Recent research points the way toward a practical nutraceutical strategy for coping with RNA virus infections including influenza and coronavirus

Nutraceuticals have potential for boosting the type 1 interferon response to RNA viruses, as reported in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases


Philadelphia, February 24, 2020

In a compelling article in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, published by Elsevier, Mark McCarty of the Catalytic Longevity Foundation, San Diego, CA, USA, and James DiNicolantonio, PharmD, a cardiovascular research scientist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, Kansas City, MO, USA, propose that certain nutraceuticals may help provide relief to people infected with encapsulated RNA viruses such as influenza and coronavirus.

In the United States, influenza infects around 30 million people every year causing around 30,000 deaths.  While there are medications approved for the treatment of influenza, they typically are costly, have side effects, and are not very effective. Additionally, vaccinations against influenza may only be effective in around 50 percent of those vaccinated. Thus, there is a need for safer and effective alternatives in those infected with influenza.

Over the past few months, a novel RNA coronavirus, now called COVID-19, has broken out in China and has spread to over two dozen countries and infected more than 76,000 people causing more than 2,000 deaths. This novel coronavirus is much more lethal than the typical flu, with a current mortality rate of about 2.92 percent. In other words, around 1 in 33 people who are infected with this novel coronavirus will die. Whereas the annual flu has a mortality rate of just 0.05 to 0.1 percent. This means that around 1 in 1,000 to 2,000 people infected with the annual flu will die. In other words, COVID-19 is around 30 to 60 times more lethal than the typical annual flu.

Both influenza and coronavirus cause an inflammatory storm in the lungs and it is this inflammatory storm that leads to acute respiratory distress, organ failure, and death. Certain nutraceuticals may help to reduce the inflammation in the lungs from RNA viruses and others may also help boost type 1 interferon response to these viruses, which is the body’s primary way to help create antiviral antibodies to fight off viral infections.

The authors draw attention to several randomized clinical studies in humans that have found that over the counter supplements such as n-acetylcysteine (NAC), which is used to treat acetaminophen poisoning and is also used as a mucus thinner to help reduce bronchitis exacerbations, and elderberry extracts, have evidence for shortening the duration of influenza by about two to four days and reducing the severity of the infection. The authors also note several nutraceuticals such as spirulina, beta-glucan, glucosamine, and NAC have either been found to reduce the severity of infection or to cut the rate of death in half in animals infected with influenza. Furthermore, one clinical study in humans testing spirulina noted significant reductions in viral load in those infected with HIV.

“Therefore, it is clear that certain nutraceuticals have antiviral effects in both human and animal studies,” commented Dr. DiNicolantonio. “Considering that there is no treatment for COVID-19 and treatments for influenza are limited, we welcome further studies to test these nutraceuticals as a strategy to help provide relief in those infected with encapsulated RNA viruses.”

Editor-in-Chief of Progress Cardiovascular Diseases Carl “Chip” Lavie, MD, Ochsner Clinical School-The University of Queensland School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA, USA, added, “Considering the recent interests directed at serious viral infections, especially coronavirus and influenza, this material should be of interest to specialists in cardiovascular diseases but also to a wide range of clinicians outside of our typical readership.”

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Notes for editors
The article is “Nutraceuticals have potential for boosting the type 1 interferon response to RNA viruses including influenza and coronavirus,” by Mark F. McCarty and James J. DiNicolantonio (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcad.2020.02.007). It appears in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases published by Elsevier.

Full text of the article is available to journalists upon request. To obtain a copy contact Heather Luciano at +1 347 443 4496 or hmsmedia@elsevier.com.

It is also openly available at www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0033062020300372.

Journalists wishing to reach the authors should contact Dr. James DiNicolantonio at jjdinicol@gmail.com or Mark McCarty at markfmccarty@gmail.com.

Elsevier’s Novel Coronavirus Information Center provides expert, curated information for the research and health community on Novel Coronavirus (also referred to as COVID-19 and its temporary title 2019-nCoV). All resources are free to access and include guidelines for clinicians and patients. The Research presents the latest early stage and peer-reviewed research from journals including The Lancet and Cell Press, as well as a link to the Coronavirus Hub on ScienceDirect, where you will find every article relevant to Coronavirus, SARS, and MERS freely available. Under the Clinical Solutions tab you will find resources for nurses, clinicians and patients, including FAQs on symptoms.

About Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases
Each issue of Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases comprehensively covers a single topic in the understanding and treatment of disorders of the heart and circulation. Some issues include special articles, definitive reviews that capture the state of the art in the management of clinical problems in cardiology.

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a global information analytics business that helps scientists and clinicians to find new answers, reshape human knowledge, and tackle the most urgent human crises. For 140 years, we have partnered with the research world to curate and verify scientific knowledge. Today, we’re committed to bringing that rigor to a new generation of platforms. Elsevier provides digital solutions and tools in the areas of strategic research management, R&D performance, clinical decision support, and professional education; including ScienceDirect, Scopus, SciVal, ClinicalKey and Sherpath. Elsevier publishes over 2,500 digitized journals, including The Lancet and Cell, 39,000 e-book titles and many iconic reference works, including Gray's Anatomy. Elsevier is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. www.elsevier.com

Media contact
Heather Luciano, Publisher
Elsevier
+1 347 443 4496
hmsmedia@elsevier.com