Beat Covid-19 now and next time: how to boost your immune system while calming your nervous system

Beat Covid-19

This blog offers tips on how to beat Covid-19, mentally and physically.

My 14 year old and 11 year old sons and their father all had Covid-19 in March (with coughing, fever and loss of taste), and tested positive for antibodies a few weeks later. I nursed my boys during their illness, but didn’t get sick, and tested negative for antibodies.

I can only assume that my immune system protected me (that and obsessive hand washing!). I had been doing a lot to build my immune system, as I was admittedly terrified of getting Covid-19.

My anxiety caused insomnia, so I had to get on top of my nervous system quickly too, in order to protect my immune system, as the two are linked.

Indeed, whatever we do to boost our immune system, can have a positive effect on our nervous system, and vice versa. There is a strong and complex link between our immune system, and our nervous system, as both are influenced by inflammatory processes, and both have their foundation in our guts.

My experience made me realise that while our circumstances are all very different —as a good meme on social media stated the other day— one thing we can try to do is increase our physical and emotional resilience to whatever storm comes our way.

Covid-19 is affecting some of us more negatively than others, economically, emotionally and physically.  Some of us have lost jobs and loved ones. Some of us have lost sleep and income. Some of us have lost peace of mind, hope and health. 

And yet some of us have gained in happiness and returned to a sense of self and truth; gained clarity and perspective on what we want to do and who we want to do it with, and on what is important and what is less so. Maybe we have enjoyed BEING more and DOING less, without the FOMO.

Some of us are resolved to hold onto the insights brought by lockdown, and determined NOT to return to “normal”, others are desperate to get back to “normal”.

Certainly, few of us have come out of this storm unchanged in some way. The question is, how lasting will this change be? 

Regardless of your situation, whatever challenges, changes and circumstances you face, it is essential to increase your resilience both mentally and physically. This is true of life in general, but particularly when we are faced with a life-threatening situation, whether from the virus itself, or from its economic, social and psychological fallout.

After all, we are told that the virus may return with a vengeance this winter, and lock us all down again, with no guarantee of a successful vaccine, or clear treatment protocols. The shelf life for these coronaviruses is apparently two years (according to Zach Bush, MD in an interview with Del Bigtree, 8th May 2020 So we have another 18 months to go.

And if it’s not this virus, it may be a mutated version of it, or a different virus. Given the fragility of our ecosystems — both that of the external world (made more fragile by air, soil and water pollution, climate change, deforestation, etc.) and that of our internal worlds (made more fragile by the toxins in our food, air, water, by the assault of chronic stress, by the destruction of our microbiome through stress, poor diet, and pharmaceuticals such as antibiotics, NSAIDs and the contraceptive pill, etc.) — it is likely that pandemics such as this one will become more common.

First, we have to stay physically strong and boost our immune system to make sure we don’t catch Covid-19, and if we do, that we have a mild case, not requiring hospitalisation. 

Second, the combination of enforced isolation with fear (news of death by Covid-19, health systems being overwhelmed, economic recession), is a heady mix for even the most robust nervous system, and our mental health requires extra care at this time.  

Below I list tips to increase your immune and nervous system resilience, many of which you should incorporate into your daily habits over the long term.

Boost your immune system while improving your nervous system to beat Covid-19

We may or may not be able to avoid the virus, but what we can do is make sure that if we get it, our body is primed to fight it so that we have mild symptoms rather than bad ones.

And making sure our nervous system is resilient will also help our immune system.

Sleep better

Get 8 hours of high quality sleep every night, which is very healing to your immune system, as well as your nervous system.

Read more about how to improve your sleep.

Eat and drink better

Eat a balanced, whole foods diet, with the right nutrients, focussing on anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant foods, and prioritising gut health, as this will greatly enhance your immune and nervous systems.

  • Focus on whole foods rather than processed ones
  • Avoid sugar as it can feed the virus and increase inflammation
  • Focus on plant foods (vegetables, fruits, spices, herbs, teas, etc…) which contain phytonutrients which have anti-viral, anti-bacterial properties
  • Make sure to get sufficient protein, as amino acids are essential building blocks for the immune system
  • Make sure to watch your body mass index (BMI), as people who are obese are at greater risk of severe illness and death David A. Kass, Priya Duggal,  Oscar Cingolani, Obesity could shift severity of Covid to younger ages, The Lancet, volume 395, Issue 10236, p1544-1545, May 16 2020
  • Reduce your consumption of alcohol, which can be an immunosuppressant
  • Drink lots of water and stay hydrated, which will ensure better detoxification from viruses etc.
  • Focus on anti-oxidant, anti-viral and immune boosting foods, herbs and spices — garlic, ginger, turmeric, dill, red onions, olives and olive oil, oregano, broccoli, rosemary, etc…

Read more about how to improve your nutrition and supplement.

Read more about how to eat anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant foods.

Read more about how to eat and supplement to heal your gut.

Read more about the effects of BMI on your mental health

Heal your gut, the foundation of your immune and nervous systems

60% to 80% of your immunity comes from your gut. And the health of your nervous system is also greatly affected by the health of your gut.

  • Poor digestion can prevent the absorption of key immune boosting nutrients such as vitamin C, A, D, zinc, etc…
  • Poor gut health can lead to systemic inflammation which can weaken your immune system and your nervous system
  • The health of your microbiome is crucial to the health of your mucosal passages (nose, throat, gut, etc…)
  • High fibre foods (eg: chia, ground flax, whole grains, vegetables, seaweed, artichokes, etc… ) and fermented foods (eg: sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, kombucha) all feed the good bacteria needed for gut health

Read more about how to heal your gut. 

