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Part 1: Using herbs and supplements for prevention and treatment of COVID-19 - the disadvantages of this approach

6 reasons to be very careful about using herbs and supplements
for COVID-19 prevention and treatment. Part 1: Using herbs and supplements for prevention and treatment of COVID-19 - the disadvantages of this approach, Zachary B. Corbett, L.Ac. in Eugene, ORThis is Part 1 of a two-part post about the various advantages and disadvantages of using herbs and supplements to help you through the pandemic.

My family and I, and most of my patients, are in fact using herbs and supplements.  We  who live in the of Eugene & Springfield, OR. are currently experiencing a COVID-19 prevention-phase as of March 28, 2020.  A widespread treatment-phase may come later.  Please keep up to date with all public health advisories, such as Lane County, Oregon State and the CDC.  

I am trained to use and prescribe these powerful medicines properly - balancing safety, efficacy and cost in the most individualized and effective manner possible.

But for those of you without professional guidance at this time, the most useful public health info I can advise is to start by describing the disadvantages of reaching for an external solution - a purchased product - at this time.

Please read my earlier post about building your immune system before this post.


For thousand's of years, my professional ancestors saw that life-style choices about sleep, nutrition, exercise and emotional flow are the most important place to start cultivating your health.  The problems that I outline below have been known for centuries.

By having all of those "system support" factors ready to go you will avoid or limit the following problems:

  1. Knowing what products to use is very difficult at the moment.
    What is a reasonable product to buy in the first place? I can offer the advice of thousands of years of herbalists that have treated pandemics before.  I am reviewing weekly updates from China and Japan as to what herbs they are using in hospitals there, as well as the western biomedical SARS-Cov-2 research.  I can help you avoid herbs that may not be right for your health or concurrent prescribed medications.  You might hear of a herb that seems like it may help - but what form of the herb will survive processing.  An  herb whose active ingredient is water soluble will not work in an alcohol tincture.  The best qualities of an herb may totally change by the time goes from fresh plant to a small pill.

    ~ Please note that Elderberry extracts may in fact worsen COVID-19 severity.
    ~ Please do not use Asian Ginseng (eg Chinese, Korean, Red) if you have any tendency to  high blood pressure as red ginseng can make hypertension worse.
    ~ Please do not use Jade Screen (Yu Ping Feng San) if you have any auto-immune issue.
    ~ Please STOP Jade Screen as soon as you realize that are getting a cold and flu symptoms.  Jade Screen may then make your disease process worse, it is for prevention only.

  2. Alternative medicine should be cost effective.
    Many people are in a huge financial struggle right now.  Limit your expenses, avoid randomly seeking biased or uneducated advice about what to buy.  Some herbal or supplement regimens can be very expensive, prices can vary.  I have seen some very dubious care plans cost hundred of dollars for products per week.    Work with a professional to design a treatment plan that you can afford.

    The real art in prescribing herbs and supplements is the dosage.  If a professional can guide you to the lowest effective dose, then your supplies will be more effective per dollar spent, and your risk of complications will also be reduced.

  3. Life-style based care plans do not depend on availability of products or need extra money. 
    If you rely too heavily on products, when they run out you may not have time to suddenly reap the benefits of self-cultivation.

  4. Each stage of the disease process needs a unique plan. 
    The herbs and supplements for prevention are very different for the COVID cough.  Using the wrong product at the wrong stage of the disease process is very risky, especially for COVID-19.

  5. Risk to your health.
    Using herbs and supplements without supervision can be risky.  Even for totally healthy people I do not prescribe preventative herbs for months on end.  Please do not self prescribe for a long time.  Professional supervision will reduce your chance of toxicity such as liver or kidney damage.  You do not want your "remedy" to be the cause for a trip to a crowded, COVID-filled emergency room.

    Even relatively benign sounding products like "green tea extract" are not meant for long term use, as a recent case of liver failure in the research has highlighted.  Note that drinking a normal amount of green tea is fine and may even have health benefits, but the extract is not the tea.

    My job is to follow the research and advisories for adverse consequences of using herbs and supplements. People who self prescribe often to not stay current about their supplements.  Recommendations and safety information change all the time.

  6. What may be good for you may not be good for your family member.
    Every one is different.  Even twins may have different demands on their health requiring different treatment strategies.  Health history, smoking status, cardiovascular fitness vary even in families, please don't assume that your regimen will work for someone else, and vice versa.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
I look forward to supporting you and your community in any way that I can.