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The Food and Supplement Guide For

the Coronavirus
by Chris Masterjohn, PhD

This guide provides my recommendations for nutritional and herbal prevention of the
coronavirus. No one has tested any of these strategies in rigorous studies. That would be
impossible, because the new coronavirus just hit us by surprise. Still, there is plenty of science
on how the new coronavirus causes infections, and how similar or different it is from many
viruses that we know a lot about. I have used that science to carefully analyze which immune
support strategies are likely to protect us, and which carry a risk of hurting us. This protocol
represents the best of science-backed strategies for nutritional and herbal prevention.

Extremely Important Disclaimer


This protocol is not meant to substitute for the public health recommendations around hygiene and social
distancing. These must take first place in prevention. There is no safer way to prevent spreading the
infection than to keep the virus far away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. For examples of how I
personally am implementing hygiene and social distancing, please read my article at
chrismasterjohnphd.com/covid19.

This guide is meant for educational purposes only, and does not constitute medical or nutritional advice or
act as a substitute for seeking such advice from a qualified health professional.

In order to make this guide easier to read, I have used a conversational tone in many places with
personal pronouns, such as “I” and “you.” This is meant only to make it more pleasant to read, and is not
meant to imply that the guide constitutes any form of advice, whether personal or general.

Table of Contents
● The Protocol ……………………………………………… Page 2
● Why This Protocol Will Work, Made Simple………….... Page 5
● A Detailed Scientific Analysis………………………….... Page 18
● Further Reading, Staying in Touch, and a Final Note… Page 31
● References………………………………………………… Page 32

Copyright © Chris Masterjohn, 2020. All rights reserved. Not for distribution. Do not store this in the files of a public web site.
This guide is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or nutritional advice. Do not use these strategies as a
substitute for hygiene and social distancing recommendations made by public health authorities.

Page 1

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The Protocol
This protocol, except where otherwise noted, is meant to serve as prevention while the threat of
the new coronavirus remains high or uncertain. This is meant as first-line nutritional and herbal
defense, which is, in the big picture, second-line defense after strict hygiene and social
distancing as being recommended by public health experts.

The amounts listed are for adults. For children whose weight is measured in pounds, divide the
doses by 150 and multiply by the child’s bodyweight. For children whose weight is measured in
kilograms, divide the dose by 70 and multiply by the child’s bodyweight.

The Essentials

● Elderberry: 700-1000 milligrams per day of elderberry extract from syrup, capsules, or
lozenges. When using a syrup, check the label or the manufacturer’s description to
make sure the exact amount of elderberry extract is reported. With some syrups, this
could be as little as two teaspoons, and with others, it could require as much as four
tablespoons.

● Nutritional Zinc: Foods or supplements providing 7-15 milligrams of zinc taken four
times per day, spread out as much as possible. Choose one of the following options to
provide each dose of 7-15 milligrams of zinc: one or two oysters; oyster extract
supplements providing the equivalent; any zinc supplement (including zinc methionine,
glycine, gluconate, acetate, citrate, or sulfate) that isn’t oxide or picolinate. Take on an
empty stomach unless that causes nausea. If you take it with food, avoid taking it with
whole grains, nuts, seeds, or legumes.

● Ionic Zinc Lozenge or Spray: Choose one of the following options. Option 1: Life
Extension Enhanced Zinc Acetate lozenges. Suck on one per day, allowing it to fully
dissolve without chewing it or swallowing any pieces (this takes about a half hour).
Option 2: Transfer a bottle of liquid ionic zinc (you should be able to calculate from the
label that it has 900-1200 milligrams of zinc per ounce) into a fine mist spray bottle. Use
two or three sprays per day, trying to get the tongue, inside the mouth, and the back of
the throat. If you get sick: Upon the first sign of a cold (such as a sneeze, cough, or sore
throat), or the first sign of what could be the coronavirus (such as a dry cough or a
fever), increase the dosing to one lozenge or 2-3 sprays every two hours until the illness
is gone. (And if you think you have the coronavirus, seek medical attention.)

Copyright © Chris Masterjohn, 2020. All rights reserved. Not for distribution. Do not store this in the files of a public web site.
This guide is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or nutritional advice. Do not use these strategies as a
substitute for hygiene and social distancing recommendations made by public health authorities.

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● Copper: Aim to get 4-8 milligrams of copper per day. Mix and match from the following.
If you chose oysters for the “nutritional zinc” part, this will provide 2 milligrams of copper.
If you instead chose a zinc supplement that had copper in it at a 15-to-1 ratio (for
example, Jarrow Zinc Balance), this will provide 4 milligrams of copper. Transfer a liquid
ionic copper supplement (you should be able to calculate from the label that it has about
70 milligrams of copper per ounce) to a fine mist spray bottle, and spray it onto the
tongue, inside the mouth, and the back of the throat. Two or three sprays provides 1
milligram of copper. For each additional 2 milligrams you will need, use any one of the
following food options: 25 grams of spirulina, 40 grams of shiitake mushrooms, 50 grams
of sesame seeds, 50 grams of cocoa powder, 56 grams of 90% dark chocolate, or 70
grams of 70% dark chocolate. If at this point you still have not hit the target, make up the
remainder with MitoSynergy MitoActivator Extra Strength, which provides 1 milligram for
every 2 capsules. If this is not affordable, make up the remainder with a copper sulfate
or copper glycinate supplement.

These Might Help (Optional Add-Ons)

● Garlic or Stabilized Allicin: 180 micrograms per day of stabilized allicin; or one clove of
fresh, raw garlic, crushed, exposed to open air for ten minutes, and eaten without
cooking or mixing with other ingredients; or 4 grams of garlic powder, mixed with water,
exposed to open air for ten minutes, and eaten without cooking or mixing with other
ingredients.

● Echinacea: 500-900 milligrams of echinacea extract per day, in 3 or 4 divided doses.

● Vitamin C: 150 milligrams per day, preferably from food. Food options include one
serving (100 grams, or 3-4 ounces) of green chilli peppers, yellow or green bell peppers,
guavas, or currants; two servings of kale, broccoli, kiwifruit, red bell peppers, jalapeno
peppers, red chilli peppers, Tahitian taro, or mustard spinach; or three to five servings of
oranges, strawberries, pineapple, papayas, lemons, peas, cabbage, green cauliflower,
Brussels sprouts, banana pepper, red or cayenne pepper, mustard greens, persimmons,
kohlrabi, pummelo, turnip greens, balsam pear, taro leaves, drumstick leaves, longans,
or litchis.

● N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC): This does not have a role as a preventative, but 600
milligrams per day might be useful to help lung recovery for someone who contracts the
illness.

Copyright © Chris Masterjohn, 2020. All rights reserved. Not for distribution. Do not store this in the files of a public web site.
This guide is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or nutritional advice. Do not use these strategies as a
substitute for hygiene and social distancing recommendations made by public health authorities.

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Things to Limit Or Avoid

● Don’t take high doses of vitamins A or D: Limit vitamin A from animal sources to
3,000 IU per day (from one serving of liver per week or a half teaspoon to a teaspoon
per day of cod liver oil or a combination of eggs, dairy, and cod liver oil.) If you use a
multivitamin and it has vitamin A as retinol or retinyl palmitate, make sure to count that
vitamin A toward this number. Don’t worry about your intake of richly colored red,
orange, yellow, and green veggies; just eat them normally. If you’re vegan, only
supplement with retinyl palmitate if you have dry eyes, poor night vision, or any skin
problems that fall into the category of hyperkeratosis, and limit it to 3,000 IU per day.
Don’t supplement with vitamin D at all.

● Limit Calcium and Don’t Use Calcium Supplements That Aren’t Balanced by
Phosphorus: Unless advised otherwise by your doctor for medical treatment, limit your
total calcium intake from foods and supplements to 1000 milligrams per day (the amount
in about three servings of dairy or three servings of canned sardines with the edible
bones). Don’t use any calcium supplement besides bone meal. If you have a reason not
to use bone meal (for example, you are vegan), make sure you balance any calcium
supplement you take by supplementing with an equal amount of phosphorus.

● Don’t Use Monolaurin: This has the risk of hurting our immune system as much as it
hurts the virus.

● Don’t Use High-Dose Vitamin C, Pelargonium Sidoides (Umcka), or Bee Propolis:


These all carry the risk of making the lung damage worse if you get infected.

Explanations for the protocol start on the next page!

Copyright © Chris Masterjohn, 2020. All rights reserved. Not for distribution. Do not store this in the files of a public web site.
This guide is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or nutritional advice. Do not use these strategies as a
substitute for hygiene and social distancing recommendations made by public health authorities.

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Why This Protocol Will Work, Made Simple
If you want a simple explanation for why this protocol is our best strategy to stay healthy in the
midst of the coronavirus crisis (after the first-line defenses of hygiene and social distancing), this
is the section to read.

