Are These Potent Inhibitors of Coronavirus in Your Kitchen Garden?

Are These Potent Inhibitors of Coronavirus in Your Kitchen Garden?

Main image:  Structural anatomy of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) showing how the virus targets lung cells [1].

Our present and future climate is changing.  Combined with the effects of pollution & a rising population – respiratory diseases such as the bird flu & coronavirus may become a seasonal occurrence (like the flu & common cold).  While it is too early for studies to confirm these predictions, the European Respiratory Society is concerned  [2], as viral respiratory tract infections are presently one of the most common illnesses (with six new viruses in recent years [3]).

The climate connection to COVID-19 [4].

THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK

Description: 

A virus is a constantly evolving & cooperating ‘team’ which exists through host infection.  The members of each virus ‘team’ are known as virion (i.e. a single virus particle) & are made of RNA or DNA.  They replicate, by hi-jacking the reproductive process of a living cell [5]. 

The coronavirus is a family of RNA-viruses which infect vertebrates of Kingdom Animalia (including the human species), through the respiratory system [6].  Symptoms of infection are similar to the flu and can include fever, cough & shortness of breath (although no symptoms are also possible) [7].

On 26th February, 2020 Dr.Lisa Maragakis from John Hopkins Medicine provides the following comparison (numbers & dates are approximate) [8]:

INFECTIONS:

                Coronavirus:      18,322 people (3 months).

                Flu:                         1 billion people (each year).

DEATHS:

                Coronavirus:      2,770 deaths (3 months).

                Flu:                         291,000 – 646,000 deaths (each year).

Classification & origin: 

The ‘International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses’ has identified the coronavirus disease COVID-19 to be caused by the virus: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). 

Family:                                  Coronaviridae 

Sub-family:                         Orthocoronavirinae.

Genus:                                 Betacoronavirus.

Species:                               Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-related coronavirus (-CoV).

Coronaviridae is a large family of 11 viruses which causes a range of illnesses, including the common cold.  Originally found in bats, the current outbreak (which is a new strain), COVID-19 is transmitted through several animal hosts including cats & racoon dogs (particularly via the meat trade in China) [9]. 

COVID-19 is sister to SARS-CoV-1 (avian influenza virus or the bird flu) which was transmitted from civet cats causing an outbreak in 2002/2003.  Another significant member of this family is the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) which was transmitted from dromedary camels to humans in 2012 [10], [11], [12], [13].

“Why now?” concerns question the viruses’ move from the original host species to humans.  Possible drivers include a reduction in animal hosts (due to the current mass extinction event), pollution and climate change (which stress the respiratory system & reduces immune system functions). 

How immunity is generated:

Coronavirus is not lethal for 100% of patients – thus, it is possible to generate immunity.  But how?  To answer this, we need to know a little about how the immune system (& immunity) works. 

In 1960, Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet (an Australian virologist) & Sir Peter Brian Medawar (a British biologist & author) won The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for discovery of acquired immunological tolerance” [14].  In layman’s terms, they found an inhibitor which prevents the influenza (flu) virus from being able to infect the respiratory system.

Mannose-binding lectin attaches to virion [15], initiating destruction & generating immunity.

In 1978, the inhibitor was isolated as the mannose-binding lectin (MBL) protein – a key component of the immune system.  It’s mechanism of action is via the lectin pathway, which initiates pattern-recognition (identification) at the cell-molecule interface [16].  When a virus (unwanted molecule) is identified, it is inactivated by breaking apart it’s encapsulating glycoproteins.  This is how immunity to viruses develops, including – AIDS [17], Ebola [18] & SARS [19] (including coronavirus, COVID-19). 

Unfortunately, not everyone develops immunity and genetic disposition [20] causes 5-30 people in every 100 to be deficient [21].  To manage the deficiency, or simply boost the immune system in times of stress, MBL needs to come from an outside source. 

Life-giving proteins enter the body from an outside source daily, through food.  And when plant lectins are ingested without heating above 38°C, they enter the cardiovascular system unchanged  (with their bioactivity intact) [22].  This is fortunate, because it is into this system the liver secretes MBL in those who produce it naturally  [23].  Once in the blood, this vital protein undergoes distribution throughout  the rest of the body thus, defending against infection.

ANTIVIRAL PLANTS HELP GENERATE IMMUNITY

Mannose-binding lectin (MBL) is found in most plants [24].  This is because plants also use it to defend against pathogen attack [25].  Edible plants which contain significant amounts of lectins – enough to inhibit the proliferation of COVID-19 and other viruses [26] include:

Plants or pharmaceuticals – which is the better option?

One option, is to consume edible plants which contain potent inhibitors to coronavirus while other treatments are being made available. Here is a short summary of work being done to produce such agents.

