What is a Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a group of enveloped viruses with particle diameters ranging from 60 to 200 nm. They exhibit a spherical or oval shape, and their name is derived from the crown-like spikes visible under an electron microscope.
💡 Currently, seven coronaviruses are known to infect humans:
- HCoV-229E (Human Coronavirus 229E)
- HCoV-OC43 (Human Coronavirus OC43)
- HCoV-NL63 (Human Coronavirus NL63)
- HCoV-HKU1 (Human Coronavirus HKU1)
- SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus)
- MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus)
- 2019-nCoV (2019 Novel Coronavirus): Causes COVID-19, a severe acute respiratory syndrome
What Diseases do Coronaviruses Cause?
Human infections with HCoV-229E, OC43, NL63, and HKU1 primarily present with respiratory symptoms, including nasal congestion, runny nose, cough, and fever—typical upper respiratory tract infection symptoms, causing the common cold. However, the three later coronaviruses—SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and the novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV—result in more severe symptoms after infection. Some cases may involve severe pneumonia and respiratory failure.
How Does Coronavirus Spread?
Coronaviruses primarily spread through direct contact with virus-laden secretions or close-range respiratory droplets. Indirect transmission may occur when hands come into contact with virus-contaminated secretions, and subsequent hand-to-face contact introduces the virus to the mouth, nose, or eyes  .
Supplementing Against Coronaviruses: 5 Recommended Ingredients
Elderberry is known for its antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-modulating properties, popular in European and American folk medicine. Previous research confirmed that elderberry can prevent infections of influenza A virus by stimulating the immune response, treating influenza and the common cold. Moreover, recent studies in 2019 suggest that elderberry extract contains components that exhibit anti-Human Coronavirus NL63 (HCoV-NL63) activity, inhibiting both the replication and attachment of HCoV-NL63 to human cells, thus reducing viral load and activity    .
Licorice is a traditional Chinese medicinal herb widely used for various purposes. Referred to as the “Great Detoxifier” in Chinese medicine, licorice has clinical applications in suppressing cough, resolving phlegm, neutralizing potent drugs, detoxification, and pain relief. Experimental studies show that the active component of licorice, glycyrrhizin, can inhibit the replication, attachment, and penetration of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV), thus impeding virus growth and invasion into host cells   .
The main medicinal component, saikosaponins, in Bupleurum has increasingly been studied for its various pharmacological effects, including antiviral, immune regulation, anti-inflammatory, and hepatorenal protection. Research confirms that saikosaponins not only combat Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and influenza viruses in vitro, but also exhibit antiviral effects against Human Coronavirus 229E (HCoV-229E), interfering with the early replication and entry of the virus into human cells  .
Also known as the Amaryllis, its active component lycorine and its derivatives possess immunostimulatory, antiviral, antitumor, antipyretic, sedative, and emetic properties, with efficacy against amoebic dysentery. Animal experiments have shown that it can protect against lethal Human Coronavirus OC43 (HCoV-OC43) by reducing the virus quantity in the central nervous system. Furthermore, large-scale screening experiments have identified lycorine as a potential drug for developing anti-Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) drugs   .
This traditional Chinese medicine has a history of several hundred years and possesses heat-clearing, detoxifying, and diuretic properties, relieving lung-related symptoms (including bacterial and viral infections). Studies indicate that Houttuynia Cordata can alleviate lung damage caused by Influenza A virus subtype H1N1 and activate cellular immune responses to resist virus invasion. When infected with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV), it can slow down virus replication   .