(If you’d prefer scientific jargon and references, you may wish to skip ahead to “A Detailed
Scientific Analysis.”)

How Do We Know Which Foods and Supplements Will Work?

The current coronavirus epidemic is so new that we don’t have any proof showing which foods
and supplements will help prevent it, or which ones will help lower our risk of dying or
developing serious health problems if we do get sick.

We have to come up with a plan, however. We all have to eat, and many of us will be
supplementing with whatever we think will work. So how do we choose the foods and
supplements that are most likely to protect us?

First let’s look at what we shouldn’t do.

“Supporting the Immune System” Can Backfire


One way to approach this that doesn’t work is to eat foods or take supplements simply because
they support our immune system.

While this seems to make sense, it has a huge potential to backfire. Viruses often hijack things
in our body that ordinarily make us healthy to find their way into our cells. The sneakiest viruses
may then undermine our immune system and stop it from working, or, worse yet, hijack it and
use it against us to make us get even sicker.

For example, the coronavirus gets into our cells by hijacking a substance known as “ACE2”
whose normal role is to keep our blood pressure from getting too high and to keep our lungs
and heart healthy. Vitamins A and D are normally incredibly important to our immune systems.
They help us make antibodies and other virus-busting weaponry. And they support our blood
pressure and the health of our lungs and heart by helping us make more ACE2. Vitamins A and

Copyright © Chris Masterjohn, 2020. All rights reserved. Not for distribution. Do not store this in the files of a public web site.
This guide is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or nutritional advice. Do not use these strategies as a
substitute for hygiene and social distancing recommendations made by public health authorities.

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D are good for our lungs, good for our heart, and they support our immune system. Yet, by
increasing the amount of ACE2 that the coronavirus can hijack in order to get inside our cells,
supplementing with them may actually make us more vulnerable to infection.

As a second example, vitamin A, vitamin C, and an herbal remedy known as pelargonium


sidoides and marketed as “Umcka,” can all help us destroy viruses by making an
immune-boosting, virus-busting superweapon known as interferon. Unfortunately, when it
comes to interferon, the coronavirus most likely behaves just like its evil twin, SARS, which did
its worst harm back in 2003. SARS stands for “severe acute respiratory syndrome.” The virus
that causes it first poisons our ability to make interferon so that it can rapidly reproduce to
achieve massive levels in our lungs. Then, once it’s taken over, it causes us to make crazy
amounts of interferon that vastly exceed what we would normally make in response to the virus.
The excess interferon causes such a storm of inflammation that it leads to the lung damage and
death that this nasty virus became famous for.

In the early stage of infection, when the virus is poisoning the interferon system, it’s not clear
whether vitamin A, vitamin C, or Umcka would be effective. The virus may well undermine their
interferon-boosting abilities completely. In the later stage of infection, when the virus is hijacking
interferon to cause lung damage and death, interferon-boosting supplements could have the
potential to make things worse.

So, when deciding how to protect ourselves from the coronavirus, “supporting the immune
system,” doesn’t cut it. We need a smarter approach.

Copying What We Do for Colds and Flu Doesn’t Work


As with supporting the immune system, we can’t just copy and paste whatever we usually do for
colds and flu.

Sometimes this will work. For example, certain types of zinc lozenges can stop a cold dead in its
tracks, and everything we know so far suggests that zinc offers strong protection against the
coronavirus too. Elderberry is very effective against the flu, and it’s probably just as effective
against the coronavirus.

Yet, other times this doesn’t work at all. For example, vitamins A and D prevent colds from ever
happening in the first place, but they have a strong chance of making us more likely to get the
coronavirus. Umcka makes colds less severe, but has a good chance of making the lung
damage from the coronavirus more severe.

There’s simply no relationship between whether something works for colds and flu and whether
it is likely to work for the coronavirus.
Copyright © Chris Masterjohn, 2020. All rights reserved. Not for distribution. Do not store this in the files of a public web site.
This guide is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or nutritional advice. Do not use these strategies as a
substitute for hygiene and social distancing recommendations made by public health authorities.

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The Solution: Tapping Into Our Knowledge of the Coronavirus
So what is the solution?

Fortunately, we can use our understanding of how the virus infects us and how it works its dirty
tricks to generate really great ideas that are likely to help and very unlikely to cause any harm.

Here are a handful of things we know:

● This new coronavirus that we are currently fighting belongs to a much larger group of
coronaviruses. However, the many coronaviruses can be very different from each other.
Some of them are so weak that all they can cause is the common cold. Others are so
strong they can kill people. In terms of their inner biology, this one happens to be over
87% similar to the coronavirus that caused the SARS outbreak in 2003, which is named
“SARS coronavirus.” In fact, this new virus is so similar to that old one that its technical
name is “SARS coronavirus 2.”

● This new coronavirus, the original SARS coronavirus, and only one other known
coronavirus (human coronavirus NL63) find their way into cells by hijacking a substance
known as ACE2. Under ordinary circumstances, ACE2 helps keep our blood pressure
under control and keeps our lungs and heart healthy, but these three coronaviruses use
it as a back door to infiltrate our cells. Virtually all other viruses, including all the other
known coronaviruses, use completely different ways of getting into our cells.

● SARS and another coronavirus known as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS),
which emerged in 2012, both evade, undermine, and hijack our own natural antiviral
defense, interferon. Given the similarity between the biology of the new coronavirus and
SARS, and given the similarity in the lung diseases caused by all three viruses, it’s very
likely that the new coronavirus has a very similar way of twisting our interferon response
towards its own evil ends.

● Coronaviruses belong to a much larger group of viruses known as lipid-enveloped


viruses. They have an oily coating that helps protect them from our immune systems, yet
leaves them vulnerable to soap and to certain substances in foods and supplements that
can penetrate or dissolve the oily coating.

Copyright © Chris Masterjohn, 2020. All rights reserved. Not for distribution. Do not store this in the files of a public web site.
This guide is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or nutritional advice. Do not use these strategies as a
substitute for hygiene and social distancing recommendations made by public health authorities.

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When considering whether foods and supplements are likely to be effective against the new
coronavirus, here are the questions we should ask:

● Is it effective against SARS?

○ Since the biology of the two viruses are 87% similar, things that are effective
against SARS are likely to be effective against the new coronavirus.
○ If it’s not effective against SARS, there’s a good chance it’s not effective against
the new coronavirus either.

● Does it prevent the SARS coronavirus or human coronavirus NL63 from hijacking
ACE2 to get into our cells?

○ If so, it almost certainly prevents the new coronavirus from doing the same thing.
○ On the other hand, if it’s preventing some other virus from getting into cells by
some completely different means, that really tells us nothing about whether it
would stop the new coronavirus from getting in.

● Does it help us kill other viruses mainly by helping us make more interferon?

○ If so, it might not work the same way with the new coronavirus, which likely has a
SARS-style way of evading, undermining, and hijacking the interferon system. It
could be ineffective, or even make things worse.
○ If not, it runs less of a risk of making any potential lung damage worse.

● Does it destroy the lipid envelopes of most or all enveloped viruses?

○ If so, it probably destroys the lipid envelope of the new coronavirus too. In this
case we could learn from any collection of enveloped viruses, even if they have
little else in common with the new coronavirus.
○ If not, we shouldn’t assume too much about things that kill distantly related
viruses. With the exception of envelope-busting powers, we should focus on the
closely related viruses we discussed above.

Allright. With those concerns in mind, let’s take a look at our foods and supplements!

Copyright © Chris Masterjohn, 2020. All rights reserved. Not for distribution. Do not store this in the files of a public web site.
This guide is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or nutritional advice. Do not use these strategies as a
substitute for hygiene and social distancing recommendations made by public health authorities.

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Elderberry
Elderberry is a type of berry usually sold as a syrup, a powdered extract contained in capsules,
or as an ingredient in lozenges.

Elderberry is highly effective against human coronavirus NL63, one of the three known
coronaviruses to enter cells through the ACE2 “back door.” It directly stops the attachment of
the virus to ACE2, so probably does the same for the new coronavirus as well. Since viruses
need to hijack our cells in order to multiply and spread, and since if they don’t do that they
eventually die, blocking the entry of the virus into the cell destroys its ability to multiply, spread,
and survive.

Elderberry’s effects aren’t limited to blocking the ACE2 back door. It also destroys the lipid
envelope of avian infectious bronchitis virus, a coronavirus that infects chickens and other birds,
and in humans it is effective against the flu, which isn’t a coronavirus at all. None of these
viruses enter cells using ACE2. Still, its ability to directly block the use of ACE2 as an entryway
means it has the potential to nip the new coronavirus in the bud and prevent it from ever
establishing an infection in the first place. As a result, it deserves a place as a preventative and
first line of defense against the new coronavirus.

