make Covid-19 Worse

In autoimmune, Cancer Coach, COVID-19, inflammation, Uncategorized on April 13, 2020 at 11:03 am

Supplements can be extremely helpful in preventing Covid-19 from replicating and making you sick. However, certain supplements should actually be avoided if you have symptoms of the virus. They could make Covid-19 worse.

With Covid-19, at first the immune system fails to respond effectively to the virus, then the immune response becomes too aggressive and floods the body with cytokines. Cytokines are inflammatory molecules that can spin out of control with Covid-19. The surge of cytokines damages blood vessels and allows fluids to seep into the lungs, filling them up, making it difficult for one to breathe.

The hyperactive immune response, often referred to as a cytokine storm, causes the lungs to stop delivering oxygen to the rest of the organs, leading to respiratory failure, and in some cases death.

Researchers are working hard at finding drugs that suppress the cytokine storm. Steroids have been used to treat patients, but with mixed results—they help some and increasing the risk of death in others.

Tocilizumab (Actemra), a rheumatoid arthritis drug, is also being studied.  Actemra is an IL-6 inhibitor that might help fend off the severe lung inflammation that hits some patients.  With $25 million in backing from the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), Swiss drug maker Roche will speed up Actemra’s phase 3 trial in COVID-19 patients.[i]

Meanwhile,  many natural substances can be helpful, but some can actually make the virus more symptomatic and deadly.

Natural Substances and Covid-19

For the healthy, asymptomatic individual the focus should be on increasing immune defense and inhibiting viral replication.  Some helpful supplements are curcumin, Pao pereira, vitamin C, quercetin, elderberry, and astragalus (may need to stop the latter two if symptomatic), which have been found to target inflammation while also reducing viral replication. Should symptoms develop, it might make sense to focus on anti-viral substances along with strategies to reduce inflammation. Supplements that you might want to avoid if symptomatic include vitamin D,  modified citrus pectin, certain mushroom extracts and possibly elderberry and astragalus. (Please know that there are many different opinions on this subject, so please use your best judgement). Read on for more detail.

Protective Supplements for Covid-19 (and optimal health)

It is important to understand that the recommendations listed are not intended to be medical advice and should not be considered as a replacement for medical treatment. However, they might beneficial for relieving minor symptoms and inhibiting the progression of Covid-19. By stimulating the immune system early on and keeping inflammation in check, it may be possible to control the virus before the cytokine storm and resulting inflammation renders a person critical. Further, natural antiviral substances may inhibit the ability of Covid-19 to replicate and strengthen the body’s defenses against the virus.

For example, grapeseed extract, a rich source of polyphenols, has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties.[iii]  NAC helps to reduce inflammation in bronchial tubes and lung tissue. CoQ10 is immunomodulator. Sulforaphane, colloidal silver, olive leaf extract, monolaurin, and lysine have anti-viral properties that may be helpful against Covid-19.

A good multivitamin, adequate vitamin D (discontinue if symptoms present), zinc, selenium, probiotics, mushroom extracts, beta glucans (discontinue if symptoms present), vitamin C, elderberry, and astragalus will help keep the immune system strong, helping to slow down the speed at which pathogens replicate and mutate.  Zinc and chaga mushroom inhibit the ability of viruses to reproduce and spread. Magnesium, fish or krill oil, vitamin E, and curcumin (turmeric) are natural anti-inflammatories.

Read more HERE: Fighting Covid-19 

If you have Covid-19, certain supplements could help inhibit the virus and calm the inflammatory cytokine storm. A product called Cytokine Supress offers both mung bean extract and EGCG that helps to control levels of inflammatory cytokines and balance the inflammatory response.

Substances that May Calm the Cytokine Storm:

  • PQQ
  • Curcumin
  • Resveratrol
  • Luteolin
  • Green Tea
  • Mung Bean Extract
  • Quercetin
  • Apigenin (found in parsley, celery and chamomile)
  • Boswellia (frankincense)
  • Pterostilbene
  • Reishi
  • Magnesium
  • Krill or fish oil (as well as other essential fatty acids such as evening primrose and flax seed oil
  • Cat’s claw
  • Vitamins C, E, and K
  • Broccoli Sprouts (sulphoraphane)
  • Oats
  • Astaxanthin
  • Beets (Betaine)
  • Anthocyanins
  • Ginger
  • Probiotics
  • NAC
  • Grapeseed extract
  • CoQ10

Supplements to Avoid if You Have Covid-19 Symptoms:

It is important to know that some supplements, while excellent for prevention, should be avoided if symptoms present. For example, according to Dr. Andrew Weill, Founder and Director of the Andrew Weill Center for Integrative Medicine, while vitamin D supports immune function, “it should be discontinued while symptoms are present and can be resumed upon return to health.”[ii] He says this because vitamin D can activate the inflammatory cascade which characterizes and contributes to acute symptomatic Covid-19 infection. IMPORTANT UPDATE:  Numerous new studies and actual usage has found vitamin D to be highly effective in preventing the progression of COVID19. 