Biomedical Central (BMC) Medicine reports that medicines will take one year or more to develop treatment for COVID 19 & that those which involve the mannose-binding lectin (MBL) include remdesivir & ribavirin, with related treatments being lopinavir/ritonavir. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/339557471_QA_The_novel_coronavirus_outbreak_causing_COVID-19

Frontiers in Bioengineering & Biotechnology Journal have reported that a seaweed containing lectins exhibits broad-spectrum antiviral activity against coronavirus & HIV.   They have devised an efficient, scalable and cost-effective manufacturing process for the adoption of this as a drug in human antiviral therapy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6066545/

The Journal of Infectious Diseases reports that in a study of 569 patients with coronavirus, results suggest that MBL contributes to the first-line host defense against SARS-CoV and that MBL deficiency is a susceptibility factor for infection.
https://academic.oup.com/jid/article/191/10/1697/789682

And Antiviral Research Journal reports that in a study of the antiviral activity of plant lectins, the strongest anti-coronavirus activity was found predominantly among the mannose-binding lectins.  Intervention was early in the replication cycle (most probably viral attachment) & at the end of the infectious virus cycle. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6399009_Plant_lectins_are_potent_inhibitors_of_coronaviruses_by_interfering_with_two_targets_in_the_viral_replication_cycle

Will your doctor tell you about plants which generate immunity to coronavirus?

Even though the majority of medicines are derived from natural products [27], business models and institutional corruption within the health industry [28] prevent information about plant nutrition from being publicly distributed [29].  These problems are systemic and experts are calling for an industry overhaul [30].   In the meantime, pandemics grow more frequent every year. 

Protect yourself, protect your people.

Permaculture teaches us to take responsibility for our own lives & to share what we learn with others in our community.  It is up to us to move this knowledge throughout our community.  Please share to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other serious illnesses.

KUNG FLU – The Wuhan Virus Rap (FT. Lil Feez, Big J, Medium A) [31].

* EARTH CARE * PEOPLE CARE * FAIR SHARE *

Dedicated to my parents.

REFERENCES:

1.            Studio, C. COVID-19 & SARS-CoV-2. 2020  [cited 2020 1st March]; Available from: https://cognitionstudio.com/covid-19/.

2.            Ayres, J., et al., Climate change and respiratory disease: European Respiratory Society position statement. European Respiratory Journal, 2009. 34(2): p. 295-302.

3.            Berry, M., J. Gamieldien, and B.C. Fielding, Identification of new respiratory viruses in the new millennium. Viruses, 2015. 7(3): p. 996-1019.

4.            Bhandari, R. The climate connection to Covid-19. Nepali Times 2020  [cited 2020 1st March]; Available from: https://www.nepalitimes.com/here-now/the-climate-connection-to-covid-19/.

5.            Lodish, H., et al., Viruses: Structure, function, and uses, in Molecular Cell Biology. 4th edition. 2000, WH Freeman.

6.            Masters, P.S., The molecular biology of coronaviruses. Advances in virus research, 2006. 66: p. 193-292.

7.            Carlos, W.G., et al., Novel Wuhan (2019-nCoV) Coronavirus. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 2020(ja).

8.            Lisa Lockerd Maragakis, M.D., M.P.H. Coronavirus Disease 2019 vs. the Flu. 2020  [cited 2020 27th February]; Available from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-disease-2019-vs-the-flu.

9.            Pyrc, K., B. Berkhout, and L. van der Hoek, Antiviral strategies against human coronaviruses. Infectious Disorders-Drug Targets (Formerly Current Drug Targets-Infectious Disorders), 2007. 7(1): p. 59-66.

10.          Gorbalenya, A.E., Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus–The species and its viruses, a statement of the Coronavirus Study Group. BioRxiv, 2020.

11.          GS Randhawa et, a., Machine learning analysis of genomic signatures provides evidence of associations between Wuhan 2019-nCoV and bat betacoronaviruses. 2020, Department of Computer Science, The University of Western Ontario, London, ON,Canada; Department of Biology, The University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada; Department of Statistical and Actuarial Sciences, The University of Western Ontario,London, ON, Canada; Department of Statistical and Actuarial Sciences, The University of Western Ontario,London, ON, Canada.

12.          Corman, V.M., et al., Hosts and sources of endemic human coronaviruses, in Advances in virus research. 2018, Elsevier. p. 163-188.

13.          Siddell, S., H. Wege, and V. Ter Meulen, The biology of coronaviruses. Journal of General Virology, 1983. 64(4): p. 761-776.

14.          Masic, I., Nobel Prize Winners in Medicine and Physiology and their Contribution to Development of Modern Medicine. Materia Socio Medica, 2008. 20(4).