How much should we take?

Human studies using elderberry to combat the common cold and flu have all used 700-900
milligrams of elderberry extract per day, divided in two to four doses, either as lozenges,
capsules, or syrup. When a syrup was used, it was four tablespoons per day of Sambucol,
which provides a little over 750 milligrams of extract. Some elderberry syrups have as much as
1200 mg of extract per tablespoon, however, so always consult the label of the product before
deciding on a dose.

1000 mg of elderberry extract per day is safe over the course of 12 weeks, but high doses like
this haven’t been studied for longer than that.

So, the best approach for elderberry would be to use lozenges, capsules, or a syrup to yield
anywhere from 700 to 1000 milligrams per day during the period where the coronavirus threat is
high or uncertain, and to stop the supplement or reduce the dose to 300 milligrams per day
when the threat has calmed down.

Copyright © Chris Masterjohn, 2020. All rights reserved. Not for distribution. Do not store this in the files of a public web site.
This guide is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or nutritional advice. Do not use these strategies as a
substitute for hygiene and social distancing recommendations made by public health authorities.

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Zinc

Zinc is a mineral that we get from food and is absolutely essential to life. Zinc directly inhibits at
least three tools that the original SARS coronavirus uses to reproduce. Since zinc directly
targets SARS, it is likely effective against the new coronavirus as well.

Zinc interferes with the virus replicating and causing trouble once it’s made it into a cell, but we
currently have no reason to believe it stops the virus from getting in. Still, if the viruses that
make it into our cells can’t replicate, they won’t be able to establish much of an infection. Since
elderberry blocks the entry of the virus into the cell while zinc blocks its replication, zinc is just
behind elderberry in importance as a preventative.

Zinc can be obtained from foods, pills, and lozenges. Lozenges are best for releasing zinc in the
mouth, allowing it to travel into our nose and throat. This is why people often take them for
colds, which mostly infect the nose and throat. Foods and pills get digested and allow zinc to
circulate through all the tissues of our entire body, including our lungs. We know for certain that
the new coronavirus primarily infects the lungs, but we can only say that the infection might start
first in the mouth, nose, or throat. That means we should focus on getting foods or pills to
maximize the amount of zinc within our lungs, and use lozenges alongside this just in case it
turns out to be important to get zinc into the mouth, nose, and throat.

Scientists have studied the ability of zinc lozenges to combat the common cold, but the doses
and types of lozenges used are based on getting zinc into the nose and throat. We don’t have
any good information on how much zinc we should get in order to combat viruses in our lungs.
As a result, my protocol focuses on maximizing the amount of zinc we can get into our bodies
without causing any problems.

The simplest way to get zinc from foods is to eat oysters. We can only absorb a small amount of
zinc per meal, and one or two oysters will easily hit that mark. So, the best way to maximize the
amount of zinc we get into our lungs is to eat one or two oysters three or four times per day.

If that’s too inconvenient or you don’t like oysters, there are oyster extract pills on the market. If
you use one of these supplements, consult the label and take enough capsules to equal one or
two oysters or 7-10 milligrams of zinc, taken four times per day.

If you are allergic to oysters, or you don’t eat them for religious reasons or because you are
vegan, a zinc supplement would be best. Supplements come in a multitude of forms. Good
forms include zinc methionine, glycine, gluconate, sulfate, citrate, and acetate. Avoid using zinc
picolinate or zinc oxide. Zinc supplements usually provide at least 15 milligrams per capsule,

Copyright © Chris Masterjohn, 2020. All rights reserved. Not for distribution. Do not store this in the files of a public web site.
This guide is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or nutritional advice. Do not use these strategies as a
substitute for hygiene and social distancing recommendations made by public health authorities.

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although some have 10 milligrams. Avoid doses higher than this. Take 10-15 milligrams of zinc
four times per day.

Before choosing your zinc supplement, read the copper section below to help you decide
whether to choose a zinc supplement that contains copper or one that does not.

Never take your zinc with whole grains, nuts, seeds, or legumes (which include lentils, peas,
and beans). These foods can block your ability to absorb the zinc. Instead, take it on an empty
stomach if you can. If that makes you nauseous, take it with some food, but not with any of the
foods listed above.

Keep your zinc intake this high while the threat of the coronavirus is high or uncertain. When the
threat subsides, reduce the amount of zinc you get from food and supplements to about 15
milligrams per day, which is what we need for general health.

In addition to getting zinc from foods and supplements, the right zinc lozenges can help us
maximize the amount of zinc in our nose and throat, just in case the coronavirus might turn out
to start its infection there. The only zinc lozenges on the market that are designed to do this
correctly are Life Extension Enhanced Zinc Acetate lozenges. In order to get the zinc into your
nose and throat, it is critical that you suck on these slowly until they fully dissolve rather than
chewing or swallowing them. If you can obtain these, I recommend using one a day
preventatively. At the first sign of a cold, or upon the first of any symptoms that could be the
coronavirus, such as a dry cough or fever, step this up to sucking on one every two hours until
you run out or until the illness has run its course (and if you think you have the coronavirus, see
a doctor!).

If these specific zinc lozenges are unavailable, I recommend buying a bottle of liquid ionic zinc.
Transfer it to a fine-mist spray bottle. Use two to three sprays as the equivalent of one zinc
lozenge, and try to coat your tongue, the inside of your mouth, and the back of your throat.

I recommend using the lozenges or spray preventatively (that is, one lozenge or 2-3 sprays per
day) while the threat of the coronavirus remains high or uncertain, and stopping when the threat
has subsided.

Copper
Copper is a mineral that we get from food and is essential to life.

Although coronaviruses can survive for five to nine days on most surfaces, including teflon,
PVC, ceramic, glass, plastic, silicon, rubber, and stainless steel, they die within five to thirty
minutes on surfaces that contain high concentrations of copper, such as brass.
Copyright © Chris Masterjohn, 2020. All rights reserved. Not for distribution. Do not store this in the files of a public web site.
This guide is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or nutritional advice. Do not use these strategies as a
substitute for hygiene and social distancing recommendations made by public health authorities.

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Copper is just straight up toxic to coronaviruses. Unfortunately, that tells us little about whether
we can use copper to make our nose, mouth, throat, and lungs toxic to coronaviruses, and
nothing about how much copper we would need to consume to do that.

However, we do know that copper has to be balanced with zinc and that, for every 10-15
milligrams of zinc we get, we should get at least one milligram of copper. Since I recommend
above 40-60 milligrams of zinc from food or supplements, plus another 20 milligrams from a
lozenge or spray, this should be balanced with 4-8 milligrams of copper per day.

Some supplements add copper in a 15-to-1 ratio. If you use these, you wouldn’t have to add
extra, but you could add as much as 4 milligrams. If you use oysters to get your zinc, this will
provide about 2 milligrams of copper. You would need 2-6 milligrams more. If you take a zinc
supplement that does not contain any copper, you would need all 4-8 milligrams.

Since copper is most likely toxic to the new coronavirus and since the virus might start its
infection in our mouth, nose, or throat, it might be helpful to get some of this additional copper
by spraying ionic copper into our mouth and throat, as I recommended above for zinc. To do
this, buy a liquid ionic copper supplement, transfer it to a fine mist spray bottle. Spray in the
mouth and back of the throat, and count two to three sprays as providing one milligram of
copper.

Copper in foods is superior to copper in pills, so I recommend trying to get the balance from
food.

Each of the following contain two milligrams of copper:

● 25 grams of spirulina.
● 40 grams of shiitake mushrooms.
● 50 grams of sesame seeds.
● 50 grams of cocoa powder, 56 grams of 90% dark chocolate, 70 grams of 70% dark
chocolate.

Note: Liver is also an excellent source of copper, but, for reasons described in the “Vitamin A”
section, I recommend limiting your consumption of liver while the threat of the coronavirus
remains high or uncertain.

If getting the remainder of your copper from food is inconvenient, or you have other reasons to
avoid the foods listed, you can take a copper supplement. The only one on the market that has
copper in the same form as found in food is MitoSynergy MitoActivator Extra Strength, which

Copyright © Chris Masterjohn, 2020. All rights reserved. Not for distribution. Do not store this in the files of a public web site.
This guide is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or nutritional advice. Do not use these strategies as a
substitute for hygiene and social distancing recommendations made by public health authorities.

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provides one milligram of copper for every two capsules. If this supplement is too expensive,
copper sulfate or copper glycinate are acceptable alternatives.

Garlic and Stabilized Allicin


Garlic possesses a number of antimicrobial effects, and the most important antiviral chemical
that garlic can yield is called “allicin.” Allicin forms when garlic is crushed or diced and left in the
open air at room temperature for at least ten minutes before being eaten.

