Quercetin, EGCG, Hydroxychloroquine and Zinc: Can They Help Against COVID-19 virus?

Quercetin, Hydroxychloroquine, EGCG and Zinc are among the handful of COVID-19 treatments that are being studied as potential candidates that might influence the outcome in the prevention and management of COVID-19. Hydroxychloroquine, Quercetin and EGCG (EpiGalloCatechin Gallate) are all zinc ionophores. Meaning they all transport zinc into the cells. We will dive deeper into the science for each of the above treatment and supplement.

Quercetin and COVID-19

Quercetin was initially found to provide broad-spectrum protection against SARS coronavirus in the aftermath of the SARS epidemic that broke out across 26 countries in 2003. Now, some doctors are advocating its use against SARS-CoV-2, in combination with vitamin C, noting that the two have synergistic effects.
Quercetin

Quercetin acts as a zinc ionophore (PubMed 2014), the same mechanism of action that hydroxychloroquine has via helping zinc pass the cell wall where it might halt viral replication.

This zinc ionophore activity of quercetin facilitates the transport of zinc across the cell membrane. It is known that zinc will slow down the replication of coronavirus through inhibition of enzyme RNA polymerase (PubMed 2010). The COVID-19 is an RNA (RiboNucleicAcid) virus and requires the RNA polymerase to replicate. Do take note that the study publication was a 2010 publication and is referring to a different coronavirus as compared to the latest coronavirus (COVID-19); though both are from the same family of coronaviruses.

Quercetin and Vitamin C

Incidentally, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and the bioflavonoid quercetin (originally labeled vitamin P) were both discovered by the same scientist — Nobel prize winner Albert Szent-Györgyi. Quercetin and vitamin C also act as an antiviral drug, effectively inactivating viruses. 

There is evidence that vitamin C and quercetin co-administration exerts a synergistic antiviral action due to overlapping antiviral and immunomodulatory properties and the capacity of ascorbate to recycle quercetin, increasing its efficacy.

For updated prevention and treatment protocols (COVID-19 positive), please check out I-PREVENT protocol for prevention (prophylaxis) and I-CARE protocol for early treatment.

A word about quercetin: Some physicians are recommending this supplement to reduce viral illnesses because quercetin acts as a zinc ionophore to improve zinc uptake into cells. It is much less potent than HCQ (hydroxychloroquine) as a zinc transporter, and it does not reach high concentrations in lung cells that HCQ does. Quercetin may help reduce risk of viral illness if you are basically healthy. But it is not potent enough to replace HCQ for treatment of COVID once you have symptoms, and it does not adequately get into lung tissue unless you take massive doses (3-5 grams a day), which cause significant GI (gastrointestinal) side effects such as diarrhea.


Zinc and COVID-19

Zinc deficiency can significantly impact your immune system, but it can also result in a hyper inflammatory response from pro-inflammatory cytokines (Nutrients. 2017).

As early as 2010, zinc has been shown in a lab study to inhibit regular coronavirus (not the current SARS-CoV-2) in a 2010 publication.

Yet another study from Belgium (Nutrients 2021) has demonstrated the significance and importance of adequate levels of zinc and selenium in patients who have COVID-19, and especially in those who have underlined comorbidities identified to increase the severity of disease.

Zinc is another powerful immune nutrient known for its benefits for providing immune health support and inflammation reduction as well as for improving cold and respiratory symptoms, wound healing, acne reduction, and lowering the risk of age-related diseases. This trace element is essential to to cell function and involved in over 100 enzymes. Research on atherosclerosis and diabetes mellitus suggests that zinc deficiency may contribute to low-grade systemic inflammation.

Aging is associated with compromised immunity, that just means that your immune response to pathogens and infections starts to slow and is less robust, including a reduced vaccine immune response/efficacy. ⁣

Improving zinc intake/zinc status improves/modulates/enhances immune function. The flip side is, while some aspects of immunity slow, others increase. Uncontrolled immune responses drive excess inflammation. Zinc helps to balance all of this. ⁣

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states:

“Zinc is involved in numerous aspects of cellular metabolism. It is required for the catalytic activity of approximately 100 enzymes and it plays a role in immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis, and cell division. Zinc also supports normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence and is required for proper sense of taste and smell.”