Weill also advises against elderberry if Covid-19 symptomatic. “Elderberry extracts may help to prevent the early stage of corona virus infections, which includes COVID-19. Elderberry contains compounds which decrease the ability of viruses to infect cells…. However, as a part of its immune supportive actions, elderberry increases immune cell release of tiny chemicals called cytokines. Specifically, elderberry increases the release of a cytokine called IL-1B which is a part of the inflammatory reaction to COVID-19 that can result in acute respiratory distress. For this reason, to minimize the possibility that elderberry could aggravate the inflammatory “cytokine storm” associated with the more severe COVID-19 infections, it is recommended to stop elderberry at the first signs of infection (fever, cough, sore throat) and/or if you test positive for the virus.”

Mushroom extracts act as immunomodulators that appear to reduce inflammation and regulate the cytokine response. On the other hand, beta glucans, lentinan, and other isolated polysaccharides such as modified citrus pectin tend to increase the inflammatory cytokine response and virulence of Covid-19 and may need to be avoided during viral infection.

  • Elderberry and astragalus (mixed info on these two)
  • Beta Glucans (isolated polysaccharides)
  • Modified Citrus Pectin
  • Coriolis and Turkey Tail Mushroom
  • Any other supplements that activate the immune cell cytokine response

 In your everlasting good health,


~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~

ej portrait 150resElyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor and holistic cancer strategist who helps people make healthier, less-toxic choices for their healing. She emphasizes the importance of not just surviving cancer, but surviving well and reducing the risk of recurrence. Elyn specializes in understanding the role of estrogen in breast cancer and debunks the myths associated. She is a Contributing Editor for The Truth About Cancer and is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. Elyn has written for numerous journals and publications. She was the former Executive Director of the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation and the creator and host of the Survive and Live Well Radio Show. To contact Elyn, visit http://www.elynjacobs.com. Elyn offers consults via Skype, phone, or in-person. Elyn does not provide online advice.

Elyn Jacobs does not provide medical advice. The information provided is for general information only. No online site should be used as a substitute for personal medical attention.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not a recommendation to forgo medical advice and treatment. This post is not intended to treat, cure, prevent, or diagnose any disease or condition. This post does not represent medical advice nor should it be considered to be medical advice or a replacement for medical advice. I encourage you to discuss this information with your integrative oncologist, naturopathic doctor, or conventional oncologist. The information provided is from my research and not to be taken as scientific evidence.

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[i] https://www.fiercepharma.com/pharma/roche-accelerates-another-actemra-trial-for-covid-19-25m-u-s-grant

[ii] https://integrativemedicine.arizona.edu/COVID19/FAQ.html

[iii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24846452

  1. OMG – good to know. Thank you Elyn. Stay Safe.


  2. Update: An article written by herbalist Donnie Yance says elderberry is fine. Hard to say who is correct, so please use your body as your guide. If you feel good on something, fine….if not, discontinue. https://www.donnieyance.com/the-truth-about-elderberry-sambucus-nigra/?fbclid=IwAR3p9I1AAeqZBXz5Jp4xvz_WVwCJvtxC_kf_qn1ubm4HWVx3HVNl_S2t1WA

  3. Dangerous to recommend avoiding Vitamin D which has been shown in many studies to reduce inflammation and cancers and in particular to modulate the bodies immune response and prevent the cytokine storms that have been causing the deaths of those with Covid-19. 99% of the Vitamin D studies fail to measure blood serum levels and so their results are worthless. I take 10x the “recommended” daily allowance and the 10,000 IU of Vitamin D I take each day get my ng/ml up to 45 with the “healthy” range considered to be 40-60 ng/ml. At 1000 IU my blood serum level was at 20ng/ml at the “unhealthy” level.

    • Dear Bruce, perhaps you misunderstood what I said. For sure you want to keep your Vitamin D level up, perhaps even higher than 40-60 if that feels comfortable to you. For preventive reasons (not just covid, inflammation, and cancer) that is very important. The concern is that should you develop covid symptoms, it may make sense to reduce your dosage. I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice, but it might be helpful. I personally try to maintain a level of 85-100 for prevention of disease.

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