Add key supplements to boost your immune system while regulating your nervous system

There are many vitamins, minerals and herbs which can be particularly helpful in boosting our immune system (while also strengthening our nervous system).

It is worth noting that there is a lively debate online and in the scientific and medical communities about the effectiveness, advisability, and recommended quantities of supplementing, often driven by commercial imperatives one way or the other. I firmly believe, however, that supplements have helped me boost my immunity and increase the resilience of my nervous system.

Always work with a qualified health practitioner when choosing supplements and their dosages.

Vitamins to help beat Covid-19 and other viruses

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a key vitamin for boosting the immune system. There is some information on social media which implies that vitamin C being effective against Covid-19 is fake news. And yet there seems to be very compelling evidence to back it up, the latest of which has been compiled here:

Furthermore, vitamin C can help to reduce anxiety, depression, and calm the nervous system.Oliveira, I., de Souza, V., Motta, V. and Da-Silva, S., 2015. Effects of Oral Vitamin C Supplementation on Anxiety in Students: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences, [online] 18(1), pp.11-18. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 May 2020].,Gautam, M., Agrawal, M., Gautam, M., Sharma, P., Gautam, A. and Gautam, S., 2012. Role of antioxidants in generalised anxiety disorder and depression. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, [online] 54(3), p.244. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 May 2020].

Food sources: citrus, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, spinach, kiwis, plant foods.

Supplementation: 2g to 5g a day for prevention. The nutritionist Patrick Holford advises to take 1g an hour if you get sick, up to bowel tolerance, until your symptoms lessen.Patrick Holford, 2020 Flu Fighters: How to win the cold war by boosting your immunity with non-toxic nutrients (Holford Press).

Vitamin A

Vitamin A can help to boost the immune system.Huang, Z., Liu, Y., Qi, G., Brand, D. and Zheng, S., 2018. Role of Vitamin A in the Immune System. Journal of Clinical Medicine, [online] 7(9), p.258. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 May 2020].,Mora, J., Iwata, M. and von Andrian, U., 2008. Vitamin effects on the immune system: vitamins A and D take centre stage. Nature Reviews Immunology, [online] 8(9), pp.685-698. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 May 2020].,Villamor, E. and Fawzi, W., 2005. Effects of Vitamin A Supplementation on Immune Responses and Correlation with Clinical Outcomes. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, [online] 18(3), pp.446-464. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 May 2020].

It can also help to reduce anxiety and depression and calm the nervous system.Gautam, M., Agrawal, M., Gautam, M., Sharma, P., Gautam, A. and Gautam, S., 2012. Role of antioxidants in generalised anxiety disorder and depression. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, [online] 54(3), p.244. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 May 2020].

Food sources: liver, eggs, fish, animal proteins

Supplementation: 10,000iu a day for a few weeks, but should not be continued long term as it can accumulate and become toxic. Should not be taken if pregnant.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D has a lot of research to back up its immune boosting properties.Aranow, C., 2011. Vitamin D and the Immune System. Journal of Investigative Medicine, [online] 59(6), pp.881-886. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 May 2020].,Prietl, B., Treiber, G., Pieber, T. and Amrein, K., 2013. Vitamin D and Immune Function. Nutrients, [online] 5(7), pp.2502-2521. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 May 2020].,Mora, J., Iwata, M. and von Andrian, U., 2008. Vitamin effects on the immune system: vitamins A and D take centre stage. Nature Reviews Immunology, [online] 8(9), pp.685-698. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 May 2020].

It also can help stabilise moods, depression and anxietyAmani, R., Fazelian, S., Paknahad, Z., Kheiri, S. and Khajehali, L., 2019. Effect of Vitamin D supplement on mood status and inflammation in Vitamin D deficient Type 2 diabetic women with anxiety: A randomized clinical trial. International Journal of Preventive Medicine, [online] 10(1), p.17. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Penckofer, S., Kouba, J., Byrn, M. and Estwing Ferrans, C., 2010. Vitamin D and Depression: Where is all the Sunshine?. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, [online] 31(6), pp.385-393. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020]., possibly due to its anti-inflammatory effects, but also its importance for serotonin.Sabir, M., Haussler, M., Mallick, S., Kaneko, I., Lucas, D., Haussler, C., Whitfield, G. and Jurutka, P., 2018. Optimal vitamin D spurs serotonin: 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D represses serotonin reuptake transport (SERT) and degradation (MAO-A) gene expression in cultured rat serotonergic neuronal cell lines. Genes & Nutrition, [online] 13(1), p.19. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].

Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D. In the diet, vitamin D can be found mainly in eggs and oily fish.

Supplementation: from 1000iu to 10000iu a day (it is best to get blood levels checked to make sure you are not taking too much, but generally, we tend to be deficient in our Western societies).

Minerals to help beat Covid-19 and other viruses


Zinc is an essential mineral for immune function.Prasad, A., 2008. Zinc in Human Health: Effect of Zinc on Immune Cells. Molecular Medicine, [online] 14(5-6), pp.353-357. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 May 2020].,Maares, M. and Haase, H., 2016. Zinc and immunity: An essential interrelation. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, [online] 611, pp.58-65. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 May 2020].

