COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on our world—at a speed that’s left us reeling. Our survival drive has been thrown into full throttle, as world leaders and everyday people grapple to control the novel virus. Fight or flight responses are dialed all the way up—naturally.
This is also part of what can make COVID-19 so dangerous.
That’s because it’s not the virus itself, but the immune system’s response to it, that makes it so unpredictable—and deadly. When our fight or flight pathways are surging with alarm signals—whether from infection, stress or other triggers—the immune system can overreact with uncontrolled inflammation, leading to what’s called a cytokine storm.
And it’s this storm that is costing lives.
For effective protection, we need to be able to optimize and regulate our immune response—while at the same time, providing the body with specific anti-viral support.
Good news: Published data and clinical practice point to effective natural strategies that we can apply to achieve these goals.
This article will highlight what I believe are the best evidence-based solutions to balance immunity and prevent a deadly cytokine storm, along with natural anti-viral agents that can offer targeted support. In follow up articles, we’ll dive deeper into some of these areas with additional insights and recommendations.
Shelter from the Cytokine Storm to Balance Immune System
When your immune system detects infectious microbes— like a virus—it activates an alarm system that starts sending urgent signaling proteins called cytokines to drive the immune response.
The main alarm protein in the body is called galectin-3 (or Gal-3). When Gal-3 detects a problem, it triggers a cascade of inflammatory immune reactions.1
Normally, this response helps your body swiftly fend off invaders. But when the system is overwhelmed, Gal-3 can surge into overdrive, causing an excessive inflammatory response.2
This Gal-3 overreaction is what fuels the cytokine storm3. Extensive research shows how out-of-control Gal-3 opens the floodgates for this deadly cascade of inflammatory reactions, leading to outcomes like:
- respiratory failure
- kidney damage
- septic shock
Cytokine storms are especially dangerous in respiratory infections, making it impossible to breathe because the lungs are overwhelmed with inflammation.4
So how do we address Gal-3 and stop the deadly cytokine storm?
Extensive research shows there is one agent that effectively halts and reverses the actions of Gal-3:
A natural supplement called Modified Citrus Pectin (MCP).
Deactivating the Alarm to Balance Immune System
When Gal-3 goes into overdrive, the body can’t deactivate this alarm system on its own—so we need something that can.
MCP is recognized as the only proven Gal-3 blocker available. The researched form of MCP binds to Gal-3 and prevents it from being over-expressed— which keeps roaring inflammation under control and halts deadly cytokine storms.
In addition, MCP offers other important benefits that work together to provide broad-spectrum health protection:
- Binds and eliminates toxins and other harmful substances that can overwhelm your immune system5
- Activates the proper immune cells needed to take on specific threats6
- Protects critical organs including heart, liver, and kidneys7
- Halts cancer growth and metastasis8
- Regulates and balances the immune system8
- Offers antimicrobial protection9
- Synergizes and enhances other therapies10
- and more….
MCP’s multidimensional powers—blocking overactive Gal-3, reducing toxic burden on your immune system, optimizing immune response, enhancing other therapies—provide essential support and protection, regardless of where you are in your health journey.
For generations, practitioners of traditional herbal medicine have relied on medicinal mushrooms for their diverse health benefits—particularly their ability to adjust the immune system as needed.
Medicinal mushrooms train your immune system to work smarter—not harder. They help regulate immune and inflammatory responses by reigning in over-reactions, while directing appropriate immune activity against harmful invaders.
These adaptogenic properties help you adapt to challenges and threats, while delivering broad-spectrum health benefits—taking you past survival to a place where you can actually thrive.
As multi-dimensional healers, many medicinal mushrooms also offer direct antiviral,11 antimicrobial, inflammation-reducing, and antioxidant protection.12
Some of the varieties I use most in my practice include:
- Ganoderma (Reishi)
- Polyporus Umbellatus
Mushrooms work best when taken together in a blend. In my practice, I use a researched formula with six mushroom species, grown on a blend of immune-supporting herbs and organic brown rice. Mushrooms absorb a vast array of nutrients from their growing environment, so this unique cultivation method works to fortify the mushrooms with additional immune-supportive properties.
Certain herbs and botanicals also offer powerful immune-regulating, adaptogenic properties to help optimize the immune system. Like many of the medicinal mushroom species, these herbs support appropriate immune responses, while at the same time offering direct anti-viral support. Some top recommendations include:
Honokiol, derived from Magnolia officinalis bark, is especially important because of its multifaceted protective mechanisms. Like MCP, Honokiol is shown to help regulate inflammatory signaling and offers additional downstream protection against cytokine storms.17
Honokiol is also a powerful anti-viral and anti-microbial agent, and is shown to provide critical protection for the lungs.18,19
Research also shows honokiol and MCP work synergistically together, helping to tame inflammatory responses and increase antioxidant activity.10
Locking Down Viral Invaders to Balance Immune System
Viruses infect you by sneaking into your cells. Some, like COVID-19, enter through ACE2 receptors, which act like keyholes to unlock cells.20
Some data shows that specific herbs can lock down ACE2 receptors and prevent invaders from breaking in.21
These herbs include:
- Chinese skullcap root
- horse chestnut
- Japanese knotweed root
And like other herbs, each of these contains a broad range of additional beneficial compounds, so they can have multiple positive effects on health.
The Great Balancing Act in the Immune System
With today’s global crisis, a multifaceted approach can offer the best protection. This includes balancing immune response using evidence-based strategies that deliver additional broad-spectrum benefits.
Beyond these powerful natural agents, there are proven practices we can apply to help keep our health, and immune system, in optimal condition. In my next article, I’ll be exploring these methods and how they can help us achieve greater harmony in health, and life.
3. Nita-Lazar M, et al. Galectins regulate the inflammatory response in airway epithelial cells exposed to microbial neuraminidase by modulating the expression of SOCS1 and RIG1. Mol Immunol. 2015;68(2 Pt A):194–202. doi:10.1016/j.molimm.2015.08.005
6. Ramachandran C, et al. Activation of human T-helper/inducer cell, T-cytotoxic cell, B-cell, and natural killer (NK)-cells and induction of natural killer cell activity against K562 chronic myeloid leukemia cells with modified citrus pectin. BMC Complement
8. Merheb R, et al. Immunomodulatory effect of natural and modified Citrus pectin on cytokine levels in the spleen of BALB/c mice. Int. J. Biol. Macromol. 2019;121:1–5. doi: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2018.09.189.
14. Liao LY, et al. A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide. Chin Med. 2018;13:57. Published 2018 Nov 16. doi:10.1186/s13020-018-0214-9
17. Lee S, Jae-Youl C. Inhibitory Effects of Honokiol on LPS and PMA-Induced Cellular Responses of Macrophages and Monocytes. BMB Reports, vol. 42, no. 9, Korean Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology – BMB Reports, Sept. 2009, pp. 574–579.