Zinc and HCQ
In the past few months, nearly everyone will have become familiar with the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and how it has been welcomed as a miracle drug, only to be set aside as being too dangerous to expose sick patients with underlying cardiovascular diseases to it.
Upon learning how HCQ is supposed to be used in this crisis, I was flabbergasted to read how HCQ was put to use by itself, as a drug on its own. True enough, HCQ is a malaria drug, but it was not just meant to be used as a curative medicin on its own for COVID-19 but as a messenger to transport the true miracle mineral, zinc into cells.
The now famous Zelenko protocol which uses HCQ , azithromycin and zinc as well as a number of other essential vitamins and minerals, was never meant to be used in hospital either, but for use by doctors on patients who had just fallen ill.
Now the researchers who discredited HCQ in the Lancet article have been debunked as having used fraudulous data in order to promote a much more expensive drug in which one of the authors had a vested interested, we think it is about time to explain a thing or two on why and how HCQ is used in combination with zinc.
Boosting the immune system with zinc
Remarkably, prominent physicians have been paraded in the media saying it’s impossible to strengthen your immune system to beat the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It’s hard to understand this kind of ignorance still pervades the conventional medical system — and that they can get away with criticizing people who offer proof to the contrary.
Your immune system is your first line of defense against all disease, especially infectious disease, and there are many different ways to boost your immune system and improve its function. One nutrient that plays a very important role in your immune system’s ability to ward off viral infections is zinc.
There's compelling evidence suggesting the reason the antimalarial drug hdyroxychloroquine (HCQ) appears so useful in the treatment of COVID-19 is in fact because it improves zinc uptake into the cell.
While the antimalarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine act as a zinc ionophore (zinc transport molecule) in that they facilitate zinc absorption in your body, other natural compounds can have the same effect.
Zinc binding compounds boost immune system
Zinc may be a vastly underrated player in the COVID-19 pandemic. It is vital for healthy immune function and a combination of zinc with a zinc ionophore (zinc transport molecule) was in 2010 shown to inhibit SARS coronavirus in vitro. In cell culture, it also blocked viral replication within minutes.
A majority of the symptoms of COVID-19 are near-indistinguishable from those of zinc deficiency. Symptoms shared by both include but are not limited to:
- dry cough
- abdominal discomfort or cramping
- artrial fibrillation
- reduced lymphocytes (white blood cells)
- back pain
- loss of smell
- lowered immune function
- increased interleukin-6 , indicative of inflammation
- elevated iron storage
Ironically, even though zinc performs so many critical functions, the cell is not terribly interested in accumulating high levels of it.
The intracellular concentration of free zinc is maintained at a relatively low level by metallothioneins, small molecules that bind metals like zinc, copper and other heavy metals. The cell aggressively throttles zinc because, at elevated concentrations, it can serve as an intracellular signal molecule, and trigger cell suicide (apoptosis), or even block protein synthesis.
If that wasn’t enough discouragement, the cell membrane itself tends to repel zinc ions from binding, in much the same way that two magnets will repel each other when the same poles are brought close together.
Zinc is a decidedly anti-viral mineral. High intracellular concentrations inhibit the replication of RNA type viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2. Zinc does this by blocking RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, the core enzyme of their multiprotein replication and transcription complex that is critical for the copying of viral RNA.
That’s the conundrum. In high concentrations, zinc can block coronavirus reproduction, but the cell is typically disinclined to tolerate high levels of zinc due to concerns about its other actions.
Enter the zinc ionophores
Fortunately, there are molecules are known as zinc ionophores that can act as facilitators and enhance the entry of zinc into the cell.
How zinc ionophores work:
1 Zinc ions are in solution outside the cell
2 The cell’s membrane and binding molecules limit the ability of zinc to penetrate into the cell cytoplasm via special ports
3 A zinc ionophore activates the port to allow zinc to enter cell
4 Now in the cell, zinc is then able to block the enzyme RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, which turns off viral replication.
Getting zinc into the cell is obviously dependent on having adequate levels of zinc outside the cell. With most of us, this is usually not a problem. However, zinc absorption does vary by individual.