It can also help reduce levels of anxiety, especially in the presence of a copper/zinc imbalance.Russo, A., 2011. Decreased Zinc and Increased Copper in Individuals with Anxiety. Nutrition and Metabolic Insights, [online] 4, pp.1-5. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].

Food sources: oysters, seafood, animal proteins, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds.

Supplementation: 30mg at night.


An important trace mineral for the immune system.Avery, J. and Hoffmann, P., 2018. Selenium, Selenoproteins, and Immunity. Nutrients, [online] 10(9), p.1203. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 May 2020].,Hoffmann, P. and Berry, M., 2008. The influence of selenium on immune responses. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, [online] 52(11), pp.1273-1280. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 May 2020].,Nkengfack G., Englert H., Haddadi M. (2019) Selenium and Immunity. In: Mahmoudi M., Rezaei N. (eds) Nutrition and Immunity. Springer, Cham. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 May 2020].,Gill, H. and Walker, G., 2008. Selenium, immune function and resistance to viral infections. Nutrition & Dietetics, [online] 65, pp.S41-S47. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 May 2020].

Found sources include fish, eggs, meat, grains, and in particular, brazil nuts.

Supplementation: 100 to 200mcg a day.


May help calm the nervous system, as well as potentially having a beneficial impact on the immune system.Tam, M., Gómez, S., González-Gross, M. and Marcos, A., 2003. Possible roles of magnesium on the immune system. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, [online] 57(10), pp.1193-1197. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 May 2020].,Boyle, N., Lawton, C. and Dye, L., 2017. The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress—A Systematic Review. Nutrients, [online] 9(5), p.429. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 May 2020].

Supplementation: 400mg up to 1000mg a day.

Immune boosting and anti-viral herbs and spices to help beat Covid-19 and other viruses

Evidence around the effectiveness of these herbs and spices is not always easy to get hold of, and you should always work with a qualified herbalist before taking any of these remedies.

A good source of information on herbs is Stephen Buhner’s “Herbal Anti-Virals: Natural Remedies for Emerging and Resistant Viral Infections”. He also has put together an anti Covid-19 bundle of herbs (CVS1) which you can find online.

Cistus icanus

Has been shown to have anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and can be helpful in teas and tinctures to fight infections.Kalus, U., Grigorov, A., Kadecki, O., Jansen, J., Kiesewetter, H. and Radtke, H., 2009. Cistus incanus (CYSTUS052) for treating patients with infection of the upper respiratory tract. Antiviral Research, [online] 84(3), pp.267-271. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Wittpahl, G., Kölling-Speer, I., Basche, S., Herrmann, E., Hannig, M., Speer, K. and Hannig, C., 2015. The Polyphenolic Composition of Cistus incanus Herbal Tea and Its Antibacterial and Anti-adherent Activity against Streptococcus mutans. Planta Medica, [online] 81(18), pp.1727-1735. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Rebensburg, S., Helfer, M., Schneider, M., Koppensteiner, H., Eberle, J., Schindler, M., Gürtler, L. and Brack-Werner, R., 2016. Potent in vitro antiviral activity of Cistus incanus extract against HIV and Filoviruses targets viral envelope proteins. Scientific Reports, [online] 6(1). Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Ehrhardt, C., Hrincius, E., Korte, V., Mazur, I., Droebner, K., Poetter, A., Dreschers, S., Schmolke, M., Planz, O. and Ludwig, S., 2007. A polyphenol rich plant extract, CYSTUS052, exerts anti influenza virus activity in cell culture without toxic side effects or the tendency to induce viral resistance. Antiviral Research, [online] 76(1), pp.38-47. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Droebner, K., Ehrhardt, C., Poetter, A., Ludwig, S. and Planz, O., 2007. CYSTUS052, a polyphenol-rich plant extract, exerts anti-influenza virus activity in mice. Antiviral Research, [online] 76(1), pp.1-10. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen – German Research Centre for Environmental Health. “Cell culture experiments reveal potent antiviral activity of Cistus incanus extracts against HIV and Ebola.” ScienceDaily, 2 February 2016. <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].

You can re-brew the tea several times, as each time the tea’s healing properties become more potent.


Has been shown to have immune-modulating and anti-viral properties.Qin, Q., Niu, J., Wang, Z., Xu, W., Qiao, Z. and Gu, Y., 2012. Astragalus membranaceus Extract Activates Immune Response in Macrophages via Heparanase. Molecules, [online] 17(6), pp.7232-7240. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Khan, H.M., Raza, S.M., Anjum, A.A., Ali, M.A., 2019. Antiviral, embryo toxic and cytotoxic activities of Astragalus membranaceus root extracts. Pak J Pharm, 32(1), pp.137‐142. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].


Has been shown to have some anti-viral properties.Cecil, C., Davis, J., Cech, N. and Laster, S., 2011. Inhibition of H1N1 influenza A virus growth and induction of inflammatory mediators by the isoquinoline alkaloid berberine and extracts of goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). International Immunopharmacology, [online] 11(11), pp.1706-1714. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Botwina, P., Owczarek, K., Rajfur, Z., Ochman, M., Urlik, M., Nowakowska, M., Szczubiałka, K. and Pyrc, K., 2020. Berberine Hampers Influenza A Replication through Inhibition of MAPK/ERK Pathway. Viruses, [online] 12(3), p.344. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].


