On the 31st December 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) China country office reported a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. Most of the cases are currently experiencing mild to moderate symptoms. The risk of transmission remains low in South Africa as there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission or spread to healthcare workers. It is important to know that there must be a history of contact with a victim / health professional or traveler from China. Remember there are different strains (subspecies) of the Coronavirus and if it is contracted in South-Africa with no contact of a victim / health care professional or traveler to China, it may not be the same aggressive species.

How does the coronavirus spread?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals. This spread includes via camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Animal coronaviruses can infect people, although rarely and then between people such as with MERS, SARS, and now with the new 2019-nCoV originating from China.

Spread from person-to-person happens among close contacts (about within 6 feet). Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets (droplet spread) produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, like how influenza and other respiratory pathogens would spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Currently, it is unclear if a person can get 2019-nCoV by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

What are the clinical signs?

The main clinical signs and symptoms are

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Bilateral infiltrates (areas of infection) on chest X-rays.

What is the conventional treatment?

Treatment is supportive as no specific therapy has been shown to be effective. Oxygen therapy, chest physio, pain management, fever management, supportive ventilation, cortisone and if a secondary bacterial infection is proven, then an antibiotic will be added.

What could be suggestive integrative treatment be for viral infections as a whole?

  • Olive leaf extract
    • Dose: 500 ‐ 1,000mg twice daily
    • Mechanism: it inhibits cell-to-cell membrane fusion that happen when virus’s replication in a cell.  This suggests that there are interactions with the viral envelope.
  • Bitter melon extract
    • Dose: 250mg twice daily
    • Mechanism: Antiviral activity is its inhibitory effects on the virus integrating into host cells. Research has also demonstrated reduced rates of T lymphocyte infections and reduced viral replication in infected cells.
  • Vitamin C
    • Dose: 300‐500mg three times per day (maximum of 10g / day)
    • Mechanism: it increases the production of the anti-viral cytokine, increased but production of anti-viral cytokine, interferon (IFN)-α/β, which has major anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects. It is believed that the interferon (IFN)-α/β plays an important role in the regulation of optimal temperature for viral genes, and most likely would destabilize proteins at either suboptimal levels or hyperthermia levels as a possible therapeutic approach.
  • Vitamin D3
    • Dose: 1,000‐2,000 IU daily
    • Mechanism: Though vitamin D’s anti-viral mechanism has not been fully established, it may be linked to vitamin D’s ability to up-regulate the anti-microbial peptides LL-37 (the combination of the anti-biofilm effect and wound-healing properties and immunological effect) and human beta defensin 2 (acts as an endogenous antimicrobial in the defence, among which the potential pathogenic microbes)
  • A high‐quality antioxidant complexes, Spirulina/Chlorella (inhibits viral replication and plaque formation in a broad range of viruses) and Medi-Mushroom (it has cytopathic effect on the virus, is has immunostimulant effect and has inhibition of the reverse transcriptase via ribosome inactivation protein)
  • Coriolus versicolor (PSK/PSP):
    • 3g daily po
    • Coriolus versicolor’s polysaccharide peptide (PSP) has been demonstrated to possess immunomodulatory properties with the ability to activate an innate immune response through Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) showing insignificant toxicity.
  • Colloidal Silver
    • Dose:  10ml bd po
    • The presence of colloidal silver near a virus, fungi, bacterium or any other single celled pathogen like viruses disables its oxygen-metabolism enzyme and thereby induce apoptosis.
  • Vitamin C in high dose with UV low level laser therapy has proven to be a strong antiviral combination.
  • Intravenous Laser Therapy, especially blue and ultraviolet laser can be extremely beneficial in the treatment of any viral affliction.

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