Garlic supplements do not provide reliable amounts of allicin, but “stabilized allicin” supplements
do. 180 micrograms of stabilized allicin per day reduces the incidence of the common cold by
60-70%.

Neither garlic nor allicin have ever been tested against any of the coronaviruses. However,
allicin combats at least six different viruses, including the causes of herpes, many cases of the
common cold, and most cases of childhood bronchitis and pneumonia. It does so mainly by
destroying the lipid envelope, so it may well destroy the lipid envelope of the new coronavirus as
well. Allicin also shares some chemical properties with zinc that make it possible that it would
work side by side with zinc to inhibit some of the key tools used by the new coronavirus to
reproduce.

Since garlic and stabilized allicin don’t have any coronavirus-specific science behind them,
garlic deserves a lower place in the protocol than elderberry, zinc, and copper. Since it seems
like it should help, though, it is included as an optional add-on for prevention.

If you choose to use it, I recommend using the dose of stabilized allicin shown to be effective
against colds, 180 micrograms per day. You can also obtain this by crushing one clove of raw
garlic, or adding water to 4 grams of garlic powder, and letting it sit for ten minutes before eating
it.

You shouldn’t expect a fancy dinner with garlic in the recipe to provide these benefits, however,
because the heat from cooking and the acids included in many sauces may destroy the allicin.
Garlic cloves vary in size, and they will vary in how much allicin they yield. Therefore, stabilized
allicin provides the most reliable dose, garlic powder is next most reliable, and fresh garlic is the
most variable.

If using the optional garlic or allicin, maintain the dose while the threat of the coronavirus is high
or uncertain, then stop.

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Echinacea
Echinacea is an herb that is often included in supplements, lozenges, or teas meant to support
the immune system. There are no studies testing the effect of echinacea on any coronaviruses.
However, echinacea does help boost the immune system, and it appears to help us combat
viruses primarily by boosting our production of a chemical known as nitric oxide, rather than by
boosting interferon. Nitric oxide appears to help reduce the harm done to the lungs by the SARS
virus. And, as far as we know, SARS and the new coronavirus do not evade, undermine, and
hijack nitric oxide like they do to interferon.

With no coronavirus-specific science available, echinacea is of lesser importance than


elderberry, zinc, and copper. Since there is less information available to predict whether it would
have any special powers against the new coronavirus, it is also of lesser importance than garlic.
Still, it seems to safely support the immune system, so it is included as an optional add-on.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a vitamin that we get from food, and is essential to life. In the small amounts found
in fresh foods, vitamin C is absolutely essential to our immune system. For most of us, vitamin C
supplements help us get better from a cold about one day earlier. This is a small but helpful
effect.

Vitamin C can also be helpful in dire situations. For example, one study examined the effect of
injecting patients with high doses of vitamin C when their lung function was in crisis. The vitamin
C doubled their chances of survival.

However, there aren’t any studies testing vitamin C against any of the coronaviruses. No one in
the study of vitamin C injections was suffering from SARS, the new coronavirus’s evil twin.
Studies show conflicting effects of vitamin C on interferon: in some cases it increases it; in
others, it decreases it. Therefore, it is difficult to predict whether vitamin C would make things
better or worse during the inflammatory destruction of the lungs that happens with SARS and
the new coronavirus.

I therefore recommend eating a diet that provides enough vitamin C to support our immune
system, which is about 150 milligrams per day, but avoiding adding any supplemental vitamin C
on top of this.

You can obtain 150 milligrams of vitamin C from one serving (100 grams, or 3-4 ounces) of any
of the following foods: green chilli peppers, yellow or green bell peppers, guavas, or currants.

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You can obtain the same amount from two servings of any of the following: kale, broccoli,
kiwifruit, red bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, red chilli peppers, Tahitian taro, or mustard
spinach.

Or, you can obtain the same amount from three to five servings of any of the following: oranges,
strawberries, pineapple, papayas, lemons, peas, cabbage, green cauliflower, Brussels sprouts,
banana pepper, red or cayenne pepper, mustard greens, persimmons, kohlrabi, pummelo, turnip
greens, balsam pear, taro leaves, drumstick leaves, longans, or litchis.

If mixing and matching these foods to obtain 150 milligrams of vitamin C is too inconvenient or if
you have reasons to avoid all of these foods, you can supplement with 150 milligrams per day of
vitamin C.

N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC)
NAC doesn’t exist in food, but is used as a supplement to help us get more cysteine into our
cells. We get cysteine ordinarily by consuming protein, the stuff that builds our muscles and is
found in meat, fish, poultry, milk, eggs, and beans. The extra cysteine has many valuable uses,
including supporting the immune system and lung health. In fact, one doctor published a case
where injection of NAC at high doses, followed by supplementation with 600 milligrams per day,
helped someone recover from pneumonia caused by the flu. However, there aren’t any studies
testing it against any coronaviruses. While NAC might have medical use in supporting lung
function during severe infections of the new coronavirus, it does not deserve a place in
prevention.

Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a vitamin that we get from food and is essential to life. Vitamin A supports all
aspects of the immune system, ranging from the production of mucus to the production of
antibodies. However, vitamin A does hundreds of other things, and one of them is to increase
the amount of ACE2 we keep on the outside of our cells. This runs the risk of increasing the
initial entry of the virus into our cells. It is more important to reduce the ability of the coronavirus
to establish an infection in the first place than to support our ability to make antibodies to it after
the infection is established. The increase in ACE2 is just too risky, and I recommend against
using high-dose vitamin A supplementation for prevention against the coronavirus.

Nevertheless, we need enough to meet our basic needs. I recommend aiming for 3000 IU per
day of retinol from animal foods, and trying not to go any higher than this while the threat of the
coronavirus remains high or uncertain. You can get 3000 IU of retinol by consuming 100 grams
(3-4 ounces) of liver once per week, but if you do this you should avoid other animal sources of
vitamin A, such as cod liver oil, eggs, milk and butter. Alternatively, you could mix and match
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these other foods. Cod liver oils vary, and you need to look at the label, but a half teaspoon to a
teaspoon will often provide 2-3000 IU. Each egg and each glass of milk provides about 250 IU
of vitamin A, and other dairy products such as cheese and butter also make small contributions.

For vegetarians, I recommend eating a diet rich in deeply colored red, orange, yellow, and green
vegetables, and only adding a small supplement of vitamin A as retinyl palmitate if suffering
from symptoms of vitamin A deficiency, such as dry eyes, poor night vision, or any of the skin
problems that fall into the category of hyperkeratosis.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a vitamin that we can obtain from food, or by exposing our skin to sunshine, and is
essential to life. Vitamin D is not as critical to the immune system as vitamin A, but it does help
us make virus-busting weapons and it does seem to reduce the risk of the flu (although during
the swine flu pandemic of 2009, all it did was delay catching the flu by a month). However, like
vitamin A, vitamin D increases the amount of ACE2 on our cells and this could increase our risk
of getting infected with the new coronavirus.

I recommend against vitamin D supplementation while the threat of the new coronavirus
remains high or uncertain. Get normal outdoor sunshine, and eat your usual amounts of vitamin
D-rich foods (such as fatty fish), but don’t add any supplements on top of this.

Calcium and Phosphorus


Calcium and phosphorus are minerals that are found in food and essential to life. Most of us
consume too much phosphorus, because it is used in many hidden food additives. Most of us
don’t consume enough calcium, since it is mostly found in milk, edible bones, and dark green
vegetables. Osteopenia and osteoporosis, conditions of weak bones, are common because of
these imbalances.

For most health issues, we want more calcium and less phosphorus. However, a high ratio of
calcium to phosphorus increases the amount of ACE2 on the surfaces of our cells, so could
increase our risk of getting infected with the new coronavirus.

If you’re being treated for osteoporosis or kidney disease and have been instructed by your
doctor to supplement with calcium or to eat a low-phosphorus diet, stick to the doctor’s orders.

In all other cases, I recommend aiming to limit calcium to 1000 milligrams per day (the amount
in three glasses of milk, or three servings of canned sardines with the edible bones inside), and
to avoid calcium supplements that aren’t balanced with phosphorus. Dairy products and bone
meal are balanced with phosphorus, but all other calcium supplements are not. If you are a
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vegan and need to supplement with a vegan source of calcium, supplement with an equal
amount of phosphorus.

Pelargonium Sidoides (Umcka)


Pelargonium sidoides, marketed as “Umcka,” is a medicinal herb from Africa. It is used to treat
infectious bronchitis. It also helps combat human coronavirus 229E, which causes anything
ranging from a common cold to severe pneumonia. However, this coronavirus does not enter
cells using ACE2 and is not very closely related to SARS or to the new coronavirus. Umcka
increases interferon, so it might not be effective against SARS or the new coronavirus, and it
might worsen damage to the lungs once the infection is established. I therefore recommend
against the use of Umcka while the threat of the coronavirus remains high or uncertain.