Zinc and COVID-19

Check out the evidence tracker on zinc and COVID-19 from c19zinc.com (constantly updated). 


Foods that are high in zinc include oysters, crab, lobster, mussels, red meat, and poultry. Cereals are often fortified with zinc. Most multivitamin and nutritional supplements contain zinc.

Safety: Taking zinc long term is typically safe for healthy adults, as long as the daily dose is under the set upper limit of 40 mg of elemental zinc (PubMed). Be aware that typical daily doses of zinc provided by zinc lozenges generally exceed tolerable upper limits for zinc, and for this reason, they should not be used for longer than about a week

Excessive doses may interfere with copper absorption, which could negatively affect your immune system as it can cause copper deficiencies, blood disorders and potentially permanent nerve damage. Zinc can also impair the absorption of antibiotics, and use of zinc nasal gels or swabs has been linked to temporary or permanent loss of smell.

Zinc Form and Dosage

Foods that are high in zinc include oysters, crab, lobster, mussels, red meat, and poultry. Cereals are often fortified with zinc. Most multivitamin and nutritional supplements contain zinc.
There are several types of zinc supplements. Supplements contain several forms of zinc, including zinc gluconate, zinc citrate and zinc picolinate. The percentage of elemental zinc varies by form. To find out the percentage of elemental zinc in each form, check out elemental zinc percentage.
Chelated zinc is a general form of supplementary zinc in which the zinc is chelated — or bound — to a compound to make it easier for the body to absorb. Zinc picolinate or zinc gluconate are formed when zinc is chelated to picolinic acid or gluconic acid, so the main difference between zinc gluconate and picolinate is what compound it is bound to.

To find out which zinc supplement to consider, check out best zinc supplement.

Most people do not lack an intake of zinc, but in disease state, there might be an increase in demand by the body. The FLCCC I-MASK+ protocol recommends 30 mg a day for prevention and 100 mg a day for early treatment of COVID-19. This should not be taken long term without evaluation of your zinc/copper ratios.
The ideal dose for prevention while the COVID-19 risk is high is 40-100 mg/d, a portion of which comes from zinc lozenges to spread the zinc through the tissues of the nose, mouth and throat. It should be accompanied by at least 1 mg copper from food and supplements for every 15 mg zinc.

Do take note that you should keep the dosage back to within 40 mg/d once the exposure risk is back to normal.

Hydroxychloroquine and COVID-19

In January 2022; we saw hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) being added in the FLCCC prevention and early treatment protocol.

The move follows the experience of several frontline doctors who found that hydroxychloroquine is particularly useful to deal with Omicron, in combination with Ivermectin and other agents, as indicated in the protocol.

Credit: covid19criticalcare.com
So, with this move, we will expect less confusion and conflict among frontline doctors regarding the nature of the most appropriate agents to be included in early treatment protocols for COVID-19.

Hydroxychloroquine and Clinical Evidence

As of July 2022, there have been more than 30 studies of Hydroxychloroquine for early treatment with an overall average improvement of 64% as compared to the control groups.

Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is not effective when used very late with high dosages over a long period (RECOVERY/SOLIDARITY), effectiveness improves with earlier usage and improved dosing. Early treatment consistently shows positive effects. Negative evaluations typically ignore treatment time, often focusing on a subset of late stage studies.

Here’s a chart from c19early.com that shows that hydroxychloroquine performs better than ivermectin when given as early treatment in terms of risk reduction of dying from COVID-19:


The overall improvement for hydroxychloroquine is better than ivermectin (for early treatment); 72 % vs 43 % in terms of death rate. Importantly, hydroxychloroquine needs to be given 'early'.

The latest FLCCC I-MASK protocol has incorporated hydroxychloroquine as part of both the prevention and treatment protocols:

Specifically, they recommend hydroxychloroquine (preferred for Omicron) and ivermectin as first line anti-viral agents:
  • Ivermectin: 0.4–0.6 mg/kg per dose (take with or after meals) — one dose daily, take for 5 days or until recovered. (Find a Doctor). Use upper dose range if:  1) in regions with more aggressive variants (e.g. Delta); 2) treatment started on or after day 5 of symptoms or in pulmonary phase; or 3) multiple comorbidities/risk factors. (Ref)
  • Hydroxychloroquine (preferred for Omicron): 200mg PO twice daily; take for 5 days or until recovered. (Find a Doctor)

Most of the other component treatments in the I-MASK+ protocol have various mode of actions and may not be affected by the changes in the Omicron variant spike protein.

