Viruses are infectious micro-organisms that require a living host to survive and multiply. When one enters your body, it invades and takes over cells, redirecting them to produce more of the virus.
How do our bodies defend us from viruses? Most viruses enter our bodies orally or through our respiratory system. Each of these has components to negate or trap infective agents and take counter measures. The digestion has stomach acids and an intestinal area to reduce both bacteria and viruses. Maintaining both of these functions in good order is necessary to prevent infections. The innate white blood cell defence is recharged by the intestinal area .
When our bodies come under attack from a viral infection they launch a sophisticated defence known as 'the immune response'. Our immune system is designed to recognise the cells that make up our bodies and repel any foreign invaders such as viruses.
They do this by using a huge army of defender cells which consist of different types of white blood cell made continually in our bone marrow. White blood cells called macrophages destroy germs as soon as they detect them. However, if a viral infection begins to take hold then more powerful defence of white cells called T and B lymphocytes are deployed. Antibodies are a special protein made by B cells and prevent replication or identify a virus for other immune cells to destroy them.
In general we can keep both our innate and adaptive immune systems alert and primed for response by using the following techniques.
Daily supplement with elevated levels of Vitamin C, Zinc and Vitamin D during ‘winter’ months. Ensure that you have enough basic levels of Vitamin A & Selenium by using a potent multi-vitamin.
Those people who are prone to repeated colds, chest infections or ‘flu’ should supplement with Beta Glucans 3,6 as a preventative;
If suffering a viral infection then increase the dosage of Vitamin C to 1g/2 hours at the beginning of an infection.
To support the body in fighting common viruses then use herbal remedies (e.g. Echinacea, Black Elderberry, Olive leaf, Oregano Oil). These can be used prophylactically to increase immune resistance.
Reduce sugar or starch intake as this feeds viruses
Ensure the digestive tract is maintained in prime health by using digestive enzymes and probiotics -& particularly if given an antibiotic as treatment
Different T cells can instruct, or help, B cells to produce antibodies, or they can attack viruses directly. Our immune systems are primed to prevent another infection from the same virus, without attacking the body's own cells by accident. This is known as 'acquired immunity’ which may be compromised with auto-immune diseases or chronic fatigue. Many viruses are skilled at mutating as they replicate. our immune memory cells struggle to recognise them, leaving a ‘new’ virus free to infect us once more. Other viruses, such as herpes can remain dormant or hidden in the nervous system of our bodies but can be reactivated resulting in conditions of shingles or cold sores.
Colds are not caused a single type of virus but any one of hundreds of different types of virus that can infect the upper airways. The immune system should become resistant to the virus. However, people will still get recurrent colds partly because their immune defences are lowered post-infection by a cold.
Occasionally, the immune system may become unbalanced, overwhelmed and/or respond incorrectly. Allergy, asthma, arthritis pain, chronic fatigue, diabetes, cancer, and frequently recurring infections are related to impaired immunity or inappropriate reactivity. A wide range of factors may restrict immune defence: old age, poor diet, exhaustive life style, mental or physical stress, sudden change in personal life, grief, exposure to UV irradiation, and possible insufficient exposure to microbial products that exercise the innate immune system in a natural manner. Furthermore the immune system of infants and school children may have not be fully developed.
Natural remedies to assist in fighting a virus:
COLLOIDAL SILVER used in modern supplements is a suspension of pure metallic silver in water. It is thought to work by interfering with the enzymes that enable viruses, bacteria and fungi to utilise oxygen – to put it simply, it suffocates them.
ZINC has been shown to be an effective treatment for the common cold.. Topical application of zinc has also been used to treat cold sores. The form of zinc used is important. The amount of zinc available to the body as Zn2+ ions from supplements is greatest with zinc acetate (almost 100 per cent) and zinc gluconate (about 30 per cent) but is almost zero with other forms of zinc such as citrate, orotate and picolinate.
ELDERBERRY: The common black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) appears to be particularly effective against the influenza virus. It showed a significant reduction in influenza symptoms after two days and complete recovery after three days. Elderberry extract is believed to act by binding to, and so disarming, the virus, by which it penetrates living cells. Flavonoids, including Quercetin, may also be involved in the therapeutic actions of elderberry according to other studies.
ECHINACEA: The herb echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) is known to support the immune system and may also have direct antiviral action. Preparations of echinacea roots and flowering parts have been shown in several clinical trials to be effective in reducing the severity and duration of symptoms in patients with common cold, upper respiratory tract infection and viral bronchitis symptoms
OLIVE LEAF leaves contain a bitter substance called oleuropein, one component of which, elenoic acid, has been identified as a potent inhibitor of a wide range of viruses.
GREEN TEA contains a group of flavonoids called catechins, which appear to inhibit viral infections by binding to the haemagglutinin of the influenza virus and so preventing the virus from entering the host cells.
LIQUORICE: Researchers showed that glycyrrhizin (from Liquorice) out-performed four drugs in inhibiting the SARS virus. Glycyrrhizin was found to reduce replication of the virus and to inhibit both the absorption of viruses on the outside of cells and their ability to penetrate cells. Entire liquorice extract (not de-glycyrrhizinated liquorice or DGL) may well be an effective treatment for other viral illnesses.
Vitamin D is a powerful natural anti-viral for colds and especially flu.Vitamin D activates the immune system by arming T-cells to fight off infections. Without vitamin D, the immune system’s T-cells remain dormant, offering little or no protection against invading microorganisms and viruses. Additionally, it boosts the activity of the dendritic cells4 (immune cells vital to viral recognition). Dendritic cells are vital in mounting an immune response against any viral infection including the flu.
Beta glucan has also been shown to increase the production of interferon5, which is required for a potent anti-viral defence. Beta glucan is also an excellent immune support nutrient. It is well known that dietary fibre has a favourable impact on the lymph tissue around the digestive tract. This type of fibre known as beta-1,3-glucan, has been through a number of studies7 leading researchers to conclude that it improves “the body’s immune system defence against foreign invaders by enhancing the ability of macrophages, neutrophils and natural killer cells to respond to and fight a wide range of challenges such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.”There is now evidence to show that glucan is, from an evolutionary point of view, the most widely and most commonly observed macrophage activator in nature.
The Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) is responsible for the disease known as Glandular Fever, ( known as “teenage kissing disease” )because this virus is present in their oral secretions. It is a member of the herpes family of viruses ,and has the same ability to remain dormant in the body long after the primary infection. It “hides” in both the salivary glands and the B cells of the immune system where, unless something has gone wrong, it can usually be kept in check by other cells of the immune system.
The disease can be a roller coaster- seeming to recover for it only to return. In some cases this disease can lead onto chronic fatigue and present a much more difficult road to recovery. It is conjectured that chronic fatigue occurs when the glandular fever is treated with antibiotics – and this is likely to be an inappropriate treatment as the disease is a virus.
Improvement can be made using any general antiviral herbal remedy or complex such Biostrath elixir. It is possible that the amino acid L-lysine may assist as it is appropriate for other Herpes viruses. As this virus tends to deplete energy and the nervous system then a Vitamin B complex is likely to help recovery.