Zinc is a very powerful way to strengthen your body against viruses. The National Institutes of Health notes:
Zinc is found in cells throughout the body. It helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses.
An abundance of evidence has accumulated over the past 50 years to demonstrate the antiviral activity of zinc against a variety of viruses, and via numerous mechanisms.
Ionic zinc possesses unique and distinct antiviral properties against a number of human viruses …. Zinc has been shown to contribute to a number of innate and adaptive immune signaling pathways that have been comprehensively reviewed recently.
Upon recognition of microbial antigens … a rapid and transient influx of free zinc ions occurs.
Zinc plays a significant role in the response to [interferons] by modulating secretion, cytokine potency, and receptor binding, as well as influencing signaling intermediates and pathway inhibitors.
Zinc is a component of many enzymes and transcription factors in cells all over the body, and inadequate zinc levels limit the individual’s ability to mount an adequate immune response to infections. Multiple meta-analyses and pooled analyses of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have shown that oral zinc supplementation reduces the incidence rate of acute respiratory infections by 35%, shortens the duration of flu-like symptoms by approximately 2 days, and improves the rate of recovery. The studies were conducted in the US as well as in multiple low- and middle-income countries such as India, South Africa, and Peru. The dose of zinc in these studies ranged from 20 mg/week to 92 mg/day. Dose does not appear to be the main driver of the effectiveness of zinc supplementation. [More on this below.]
Zinc was shown to inhibit viral replication in many other types of coronavirus, including in the original SarsCov coronavirus. Many common colds are actually mild coronaviruses, and as UCHealth points out:
A Cochrane review updated in 2013 summarized 18 randomized controlled trials involving 1,781 participants across all age groups found that zinc – particularly in lozenge or syrup form – “inhibits replication of the virus” that cause the common cold and shortens average duration of the common cold when taken within 24 hours of onset of symptoms at a dose of more than 75 milligrams a day.
A 2010 study led by University of Leiden Medical researchers in the Netherlands sought to understand how zinc inhibited that replication. The team reported that zinc inhibits a cousin of SARS-CoV-2: SARS-CoV, the original SARS of the 2003 outbreak.
And it could be very helpful in fighting this specific type of coronavirus, SarsCov2 (i.e. Covid):
Interestingly, most of the risk groups described for COVID-19 are at the same time groups that were associated with zinc deficiency. As zinc is essential to preserve natural tissue barriers such as the respiratory epithelium, preventing pathogen entry, for a balanced function of the immune system and the redox system, zinc deficiency can probably be added to the factors predisposing individuals to infection and detrimental progression of COVID-19. Finally, due to its direct antiviral properties, it can be assumed that zinc administration is beneficial for most of the population, especially those with suboptimal zinc status.
The fact that zinc deficiency is responsible for 16% of all deep respiratory infections world-wide provides a first strong hint on a link of zinc deficiency with the risk of infection and severe progression of COVID-19 and suggests potential benefits of zinc supplementation.
Infections with coronaviruses go along with damage of the ciliated epithelium and ciliary dyskinesia consecutively impairing the mucociliar clearance. It was shown that physiological concentrations of zinc increase ciliary beat frequency. Moreover, zinc supplementation in zinc deficient rats had a positive effect on the number and the length of bronchial cilia …. Improved ciliary clearance does not only improve the removal of virus particle, it also reduces the risk of secondary bacterial infections ….
Zinc is essential for preserving tissue barriers
Zinc … might decrease ACE-2 expression and thus viral entry into the cell.
As a virus, SARS-CoV2 is highly dependent on the metabolism of the host cell. Direct antiviral effects of zinc have been demonstrated in various cases …. Examples include coronaviridae [i.e. coronaviruses].
Zinc supplementation improves the mucociliary clearance, strengthens the integrity of the epithelium, decreases viral replication, preserves antiviral immunity, attenuates the risk of hyper-inflammation, supports anti-oxidative effects and thus reduces lung damage and minimized secondary infections.
Need to Catch a Ride
However, it is difficult for zinc to get into your cells unless it catches a ride from a “zinc ionophore”. An ionophore is just a substance which transports things across the lipid boundary of your cells.
Hydroxychloroquine is a zinc ionophore.
Another drug, clioquinol, is even more potent. One of the scientists who discovered that chloroquine is a zinc ionophore (Dr. Wei-Qun Ding from the University of Oklahoma) told me that he estimates that clioquinol is 10 times more powerful as a zinc ionophore compared to hydroxychloroquine.
Leslie Costello – an oncology professor at the University of Maryland – agrees that clioquinol is a more powerful zinc ionophore than hydroxychloroquine:
ZnClioquinol [i.e. clioquinol zinc ionophore] has a zinc-binding affinity of logKf=7-8; which is ideal for the competitive binding of most of the plasma zinc that exists in the exchangeable ZnLigands. In contrast, chloroquine zinc ionophore (ZnChloroquine) has a logKf=5-6. Consequently, it competitively binds with much less zinc that is delivered to the … site.
However, most scientists believe that clioquinol is much more dangerous than hydroxychloroquine.
Moreover, both clioquinol and hydroxychloroquine are only available in the U.S. by prescription. The science around hydroxychloroquine is so politically charged at the moment that it is difficult to obtain a prescription, and some have warned of dangerous side effects of hydroxychloroquine (I won’t give you my own opinion on this issue; make up your own mind). And hydroxychloroquine is important for people with certain conditions such as lupus, and so- if everyone took hydroxychloroquine – it would create a shortage for those people.
More importantly, even those who believe that hydroxychloroquine is helpful against Covid say that it is only effective if taken very soon after catching the disease. But many people are asymptomatic (at least at first), and don’t know they have Covid until it’s too late.
So how can you know to take something when you don’t even know you have a bug?
Fortunately, the main active ingredient in green tea, epigallocatechin gallate (“EGCG”) has been shown by a team of Spanish scientists to be 60% as powerful a zinc ionophore as clioquinol, which is the world’s most powerful zinc ionophore. Dr. Juan Bautista Fernández Larre – a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili – and his team have published several scientific papers on the topic.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.