The evidence tracking on Hydroxychloroquine versus COVID-19 is available at c19hcq.com (constantly updated).

Do you need a prescription for hydroxychloroquine? 
Yes, hydroxychloroquine is a prescription drug and you do need it to be prescribed to you by a doctor. 

Related: 


Green Tea - EGCG (EpiGalloCatechin Gallate)

EGCG is a powerful plant compound and immune nutrient primarily found in green tea. The beauty of green tea is that it also contains quercetin, another zinc ionophore. Both are known for its many health benefits. EGCG is rich in polyphenols and antioxidants. It may help to lower oxidative stress, decrease inflammation, improve heart health, support brain health, aid weight loss and help you live longer.

EGCG also acts as a zinc ionophore (PubMed 2014), the same mechanism of action that hydroxychloroquine has via helping zinc pass the cell wall and get into cells where it might halt viral replication. Conversely, zinc helps to make EGCG more bioavailable, meaning the two nutrients work hand in hand to enhance each other’s therapeutic potential.

An Indian study found that EGCG has the ability to target numerous key structures inside the virus, disabling its functional capacity.

“EGCG showed a very high binding affinity and a low inhibition constant among all the phytoconstituents screened, especially in the case of 6vw1, which is a potential target of SARS-CoV-2,” the paper found.

“EGCG exhibited better binding with the viral proteins and hence, is expected to show better antiviral activity than the reference drugs, remdesivir and chloroquine,” it added.

It is important to remember, though, that by itself, EGCG is both unstable and bio-unavailable unless coupled with nutrients like zinc that studies show help to maximize its transport into cells.

An underpowered observational study from Japan suggests that only a large consumption of green tea might be preventative against COVID, pointing to the bioavailability issue. Unfortunately, high green tea consumption is not good for your kidneys and might cause liver injury.


A more promising paper used computer modeling software to predict that quercetin and EGCG inhibit one of the enzymes that SARS-CoV-2 uses to replicate, known as 3CL protease. The model predicts that EGCG would inhibit 50% of the enzyme's activity at a concentration of 13 uM, which is still seven times what can be reached in plasma with supplements. By contrast, it predicts that quercetin inhibits the enzyme at 0.7 uM, well within the concentrations that can be reached in plasma using 1000 milligram doses.

This might make quercetin, but not EGCG, useful for COVID-19 prevention or early treatment, but it should be regarded as very preliminary.

Conclusion

While treatments and supplements are important factors that might influence the COVID-19 outcomes, do take note that factors like pre-existing health conditions, especially high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity might elevate the risk. Take steps to control hypertension and blood sugar fluctuations with diabetes, as these conditions are associated with more severe disease if infected. This may also help you maintain a healthy weight, which is important because obesity has been associated with an increased risk of requiring intubation or dying among people hospitalized with COVID-19, particularly those under 65 years of age. Risk was 60% greater among those with severe obesity (BMI > 34.9 kg/m2) compared to patients of normal weight (BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2) (Anderson, Annals Int Med 2020).

Viral infections like the COVID-19 also put added stress on your body, which can affect your blood pressure, heart rate, and overall heart function. That can raise your probability of having a heart attack or stroke. Therefore, make sure your blood pressure is well controlled during this pandemic.

Aside from supplements and preventive treatments, there are other ways that may help improve immune response and to prevent you from catching the coronavirus.
  • Wear protective face mask. This is to protect not only yourself but others.
  • Abundant evidence suggests that eating whole in fruits, vegetables and whole grains—all rich in networks of naturally occurring antioxidants and their helper molecules—provides protection against free radicals.
  • Vaccination
  • Getting Enough Sleep
  • Avoid Sugar, red meat and processed foods.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
  • Try to minimize stress.
  • Drink enough water to keep your body hydrated.
  • Avoid excess alcohol.
  • Avoid crowded areas.
  • Regular physical activity (outdoor activities may not be allowed in countries with 'lock-down').
  • Consult your nearest local healthcare provider if you have any doubt.


More COVID-19 related topics > COVID-19


Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of third party sites. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your health care professional before using products based on this content.

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