Immune Boosting Treatments, Herbs and Supplements

The importance of strengthening the immune system is vital to avoid or successfully overcome this ongoing pandemic.

As the lockdown begins to ease, now is the most critical time to strengthen and support the immune system. In addition to the advice from the government on handwashing and hygiene, I have suggested things you can do to keep yourself healthy at this time.

Immune system’s role on your body

As you may know, your immune system is the natural’s defence of your organism. With its shield made of antibodies, germs, viruses, bacteria, and many other microorganisms can be effectively detained; but that can only happen if you already possess a strong immune system.
According to worldwide statistics, even though the Coronavirus has a lower death rate than other pandemics – 2.8% in comparison with SARS +11% and is no worse than seasonal flu for most,  it does represent a threat for those individuals whose suffer from a weakened immune system including elderly persons and those with underlying health conditions. Since the coronavirus has now been shown to often have lingering consequences– it is important for all of us to fortify our immune system to avoid any further complications (1).
However, appearing physically healthy does not necessarily mean having a strong immune system. Many scientific studies have shown that, even in first world countries with a strong public health system, their citizens may suffer from malnourishment as a consequence of poor dietary choices (2). 
There is much scientific evidence that micronutrient deficiency of several core vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, folic acid, selenium, copper, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E causes an alteration on your immune system response (3); You can improve your immune system with the inclusion of superfoods and macronutrients to your daily meals to correct any possible nutrient deficiencies.

Foods and nutrients to strengthen your immune system

As we pointed out before and many physicians will agree, the most effective way to strengthen your immune system is to protect it from environmental attacks and reinforce it by healthy-living strategies such as:

Boost the efficacy of your immune system by consuming foods such as garlic, citrus fruits, spinach, and broccoli

Add high-quality supplements to your daily diet whose content Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Zinc or Vitamin D

Reduce or eliminate the consumption of processed food or sugary snacks as well as alcohol and processed meat

Decrease your stress levels since chronic stress can cause the weakening of your immune system


Micronutrients necessary to fight coronavirus


It has been shown that a lack of vitamin D can cause a relapse of upper respiratory tract infections (4). Adding more vitamin D to your daily diet may decrease the chances of contracting influenza (5).  However, we cannot get enough vitamin D from diet alone. In Scotland absorbing enough vitamin D from the sun is not always possible. I would suggest a dosage of 3000 IU per day for adults during this time.


Niacin may help your immune system to fight severe infections such as HIV or tuberculosis. You can find vitamin B6 in these foods: eggs, spinach, sweetpotato, chicken and bananas.


This mineral can reduce the impact of flu on your body in the form of zinc acetate or zinc picolinate.
You can begin to take it at the time you feel sick with any of the flu or common cold symptoms, just make sure to take between 15mg to 23mg from 5 to 6 times a day as long as needed (6). You can also find zinc in these foods: mushrooms, pumpkin seeds and turkey.(7).

Vitamin C

Taking vitamin C can help you deal up with the symptoms of colds, flu, and even influenza. Make sure to take 1000 mg 3 times daily as long as you need or bring vitamin C foods into your diet such as kiwi fruit, tomato, broccoli, citrus fruit or sweet peppers. A large scale worldwide trial is currently running on more than 7000 Covid patients. It will be interesting to see the outcome of that.

Strong gut lining

Intestinal permeability, where the gut lining is damaged, is strongly associated withautoimmune disease and the development of inflammatory diseases. This can lead to an increase in inflammatory markers and weakened immunity. Bone broth has collagen and glycine which promotes tissue repair. You can also rely on your gut bacteria to do some of the repair work by providing them with fuel. Butyrate is essential for feeding the gut.  You can get butyrate from the fermentation of fibre, beans and legumes, but also ghee and butter.
As gluten is known to damage the gut lining, avoiding any foods containing gluten is important in maintaining the integrity of the gut lining.

Diversity of the gut microbiota

Microbial diversity in the gut is linked to stronger immunity.  This is because the microbes that inhabit our gut support our natural defence mechanisms. This is why a diverse diet that contains foods that support the good gut microbes, can boost immunity. 

Probiotic Foods

Foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, and fermented dairy are excellent for providing good bacteria like Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. Both bacteria have been shown to improve gut health and immunity; when their populations drop, it reduces an effective immune response. Be cautious though, if you have a condition called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), fermented foods may exacerbate your condition.
There are many studies showing that lactoferrin is active against viral infection. Lactoferrin is thought to protect the host from viral infections through inhibiting viruses from attaching to the cells. Lactoferrin is being researched as potent inhibitors of influenza and viral infections as they also induce the body’s macrophage activity, which are cells that actively kill infection.

Acupuncture for your immune system

As well as certain foods and supplements can enhance your immune system, some practices can make the trick.
That is the case of acupuncture, a millennial medical practice very common in eastern civilizations and very effective to control many health conditions such as joint pain, asthma, and allergies.
With the help of acupuncture therapy, you can reinforce your immune system by stimulating specific portions of your nervous system to create a positive response.
Acupuncture also lessens the gravity of colds, flu or respiratory infections as well as speeding up the healing process (8). You can use acupuncture as a side treatment along with vitamins and supplements to preventany respiratory tract infections.
Recently, doctors and specialists from China have successfully involved Traditional Chinese Medicine for Coronavirus treatment (9). However, the main function of acupuncture in the Coronavirus outbreak is to efficiently prevent a person from contracting it by stimulating the immune, digestive and breathing system for any environmental attacks (11).

When it is safe to do so, and with the guidance being developed around safe practice and PPE, acupuncture will in the future play a role in supporting immune system function. For now, our practices remain closed.


Autophagy(the clean-up system of the body)

The body can recognise damaged cells and viruses, and successfully remove them through a process called autophagy if it is correctly supported. Autophagy is triggered in response to infections, starvation and certain phytochemicals.  You can promote autophagy with positive stressors such as intermittent fasting and exercise. However, if you already have symptoms, avoid exercise.

Herbal Medicine

There is evidence that certain herbal preparations may be helpful. You would want to increase T and B cells (part of the immune system) and can do this using herbs such as glycyrizaglabra, sambucus nigra and ceananthus americanus, polygonum cuspidatum. My colleague, Jean Dow, has done extensive research into the coronavirus is currently extending her appointment times to help people that are concerned.
Remember that this virus may only be mild for most of us. We may now not be able to contain the spread of the virus, but improving your immune system response by eating well, supplementing with the right vitamins, and support of herbal remedies which can be used for activating or balance the immune system will help provide protection.


Ginde, A. &Mansbach, J. & Camargo, C. Jr. (2009). Association between serum25-hydroxyvitamin D level and upper respiratory tract infection in the ThirdNational Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Archives of Internal Medicine169 (4): 384–390. 30

5. Urashima, M. etal. (2010). Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonalinfluenza A in schoolchildren. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 91 (5):1255–1260

Eby III, G. (2010).Zinc lozenges as cure for the common cold–a review and hypothesis. MedicalHypotheses 74 (3): 482–492

Boon, A., et al. Invitro effect of bioactive compounds on influenza virus specific B- and T-cell responses.Scandinavian Journal of Immunology55 (2002): 24–32.