15.          Van Breedam, W., et al., Bitter-sweet symphony: glycan–lectin interactions in virus biology. FEMS microbiology reviews, 2014. 38(4): p. 598-632.

16.          Sharon, N. and H. Lis, History of lectins: from hemagglutinins to biological recognition molecules. Glycobiology, 2004. 14(11): p. 53R-62R.

17.          Ji, X., H. Gewurz, and G.T. Spear, Mannose binding lectin (MBL) and HIV. Molecular immunology, 2005. 42(2): p. 145-152.

18.          CRACOVIENSIA, F.M., R. OLSZANECKI, and G. GAWLIK, Pharmacotherapy of Ebola hemorrhagic fever: a brief review of current status and future perspectives. Folia Medica Cracoviensia, 2014. 54(3): p. 67-77.

19.          Dommett, R., N. Klein, and M. Turner, Mannose‐binding lectin in innate immunity: past, present and future. Tissue antigens, 2006. 68(3): p. 193-209.

20.          Garred, P., et al., Mannose-binding lectin and its genetic variants. Genes & Immunity, 2006. 7(2): p. 85-94.

21.          Chapel, H., et al., Primary immunodeficiency diseases: an update. Clinical & Experimental Immunology, 2003. 132(1): p. 9-15.

22.          De Mejía, E.G. and V.I. Prisecaru, Lectins as bioactive plant proteins: a potential in cancer treatment. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 2005. 45(6): p. 425-445.

23.          Takahashi, K. and R.A.B. Ezekowitz, The role of the mannose-binding lectin in innate immunity. Clinical infectious diseases, 2005. 41(Supplement_7): p. S440-S444.

24.          Barre, A., et al., Mannose-binding plant lectins: different structural scaffolds for a common sugar-recognition process. Biochimie, 2001. 83(7): p. 645-651.

25.          Peumans, W.J. and E. Van Damme, Lectins as plant defense proteins. Plant physiology, 1995. 109(2): p. 347.

26.          Keyaerts, E., et al., Plant lectins are potent inhibitors of coronaviruses by interfering with two targets in the viral replication cycle. Antiviral research, 2007. 75(3): p. 179-187.

27.          Harvard University. Where does medicine come from? Science in the News. 2011  [cited 2020 1st March]; Available from: http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2011/where-does-medicine-come-from/.

28.          Rodwin, M.A., Institutional corruption and the pharmaceutical policy. 2013, Sage Publications Sage CA: Los Angeles, CA.

29.          Rodwin, M.A., Medicine, money, and morals: physicians’ conflicts of interest. 1995: Oxford University Press on Demand.

30.          Wechsler, J., Experts Urge Major Overhaul at FDA. Applied Clinical Trials, 2006. 15(11): p. 22.

31.          TheSmartLocal. KUNG FLU – The Wuhan Virus Rap (FT. Lil Feez, Big J, Medium A). 2020  [cited 2020 1st March]; Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQZXBJMkX8c.



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Chrissy-Tiina Laurikainen

In person + online permaculture teacher. Online permaculture consultant. Upkeep of a 30 acre rural property (using permaculture & other agroecological techniques). A communal research laboratory focusing on free innovation in the works. Doing what I can to support LIFE on planet Earth!!

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4 thoughts on “Are These Potent Inhibitors of Coronavirus in Your Kitchen Garden?

  1. Hi, just read your article with interest, especially that widely available plants like nettles could help with immunity to COVID-19. But you say it is best not heated over 38degrees. Usually I would have made tea but what would you recommend? and do you have any idea of dosage? I would like to share this info but don’t want people going and taking more than necessary so would be really helpful to know amounts suggested per person. Also of leek, jackfruit, wild garlic, elderberry. eg one palmful of any one of these daily?? Most of these could be eaten raw, for elderberry (at this time in UK would be dried) maybe make a vinegar? https://www.milkwood.net/2019/02/22/elderberry-everything-wine-vinegar-medicine-more/

    • Hi, the suggested temperature range refers to:
      1) A raw, living plant which contains the mannose-binding lectins.
      2) A human body (37degC) which allows lectins to pass into the bloodstream with bioactivity still intact.

      Unfortunately when I reviewed the literature (current at the time), I could not find coronavirus-related data which discussed the thermal stability of mannose-binding lectin (i.e. a suitable temperature range).

      However, there is information about lectins which have found thermal degradation to occur at 70degC.

      If you wish to review the literature yourself, I suggest searching within “Google Scholar” at https://scholar.google.com/. Here, articles published by journals are peer-reviewed by scientists who have achieved top-level credibility in their field (as indicated by the journal title). It is in these journals that scientists share their research work (it is their knowledge base).

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