Honeybee Propolis
Propolis is a substance made by honeybees that offers support to the immune system.
However, it does not have any antiviral activity against any of the coronaviruses that have been
tested, and it has neer been tested against SARS or the new coronavirus. Propolis supports the
immune system in part by boosting interferon, running the risk of making the lung damage from
the new coronavirus worse once infected. I therefore recommend against the use of propolis
while the threat of the coronavirus remains high or uncertain.

Monolaurin
Monolaurin is a supplement derived from coconut that has a wide spectrum of antimicrobial
effects. When we eat coconut, some of its fat is digested into monolaurin, and milk naturally
contains small amounts. Since coconut is a major traditional food in some parts of the world,
and since monolaurin is found in mother’s milk, it is probably healthy to have some of it in our
diet, especially for a baby, whose immune system is not fully developed. However, monolaurin
seems to carry out its antimicrobial effects mainly by disrupting the oily coating of cells, known
as a lipid membrane, and of viruses, known as a lipid envelope. It destroys any bacteria that
doesn’t have a cell wall, a hard structure that covers and protects the membrane. Some of these
bacteria are bad for us, but some of them are good “probiotic” bacteria. It destroys lipid
enveloped viruses, so it would probably destroy the new coronavirus. However, it also hurts the
membrane of our immune system cells and could decrease immune function. Because it could
mess with the balance of bacteria within our body and could potentially decrease immunity, I
recommend against the use of monolaurin while the threat of the coronavirus remains high or
uncertain.

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A Detailed Scientific Analysis With References
Coronaviruses are a group of related viruses that are enclosed in a lipid envelope and are
covered in club-shaped “spike proteins” that are used to enter cells. In a two-dimensional
electron micrograph, the spike proteins look like a corona, the aura of plasma that surrounds the
sun and other stars, derived from the Latin word for “crown.” Some coronaviruses are mild: they
account for about 15% of cases of the common cold.1 Others are life-threatening: severe acute
respiratory syndrome (SARS) emerged in 2002 and had a 10% fatality rate, while Middle East
Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) emerged in 2012 and had a 35% fatality rate.1

Similarities with SARS

The current coronavirus emerged in December of 2019 and was first named the “2019 novel
coronavirus (2019-nCoV) but in February of 2020 it was renamed the SARS coronavirus-2
(SARS-CoV-2) and the disease it causes was named “coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).”2
Its genome is 96% identical to another coronavirus found in bats, suggesting it transferred from
bats to humans.3 Its genome is 80% identical to that of the coronavirus that causes SARS
(SARS-CoV),3 and the majority of its proteins are 85-100% homologous, with an average
homology of 87%.2 Together with a large overlap in the clinical presentation, this similarity led to
it being renamed SARS-CoV-2, and the similarities mean that treatments that were effective for
SARS are very likely to be effective against COVD-19 as well.

The Importance of ACE2


One of the important similarities between the two viruses is the way they enter cells. Viruses
must enter host cells to replicate, and do so first by attaching or “docking” to a substance on the
outside of the cell that has some completely unrelated function in host physiology. Most
coronaviruses whose entry method is well established dock to aminopeptidase N, which
normally plays a role in breaking down protein during digestion or to regulate circulating
proteins.4 SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, by contrast, dock to angiotensin-converting enzyme-2
(ACE2).5,6 Only one other coronavirus is known to dock to ACE2, the human coronavirus NL63
(HCoV-NL63).7

The role of ACE2 in normal physiology is as part of the renin-angiotensin system.8 In this
system, low blood pressure or low blood volume cause a decreased flow of blood through the
kidneys, and the kidneys respond by making renin. Baroreceptors in the aorta and carotid artery
also sense the low blood pressure and respond by increasing sympathetic tone, which also

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increases renal production of renin. Renin is an enzyme that converts angiotensin, released by
the liver, into angiotensin I. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE, not to be confused with
ACE2) in the vascular endothelium of the lung and kidney then convert angiotensin I to
angiotensin II. Angiotensin II acts on angiotensin receptors to cause vasoconstriction, and
causes the adrenals to release aldosterone, which causes the retention of sodium and the
urinary loss of potassium. Together, vasoconstriction and sodium retention both increase blood
pressure, restoring homeostasis. Chronic elevation of angiotensin II also causes cellular
proliferation and fibrosis.

ACE2 functions as a counterbalance to ACE, leading to the conversion of angiotensin II to


angiotensin1-7 or, in conjunction with other enzymes, the conversion of angiotensin I to
angiotensin1-7 instead of its conversion to angiotensin II. Angiotensin1-7 opposes the effects of
angiotensin II on blood pressure, cellular proliferation, and fibrosis. In other words, ACE2 is a
counterbalance to ACE, and angiotensin1-7, the product of ACE2, is a counterbalance to
angiotensin II, the product of ACE. ACE2 and angiotensin1-7 support healthy blood pressure and
cardiovascular function.

ACE2 is most highly expressed in the lung and small intestine,9 which would explain why SARS
and COVID-19 are primarily lung diseases, and why SARS was associated with diarrhea. The
binding of SARS-CoV to ACE2 is thought to downregulate ACE2 expression, leading to a loss of
the anti-proliferative and anti-fibrotic actions of ACE2 in the lung, thereby contributing to the lung
damage that occurs in SARS.2

ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers used to lower blood pressure both increase
ACE2 expression and may increase the susceptibility to COVID-19.10 When evaluating the
potential of nutrients or herbal remedies to help prevent COVID-19, a central concern must be
whether they may impact ACE2 expression as well.

The Importance of Interferon


Another unique aspect of SARS-CoV that most likely applies to SARS-CoV-2 is the way the
virus evades the normal interferon response, undermines it, and then hijacks it and uses it
against the host, a trait it shares with the coronavirus that causes MERS (MERS-CoV).11 Most
viruses cause the host’s immune system to release interferon, which has potent antiviral effects.
By contrast, both SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV evoke little if any interferon response.

One of the key signals of viral invasion that ordinarily stimulates an interferon response is the
presence of double-stranded RNA. This is because host cells make single-stranded RNA
transcripts from DNA, and then use the transcript to make proteins. Viruses, however, have to
copy their own RNA to replicate, leading to the unique presence of double-stranded RNA in the

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host cell. SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV hide their double-stranded RNA in double-membrane
vesicles, which evades detection by the cell.

One of the sensors of double-stranded RNA is retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I), which, as
its name suggests, is made in response to the activated form of vitamin A, retinoic acid. This is
one of the mechanisms by which vitamin A is important to the antiviral defense. However,
SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV possess an enzyme known as papain-like protease that directly
blocks the activation of RIG-I and thereby prevents the induction of interferon, and undermines
one of vitamin A’s key roles in the antiviral response.12 This is just one example: SARS-CoV and
MERS-CoV together have at least 15 different mechanisms of blocking the production of
interferon.11 They also block the cellular response to interferon, causing interferon resistance, so
that what little interferon is made has even less of an effect than would be expected.11

This initial evasion and undermining of interferon induction allows the viruses to replicate very
quickly, unopposed, and achieve very high degrees of infection in the lungs. During the
replication of the virus, macrophages are recruited to the lung, and when the infection is well
established, the macrophages generate an excessive amount of interferon that initiates a
“cytokine storm.”13 In one experiment, mice had the genes for the main interferon receptor
deleted. A dose of SARS-CoV-2 that killed 85% of the normal mice didn’t kill a single mouse
with the deleted interferon receptor. The genetically altered mice also had less damage to their
lung tissue. In contrast, when the mice were exposed to mouse hepatitis virus or influenza A,
the exact opposite happened: a dose of either virus that only killed 10-20% of normal mice killed
100% of the genetically altered mice.14

The mouse study shows two very important principles:

● Interferon contributes to the lung pathology and death that results from infection with
SARS-CoV.
● The unique ways that SARS-CoV and its closely related viruses evade, undermine, and
hijack the normal antiviral interferon response makes interferon have completely
opposite effects on SARS as it has on most other viral diseases. In most viral diseases,
interferon prevents death; in SARS, interferon promotes death.

In 2006, in response to a request by the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a systematic review of clinical treatments for SARS.15
They identified 12 studies in cell culture that all consistently showed interferon destroyed the
SARS virus. They identified three studies in human SARS patients and considered all three
“inconclusive.”

When taking into account how SARS initially delays the interferon response to achieve a greater
degree of infection but later causes an interferon-mediated cytokine storm that contributes to
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lung pathology and death, it is probably the case that interferon could be helpful at an early
stage of infection, but could be harmful when the immune system is primed to respond with a
“cytokine storm.”