Has been shown to have anti-microbial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.Okhuarobo, A., Ehizogie Falodun, J., Erharuyi, O., Imieje, V., Falodun, A. and Langer, P., 2014. Harnessing the medicinal properties of Andrographis paniculata for diseases and beyond: a review of its phytochemistry and pharmacology. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease, [online] 4(3), pp.213-222. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Jayakumar, T., Hsieh, C., Lee, J. and Sheu, J., 2013. Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology of Andrographis paniculata and Its Major Bioactive Phytoconstituent Andrographolide. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, [online] 2013, pp.1-16. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Gupta, S., Mishra, K. and Ganju, L., 2016. Broad-spectrum antiviral properties of andrographolide. Archives of Virology, [online] 162(3), pp.611-623. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Churiyah, Pongtuluran, O., Rofaani, E. and Tarwadi, 2015. Antiviral and Immunostimulant Activities of Andrographis paniculata. HAYATI Journal of Biosciences, [online] 22(2), pp.67-72. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].

Stinging nettles

Have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-microbial properties.Johnson, T., Sohn, J., Inman, W., Bjeldanes, L. and Rayburn, K., 2013. Lipophilic stinging nettle extracts possess potent anti-inflammatory activity, are not cytotoxic and may be superior to traditional tinctures for treating inflammatory disorders. Phytomedicine, [online] 20(2), pp.143-147. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Kumaki, Y., Wandersee, M., Bailey, K., Smith, A., Day, C., Madson, J., Smee, D. and Barnard, D., 2010. Inhibition of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Replication in a Lethal SARS-Cov Balb/C Mouse Model by Stinging Nettle Lectin, Urtica Dioica Agglutinin (UDA). Antiviral Research, [online] 86(1), p.A36. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Kregiel, D., Pawlikowska, E. and Antolak, H., 2018. Urtica spp.: Ordinary Plants with Extraordinary Properties. Molecules, [online] 23(7), p.1664. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].


Has been shown to have anti-viral, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties.Praditya, D., Kirchhoff, L., Brüning, J., Rachmawati, H., Steinmann, J. and Steinmann, E., 2019. Anti-infective Properties of the Golden Spice Curcumin. Frontiers in Microbiology, [online] 10, p.912. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Zorofchian Moghadamtousi, S., Abdul Kadir, H., Hassandarvish, P., Tajik, H., Abubakar, S. and Zandi, K., 2014. A Review on Antibacterial, Antiviral, and Antifungal Activity of Curcumin. BioMed Research International, [online] 2014, pp.1-12. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Gautam, S.C., Gao, X., Dulchavsky, S., 2007. Immunomodulation by curcumin. Adv Exp Med Biol., 595, pp.321‐341. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Jagetia, G. and Aggarwal, B., 2007. “Spicing Up” of the Immune System by Curcumin. Journal of Clinical Immunology, [online] 27(1), pp.19-35. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Abdollahi, E., Momtazi, A., Johnston, T. and Sahebkar, A., 2017. Therapeutic effects of curcumin in inflammatory and immune-mediated diseases: A nature-made jack-of-all-trades?. Journal of Cellular Physiology, [online] 233(2), pp.830-848. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].


Has been shown to have some anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties.Mashhadi, N. S., Ghiasvand, R., Askari, G., Hariri, M., Darvishi, L., & Mofid, M. R., 2013. Anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of ginger in health and physical activity: review of current evidence. International journal of preventive medicine4(Suppl 1), S36–S42. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Bode AM, Dong Z. The Amazing and Mighty Ginger. In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. Chapter 7. Available from:,Chang, J., Wang, K., Yeh, C., Shieh, D. and Chiang, L., 2013. Fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) has anti-viral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, [online] 145(1), pp.146-151. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Rasool, A., Khan, M.U., Ali, M.A., et al., 2017. Anti-avian influenza virus H9N2 activity of aqueous extracts of Zingiber officinalis (Ginger) and Allium sativum (Garlic) in chick embryos. Pak J Pharm Sci, 30(4), pp.1341‐1344. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].

Other potential immune boosting supplements to help beat Covid-19 and other viruses

Alpha-lipoic acid

Has been shown to have anti-oxidant, immune modulating and anti-viral properties.Li, Y., Ma, Q., Zhao, L., Wei, H., Duan, G., Zhang, J. and Ji, C., 2014. Effects of Lipoic Acid on Immune Function, the Antioxidant Defense System, and Inflammation-Related Genes Expression of Broiler Chickens Fed Aflatoxin Contaminated Diets. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, [online] 15(4), pp.5649-5662. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Liu, W., Shi, L. and Li, S., 2019. The Immunomodulatory Effect of Alpha-Lipoic Acid in Autoimmune Diseases. BioMed Research International, [online] 2019, pp.1-11. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Baur, A., Harrer, T., Peukert, M., Jahn, G., Kalden, J. and Fleckenstein, B., 1991. Alpha-lipoic acid is an effective inhibitor of human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV-1) replication. Klinische Wochenschrift, [online] 69(15), pp.722-724. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Spisakova, M., Cizek, Z. and Melkova, Z., 2009. Ethacrynic and α-lipoic acids inhibit vaccinia virus late gene expression. Antiviral Research, [online] 81(2), pp.156-165. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].

