In this article you will learn:
What the research says about natural anti-viral compounds
How to keep your immune system in optimal health to handle threats
What products I use to stay healthy and (relatively) virus-free
Take this stuff to the next level:
Many of these recommendations are simple, but some may need a more detailed exploration. To get a comprehensive guide (1600+ scientific references) grab a copy of my nutrition book here and reach out to me if you're looking for more in-depth help.
I am convinced that if you follow good principles to align your body (like the ones laid out in my book above) you will hardly ever get sick, and when you do, your body will be equipped to handle the problem as swiftly as possible. Remember that a weak terrain is what attracts opportunistic organisms and allows them to flourish unchecked until they create a real problem. If you're not familiar with what I mean about "terrain" - check out this article on Germ and Terrain Theory to understand a fundamental concept in health.
Right now, you have a multitude of these little bad actors in every part of your body,(1) but as long as your “police force” is active and strong then they aren’t really anything to worry about. Life isn’t perfect, though, and when you have nutritional deficiencies, they equate to budget deficiencies in your police force. When you have toxicity, unmanaged stress and chronic inflammation, this means corruption and the cartels begin taking over.
Now your terrain isn’t as safe for the average citizen cell, and it gradually becomes a war zone. Combine this with every year bringing some new infectious threat to your doorstep and the environment constantly assaulting your cells and turning them into cancer zombies, and the result is that your poor little immune system is working 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to put out fires and mitigate threats.
Having a strong and balanced immune system is one of the most important markers of long-term health. If it is too weak, you will fall prey to infectious diseases or cancer. If it is too active, you will consume yourself with autoimmune issues. It’s like everything else in your body: an incredibly complex system of interconnected parts in dynamic balance. If you follow good diet and nutrition principles, then you will support the long-term balance and health of your immune system because the focus is on creating an optimal terrain.
Every case is different, and if you suffer from an autoimmune condition or are immunocompromised for whatever reason, there are many valuable natural therapies that are emerging and worth investigating with your functional medicine doctor. If you don't have a functional medicine doctor or wellness team, here is a simple guide on how you can create one with qualified, excellent resources to research.
My focus in this article is to address the majority of simple, acute situations that you will have to deal with throughout your life like the occasional virus and what the research says about various tools in your arsenal for when the time comes to fight.
Important: This is not to dissuade you from using medications, antibiotics or other pharmaceutical interventions if they are appropriate, but rather to compliment your perspective so that you have all of the tools in front of you and can decide from an empowered position.
A healthy body will create a fever to kill off the flu, but I’ve always had a hard time falling asleep with a raging fever and the only thing to solve that problem is medication. Likewise, if I’m getting an infected tooth taken out, you can bet I’ll be popping the antibiotics afterward, as insurance, because the risk is high for that kind of infection to cause serious problems if it gets out of control.
I don’t take medications often, but when I do, I always check their potential interactions with my supplements. There usually aren’t any because I stick to the basics (vitamins and minerals) but if I’m on a course of antibiotics, I will usually stop all supplements because some can interfere. The point is that medications are powerful tools (if used responsibly) to obtain needed short-term results, and along with your supplements, they will give you a comprehensive strategy to fight whatever is coming.
The goal is to have all the tools available and ideally never have to use them in the first place. In the event that you do get sick with something like a cold, virus or other little bug, below are some valuable extra suggestions that can help tilt the balance in your favor. To learn more information about each product, click the image.
My Personal Immune Health Toolbelt
#1: Natural "Z Pak"
The Natural Z Pak is one of OHS’s custom health paks comprised of a variety of nutrients vital for supporting the immune system such as minerals, vitamins, probiotics, immune supporting herbs and powerful enzymes. Research has specifically implicated several nutrients as vital for general immune health, as well as during an acute situation, meaning how they affect the spread of viruses and your system’s response to it. They are vitamin D,(2,3) copper,(4,5) zinc,(6,7) selenium,(8,9,10,11,12) vitamin C(13) and
iodine,(14,15) among a few others.