Given this, how should we think about nutrients or herbal remedies that support the immune
system by increasing interferon? Without studying them specifically in the context of SARS-CoV,
MERS-CoV, or SARS-CoV-2, we cannot know whether they could overcome the interferon
evasion of early infection. We also cannot know whether they could worsen a cytokine storm
later on in the course of infection. We do know from the mouse study that interferon can save
the lives of mice in the context of typical viruses, but can kill mice in the case of SARS, so
intentionally boosting interferon with nutrients or herbs strikes me as playing with fire.

Why Colds and Flu Are a Poor Model for COVID-19


Most nutrients and herbal remedies people use for immune support have been tested in the
context of colds and flu. Is it safe to generalize from these studies?

Not at all.

Half of colds are caused by rhinoviruses1, and 90% of them dock to intercellular adhesion
molecule-1 (ICAM-1).16 Flu viruses dock to sialic acid.17 Even the coronaviruses that cause 15%
of colds do not dock to ACE2. They use aminopeptidase N18 or sialic acid.19 Preventing the virus
from docking to host cells is a key strategy for preventing infection, but SARS-CoV-2, the cause
of COVID-19, shares its docking mechanism not with cold or flu viruses, but with SARS-CoV,
the cause of SARS.

Interferon administered to human volunteers reduced the incidence and severity of colds20 and,
as discussed above, interferon protects mice from otherwise lethal doses of influenza A.14
Nutrients and herbal remedies that increase the antiviral interferon response should, therefore,
protect against colds and flu. However, just as interferon leads to lung damage and death in
SARS-infected mice,14 and apparently to a cytokine storm in human SARS patients,13 these
same nutrients and herbal remedies might actually cause harm in SARS, and, by extension, in
COVID-19.

Evaluating Nutrients and Herbal Remedies for COVID-19


Currently, SARS-CoV-2 is too new for us to have a body of literature on how specific nutrients or
herbal remedies affect clinical outcomes in COVID-19. We therefore need to predict the
likelihood of risk and benefit based on an understanding of the mechanisms involved and the
similarities between SARS-CoV-2 and its most closely related viruses.

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In this protocol, I considered the following for each nutrient or remedy:

● Does it impact ACE2 expression?


● Has it been shown to prevent docking to ACE2 by SARS-CoV or HCoV-NL63?
● Does it have antiviral activity against SARS-CoV?
● Does it substantially increase interferon, and if so is that a major mechanism of its
antiviral activity?
● Since all coronaviruses have lipid envelopes, does it work by generally destroying lipid
envelopes?
● Has it been tested in humans, at least for more distantly related effects, such as
prevention or treatment of colds and flu?

The ideal candidates downregulate or are neutral toward ACE2, do not have interferon
modulation as a major effect, and have some specific effect against a closely related
coronavirus (such as inhibition of ACE2 docking or of SARS-specific replication proteins) or at
least have a general effect toward lipid envelopes that is likely to generalize to SARS-CoV-2.
Candidates that have been tested in humans, even for something less closely related such as
the cold or flu, give us a best guess for the proper antiviral dose and provide information about
the safety of that dose.

The following nutrients and herbal remedies were screened for inclusion in the protocol based
on their common use for immune support during cold and flu season, or popular suggestions on
the internet that they could be helpful for COVID-19 prevention.

Elderberry
In rhesus monkey kidney cell culture, elderberry has virucidal, anti-plaque, anti-replication and
anti-attachment activity toward HCoV-NL63.21 Caffeic, chlorogenic, coumaric, ferulic, and gallic
acids were the key constituents with antiviral properties, but caffeic acid had had an IC50 (the
concentration that achieves 50% inhibition of the virus) more than ten-fold lower than any other
constituent. Caffeic acid directly binds to ACE2 to prevent viral docking, offering strong support
that elderberry would have similar antiviral effects against SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2.

Elderberry also has antiviral properties toward avian infectious bronchitis virus (IBV), which
infects chickens and other birds, and appears to compromise the lipid envelope.22 Although IBV
is not known to dock to ACE2,4 all coronaviruses have lipid envelopes, so this might be an
additional antiviral mechanism that generalizes to SARS-CoV-2.

Although caffeic acid is present in large amounts in black chokeberries, a number of herbs and
spices, sunflower seeds, ligonberries, prune juice, and dates,23 elderberry extract provides
3.6-12 milligrams (mg) of caffeic acid for every 1000 mg extract. Only black chokeberry has
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comparable amounts (predicting from the fresh weight content and assuming 70% water in the
fresh berry, as published elsewhere24), at 4.7 mg/g extract. Obtaining this amount of caffeic acid
from any other foods would require impossibly high amounts of spices (50-100 grams), or at
least 100 grams of sunflower seed meal, ligonberries, or prune juice, and at least 150 grams of
dates. Although it seems reasonable that the caffeic acid in these foods would have the same
antiviral properties as it has in elderberry, foods are complex mixtures of many compounds with
potentially conflicting effects, so it is possible that the generalization would not hold. Since
elderberry is more convenient to supplement and since it is elderberry that has directly been
tested for antiviral activity, it is elderberry that is included in the protocol.

Trials using elderberry for the flu25 or the common cold26 used 175 mg extract in a lozenge 4
times per day (x/d), 1 tablespoon syrup 4x/d, or a 300 mg extract in a capsule 3 x/d. In a
separate study on cardiovascular disease, elderberry was safely used at 1000 mg extract per
day for 12 weeks.25 These trials are used for the dosing in the protocol.

Zinc
Ionic zinc inhibits three proteins required for SARS-CoV replication: papain-like protease-2,27
3CL protease,28 and helicase.29 That zinc targets multiple proteins specific to SARS-CoV makes
it likely that it inhibits the homologous proteins in SARS-CoV-2.

Zinc has been studied extensively in the treatment of the common cold, and the evidence
strongly favors zinc acetate lozenges.30–32 The critical factor is that the zinc ions are released
into the nasal and adenoid lymph tissue. This requires zinc acetate or gluconate, with zinc
acetate ionizing twice as effectively as zinc gluconate, the absence of other ionizable acids such
as citrate or tartrate, the absence of ionizable magnesium, and that the lozenge not be candied.
One of the key mechanisms of action is that zinc ions interfere with the docking of rhinoviruses
to intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1),16 which occurs mostly in the lymph tissue of the
nose and throat.

There is currently no evidence that zinc ions inhibit ACE2 docking. There are also no strong
similarities between the docking mechanisms of rhinoviruses with ICAM-1 and of the three
coronaviruses that dock to ACE2. In rhinovirus docking,16,33 the positive charges of ICAM-1
lysine residues bind to negatively charged carboxylate ions within the viral capsid. Zinc ions
carry a +2 charge, and displace ICAM-1 by binding to the same carboxylate ions. By contrast,
ACE2 docking by SARS-CoV6 and SARS-CoV-25 is mediated mainly by hydrogen bonds, polar
bonds, and van der Waals force, and the known docking inhibition by caffeic acid is mediated by
hydrogen bonding.21 None of this shows that zinc does not inhibit docking, but the docking
mechanisms are not similar enough to predict that it does.

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Our tentative presumption, then, should be that zinc ions inhibit SARS-CoV-2 replication once
the virus has successfully entered the cell.

The use of zinc acetate lozenges for the common cold emphasizes the provision of ionic zinc to
the nose and throat tissue. This is important because less zinc will migrate throughout the nose
and throat if the zinc does not ionize in the mouth and because other tissues will outcompete
the nose and throat if the zinc is swallowed. It is also important because it is specifically ionized
zinc that inhibits rhinovirus docking, just as it is specifically ionized zinc that inhibits the
SARS-CoV replication proteins. However, since rhinovirus docking occurs on the outside of the
cell, most ionic zinc moving through the nose and throat tissue will remain in ionized form by the
time it reaches the site of rhinovirus docking. By contrast, once zinc enters a cell, the cell will
prioritize how much remains ionized and how much is incorporated into various proteins or other
bound locations. Therefore, the aim of zinc for COVID-19 differs from the aim of zinc for the
common cold in that we primarily care about maximizing the zinc available to the most relevant
tissues, rather than ensuring that it reaches the outside of the relevant cells in ionic form.

This then raises the question of what the relevant tissues are.

Since the virus docks to ACE2, primarily infects the lungs, and is spread primarily by droplets
released during coughing, the infection must begin wherever it would first encounter ACE2 after
entering the nose or throat en route to the lungs. A 2004 paper,9 published when SARS was the
major concern, used immunohistochemistry to determine the expression of the ACE2 protein in
human tissues. This is a technique that uses a specific antibody to the ACE2 protein that can
then be stained and visualized under a microscope. They found high expression in the
endothelial cells that line the insides of blood vessels, in the epithelial cells of the lung alveoli, in
the muscular layer of the gastrointestinal tract, and in the enterocytes of the small intestine, but
not the colon. Although they found ACE2 expressed in the oral and nasal mucosa, it was in the
basal membrane, rather than the environment-facing surface of the apical membrane. This
suggests that the oral and nasal mucosa would not act as a site of infection for SARS-CoV or
SARS-CoV-2. Instead, the virus would have to pass through the nose or mouth to get to the
lungs.

