Before launching into this, if you have not read my first 2 blog posts on this subject, CORONAVIRUS PREVENTION AND TREATMENT from 3/15/20 and COVID-19 TREATMENT STRATEGIES from 3/27/20 I urge you to read those first, as this post is meant as a follow-up to those. This is some new information that I am creating as a separate post so those who have read those can readily find this information that I have not discussed in those posts.
I often update these posts and I will probably update this one as soon as 4/4 so if reading on 4/3 check back soon.
To reiterate, THERE IS NO PROVEN CURE FOR COVID-19 that is widely accepted, though there is good evidence for many promising treatments like hydroxychloroquine with azithromycin and IV Vitamin C therapy. There is also a new promising treatment, plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 that contains antibodies:
Also, the information discussed here has not undergone clinical trials and is purely theoretical. None of this information should be construed as medical advice and I advise you consult with your practitioner before trying any treatments.
There is information that suggests that the trace mineral zinc, combined with the flavonoid quercitin may be beneficial in treating COVID-19.
Zinc is, of course, an essential nutrient that plays a key role in immune function. It is a commonly deficient in our diets, in fact the USDA says 42% of Americans do not get the Daily Recommended Intake of Zinc, and that amount is not the optimal level but the bare minimum most people need. One of my mentors, Dietrich Klinghardt MD PhD has found that most patients with chronic Lyme disease have a condition known a pyrroluria (which is induced by the Lyme microbe) which induces a deficiency of zinc and thus supplementing with high doses of zinc is essential for them. He says that zinc is so essential for immune function that a white blood cell without zinc is like a gun without bullets. But the mechanism by which zinc may help treat COVID-19 has nothing to do with improving white blood cell function but instead is via blocking viral replication.
For the COVID-19 virus to reproduce, once it enters our cells an enzyme called RNA Dependent RNA polymerase makes more copies of the virus. However, zinc inhibits this enzyme and at high enough concentrations within the cell may entirely inhibit the virus from replicating. This was found in a research study published in 2010 on SARS, another coronavirus that is a close cousin of COVID-19. However, it is important to know that this was an in vitro study (done in the lab rather than in humans or animals). See https://journals.plos.org/plospathogens/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.ppat.1001176
However there is a big catch. Zinc is an ion with a 2+ charge and does not readily enter our cells. For zinc to reach a high concentration inside our cells requires an agent called an ionophore that is like a tunnel through the cell membrane that allows zinc to enter. Of interest, in 2014 researchers found that chloroquine is a zinc ionophore. Some have theorized that the reason both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine may be helping many patients with COVID-19 is at least in part because it is a zinc ionophore, dramatically increasing the amount of zinc that gets inside cells.
However, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are not entirely benign and also are not available to everyone. They require a prescription, are in high demand and have the potential to cause serious side effects. On 4/2/20 I (and I presume other doctors in CA received the following email from the Medical Board of California:
“The California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) is aware of recent news and social media reports of prescribers wrongfully hoarding and prescribing for themselves and family members certain medications referenced in the media relating to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Several states have recently issued emergency restrictions on how the drugs can be dispensed. Many require that medications be prescribed and dispensed only to patients with a legitimate and current medical condition. Further, the FDA recently issued an Emergency Use Authorization to allow for the use of hydroxychloroquine sulfate and chloroquine phosphate products donated by the Strategic National Stockpile for certain hospitalized patients with COVID-19.
DCA, the Medical Board of California, and the California State Board of Pharmacy remind health care professionals that inappropriately prescribing or dispensing medications constitutes unprofessional conduct in California. Prescribers and pharmacists are obligated to follow the law, standard of care, and professional codes of ethics in serving their patients and public health.”
Such policies make it difficult to prescribe chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for anyone not proven to have pneumonia caused by COVID-19.
However, another study from 2014 found that the flavonoid quercetin is also a zinc ionophore that increases the amount of zinc in cells (this study was done on liver cancer cells in mice but it is likely it will also increase zinc levels in more normal cells). Epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCG), a substance found in green tea, was also found to act as a zinc ionophore. Quercetin has been found to have antiviral activity in Influenza A, Ebola and Zika viruses. In the studies on Ebola and Zika viruses researchers used doses of 3000-7000 mg a day, which are very high doses. However, quercetin is notoriously poorly absorbed. For many years I have recommended Apha-glycosyl Isoquercetin, a form of quercetin that is about 18 times better absorbed than standard forms of quercetin (this is available from Integrative Therapeutics).
ZInc is safe and well-tolerated. For most people 30 mg of zinc picolinate should be an adequate dose. While better absorbed on an empty stomach, the most common side effect is nausea and that is much less common when taken with food, so I advise taking it after a meal.
As for quercetin I advise Alpha Glycosyl Isoquercetin in a dose of 100 to 200 mg/day if you have symptoms of COVID-19. This is best taken at a separate time from Zinc as quercetin can bind to (chelate) zinc.
For more information please see this article, which includes 2 youtube videos by Roger Seheult MD which explain this in more detail:
In considering novel treatments I always ask 3 questions:
Is there sound science to suggest the treatment may be plausible?
Does it appear to be safe/non-toxic?
Is it affordable?
When the answer to all 3 are yes then it is worth considering.