Physiological stressors, such as infection and inflammation, tend to deplete zinc pretty fast.
Hydroxychloroquine happens to have two effects on virus replications. HCQ is a weak base, which raises the cellular pH to an extent that virus replication can't take place.
But it is also a zinc ionophore, which seems to be ignored in many cases when HCQ is used both inside or outside hospitals.
Fortunately, most of the hospitals that are empirically prescribing HCQ for active Covid-19 are also supplementing with zinc as well.
But HCQ nor the currently popular drug ivermectin are not the only zinc ionophores, which is fortunate as these are only available on prescription due to potential side-effects.
Other natural zinc transporters — quercetin and EGCG
The good news is drugs like HCQ probably would not be necessary either (except for perhaps the most serious cases), as other natural compounds can do the same job.
In addition to HCQ, the nutraceuticals quercetin (a bioflavonoid) and epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCG, a green tea polyphenol) are also zinc ionophores. The antioxidant resveratol appears to have ionophore activity as well.
Quercetin plus zinc is being tested as an anti-viral in human clinical trials for the treatment of Covid-19. The combination had already made it through animal trials for use against Ebola and SARS-CoV1, and was approved by the FDA for human clinical trials. Plans are underway for a large scale trial in China for patients with Covid-19.
A comparative 2014 study looked at two zinc ionophores: quercetin and epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCG found in green tea), noting many of the biological actions of these compounds may in fact be related to their ability to increase cellular zinc uptake.
Dietary plant polyphenols such as the flavonoids quercetin and epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCG) act as antioxidants and as signaling molecules.
Remarkably, the activities of numerous enzymes that are targeted by polyphenols are dependent on zinc. These polyphenols apparently also act as zinc ionophores, transporting zinc cations through the plasma membrane.
The ionophore activity of dietary polyphenols may underlay the raising of labile zinc levels triggered in cells by polyphenols and thus many of their biological actions.
Quercetin is also a potent antiviral in its own right, and both quercetin and EGCG also have the added advantage of inhibiting an enzyme used by SARS coronaviruses to infect healthy cells.
Poor man’s defense
One could imitate Zelenko’s protocol by using natural remedies if you have symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection and cannot obtain a prescription for HCQ and azithromycin:
- a natural antibiotic such as cinnamon extract or oil of oregano
- quercetin or EGCg as a zinc ionophore (to enhance zinc entrance into cells)
- zinc, up to 30 milligrams per day
- vitamin B3 (niacin), 25 to 50 mg per day, and selenium to further boost bioavailability of zinc
Should zinc turn out to be in short supply, consider eating more zinc-rich foods.
Examples include hemp, sesame and pumpkin seeds, cacao powder, cheddar cheese, and seafood such as oysters, crab, shrimp and mussels.
Zinc + niacin + selenium is a winning combo
The addition of niacin and selenium appears to be good advice, considering both play a role in the absorption and bioavailability of zinc in the body.
Ageing is an inevitable biological process with gradual and spontaneous biochemical and physiological changes and increased susceptibility to diseases.
Some nutritional factors (zinc, niacin, selenium) may remodel these changes leading to a possible escaping of diseases, with the consequence of healthy ageing, because they are involved in improving immune functions, metabolic homeostasis and antioxidant defense.
Experiments show that zinc is important for immune efficiency (both innate and adaptive), energy utilization and hormone turnover and antioxidant activity (SOD enzyme).
Niacin is a precursor of NAD+, the substrate for the activity of DNA repair enzyme and, consequently, may contribute to maintaining genomic stability.
Selenium provokes zinc release by metallothioneins via reduction of glutathione peroxidase.
This fact is crucial in ageing because high metallothioneins may be unable to release zinc with subsequent low intracellular free zinc ion availability for immune efficiency, metabolic harmony and antioxidant activity.
Improved immune performance, metabolic homeostasis, antioxidant defense occur in elderly after physiological zinc supplementation.
The association ‘zinc plus selenium’ improves humoral immunity in old subjects after influenza vaccination.