International Journal of Global Health

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The Covid-19 Pandemic and Natural Antioxidants


According to the recent classification of Gelderblom (1996), the Covid-19 belongs to genus Betacoronavirus, and family Coronaviridae that includes corona viruses such as SARS CoV, MERS CoV, Bat CoV, HKU1, NL63 and 229E. The history of corona viruses began in 1965 when Tyrell and Bynoe first discovered and Dorothy (1966) isolated corona viruses from human samples. The outbreak of covid-19 from Wuhan city of China during December, 2019 spread over 117 countries that caused tremendous loss of human life.  WHO declared a great pandemic on March11, 2020.The covid-19 virus is closely related to those that caused outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2002 from China spreading over 28 countries and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012 from Saudi Arabia spreading over 27 countries. It is also to mention that during 2009 H1N1 virus that caused Spanish Flue in humans spreading over 70 countries.


Ultrastructure and genome organization:

Lei et al. (2018) studied the structure of corona viruses and detailed that these are spherical large particles with a nucleoprotein within an envelope consisting of S1 and S2 proteins. The envelope is projected into bulbous spikes. The length of    spike is 20nm. The diameter of virion is 125nm and envelope is 85nm.

Yu Chen et al. (2020) published genome organization and replication of covid19 samples collected from a patient of Wuhan. The size of genome varies from 26.4 to 31.7 kb with six ORFs (open reading frames). The genome consists of single + stranded RNA with total 29891 nucleotides encoding 9860 amino acids. The nucleoprotein also contains Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2) and replicase - transcriptase complex. The nucleotides showed 89% identity with Bat SARS CoV ZXC 21 and 82% with SARS CoV (Mousavizadeh et al., 2020).


Nucleotides                       Total number                    Percent

Adenylate                           8903                                    29.86

Cytidylate                           5482                                    18.39

Guanilate                            5852                                    19.63 

Uridylate                            9574                                    32.12


Total:                                  29811                            100.00

The genome sequencing studies were made at the following laboratories of the world:

1. Centre for Disease Control, New Delhi.

2. Centre for cell and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad.

3. Institute of genomics and Integrated Biology, New Delhi.

4. Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow.

5. Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre, Ahmadabad.

6. Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh

7. Indian Institute of chemical Biology, Kolkata.

8. Oxford   University, London.

9. National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH, USA.

10. Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, USA

11. Sanghai Public Health Clinical Centre, China.

12. Wuhan Institute of Virology, China.


Transmission of Covid-19:

The covid19 virus differs from other corona viruses in the mode of transmission. The covid-19 virusis transmitted person to person frequently through respiratory droplets. During transmission   covid19 binds to a receptor called ACE 2 (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2) which serves as entry point into human cells. The infection may be symptometic or asymptometic. The usual symptoms are dry cough, sneeze, high fever and difficulty in breathing.


Disease cycle:

Schelden (2020) studied the complete disease cycle of Covid-19 in Homo sapiens and confirmed that infection occurs from sneeze droplets of a C+ patient. The immunity of a non- carrier person is greatly reduced by stress, depression, alcoholic, smoking, sleeplessness, toxic and xenobiotic agents which inhibit the maturation of T cells in the thymus that weakens  the immune system. Thus a foreign pathogen gets direct entry into a fresh host without any security resistance. The pathogen replicates in the infected host cells and completes its life cycle to distort the alveolar cells of lungs leading to death of the host. 

