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Covid: The plant that may shield against multiple ‘coronavirus strains’ – expert insight

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Many supplements are sold on the basis of supposed immune-boosting abilities. But to date, there is little proof that anything other than a scientifically approved vaccine will prevent infection from coronavirus. Evidence is growing, however, that one plant extract may decrease the duration and severity of acute tract infections, making it a potential candidate to target unpleasant symptoms associated with COVID-19.

Echinacea purpurea has historically been rumoured to prevent and treat colds, acting as an immune stimulant.

The remedy has gained popularity as a treatment for adults, who usually suffer around two to four colds per year.

Immunologist and Founder of A-IR Clinical Research, Doctor Ross Walton, explained: “The key to staying well lies, first and foremost, with eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise and sleep.

“[But] Echinacea has been shown to reduce the frequency of common cold symptoms developing.”

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In recent studies, however, the extract was found to broadly inhibit coronaviruses and SARS-CoV-2 in vitro.

The plant contains compounds that have been shown to clear the symptoms of a cold that tend to linger.

Doctor Walton cited research showing that in reducing the duration of symptoms, the use of painkillers fell by over half after treatment with echinacea.

These findings were later echoed in one meta-analysis of six clinical trials which found Echinacea could slash the risk of recurrent respiratory tract infection (RTI) by 35 percent.

What’s more, the supplement successfully curbed the risk of RTI associated complications, which include bronchitis and pneumonia.

These findings inspired recent investigations into the plant’s ability to shield against the damage of coronavirus in the airways.

A body of research published in Virology Journal last year found that fresh, whole plant liquid extract echinacea may help reduce the replication of COVID-19.

The review drew on available clinical evidence from randomised, blinded and controlled human studies.

Results revealed that the liquid extract protected against a spectrum of coronavirus strains, including COVID-19.

Doctor Walton stresses, however, that further research is needed.

New clinical trials investigating the efficacy of the liquid extract on different coronavirus strains have now been commissioned.

Other supplements that have come to the fore for their protective effects against respiratory tract infections include vitamin D.

The key nutrient is strongly recognised for its role in supporting the immune systems, which led to healthy bodies encouraging supplementation to boost immune defences against coronavirus.

The findings from a recent study conducted by researchers at Bar Ilan University and the Galilee Medical Centre found that individuals deficient in vitamin D were at a 14-fold greater risk of severe illness after contracting COVID-19.

The findings of the study were so significant that researchers said they could determine a patient’s outcome post-infection, based solely on their age and vitamin D levels.

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