The Virus: What Can Be Done

The Virus: What Can Be Done

by David Archibald

31 March 2020


The first thing that can be done is to build your immunity and resilience, to reduce the chance of being infected. There are two classes of plants that can help to that end: adaptogens and antivirals. The prime adaptogen is ginseng; it is also the most expensive.

Soviet research on adaptogens began in the 1930s. Folklore has it that it was inspired by the Vikings’ use of rhodiola to help survive the northern winter. By 1951, ginseng was approved by the USSR Pharmacology Committee and recommended for use by the general public. It was this Soviet research that started the popularity of ginseng in the West. In South Korea there is a Ginseng Research Institute and a Journal of Ginseng Research. Ginseng has a multitude of seemingly miraculous properties. For example, it promotes blood vessel formation (angiogenesis) for postsurgical wound healing, while suppressing it for tumours. Ginseng requires 80% shade and is slow growing.

Ginseng is expensive to farm at high quality, so the Russians switched to researching schisandra, rhodiola, eleuthero and Manchurian thorn. By 1962, eleuthero was added to the pharmacopoeia of the Soviet Union, because its price to performance ratio beat ginseng.  Amongst other things, the Russians tested adaptogens by making rats swim to exhaustion. The rats given adaptogens swam for 25% longer than the control rats. Adaptogens seem to boost system performance and resilience without causing burnout. Some good adaptogens include:

Ashwagandha                       Withania somnifera           

Eleuthero                              Acanthopanax senticosus  

Ginseng                                 Panax ginseng, Panax quinquefolius

Schisandra                            Schisandra chinensis

There are herbs with high anti-viral efficacy that are recommended for treating the flu. They may have some effect on the Wuhan virus:

Elderberry                             Sambuca nigra

Propolis                                 Resin produced by bees from plants

Boneset                                 Eupatorium perfoliatum

Forsythia fruit                     Fructus forysthiae

Honeysuckle flowers          Lonicerae japonicae

Yarrow                                   Achillea millefolium

In North America at the beginning of the 20th century it was “common to see boneset hanging from the rafters of a settler’s home, ready to making into strong decoctions if the household was affected by a virulent flu.” This is similar to central European farm households with a loaf of mouldy bread in the rafters ready to be applied to cuts and wounds to stop bacterial infection, predating the discovery of penicillin by hundreds of years.

A study of a commercial elderberry extract, Sambucol, showed it to be effective in vitro against 10 strains of influenza virus. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study, Sambucol reduced the duration of flu symptoms to 3-4 days. Sambucol increased TNF-alpha production 45-fold.

The Wuhan virus has a pronounced age distribution, far more than other viral infections. It apparently has little effect on those under 30 years of age. The human system that resembles this age distribution is that of arNOX.

The Professors Morre at Purdue University, Jim and Dorothy, discoverers of the NOX molecule and its tumour variant, also discovered an aging-related variant they called arNOX. This variant is located at the cell surface and has a 26 minute period. They are absent or present at levels below the limit of detection for young individuals, that is, those less than 30 years old. They then increase with increasing age to circa 60 to 70 years old.

arNOX differs from the other NOX proteins in producing a burst of superoxide during their 26 minute cycle. This is not a good thing. As the Morres say in their book, “The reactive oxygen species generated from the superoxide such as hydrogen peroxide through dismutation can become accessible to lipoproteins in the circulation resulting in lipid oxidation and increased atherogenic risk as well as resulting in damage to adjacent cells and extracellular supporting matrices important to skin health.”

As the figure above shows, the serum arNOX level correlates strongly with incidence and mortality of the Wuhan virus. Fortunately, the Morres went on to determine what inhibits arNOX. Apart from CoQ10 and schisandra, they found the French Provencal herbs are strong arNOX inhibitors, as per the following table:

Herb                          Species                                 Inhibition  

                                                                                    arNOX          Lipid Oxidation

Marjoram                  Origanum majorana           50%                  77%

Rosemary                  Salvia rosmarinus               59%                   95%

Basil                           Ocimum basilicum              82%                  93%

Sage                            Salvia officinalis                  54%                   70%

Tarragon                   Artemisia dracunculus       82%                  93%

Savory                        Satureja hortensis               89%                100%

Savory and tarragon were effective at concentrations as low as 75 ng/ml. There would be plenty of other plants that would be found to be arNOX-inhibitors once they are tested. The apparent correlation between arNOX and the Wuhan virus does not imply causation but it would be good to test the relationship.

There could be a role for vaping in heading off the Wuhan virus. Frankincense, the gum of Boswellia spp., is antiviral, anti-inflammatory and boosts the immune system. Cannabidiol, a non-psychotic component of Cannabis sativa, does the same. The oral bioavailability of cannabidiol is low, possibly in the range of six percent to 19 percent. Bioavailability via inhalation is three times higher at an average of 31 percent. The half-life of cannabidiol in the body ranges from 18 to 32 hours. Taking cannabidiol with or shortly after a meal increases the maximum blood concentration by up to 14-fold and the area-under-the-curve (concentration by time) by four-fold6.

The fat content of a meal can lead to significant increases in cannabidiol uptake and can account for variability in bioavailability and overall drug exposure within patients with oral products.

For the infected, the current best treatment appears to be a combination of chloroquine, an antibiotic, and zinc sulphate. As an antimalarial, chloroquine works by stopping heme, from the digestion of haemoglobin, being converted to hemozin. The parasite is killed by the accumulation of this metabolic waste. In the Wuhan virus, chloroquine works by being a zinc ionophore, transporting zinc from the extracellular fluid into the cell. In turn the increased level of zinc interferes with the RNA-synthesising activity of the multiprotein replication and transcription complex of the virus.  The zinc sulphate provides extra zinc to the body but a zinc ionophore is required to pump up the level in cells.

That begs the question of what other zinc ionophores are out there. There are some naturally occurring ones, such as quercetin (present in a range of fruit and vegetables) and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG — the active component of green tea). Both can be purchased as concentrated extracts though excessive intake of EGCG may cause liver toxicity. In 2018, the European Food Safety Authority stated that daily intake of 800 mg or more could increase risk of liver damage. This review had been prompted by a number of instances of liver damage, including a Canadian teenager taking green tea pills and needing dialysis for her liver, and an Australian man who required a liver transplant.

Some water-soluble zinc ionophores have been developed for cancer treatment; and another one.

The Wuhan virus won’t be the last viral pandemic to hit humanity. It seems that zinc ionophores are likely to have a role in treating all that come along. In turn, that means examining the price to efficacy ratio of chloroquine against all the other zinc ionophores, to see what should be stockpiled.

The Wuhan virus causes damage to the lungs, kidneys and liver. Some patients’ lungs may take years to recover. With respect to the liver, the best treatment is with milk thistle extract containing the molecule silymarin. Silymarin promotes healing of damaged livers.


David Archibald is the author of American Gripen: The Solution to the F-35 Nightmare