Incubation period:

Prather (2020) reported that the range of incubation period of Covid-19 coronavirus varies with different fomites:


Fomites                Incubation period

Human cells -     02    -  14  days

Air borne      -     03 Hours

Plastic   -              02    -  05  days

Paper                    03    -  05  days

Metal                   03    - 05   days

Ceramic               05  days

Steel                     03  days

Glass                     04    -  05  days

Wood                  04  days


Treatment of Covid-19:

No specific chemical drug is available to cure covid-19 so far; however medical practitioners prescribe the following drugs which are effective to some extent:












Immunizing vaccines:

Researches on vaccines development against Covid19 coronavirus are in progress and on human trials at the following laboratories of the world:

Sl.  Country         Research Laboratory                                    Vaccine

1. Australia          Novavax, Melbourne                                     NVXCoV2 2373

2. China               Wuhan Institute of Virology                       CanSinoAd5

3. England           Oxford University, London                         ChadOx1-n

4. India                 National Institute of Virology, Pune         CoroFlu, Covaxin             

5. Israel Migal Galilee Research Institute,        MigVax 


6. USA   Inovio Pharmaceuticals,                                             mRNA1273



Ayurvedic treatment:

Yong-Jiao (2018) found that glycyrrhizin extracted from the roots of Mulathi (Glycyrrhiza glabra) of Fabaceae inhibits the replication of  viruses, as such  in India Dr Vishwakarma of CSIR lab at Jammu has been authorized to work out the impact  of glycyrrhizin on Covid-19 patients  in collaboration with Department of Ayush, Govt of India.

Similarly Ashwagandha (Withania sominifera) of Solanaceae creates a barrier between human protein and Covid -19 virus protein   that inhibits the risk of infection.

A Chinese herb (Astragalus propinquus) of Fabaceae has been found to be highly effective antioxidant as such there is high demand in China for curing Covid-19 patients.


Phyto-mitigation of Covid-19:

Since the chemical drugs to cure Covid-19 and immunizing vaccine are not available as yet, so the only hope of Covid-19 mitigation glimmers from the preventive measures by boosting immune system. The immunity can be boosted through the use of antiviral therapeutic plant species and their natural products (Blankespoor, 2007).


Immune system:

The Immune system is a defense system comprising many biological components and processes that protect against diseases. The main components of the immune system are immune organs (thymus, bone marrow, lymphatic tissues like spleen, tonsil, liver, lymph vessel, lymph nodes) and immune cells (WBC, antibodies, lymphocytes like B-cells, T-cells). The B cells are produced in bone marrow while the T cells are produced in thymus.

Based on the source of immunity, the immune system may be of three types:

1. Innate - is acquired by birth with natural immunity e.g. skin, enzymes, gastric acid, interferon, interleukin1.

2. Adaptive- is a created immune like vaccine to encounter a specific pathogen.

3. Passive- borrowed from another source for a limited time e.g. mother’s milk to a child.

However, based on their physical form, there are two main types:

1. Humoral immunity

2. Cellular immunity

Humoral immunity is conferred by   substances dissolved in the serum that fight   against extracellular microbes. The substances may be innate e.g. circulating proteins, interferon, lysozyme or adaptive e. g. antibodies.

Cellular immunity or cell mediated is  conferred by cells which may be  

innate e.g. cells like phagocytes, eosinophil or adaptive e.g. B cells recognize the  invaders and act as defense intelligence  whereas T cells  fight like soldiers against the   pathogen.



Paul (1984),Young, Geha (1986) and Golub (1987) defined antibodies as y shaped proteins that recognize the antigens or  foreign  proteins or pathogens and store in memory for longer time. The antibodies are produced by B cells in bone marrow and   are of five types - IgG, IGA, IgD, IgE, IgM.

SOP for immunity boosting:

The standard operating procedure for immunity boosting at home has been assigned as following:




Alkaline drinking water

Plant products with  antioxidants

The first three procedures are known since ancient times and are very basic  practices for keeping our body fit, controlling over breathing system and concentrating our mind respectively. The last two procedures are meant for consuming specific substances i.e. intake of alkaline drinking water and natural plant products of high antioxidant value.

Alkaline drinking water:

Dr Sircus (2020) indicated that Covid-19 coronaviruses are exquisitely sensitive to pH and acidosis. Alkaline cells absorb 20 times more oxygen than acidic cells that keep the human body more aerobic and do not allow pathogens for infections. In fact intake of water at pH 8.0 – 9.5 maintains the acid –alkali balance and helps protect cells. The Enagic India Ltd is marketing ionizer machine that converts normal tap water to hydrogenated drinking water or kangen water with pH 8.0-9.5, strongly antioxidant and negative ORP (oxidation reduction potential) through electrolysis.