On the other hand, a recent paper published in Nature34 as the concerns over COVID-19
emerged argued that ACE2 is highly expressed through the surface epithelium of the mouth,
with the highest expression on the surface of the tongue. This paper measured RNA expression
resolved down to the single-cell level, and dismissed the results of the previous study as lacking
single-cell resolution.

However, these criticisms are dubious for two reasons.

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First, proteins are made from RNA transcripts and it is proteins that carry out physiological
effects. The virus docks to the ACE2 protein located on the cell surface, not to an ACE2 RNA
transcript inside the cell. Although there is a general tendency overall for RNA expression to
correlate with protein expression, the correlations are strong for some proteins and extremely
weak for others.35 If the protein expression is unknown, the RNA expression cannot be used to
show that the protein is indeed expressed.

Second, the staining techniques used in the 2004 paper were able to determine where the
protein is expressed within the cells. Understanding whether the virus can infect the nose and
throat does not require resolution between single cells, which the 2020 paper had. Instead, it
requires resolution of which side of the cell layer the protein is expressed on, which the 2004
paper had. The fact that the 2004 paper found ACE2 in the nasal and oral mucosa located on
the basal side and not the environment-facing apical side suggests that ACE2-docking viruses
do not infect the oral or nasal mucosa. This is perfectly consistent with the symptoms, wherein a
dry cough is prominent and a runny nose or other cold-like symptoms are rare.2

Overall, the evidence is very strong that SARS-CoV-2 infects the lungs and strongly suggests
that the lungs may be the first to be infected. The evidence that the infection might start in the
mouth or throat is weak. Nevertheless, since so little is known at this stage, I favor using an
approach to zinc that primarily aims to enrich its content in the lungs and only secondarily aims
to enrich its content in the nose and throat as a hedge against the possibility that the evidence
for a role of the oral mucosa might become stronger with time.

The most important use of zinc, then, is oral, using food or supplements. It is generally thought
that we can only absorb 5-7 milligrams of zinc per day,36 limited by the saturation of intestinal
zinc transporters. However, the relevant studies have been limited to less than 20 mg/d.
Supplementation with 100 mg/d zinc sulfate has been shown to more than double total zinc
absorbed from 4.5 to 10.5 mg/d, while decreasing the fraction absorbed from 43% to 9%.37 Zinc
absorption can be increased further by keeping it away from sources of phytate (whole grains,
nuts, seeds, and legumes), and spreading it out across the day.36

Zinc at 50 mg/d has been shown to lower superoxide dismutase,38 and at 85 mg/d increased
self-reported anemia.39 Both of these could probably have been averted by proper balancing
with copper, which is addressed in the section below. However, the increased need for copper at
high zinc intakes reflects increased expression of metallothionein,40 which can bind to many
positively charged metals besides copper.

In an attempt to maximize the total amount of zinc absorbed without going high enough to cause
major imbalances with other nutrients, the protocol recommends small doses of 7-15 mg of zinc
taken away from phytate four times a day, and balances this with an appropriate amount of
copper.
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As a hedge against the possibility that SARS-CoV-2 can infect the mouth or throat, the protocol
also includes one zinc acetate lozenge per day, with a contingency plan to increase the amount
of lozenges used if cold symptoms or potential COVID-19 symptoms are experienced, in line
with the protocols described in the papers cited earlier on using zinc lozenges to fight the
common cold. Since zinc lozenges are likely to be back ordered, the protocol also uses an ionic
zinc spray as an alternative.

Copper
Ionic copper has been shown to inhibit papain-like protease 2 of SARS-CoV, but with an IC50
roughly ten times higher than that of zinc.27

Better evidence for an effect of copper comes from the survival of coronaviruses on copper
surfaces. For most surfaces, such as teflon, PVC, ceramic, glass, plastic, silicon, rubber, and
stainless steel, coronaviruses can last 5-9 days.41,42 However, SARS-CoV only survives for less
than five minutes on surfaces made from alloys of aluminum oxide and either copper or silver.43

Human coronavirus 229E has been studied more extensively.42 It will die in less than 30 minutes
on brass (which is an alloy of zinc and copper) or on any surface that has at least 70% copper.
The greater the copper concentration, the quicker the virus dies. While copper alloys with zinc
inactivate the virus more quickly than copper alloys without zinc, zinc without copper has very
little effect. The effect of copper appears to be the generation of oxidative stress beyond the
toleration of the virus.

So, while zinc ions may be much stronger than copper ions at inhibiting enzymes involved in
viral replication, copper ions seem to be far more directly toxic to the virus.

Since there are no well-studied protocols using copper supplementation against viruses in
humans, copper is included in the protocol to keep the zinc-to-copper ratio within the acceptable
range of 2:1 to 15:144 while staying within the upper limit of 10 mg/d.45 As a hedge against the
possibility that SARS-CoV may infect the mouth and throat, the protocol includes the use of an
ionic copper spray to obtain part of the copper target.

Garlic and Stabilized Allicin


Garlic’s main antiviral constituent is allicin. Garlic does not contain allicin itself. Rather, it
contains alliin, which is converted to allicin within ten minutes when raw garlic is crushed, or
when garlic powder is mixed with water, and either are allowed to sit at room temperature in the
open air for ten minutes.46 Allicin is not stable to heat or pH,47 so if fresh garlic or garlic powder
are used as a source, they need to be eaten without cooking them or mixing them with
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ingredients that might alter the pH. In supplements, garlic extract with “potential” allicin is not
reliable. Only “stabilized allicin” is reliable.48

180 micrograms per day of allicin reduces the incidence of the common cold by 60-70% in
humans.49 This equates to one clove of crushed raw garlic or 4 grams of garlic powder.50 Since
garlic varies in the concentration of its chemical constituents and since garlic cloves vary in size,
the stabilized allicin supplements offer the most control over the dose and crushed raw garlic
offers the least control.

In vitro, allicin has antiviral effects toward herpes simples virus type 1, herpes simplex virus type
2, parainfluenza virus type 3, vaccinia virus, vesicular stomatitis virus, and human rhinovirus
type 2.51 These effects appear to result from damage to the lipid envelope and only work while
the virus is outside of the cell. Since coronaviruses are enveloped, this might generalize to
SARS-CoV-2.

Allicin’s antibacterial effects toward Staphylococcus aureus, however, are from the intracellular
binding to sulfhydryl groups, resulting in the S-allylation of many enzymes, bacillithiol (BSH, a
bacterial analog of glutathione or GSH), cysteine, and coenzyme A.52 The binding to sulfhydryl
groups is also the mechanism by which zinc and copper inhibit SARS-CoV enzymes, so it is
possible that allicin inhibits those enzymes as well. Allicin inhibits papain, so, as the name
suggests, perhaps it also inhibits the papain-like proteases of the SARS-related coronaviruses.

Garlic has never been tested against coronaviruses directly, but since it is plausible and
appears perfectly safe, 180 micrograms of stabilized allicin or its equivalent is included as an
optional add-on in the protocol.

Echinacea
Echinacea extract has been used for the common cold at 500-900 mg per day.53 There are no
studies testing echinacea against any specific coronaviruses. Echinacea appears to work
primarily by supporting the immune system rather than through direct virucidal activity. One
safety concern, then, is whether it increases interferon. It appears, however, to work primarily by
increasing inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and not by increasing interferon.54 iNOS
polymorphisms do not correlate one way or another with with human susceptibility to SARS
infection,55 and in SARS-infected mice, greater iNOS expression protects against the
pathological changes to the lungs.56 Therefore, while there is no clear evidence echinacea will
offer specific protection against COVID-19, 500-900 mg/d echinacea extract appears to be a
safe way to offer general immune support, and it is included as an optional add-on in the
protocol.

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Vitamin C

Doses of vitamin C between 200 and 2000 mg/d have been used to prevent or treat the
common cold.57 Prophylactic use reduces the duration of cold symptoms in children by 14% and
in adults by 8%. Beginning use at the onset of a cold generally does nothing, although one
study found a benefit of using 8 grams on the first day of the cold. The evidence is strongest in
athletes, where 2 g/d used preventatively cut the incidence of colds in half. In a double-blind
randomized controlled trial of the use of intravenous vitamin C during acute respiratory distress
syndrome (ARDS), vitamin C cut the mortality rate in half.58 However, none of these patients
had SARS. Vitamin C has not been tested against any specific coronavirus. Several studies
using cell culture or mouse models have shown conflicting effects of vitamin C on interferon,
either increasing it or decreasing it.59 With the likelihood of causing unexpected effects on
interferon, high-dose vitamin C for COVID-19 prevention seems potentially dangerous.
Therefore, I recommend getting enough vitamin C, preferably from food, to support normal
immune function, the upper bound of which appears to be 150 mg/d.60,61

N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC)
There are no studies directly addressing whether NAC can be used against any coronaviruses,
but it is a precursor to glutathione, which is critical for lung function. One case has been
described in a short letter where 100 mg/kg bodyweight NAC continuous infusion, transitioned
after 3 days to 600 mg twice a day orally, helped mitigate H1N1 flu-mediated pneumonia.62 In
theory, supplemental NAC or glutathione could be useful in mitigating the respiratory
complications of COVID-19, but they don’t have a place in the preventative protocol.