Other compounds like beta glucans, echinacea and garlic also have several documented antimicrobial effects. One active compound in garlic, allicin, has been studied extensively for its effect on preventing or mitigating both cold and flu viruses.(16,17,18,19,20,21)
If you get a cold or flu, this is a great solution to blitz your body with a high amount of nutrition and support a speedy recovery.
#2: Nitric Oxide
Nitric Oxide (NO) was awarded the discovery of the year in 1990 and it plays an important role in inhibiting the replication of viruses, as well as supporting your immune system’s response to them.(22,23,24) This is another reason to keep your NO levels at optimal. Optimal BFF is great product to have around because it helps to lower your blood pressure (a complicating factor for some respiratory bugs), keep the body oxygenated and keep nitric oxide levels optimal for the fight. It's one of my favorite products and it is also great for exercise performance.
#3: Liquid Oxygen
Oxygen is another interesting natural compound that can be useful in your repertoire for a variety of purposes. For respiratory issues, one danger is that your level of available oxygen in the blood drops and you become hypoxic. If you have impaired functioning of the lungs for whatever reason, this could be an especially important factor to keep track of, as complications can arise. Some people use ozone therapy, which is an umbrella term for the many ways of using a special type of oxygen molecule that is relatively unstable.
The molecule, O3, is not the same as your standard O2 molecule that we obtain from air. While there is plenty of promising research demonstrating its antimicrobial effects and therapeutic range on countless afflictions, it must also be handled with
care and administered professionally.(25,26)
Using ozone internally is not something I’m a fan of because you’re introducing high amounts of free radicals into your body, but there are some people who swear by it as a remedy for everything. This can be either intravenously as an IV or even through the anus as a way to cleanse the colon and eliminate bad anaerobic bacteria. If you’re going to do these interventions, please make sure that you do your research and find someone reputable.
Regarding other uses for ozone, it works wonders as a topical disinfectant and offers much less to worry about. I personally have used ozone infused olive oil cream as a topical for eczema, acne or fungal skin infections and it works like a charm. Because ozone is a free radical, it damages these pathogen’s structures in a natural and
effective way without really hurting you.
Most holistic dentists will use ozone therapy to disinfect a tooth during procedures like cavities or crowns, and it’s very effective as an added layer of insurance against future complications. The product listed above is interesting because it utilizes compressed oxygen (O2) along with trace minerals to provide a highly bioavailable liquid oxygen
supplement at 35% concentration. It is not ozone, but rather a simple way to get more oxygen into your body and raise the level naturally.
An easy way to measure where you are at with your oxygen level is through a pulse oximeter. If you are sick, this can help keep your oxygen levels at optimum to minimize the strain on your lungs and prevent you from becoming hypoxic. It is not as reactive as O3 (meaning dangerous) but at the same time I also wouldn’t take it on a regular basis unless you struggle keeping your O2 levels in the mid to upper 90’s per the oximeter rating.
It is worthwhile to know that iodine has shown to inactivate viruses at one part per million in solution. I discuss this and other fascinating iodine research in my book. Your blood is a solution, and 1 part per million equates to a serum reading of 1000mcg/L. This level is ten times more than what the currently accepted “normal” range is for iodine, but it’s also correlated to the greatest health outcomes and benefits. If you are taking a therapeutic dose of iodine of 50mg, you can achieve this goal short term and help to make it harder for the bad guys (that's 3 pills of Opti-Iodine).
The average person has about 5 liters of blood, which means 5000ml, so taking a high dose iodine at 50mg will give you the one part per million concentration (or close) to help boost your body’s defenses. Remember that viruses work on scales of probability, and they are only really a problem when they multiply passed a significant threshold.
What all this means is that the less probable it is for them to harm your cells and multiply the less likely you are to get super sick or feel anything at all.
#5: Fatty Acids and CLA
In line with the previous idea of probabilities, some other simple ingredients that have been researched for their antiviral effects are the fatty acids oleic, lauric and conjugated linoleic acid. The last one, CLA, is something people usually take to lose fat or trim down and is sold as a supplement.