Supplementation: 100mg 2x a day


Has been shown to have anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, immune-modulating and anti-oxidant propertiesZhang, R., Wang, X., Ni, L., Di, X., Ma, B., Niu, S., Liu, C. and Reiter, R., 2020. COVID-19: Melatonin as a potential adjuvant treatment. Life Sciences, [online] 250, p.117583. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Silvestri, M. and Rossi, G., 2013. Melatonin: its possible role in the management of viral infections-a brief review. Italian Journal of Pediatrics, [online] 39(1), p.61. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Srinivasan, V., Mohamed, M. and Kato, H., 2012. Melatonin in Bacterial and Viral Infections with Focus on Sepsis: A Review. Recent Patents on Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Drug Discovery, [online] 6(1), pp.30-39. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Huang, S., Liao, C., Chen, S., Shi, L., Lin, L., Chen, Y., Cheng, C., Sytwu, H., Shang, S. and Lin, G., 2019. Melatonin possesses an anti-influenza potential through its immune modulatory effect. Journal of Functional Foods, [online] 58, pp.189-198. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Srinivasan, V., Maestroni, G.J., Cardinali, D.P., Esquifino, A.I., Perumal, S.R., Miller, S.C., 2005. Melatonin, immune function and aging. Immun Ageing, 2, p.17. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Carrillo-Vico, A., Lardone, P., Álvarez-Sánchez, N., Rodríguez-Rodríguez, A. and Guerrero, J., 2013. Melatonin: Buffering the Immune System. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, [online] 14(4), pp.8638-8683. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020]., and it is being studied in particular in relation to Covid-19.Anderson, G. and Reiter, R., 2020. Melatonin: Roles in influenza, Covid‐19, and other viral infections. Reviews in Medical Virology, [online] 30(3). Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,

The artificial light from screens at night can suppress your melatonin, so make sure you switch off your screens before 10pm, and use blue-light blocking devices such as software and glasses.

Supplementation: 1mg-5mg a day for prevention.


NAC (N-Acetyl Cystein) has been shown to have some anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, especially in respiratory viruses (though evidence is mixed regarding Covid-19 in particular).Geiler, J., Michaelis, M., Naczk, P., Leutz, A., Langer, K., Doerr, H. and Cinatl, J., 2010. N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC) inhibits virus replication and expression of pro-inflammatory molecules in A549 cells infected with highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza A virus. Biochemical Pharmacology, [online] 79(3), pp.413-420. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Casanova, T. and Garigliany, M., 2016. N-acetylcysteine: an old drug with variable Anti-influenza properties. Journal of Controversies in Biomedical Research, [online] 2(1), p.1. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Van Hecke, O. and Lee, J., 2020. N-Acetylcysteine: A Rapid Review Of The Evidence For Effectiveness In Treating COVID-19 – CEBM. [online] CEBM. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Zhang, Q., Ju, Y., Ma, Y. and Wang, T., 2018. N-acetylcysteine improves oxidative stress and inflammatory response in patients with community acquired pneumonia. Medicine, [online] 97(45), p.e13087. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].,Dekhuijzen, P. and van Beurden, W., 2006. The role for N-acetylcysteine in the management of COPD. International Journal of COPD, [online] 1(2), pp.99-106. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2020].

The precursor to glutathione, which is an essential anti-oxidant, and excellent for detoxification but also very lung protective.

Supplementation: 600 to 900mg a day on an empty stomach, 2x a day.


Has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and immune boosting properties.Li, Y., Yao, J., Han, C., Yang, J., Chaudhry, M., Wang, S., Liu, H. and Yin, Y., 2016. Quercetin, Inflammation and Immunity. Nutrients, [online] 8(3), p.167. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 May 2020].,Mlcek, J., Jurikova, T., Skrovankova, S. and Sochor, J., 2016. Quercetin and Its Anti-Allergic Immune Response. Molecules, [online] 21(5), p.623. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].,Boots, A., Wilms, L., Swennen, E., Kleinjans, J., Bast, A. and Haenen, G., 2008. In vitro and ex vivo anti-inflammatory activity of quercetin in healthy volunteers. Nutrition, [online] 24(7-8), pp.703-710. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].

A possible mechanism through which quercetin exerts its anti-inflammatory and immune modulating effects is through its beneficial effect on gut microbiota and intestinal permeability (which in turn will help the nervous system as shown in heal your gut).Lin, R., Piao, M. and Song, Y., 2019. Dietary Quercetin Increases Colonic Microbial Diversity and Attenuates Colitis Severity in Citrobacter rodentium-Infected Mice. Frontiers in Microbiology, [online] 10, p.1092. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].,Suzuki, T. and Hara, H., 2011. Role of flavonoids in intestinal tight junction regulation. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, [online] 22(5), pp.401-408. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].,Suzuki, T. and Hara, H., 2009. Quercetin Enhances Intestinal Barrier Function through the Assembly of Zonnula Occludens-2, Occludin, and Claudin-1 and the Expression of Claudin-4 in Caco-2 Cells. The Journal of Nutrition, [online] 139(5), pp.965-974. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].,Zou, Y., Wei, H., Xiang, Q., Wang, J., Zhou, Y. and Peng, J., 2016. Protective effect of quercetin on pig intestinal integrity after transport stress is associated with regulation oxidative status and inflammation. Journal of Veterinary Medical Science, [online] 78(9), pp.1487-1494. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].

Supplementation: up to 1000mg twice a day.