Natural plant products and immunity:

The natural plant- products help boosts the immunity in three ways;

Herbal drinks and juices:

Lokshin and Yuen (2017) recommended a highly effective antiviral drink or Kadha with ingredients basil, cinnamon, black pepper, ginger, turmeric with honey and few drops of lemon. They have also recommended highly nutritive fruit juices with ingredients such as;

 Apple +Carrot + Orange         for Fe, Ca, Vit A, Vit C, Vit E.

 Orange+ Grapes+ Tomato     for Fe, Ca, Vit A, Vit C, Vit E

     iii.         Beet + Carrot + Ginger           for Fe, Ca, Vit A,  Vit C, Vit E.

Strawberry +Mango +mint    for Fe, Vit C, Vit E.


Natural antioxidants:

Weiss (1960)   defined   natural antioxidants as compounds that inhibit cellular oxidation to produce free radicals which make the normal cells sick. In fact the free radicals are toxic substances such as H2O2, O3, HNO3, and H2SO4 which damage the cells under high oxidative and acidic stresses leading to diseased and fast aging.  The natural antioxidants scavenge the free radicals, thus breaking the chain of cellular oxidation reactions. 

     Antioxidant and ORAC:

The antioxidant capacity of plant products and foods is measured by Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). A high capacity of foods indicates increased activity against free   radicals and subsequent reduction of ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species). ORAC is a property to carry molecular oxygen to provide more energy for boosting immune system and is a reliable parameter to measure peroxyl radical absorbing capacity of serum (Cao et al., 1993).

Total Antioxidant Capacity (TAC):

Russel et al. (2018) studied TAC and evaluated the response of antioxidants against the free radicals in a particular disease. It is used in biological applications to reduce oxidative stress or cell damage. TAC is expressed as trolox equivalent (umol/100g) of food sample. The trolox (C14H18O4) is a water soluble derivative of vit E and is chemically known as 6 hydroxy2, 5, 7, 8 tetra-methyl croman 2-caboxylic acid.

Carr( 2019) reported TAC value of the following natural food items and   Sarwar (2018)  evaluated their  pH value when  digested or absorbed in the stomach, however in crud form  they are acidic in nature.



Sl.  Food supplements    TAC Value                           pH value in digested form     

Cauliflower                        188.5                                                  10.0

Cabbage                             175.1                                                  08.0

Carrot                                 104.1                                                  10.0

Cucumber                           135.1                                                 10.0

Lemon                                 192.7                                                  09.9

Tomato                               121.1                                                 08.0

Garlic                                   122.9                                                  13.2

Turmeric                             107.6                                                  09.2

Strawberry                         160.0                                                  08.0

Apple                                   97.6                                                   08.0

Orange                                81.2                                                   09.2

Pear                                     70.6                                                   09.0


Nutritional supplements:

James Joseph et al. (2013) studied the application of various nutritional supplements to control cognitive and chronic diseases. Gombart (2020) recommends vitamins (Vit A, Vit C, Vit D) and minerals (Zn, Ca, P, Mg and Se) to Covid-19 patients and reported that dietary supplements substantially boost up the immune system that helps mitigate the Covid-19 infections.  A balanced vegetarian diet consisting of antioxidants in form of   spices, vegetables and fruits   helps increase the TAC that leads to immunity boosting. Thus antioxidants are directly correlated with immunity boosting that keep a person healthy.


