Fortifying Immunity During COVID-19 Pandemic

Our body has multiple frontline defences of immunity barriers, including our skin, tears, saliva, stomach acid, gut microbiome and the Respiratory System’s tract cilia and epithelium layer. However, the novel nature of COVID-19 is making it challenging for medicine to identify what will change its trajectory.

A caveat on this article, is the fact there currently exists no integrative measures that have been validated in human trials as specific data effective against COVID-19 – yet there is plenty of in-vitro evidence around COVID-19 virulence understanding, and data from similar viruses. Together this information can assist complementary medicine experts, medical herbalists and naturopaths, to commentate on ways to create integrative strategies worth considering that can augment public health measures, by speculating on the best physiological functions to inhibit, and best metabolic functions to support, in order to modulate immunity response and support cellular integrity.

At the same time, it is important not to overly prime Immune Stimulation, because over-stimulation can result in down-regulation. If we consider the general holistic approach to dealing with viruses from a naturopathic and herbal point of view, there is a Therapeutic Order of steps:

  1. Establish a positive lifestyle for maximum health of the conditions that are under our control.
  2. Stimulate the Vis Medicatrix Naturae (self-healing processes) such as through exercise, sleep, saunas.
  3. Support a balanced state of being, physiologically and bioenergetically systems. Eg, good diet, reduction of major
  4. Know “function follows structure” (eg osteopathy correcting integrity).
  5. Treat pathology [disease] with specific natural substances/interventions (eg herbs and nutrients).
  6. Treat pathology with pharmaceutical synthetic drugs.
  7. Treat pathology through suppression (eg surgical removal).

Even something as simple as addressing sleep-behaviour disorders to promote sleep health can have huge consequential positive outcomes because Circadian rhythms play such a mammoth role in immunity – poor sleep and sleep deprivation creates an inflammatory state with increased susceptibility to viral infections. A simple step is to turn off the endless COVID-19 news, and turn on the mind-body practices (such as the free Smiling Mind mindfulness meditation app).

The following is an overview of COVID-19 recommendations from some of Australasia’s leading Integrative Medicine experts, including complementary medicine commentator Prof Stephen Myers, senior naturopath Reine deBois, pharmacy faculty lecturer on complementary medicine Dr Joanna Harnett, and renown GP & medical herbalist Dr Nicky Baillie.


  • Foods rich in Anthocyanins (berries, red onions, red grapes, purple carrots)
  • Foods rich in Vitamin C (leafy green veg, capsicums, broccoli, oranges): Vitamin-C in frequent low-dose amounts
  • Foods rich in Zinc (legumes, seeds, nuts, meat, dairy)
  • Aromatics Garlic, Ginger, Turmeric, Onion (natural anti-inflammatories & anti-coagulant properties)
  • Marshmallow root (herbal mucilage)
  • Slippery Elm (medicinal tree bark)
  • Fenugreek (common ingredient in dishes from India)
  • Eyebright (medicinal herb)
  • Withania (Indian ginseng Ashwagandha)
  • Pelargonium (medicinal root of South African geranium)
  • Beta-Carotene rich food (Vit-A precursor)
  • Zinc (essential mineral for structural integrity)
  • Quercetin (flavonoid pigment found in many plants)
  • Saccharomyces boulardii (yeast)
  • Lactoferrin (milk protein)
  • Bitters (subtle but profound effect on digestive health)
  • Antioxidants (rosemary, sage, thyme, blackcurrants, elderberry, rosehips)
  • Medicinal mushrooms
  • Chamomile (herbal tea)
  • Echinacea weekly dose (Native American medicinal herb)

GENERAL RESPIRATORY MAINTENANCE SUPPORT (esp for those with lung compromise):

  • Beetroot Juice increases exhaled nitric oxide reduces respiratory symptoms.
  • Baker’s Yeast flakes contain beta-glucan which reduces respiratory symptoms.
  • Vitamin-D sunlight & supplements appear to reduce risk of influenza and COVID-19 infection rates.


Standard anti-virals treatments alone aren’t enough – there is also need to support the integrity of metabolic function:

  • Initial priming of Immune Stimulation, eg Echinacea, Elderberry, Andrographis: High doses at beginning of infection for first 3-4 days (ie, short-term use in acute conditions). Followed by preventing a ‘Cytokine Storm’ (immune system gone awry with an excessive uncontrolled flaring release of pro-inflammatory response) by then avoiding immune-activating agents, eg elderberry; medicinal mushroom polysaccharides; echinacea; larch; and Vitamin-D.
  • Applying knowledge about the COVID-19 science understands its Furin enzyme proteins allow the virus to enter the cell. Dietary Furin-inhibitors include Flavonoids and Polyphenols such as antioxidants Quercetin & Luteolin, and Amino Acids L-Arginine & L-lysine.
  • Virologists are confirming COVID-19 impacts ACE2 (Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2). Subsequently, integrative medicine postulates a connection between Resveratrol (berries, grapes, dark chocolate) to upregulate ACE2 receptors, plus avoiding the standard western high-fat diet that downregulating ACE2.
  • High-dose intravenous Vitamin-C – promising results.
  • Wakame seaweed is a potent anti-inflammatory that traditionally significantly reduces lung consolidation
  • Onion/Garlic/Manuka-kanuka honey mix
  • Elderflower (eg natural cordial)
  • Thyme (herb)
  • Elecampane (herb)
  • Kumarahou (NZ herb)
  • Fenugreek (common ingredient in dishes from India)
  • Calendula (body cleanser & healer)
  • Mullein (flowers/leaves)
  • Marshmallow root (herbal mucilage)
  • Plantain Herb (not the green banana)
  • Hoheria (NZ houhere)
  • Linseed (slurry)


Kathy Fray is a senior Midwife, best-selling maternity Author for Penguin-Random, managing director of, and global thought-leader on perinatal integrative medicine as founding director of