Contains immunoglobulins which have been shown to have anti-viral, anti-bacterial, gut repairing and immune boosting properties.Ulfman, L., Leusen, J., Savelkoul, H., Warner, J. and van Neerven, R., 2018. Effects of Bovine Immunoglobulins on Immune Function, Allergy, and Infection. Frontiers in Nutrition, [online] 5, p.52. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].,Uruakpa, F., Ismond, M. and Akobundu, E., 2002. Colostrum and its benefits: a review. Nutrition Research, [online] 22(6), pp.755-767. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].,Ng, W., Wong, V., Muller, B., Rawlin, G. and Brown, L., 2010. Prevention and Treatment of Influenza with Hyperimmune Bovine Colostrum Antibody. PLoS ONE, [online] 5(10), p.e13622. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].,Benson, K., Carter, S., Patterson, K., Patel, D. and Jensen, G., 2012. A novel extract from bovine colostrum whey supports anti-bacterial and anti-viral innate immune functions in vitro and in vivo. Preventive Medicine, [online] 54, pp.S116-S123. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].,Cesarone, M., Belcaro, G., Di Renzo, A., Dugall, M., Cacchio, M., Ruffini, I., Pellegrini, L., Del Boccio, G., Fano, F., Ledda, A., Bottari, A., Ricci, A., Stuard, S. and Vinciguerra, G., 2007. Prevention of Influenza Episodes With Colostrum Compared With Vaccination in Healthy and High-Risk Cardiovascular Subjects. Clinical and Applied Thrombosis/Hemostasis, [online] 13(2), pp.130-136. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].

Fish oil

Has been shown to have immune modulating and anti-inflammatory properties.Gutiérrez, S., Svahn, S.L., Johansson, M.E., 2019. Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Immune Cells. Int J Mol Sci. 20(20), p.5028. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].,Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. “Nothing fishy about it: Fish oil can boost the immune system.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 April 2013. <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].,Barber, M., Fearon, K. and Ross, J., 2005. Eicosapentaenoic acid modulates the immune response but has no effect on a mimic of antigen-specific responses. Nutrition, [online] 21(5), pp.588-593. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].,Paixão, E., Oliveira, A., Pizato, N., Muniz-Junqueira, M., Magalhães, K., Nakano, E. and Ito, M., 2017. The effects of EPA and DHA enriched fish oil on nutritional and immunological markers of treatment naïve breast cancer patients: a randomized double-blind controlled trial. Nutrition Journal, [online] 16(1). Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].

Omega 3s have also been shown to play a beneficial role in mood disorders.David Mischoulon, P., 2018. Omega-3 Fatty Acids For Mood Disorders – Harvard Health Blog. [online] Harvard Health Blog. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].

Supplementation: 1g to 3g a day


Has been shown to have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.Golechha, M., Sarangal, V., Ojha, S., Bhatia, J. and Arya, D., 2014. Anti-Inflammatory Effect of Emblica officinalis in Rodent Models of Acute and Chronic Inflammation: Involvement of Possible Mechanisms. International Journal of Inflammation, [online] 2014, pp.1-6. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].,Singh, M., Yadav, S., Gupta, V. and Khattri, S., 2013. Immunomodulatory role of Emblica officinalis in arsenic induced oxidative damage and apoptosis in thymocytes of mice. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, [online] 13(1), p.193. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].,Usharani, P., Merugu, P. and Nutalapati, C., 2019. Evaluation of the effects of a standardized aqueous extract of Phyllanthus emblica fruits on endothelial dysfunction, oxidative stress, systemic inflammation and lipid profile in subjects with metabolic syndrome: a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled clinical study. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, [online] 19(1). Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].,Baliga, M. and Dsouza, J., 2011. Amla (Emblica officinalis Gaertn), a wonder berry in the treatment and prevention of cancer. European Journal of Cancer Prevention, [online] 20(3), pp.225-239. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].,Packirisamy, R., Bobby, Z., Panneerselvam, S., Koshy, S. and Jacob, S., 2018. Metabolomic Analysis and Antioxidant Effect of Amla (Emblica officinalis) Extract in Preventing Oxidative Stress-Induced Red Cell Damage and Plasma Protein Alterations: An In Vitro Study. Journal of Medicinal Food, [online] 21(1), pp.81-89. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].,Ash, M., 2020. Amla: An Ancient Super Berry Emerges From India | Clinical Education. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].


Has been shown to have immune-boosting, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.Wu, Q., Liu, L., Miron, A., Klímová, B., Wan, D. and Kuča, K., 2016. The antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and anti-inflammatory activities of Spirulina: an overview. Archives of Toxicology, [online] 90(8), pp.1817-1840. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].,Selmi, C., Leung, P., Fischer, L., German, B., Yang, C., Kenny, T., Cysewski, G. and Gershwin, M., 2011. The effects of Spirulina on anemia and immune function in senior citizens. Cellular & Molecular Immunology, [online] 8(3), pp.248-254. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].,Deng, R. and Chow, T., 2010. Hypolipidemic, Antioxidant, and Antiinflammatory Activities of Microalgae Spirulina. Cardiovascular Therapeutics, [online] 28(4), pp.e33-e45. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].,Pham, T. and Lee, J., 2016. Anti-Inflammatory Effect of Spirulina platensis in Macrophages Is Beneficial for Adipocyte Differentiation and Maturation by Inhibiting Nuclear Factor-κB Pathway in 3T3-L1 Adipocytes. Journal of Medicinal Food, [online] 19(6), pp.535-542. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].


