The German Government’s strategy in the corona pandemic aims almost exclusively at two areas:
- Protection against infection through the various measures such as compulsory nose-mouth masks, social distancing and hygiene measures, and
On the other hand, measures to strengthen one’s own immune system are almost never considered and certainly not recommended as a third measure, neither by the virologists who advise the government nor by the responsible politicians. In scientific medicine, there is little doubt about the great importance of the body’s immune system as a protective mechanism against infectious diseases in general and against Covid-19 in particular.
From the perspective of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ayurveda e.V. (DGA), this appears to be an incomplete package of measures. We consider a holistic and above all preventive approach to be applied urgently. Ayurveda, which is now used worldwide and recognised by the WHO as a traditional healing system, has a wealth of experience, gained over thousands of years in the use of natural medicines and therapies, especially for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.
Scientific Studies Related to Covid-19
In an effort to find effective drugs against the infection and disease of Covid-19, numerous synthetic and naturally occurring substances have now been scientifically investigated and some even clinically tested. While anti-malaria drugs and conventional antiviral drugs have shown no or only unsatisfactory effects, two traditional Ayurvedic medicinal plants have proven to be a promising source:
- Licorice root – potential means of protection against SARS corona viruses
Already in 2003, scientists at the University of Frankfurt proved that glycyrrizine from liquorice root inhibits the multiplication (replication) of the then SARS corona viruses in vitro (1). Researchers from the Medical School of Hong Kong and Stanford University have now demonstrated a further protective mechanism, including against the current corona virus (2). Glycyrrhizin can effectively block the entry points for SARS corona viruses at ACE2 receptors in the lungs.
- Ashwagandha – Traditional Ayurvedic medicinal plant inhibits key enzyme of virus replication
Indian scientists found that the active ingredient Withanoside V from the root of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) blocks the key enzyme (M pro) which is responsible for the reproduction of the virus in the organism (3).
Combination of Active Ingredients of Liquorice and Ashwagandha
Both medicinal plants are traditionally used in Ayurveda to strengthen the immune system and against infections caused by viruses and other germs.
Both plants have additional effects that are protective and supportive in healing respiratory tract infections. They have anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, cough-relieving and toning effects.
An Ayurvedic preparation containing the active ingredients of both plants is available as a traditional food supplement via the Internet and in pharmacies in many countries, without a prescription. It has been successfully used for years by doctors familiar with Ayurveda as a preventive measure to strengthen the immune system and as a supportive measure to treat viral respiratory tract infections. In patients with Covid-19 disease who have been in domestic quarantine, this combination of active ingredients has proven to be remarkably effective.
Incidentally, this phyto-combination was recommended by the Indian government to the population as a preventive measure at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, along with three other herbal preparations.
Antiviral Properties of Ginger Root
In addition to numerous other natural substances, the active ingredients of ginger root, a defence-boosting medicinal plant frequently used in Ayurveda, inhibit the reproduction of viruses in the body and reduce the risk of infection. In addition, ginger is not only effective against viruses but also against pathogenic bacteria and strengthens the immune system (4).
Vitamin C, Vitamin D3 and Zinc
Vitamin C, vitamin D3 and zinc are well-known active ingredients for a functioning immune system. The British government is currently considering using vitamin D3 preventively to strengthen the immune system and against Covid-19 and has commissioned scientists to draw up dosage recommendations for the population. The Guardian newspaper reports in its 14 November issue (5) that the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson is apparently planning to recommend the use of food supplements. Risk groups will also be given free vitamin supplements. This is already the case in Scotland.
It should be noted that Health Minister Spahn, according to an interview, was also said to have received vitamin D3 and zinc from his attending doctor during his Covid-19 illness.
Light, air, sun, exercise and sport – extremely important for a healthy immune system.
A video commissioned by the German government aims to encourage young people to stay at home during the current partial lockdown, to spend time together on the couch, in front of the TV and with junk food. This is well-intentioned and should encourage them to reduce contact with each other and thus reduce the rate of infection. However, such leisure activities are probably not good for your health and the question arises, whether young people feel at all attracted by such a video in view of the lockdowns, company bankruptcies and job losses, and the worries associated with them.
On the other hand, during the first lockdown, virologists strongly recommended a stay in fresh air and sunshine, also in combination with individual sports, because it is known that this promotes health and strengthens the immune system.
Fear Weakens the Immune System
We are currently experiencing a split in the population, which is also reflected in the daily talks and discussions with patients in many medical practice: Fear on the one hand and increasing rejection of corona protection measures on the other. Negative emotions such as persistent fears, worries, hopelessness and loss of confidence have been proven to weaken the immune system. Despite all understanding for necessary measures and education for the protection of the population, we miss a language of hope, confidence and trust in politics and the media, which have a special responsibility here.
A beneficial and confidence-building step in this direction would also be for politicians, in consultation with experts in the various medical disciplines, including representatives of recognised associations of complementary medicine, to evaluate ways of strengthening the immune system and recommend appropriate means and measures to the population as a third strategy for protection against corona.
- Cinal J, Morgenstern B, Bauer G, Chandra P, Rabenau H, Doerr HW. Glycyrrhizin, an active component of liquorice roots, and replication of SARS-associated coronavirus. Lancet 2003: 361: 2045-2046.
- Hansen Chen, Qiaohui Du. Potential natural compounds for preventing SARS-CoV-2 (2019-nCoV) infection. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/339399846_Potential_natural_compounds_for_pre-venting_SARS-CoV-2_2019-nCoV_infection
- Manish Kumar Tripathi, Pushpendra Singh, Sujata Sharma, Tej P. Singh, A. S. Ethayathulla & Punit Kaur (2020). Identification of bioactive molecule from Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) as SARS-CoV-2 main protease inhibitor, Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics, DOI: 10.1080/07391102.2020.1790425
- Chang JS, Wang KC, Yeh CF, Shieh DE, Chiang LC. Fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) has anti-viral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines. J Ethnopharmacol 2013; 145: 146-151.
- The Guardian: „Covid: UK government requests guidance on vitamin D use“; www.theguardi-an.com/world/2020/nov/14/covid-uk-government-requests-guidance-on-vitamin-d-use
- The Times: „Coronavirus in Scotland: Vulnerable will receive vitamin D supplements“; www.thetimes.co.uk/article/coronavirus-in-scotland-vulnerable-will-receive-vitamin-d-supplements-zc8stdpkh
Dr Ernst Schrott, MD
Doctor for naturopathy
Chariman, German Society for Ayurveda
Director German Ayurveda Academy
93049 Regensburg, Germany
To read the original German article, please click here.