Vitamin A
Vitamin A is absolutely critical to the immune system, supporting the production of everything
from mucus to antibodies. It’s role in the immune system gave it its reputation as “the
anti-infective vitamin” in the early half of the twentieth century.63 Nevertheless, it’s active
metabolite, all-trans retinoic acid, has been shown to upregulate ACE2 in the heart of rats
whose blood pressure was raised by constricting their aortas,64 in the heart and kidney of
spontaneously hypertensive rats,65 in the kidney of rats with glomerular sclerosis (to much
higher levels than even healthy control rats),66 and in rat tubular epithelial cells subject to
hypoxia-repurfusion.67 Due to the consistent ability of retinoic acid to upregulate ACE2 across
multiple models, including the ability to raise it to much higher levels than found in healthy
controls, vitamin A is too risky to use at high doses for the prevention of COVID-19. It has a
substantial risk of increasing susceptibility by increasing ACE2, and the protocol recommends
limiting vitamin A to an amount that covers the basic needs of most people.
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Vitamin D
Vitamin D is needed for the production of antimicrobial peptides such as cathelicidin, and
numerous trials have investigated its ability to prevent the flu. 1200 IU/d was effective at
preventing and shortening the flu in infants and school children,68,69 although during the H1N1
pandemic, it only served to delay contracting the flu by a month in high school students.70

As with vitamin A, vitamin D runs the risk of increasing ACE2. Calcitriol, the active metabolite of
vitamin D, increases ACE2 mRNA and protein in rat pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells
treated with lipopolysaccharide,71 synergizes with diabetes to increase ACE2 protein in the renal
tubules of rats,72 and in the brains of both hypertensive and healthy rats.73

There are three studies that don’t line up perfectly with the three just discussed. In double
transgenic rats overexpressing human angiotensin and renin genes, vitamin D depletion had no
effect on serum ACE2.74 Notably, serum ACE2 would be ACE2 that has been shed from cells
and might block viral entry into cells, not cell surface ACE2 that would enable viral entry. Soluble
ACE2 in serum may not be reflective of cell surface ACE2 in other tissues, and vitamin D
deficiency might not necessarily yield the opposite of high-dose supplemental vitamin D.
Calcidiol, the partially activated metabolite of vitamin D, mitigated the elevation of ACE2 that
otherwise occurred in rat kidney in response to ischemia-repurfusion.75 The authors attributed
this to a reduction in the level of injury to the kidney that led to less overproduction of
angiotensin-II and less of a compensatory elevation of ACE2. Thus, this appears to reflect a
beneficial effect of vitamin D on the resilience of the kidneys to the model of injury being
studied, and not a direct suppressive effect on ACE2. In an observational study in humans,76
people who supplemented with vitamin D had lower circulating ACE2 than those who didn’t
when they had stage 5 kidney disease, but this was not statistically significant if they had less
severe kidney disease, and there was no difference in healthy controls. As with the rat study,
circulating ACE2 is likely to be protective or irrelevant.

Of the four studies that looked at the effect of vitamin D on non-circulating ACE2, three support
an increase, and one supports an indirect decrease that resulted from a protection against the
experimental model of kidney injury. On the balance, vitamin D is likely to increase ACE2
expression, and I recommend against supplementing with it while the threat of COVID-19
remains high or uncertain.

Calcium and Phosphorus


Calcium and phosphorus are important constituents of bone and have a complex hormonal
system that keeps them in the appropriate balance within the blood. As such, they tend to have
opposite effects on certain hormones, such as parathyroid hormone, calcitonin, and fibroblast
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growth factor-23 (FGF23). A high calcium-to-phosphorus ratio suppresses FGF23, while a low
calcium-to-phosphorus ratio increases it.77–79 FGF23 suppresses ACE2,79 suggesting that a high
calcium-to-phosphorus ratio might increase ACE2. As a result, I recommend keeping calcium
supplements limited to 1000 mg/d unless otherwise directed by a physician and making sure
any supplemental calcium is matched with supplemental phosphorus in an approximately 1:1
ratio.

Pelargonium Sidoides (Umcka)


Pelargonium sidoides, marketed in one product as “Umcka,” is rich in many of the same
phenolic compounds as elderberry, but gallic acid is dominant and caffeic and ferulic acids are
only present in low amounts.80 Since caffeic acid is so dominant an antiviral in elderberry when
tested against HCoV-NL63,21 Umcka is likely inferior to elderberry for COVID-19 prevention.

Umcka has some activity against human coronavirus 229E, but the mechanisms are unclear.81 It
appears to mainly target enveloped viruses, but not consistently. It increases both interferon 82
and iNOS83 in cell culture. If it does the same in infected humans, it could have conflicting
effects on lung pathology. It increases neutrophil activity,84 although high neutrophil counts are
associated with poorer SARS prognosis.85

Since elderberry offers more direct antiviral activity and echinacea offers safer immune support
with a more nitric oxide-dominant pattern and less stimulus to interferon, adding Umcka to the
protocol would have too much risk and too little potential for benefit. The protocol therefore
includes a recommendation to avoid Umcka when focusing on COVID-19 prevention.

Honeybee Propolis
Propolis flavonoids do not have significant direct antiviral activity against any viruses, including
coronaviruses, tested.86 Brazilian propolis augments the interferon response in mice infected
with herpes simplex virus type 186 and in chickens vaccinated against Newcastle disease.87
While these data suggest that propolis is useful immune support against some viruses, the
increase in interferon is too risky for COVID-19 prevention, so the protocol recommends against
propolis for this purpose.

Monolaurin
Monolaurin appears to disrupt lipid dynamics in viral envelopes and in the cell membrane of any
organism that doesn’t have a protective cell well. It is effective against lipid-enveloped
viruses,88,89 and it has been argued to only hurt pathogenic organisms because it is effective
against yeast and the bacteria that cause bacterial vaginosis, but not against lactobacillus.90
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However, it is far more likely that lactobacilli aren’t affected by monolaurin because they are
gram positive bacteria with a cell wall that protects their membrane from the harmful effects of it
has on lipid dynamics. Although probiotic bacteria are mostly gram positive, there are probiotic
gram negative bacteria and probiotic yeasts that do not have cell walls,91 and these are probably
vulnerable to monolaurin. In fact, monolaurin impairs human T cell signaling by disrupting the
lipid dynamics of the cell membrane.92 As an enveloped virus, SARS-CoV-2 is probably
vulnerable to monolaurin. However, the possibility that monolaurin could impair T cell
functioning seems too high to risk while the COVID-19 threat remains high or uncertain.

Further Reading, Staying in Touch, and a Final Note


For more on how I’m dealing with the coronavirus beyond this protocol, particularly for hygiene
and social distancing, see my article at chrismasterjohnphd.com/covid19.

Have you already pre-ordered my Vitamins and Minerals 101 book? If so, you have access to a
private Facebook group that I participate in five days a week. Within the group there’s a
coronavirus forum dedicated to discussing the strategies in this guide. Stop by and say hi or ask
a question!

If you aren’t a member of the Facebook group and aren’t sure how to join, log in to your
Vitamins and Minerals 101 Premium dashboard at masterpass.chrismasterjohnphd.com. Click
on “The Facebook Discussion Group” for instructions on how to access it.

If you haven’t pre-ordered the 101 book yet, you can order it at chrismasterjohnphd.com/book.

This guide focuses on nutrition and herbal remedies, but besides the critical hygiene and social
distancing measures, we also need to get good sleep, stay active without being too hard on our
bodies, manage stress well, stay connected to our families and friends, and maintain a positive
outlook. All of these things help support a healthy immune system. They are so hard right now!
Understanding how to deal with this situation is stressful and for many of us it’s a source of
panic. I just want to say that I am grateful to you for having purchased this guide, which helps
support my work and my ability to get the word out, and I hope the effort that I’ve put into this
guide brings calm and clarity your way.

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substitute for hygiene and social distancing recommendations made by public health authorities.

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Copyright © Chris Masterjohn, 2020. All rights reserved. Not for distribution. Do not store this in the files of a public web site.
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