Olives and olive oil contain oleuropein which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-oxidant properties.Haris Omar, S., 2010. Oleuropein in Olive and its Pharmacological Effects. Scientia Pharmaceutica, [online] 78(2), pp.133-154. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].,Sun, W., Frost, B. and Liu, J., 2017. Oleuropein, unexpected benefits!. Oncotarget, [online] 8(11), pp.17409-17409. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2020].,Qabaha, K., AL-Rimawi, F., Qasem, A. and Naser, S., 2018. Oleuropein Is Responsible for the Major Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Olive Leaf Extract. Journal of Medicinal Food, [online] 21(3), pp.302-305. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2020].,Barbaro, B., Toietta, G., Maggio, R., Arciello, M., Tarocchi, M., Galli, A. and Balsano, C., 2014. Effects of the Olive-Derived Polyphenol Oleuropein on Human Health. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, [online] 15(10), pp.18508-18524. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2020].,Vezza, T., Algieri, F., Rodríguez-Nogales, A., Garrido-Mesa, J., Utrilla, M., Talhaoui, N., Gómez-Caravaca, A., Segura-Carretero, A., Rodríguez-Cabezas, M., Monteleone, G. and Gálvez, J., 2017. Immunomodulatory properties of Olea europaea leaf extract in intestinal inflammation. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, [online] 61(10), p.1601066. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2020].

Medicinal mushrooms (reishi, cordyceps, maitake, shitake, lion’s mane, etc…)

Have been shown to have immune boosting, immune modulating properties.Lull, C., Wichers, H. and Savelkoul, H., 2005. Antiinflammatory and Immunomodulating Properties of Fungal Metabolites. Mediators of Inflammation, [online] 2005(2), pp.63-80. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2020].,Lindequist, U., Niedermeyer, T. and Jülich, W., 2005. The Pharmacological Potential of Mushrooms. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, [online] 2(3), pp.285-299. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2020].,Linnakoski, R., Reshamwala, D., Veteli, P., Cortina-Escribano, M., Vanhanen, H. and Marjomäki, V., 2018. Antiviral Agents From Fungi: Diversity, Mechanisms and Potential Applications. Frontiers in Microbiology, [online] 9(2325). Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2020].,Guggenheim, A.G., Wright, K.M., Zwickey, H.L., 2014. Immune Modulation From Five Major Mushrooms: Application to Integrative Oncology. Integr Med,13(1), pp.32‐44. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2020].,Blagodatski, A., Yatsunskaya, M., Mikhailova, V., Tiasto, V., Kagansky, A. and Katanaev, V., 2018. Medicinal mushrooms as an attractive new source of natural compounds for future cancer therapy. Oncotarget, [online] 9(49), pp.29259-29274. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2020].


A healthy gut is essential for a healthy immune system (and nervous system, as we have shown here).

Broad spectrum probiotics can be a useful complementary treatment to boost and modulate the immune system, and also have been shown to have a positive impact on the nervous system.Yan, F. and Polk, D., 2011. Probiotics and immune health. Current Opinion in Gastroenterology, [online] 27(6), pp.496-501. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2020].,Georgieva, M., Georgiev, K. and Dobromirov, P., 2015. Probiotics and Immunity, Immunopathology and Immunomodulation, Krassimir Metodiev, IntechOpen. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2020].,Maldonado Galdeano, C., Cazorla, S., Lemme Dumit, J., Vélez, E. and Perdigón, G., 2019. Beneficial Effects of Probiotic Consumption on the Immune System. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, [online] 74(2), pp.115-124. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2020].,Yousefi, B., Eslami, M., Ghasemian, A., Kokhaei, P., Salek Farrokhi, A. and Darabi, N., 2018. Probiotics importance and their immunomodulatory properties. Journal of Cellular Physiology, [online] 234(6), pp.8008-8018. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2020].,Llewellyn, A. and Foey, A., 2017. Probiotic Modulation of Innate Cell Pathogen Sensing and Signaling Events. Nutrients, [online] 9(10), p.1156. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2020].,Wang, H., Lee, I., Braun, C. and Enck, P., 2016. Effect of Probiotics on Central Nervous System Functions in Animals and Humans: A Systematic Review. Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, [online] 22(4), pp.589-605. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2020].,Ma, Q., Xing, C., Long, W., Wang, H., Liu, Q. and Wang, R., 2019. Impact of microbiota on central nervous system and neurological diseases: the gut-brain axis. Journal of Neuroinflammation, [online] 16(1). Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2020].,Huang, R., Ning, H., Yang, L., Jia, C., Yang, F., Xu, G. and Tan, H., 2017. Efficacy of Probiotics on Anxiety: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Neuropsychiatry, [online] 07(06), pp.862-871. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2020].,Slyepchenko, A., Carvalho, A., Cha, D., Kasper, S. and McIntyre, R., 2015. Gut Emotions – Mechanisms of Action of Probiotics as Novel Therapeutic Targets for Depression and Anxiety Disorders. CNS & Neurological Disorders – Drug Targets, [online] 13(10), pp.1770-1786. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2020].

Further information on supplementation to beat Covid-19

IFM (The Institute of Functional Medicine) A functional medicine approach to covid-19:

Kat Toups, MD:

Peter Bongiorno, ND:

Cari Green, MD and Michael Greve:

Joseph Mercola, DO:

Patrick Holford:

Dr. Mark Hyman, Doctor’s Farmacy, special episode on Covid-19

Stephen Buhner:


Balanced, adaptive exercise is anti-inflammatory, and boosts the production of virus killing T-cells.

Moderate exercise boosts your immune system. Strenuous exercise (high intensity, above 45 minutes) however, can weaken your immune system, and increase susceptibility to viral illness. Here is a good overview of Covid-19 for athletes.

Read more about how to exercise right. 