Interestingly, CLA has shown that it prevents viral spread of influenza in pigs,(27) stimulates and balances the immune response,(28,29,30) acts as an anti-inflammatory
by reducing cytokines in Crohn’s disease patients,(31) and can even reduce human
rhinovirus (cold) symptoms at just 2 grams per day.(32)
Because Optimal Lipolean CLA is used for trimming down, it suggests a loading phase of 4 grams per day. I would have it around and take anywhere from 2-4 grams per day while you are sick.
Besides CLA, the oleic acid and lauric acid found in olive oil and coconut oil respectively have demonstrated some very promising antiviral capabilities. Lauric acid, a fatty acid found in coconut oil in high concentrations, has even shown inhibition of the dangerous bacterium C. Dificile(33) among many other antimicrobial benefits like against Staph infections.(34,35,36,37)
Oleic acid - which is found in olive oil and other plant oils - seems to affect the ability of viruses to replicate early on,(38) helps to make the walls of your cells more difficult for viruses to attach themselves to(39) and generally inactivates envelope-type viruses through various mechanisms.(40,41,42)
In general, these fats are good to keep up in your body, but it appears from the research that if you do get sick, increasing your intake (2-4 tablespoons of each per day) may help combat the problem in a natural and healthy way by reducing the virus’ odds at getting out of control.
Another important note on that matter is that some research suggests that reducing your carbohydrate intake when you’re sick with a cold or flu may prove useful. Research done on mice infected with influenza and put on a ketogenic diet prior to their infection showed that they handled the stress of sickness much better than their regular diet counterparts,(43) and there are also many studies showing the negative impact of sugar on the immune system.(44)
These things are intuitive to me, but in general, if you are sick it may be worthwhile to reduce the impact on your blood sugar and immune system from high carbs. I would outright eliminate sweets and refined sugars during this time, but if you follow the eating principles in the previous chapters this shouldn’t even be an issue.
#6: Glandular Support
Opti-Lung is a potent lung support formula involving a wide array of whole-food vitamins, chelated minerals, specific herbs and glandulars in one comprehensive therapeutic dose. If you are prone to lung issues or weaker to respiratory infections, this may be a great formula to help you manage your symptoms and speed up your recovery. It may also be beneficial as a therapeutic for other inflammatory lung-related issues like asthma and COPD, which have been on the rise. If you work in a toxic environment or live in a highly polluted city, this formula can be a powerful asset to support your lungs because these environmental conditions are major risk factors for disease and infection.
#7: Herbals & Mushrooms
These are 3 powerful immune support formulas that combine key vitamins and minerals with herbs, polyphenols, mushrooms and glandulars for comprehensive support of your system.
To do a protocol, start with Opti Para at 2 capsules in the morning and evening on an empty stomach until the bottle runs out (about 3 weeks), and then alternate to Opti-Immune VRL and do the same. Once that bottle is finished, do it again with Opti Para to ensure that any eggs the parasites left behind do not thrive in the next cycle.
Generally, this should do it, but you can always do a stool test to be absolutely sure.
The third product, Essential Shrooms, is a powerful and diverse immune support formula from some of the most researched mushrooms on the planet. It was formulated by Dr. Marc Harris, a leading gene and methylation researcher and one of the formulators for Optimal Health. Great for intermittent use along with other things mentioned in this article to boost your immune activity naturally alongside several other benefits like cognitive and anti-aging.
We’ve covered some useful strategies in this article that will help you with a variety of bad actors, but it’s important to keep in mind that there are countless types of bugs out there. Some will be stubborn and atypical. A good example are mycobacteria, a special type of bacteria that can cause moderate to serious infections and are not effectively treated with common antibiotics or medicines. There are exceptions to every rule, but good principles always win in the end. When the time comes, evaluate every option with a priority on supporting your body to do what it needs through good nutrition, and you're sure to dance right past those little bugs in style.