The purpose of this book is to share information about the scientific research on supplements—vitamins, herbs, and other nutrients—and how they might possibly help strengthen the body's defenses against infection and inflammation.
I hasten to emphasize the words might possibly.
At times like this, with a deadly virus in the air, it's natural to interpret "might possibly" as "will definitely." Don't do it. That is not the intent of this book. The intent is to report what I found when I delved into the scientific research on how nutritional and herbal supplements affect the immune system.
Because I am not qualified to prescribe or make therapeutic recommendations, I have made no recommendations for which supplements to take or not take. Nothing in this book should be interpreted as a prescription for what will work for you or me or anyone else.
Nutritional and herbal supplements might help fortify our defenses, but they are not the solution to the coronavirus or COVID-19. At some point—we pray soon—medical research will develop successful treatments and an effective vaccine. Until then, avoiding contact with the virus is our best bet. That's not a disclaimer, that's a fact.
The book began with communication between my family and me regarding supplements that might possibly:
1.) Help strengthen our immune defenses against viral infections, and
2.) Reduce inflammation in hopes of lowering the likelihood of runaway inflammation in the event of an infection.
We began exchanging links to articles and scientific papers and, before long, I found myself immersed in online research.
I approached the scientific literature with a specific purpose: to find research on how vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other supplements affect the immune system. But there's a lot of research out there and reporting all of it, or even most of it, would require a book many times this size.
So I tried to achieve the same balance as the research itself. I didn't report every positive or every negative finding. But if the preponderance of the research I saw seemed to find a positive effect, that is reflected in the chapter.
For most of the supplements there was at least one review paper that described results of prior research. So it was possible to get an idea of the prevailing scientific opinion on whether the supplement was a net plus, minus, or neutral when it came to supporting the immune system.
There is very little supplement research that directly addresses the new coronavirus and COVID-19.
But there is a lot of research that scientifically addresses the question of whether certain supplements and herbs can support the healthy function of the immune system to fight off an infection or come through it faster, with reduced symptoms.
Supplements are not cures. They're not a sure thing. They don't provide invulnerability against infection. They are never a substitute for qualified medical care. The best they can do is strengthen the body's natural defenses. They can't promise more against a virus than maybe ever-so-slightly nudging the odds towards our favor. Sometimes, as it is with other things in life, that can be enough.