Stress, especially chronic stress, can lower our immune system, increase inflammation, and reduce the production of T-cells and other white blood cells which kill viruses.

Focus on relaxing practices such as hot baths, yoga, meditation, naps, massage, gardening. Limit your consumption of news. Watch funny movies and laugh a lot.

Read more about how to practice relaxation. 

Dose up on nature and natural light

Natural light and nature are healing to the nervous system, as they balance our circadian rhythms and hormones and boost our parasympathetic nervous system.

Getting a brisk walk in nature is a great way to get some exercise while balancing our nervous system, which can in turn boost our immune systems.

Read more about the importance of nature and natural light. 


Meditation can help to quieten and still our minds, give us a wider perspective, and improve our sleep, all of which will positively impact our nervous and immune systems.

Read more about how to meditate.


Practicing breathing exercises can be helpful not just for calming the nervous system, but also to condition the lungs so that they are flexible and non-fibrous, and more resilient to lung infections which can accompany Covid-19.

Any of the breathing exercises described in the breathing section below can help tone and condition the lungs, while also relaxing the nervous system. Practice daily for best results.

Read more about how to breathe better. 

Learn how to breathe better for Covid-19 prevention in my interview with Yulli Tamayo Myerson.

Use essential oils

Certain essential oils can be helpful for breathing and also to boost the immune system. These can be used topically, in inhalation, or in a diffuser.

However always work with a qualified essential oil expert, to ensure you are using them correctly.

Anti-viral essential oils: eucalyptus, rosemary, cinnamon, marjoram, clary sage and anise Brochot, A., Guilbot, A., Haddioui, L., & Roques, C. (2017). Antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral effects of three essential oil blends. MicrobiologyOpen6(4), e00459.,, [Accessed 26 May 2020], Choi H. J. (2018). Chemical Constituents of Essential Oils Possessing Anti-Influenza A/WS/33 Virus Activity. Osong public health and research perspectives9(6), 348–353.,[Accessed 26 May 2020]

Anti-inflammatory and immune modulating essential oils: eucalyptus and gingerPeterfalvi, A., Miko, E., Nagy, T., Reger, B., Simon, D., Miseta, A., Czéh, B., & Szereday, L. (2019). Much More Than a Pleasant Scent: A Review on Essential Oils Supporting the Immune System. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland)24(24), 4530. [Accessed 26 May 2020](with the most evidence, however there are others such as lavender, with less evidence but still potentially useful)


Improving your detoxification will improve your body’s ability to detoxify viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc… If your liver and other detoxification organs are overloaded, they will have a harder time ridding your body of viral toxins such as Covid-19.

Saunas can boost your immune system by increasing white blood cells.Pilch, W., Pokora, I., Szyguła, Z., Pałka, T., Pilch, P., Cisoń, T., Malik, L. and Wiecha, S., 2013. Effect of a Single Finnish Sauna Session on White Blood Cell Profile and Cortisol Levels in Athletes and Non-Athletes. Journal of Human Kinetics, [online] 39(1), pp.127-135. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 May 2020].

My all time favourite way to detoxify, which also is the number one thing to help with my anxiety levels, is an infrared sauna. Not only does it help with detoxification through sweating, but also it reduces inflammation, and calms my nervous system like nothing else. Furthermore, the heat from the infrared sauna can have an antiviral effect.Xue, J., Fan, X., Yu, J., Zhang, S., Xiao, J., Hu, Y. and Wang, M., 2016. Short-Term Heat Shock Affects Host–Virus Interaction in Mice Infected with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus H5N1. Frontiers in Microbiology, [online] 7. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 May 2020].

Read more about how to detoxify here.

Manage connection and disconnection

Think carefully about what, when and to whom you connect. Choose periods during the day which are news, information and screen free. This will give your nervous system a rest, and consequently help keep your immune system healthy.

Connect with positive people, thoughts and ideas. This will help you stay interested, engaged and positive.

Connect with old friends and family, and work on your relationships whether at home or remotely. Healthy relationships can help to boost the immune system and healthy social engagement will strengthen your nervous system.

Conversely, unhealthy, abusive, and aggressive relationships with friends or family will weaken both your nervous system and immune systemKiecolt-Glaser J. K. (2018). Marriage, divorce, and the immune system. The American psychologist73(9), 1098–1108. at: <>[Accessed 26 May 2020] , so avoid them if you can, or work on them. 

Connect to help others who may be isolated or afraid. Donate to a food bank, shop and drop food for vulnerable populations, call your aged relatives (my mother has never had it so good in terms of daily phone calls!), donate your time and skills to those in need. This will help you put your situation into a wider perspective, and boost your feelings of contribution and purpose.

Covid-19 has made us realise that we are all interconnected, and has impacted us all, in one way or the other. 

Read more about improving social connections.

Care for the planet

By bringing life as we know it to a standstill, Covid-19 has made us realise how much the planet needs to rest and recover, and how much we have been rushing around abusing its resources.

Furthermore, climate change, environmental disruption, electromagnetic radiation and the substantial chemical and toxic load in our environment, have impacted not just our planet, but our immune systems too.

Weakening the ecosystem we live in, and weakening our own physiology, has made us more susceptible to viruses from insects and animals.Robbins, J., 2020. The Ecology Of Disease. [online] The New York Times. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 May 2020].

Let’s use this time to strengthen not just our own immune system and nervous systems, but also to think of ways that we can strengthen and rebalance our planet’s ecosystem.