The following are the lists of spice, vegetable and fruits yielding plant species with their taxonomic information and bioactive compounds which are strong antioxidants and highly beneficial to prevent Covid-19 infections:

 Spice yielding plants:


Sl     Common Name      Botanical Name                     Family                     Bioactive                                                                                                           



1. Cinnamon                      Cinnamomum zeylanicum    Lauracea            Cinnamaldehyde

2. Black pepper                Piper nigrum                            Piperaceae        Piperine

3. Ginger                            Zingiber officinale                   Zingiberaceae    Zingerone

4. Corriander                     Coriandrum sativum                Apiaceae            Flavanol

5. Cumin                           Cuminum cyminum                  Apiaceae            Thymoquinone

6. Clove                            Syzygium aromaticum             Myrtaceae         Eugenol    

7. Fenugreek                    Trigonella foenum-gracum     Fabaceae          Rhaponticin

8. Garlic                            Allium sativum                           Alliaceae           Allicin

9. Turmeric                      Curcuma domestica                Zingiberaceae     Curcumin

10. Fennel                       Foeniculum vulgare                Apiaceae                Flavonols


Vegetables yielding plants:


Sl Common Name      Botanical Name         Family                  Bioactive



1. Carrot                             Daucas  carota        Apiaceae                        Vit A, β carotene

2. Spinach                           Spinaceae olercea            Chenopodiaceae  Vit C, Vit A

3. Broccoli/                       Brassica oleracea var. Brassicacea             Flavonoids, Vit C

    Cauliflower                   botrytis   

4. Eggplant                         Solanum melongena   Solanaceae       Flavonoids, phenols

5. Cabbage                         Brassica oleraceae var. Brassicaceae   Flavonoids, phenols


6.  Turnip                           Brassica rapa           Brassicaceae               Flavonoids, phenols

7 . Drumstick        Moringa oleifera                 Moringaceae   Polyphenol, flavonoids

8.  Cucumber        Cucumis sativus                 Cucurbitaceae   Vit C, phenol

9. Tomato              Lycopersicon lycopersicum Solanacaea      Lycopene

10. Green Chilly    Capsicum annuum    Solanaceae             Capsacin


Fruit yielding plants:     

  Sl  Common name      Botanical name     Family           Bioactive                                                                                                                                            compounds

Pear                                     Pyrus pyrifolia       Rosaceae                        Phenol

Grape                                 Citrus paradisi       Rutaceae                         Vit C                                                                                                                       

Apple                                  Malus pumila        Rosaceae                        Phenols

Banana                Musa paradisiaca                Musaceae          Vit C, Vit E

Pine apple                          Ananas  comosus     Bromeliaceae             Vit C, Vit E

Pomegranate     Punica granatum     Punicaceae                 Vit E, VitC

Almond               Prunus amygdalu                Rosaceae         Vit C

Wall nut              Juglans regia         Juglandaceae                 Vit C

Guava                    Psidium guajava               Myrtaceae                       Vit C

Papaya                Carica papaya       Caricaceae                      Vit A , C, E

Orange                Citrus  reticulata                 Rutaceae          VitC, phenols

Mousami                           Citrus  limon                         Rutaceae          Vit C

13 Lemon                      Citrus aurentifolia     Rutaceae                          Vit C, phenols

14. Amla                             Emblica officinalis               Euphorbiaceae               VitC, phenols

15. Watermelon               Citrullus lanatus      Cucurbitaceae             Vit C

16. Mango                        Mangifera indica     Anacardiaceae            VitC, β carotene

17. Strawberry            Physalis alkekengi   Solanaceae                      Phenol, Vit C

18. Coconut                   Cocos nucifera          Arecaceae                       Polyphenols

19. Sweet potato        Ipomoea batata      Convolvulaceae                Vit A


Advisory for healthy future:

Maintain  physical hygiene by honoring the WOMEN decoded as:

W - Wash your hands for 20 sec.

O - Obey physical distance of 2m.

M - Mask up while home out.

E   - Exercises and pranayam.

N -   No unnecessary travelling.

2. Avoid attending crowded ceremonies.

3. Take care at spa and parlor.

4. Avoid junk and packaged food.

5. Take home cooked vegetarian diet   with high   antioxidant contents.

6. Avoid smoking and alcoholic drinks.

7.  Keep yourself happy for fast immunity boosting.



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