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Don’t go viral: How to beat viruses naturally

Reading time: 9 minutes

Dr Leigh Erin Connealy shares her top strategies for keeping cancer-related viruses at bay and her go-to treatments for healing from viral infections

When we think of viruses, the usual suspects come to mind: the common cold, influenza, coronavirus, herpes, chicken pox, human papillomavirus (HPV), measles, etc. These infection-causing microscopic particles are everywhere. As researchers have noted, “Viruses are the most abundant biological entity on earth . . . identified in every environment where microorganisms are present.”1

Comprised of RNA or DNA cased in a protective protein sheath called a capsid, viruses must have a host—animal, plant or human—to survive. They are introduced to their human hosts in several ways. Sneezing and coughing can disperse infected droplets or particles to another person’s mouth, eyes or nose or deposit them on surfaces, where touch transfers germs to a new host.

Unprotected sexual contact can pass viral infections on quickly. And sharing needles can spread bloodborne viruses such as hepatitis.

Once a virus is introduced to a new host, it infects healthy cells, using parts of these cells to replicate and spread. This is how viral infections take hold and wreak havoc. The troubling part is that many viruses can spread before the host feels ill or has symptoms.

The cancer-virus connection

While many viral infections, such as colds and flu, clear up on their own with time and a little rest, some viruses cause more serious, long-term damage.

Any infection, whether from bacteria, parasites, fungi, mold or viruses, disrupts the body’s homeostasis, or balance. Pathogens generate oxidative stress, which increases inflammation.

The resulting free radicals can alter the genetic material inside healthy cells (RNA and DNA) and negatively affect the integrity of the whole cell. Once the mitochondria—our cellular energy factories—are compromised, the body must turn to an inferior method of energy production in which cells depend on sugar for fuel.

Cancer cells have the same inefficient metabolic function. And once the body’s cellular function is disrupted, a vicious cycle ensues, and the organs and body systems can no longer work properly.

Multiple viruses have been directly linked to specific cancer types. Let’s examine a few.

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the world. Per the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “In general, HPV is thought to be responsible for more than 90 percent of anal and cervical cancers, about 70 percent of vaginal and vulvar cancers, and 60 percent of penile cancers.”

Note that the HPV types that cause genital warts are not the ones that cause cancer, and about 90 percent of cases resolve on their own.2 However, talking with your integrative physician about proper screening and testing based on your age and risk factors is essential.

Epstein-Barr virus

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has been linked to multiple cancers, including Burkitt lymphoma, immunoblastic lymphoma, nasopharyngeal cancer and stomach cancer. It can cause infectious mononucleosis, too.3

Like most viruses, EBV can spread through contact with bodily fluids, especially saliva, and even by infected objects like a drinking glass or toothbrush.

Hepatitis B and C

Hepatitis B, a leading cause of liver cancer, is spread through bodily fluids, and having multiple sexual partners or sharing IV drug needles increases risk. Mothers can also pass it along during pregnancy or childbirth.

Hepatitis C is a bloodborne virus spread by contact with infected blood, such as by needle sharing, unscreened blood transfusions and unsafe sexual practices that expose partners to blood. Like hepatitis B, it’s also a major cause of liver cancer and can lead to colitis and colon cancer.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

HIV is spread through semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk. It doesn’t cause cancer per se, but it severely taxes the immune system, increasing the risk of non-Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s lymphomas and anal, cervical, liver, mouth, throat and lung cancers.4

Herpes II

Like HIV, herpes simplex II taxes the body and increases the risk of cancer in general, but particularly cervical cancers. Herpes is spread by sexual contact, and there is no cure.

Six pillars of immune health

Fending off viruses and healing naturally after infection are possible only if you have a robust immune system. Everyone, regardless of health status, can improve their overall well-being by focusing on these six pillars of health.


You can’t be healthy under chronic stress or with unresolved trauma in your life. It’s imperative to take a close look at your stress levels, resolve any outstanding conflicts and work with counselors, spiritual advisors or professionals to regain peace and balance.

Many of my patients practice meditation, yoga, deep breathing and other techniques to destress and re-center. You can take classes, find instructional videos online or schedule appointments with therapists to help.

Nightly detox baths, infrared sauna, aromatherapy and massage are other ways to reduce stress. Finally, try journaling before bed to work through your thoughts, and make humor part of every day. It’s true—laughter is the best medicine.


What you eat can make or break your health. Proper nutrition repairs and restores every fiber of your being and is essential for getting and staying well.

Fill your plate with fresh organic produce, lean organic pasture-raised protein, healthy fats, organic dairy, and healthy seeds and oils. Most of my patients do well on a modified ketogenic diet that eliminates or restricts carbs, sugar and processed foods.

While these are good general guidelines, talk to your integrative physician or dietician for a more personalized plan.


Countless studies bear out the role of physical activity in preventing cancer, promoting recovery and staving off cancer recurrence. It boosts metabolic health and immune function, which can also help ward off viruses.

Remember, a healthy body isn’t a sedentary body, so do whatever you can to add exercise and movement into your daily life. Almost every aspect of your health depends on it.


We live in a dirty world, and ridding ourselves of the thousands of toxins in our food, water, air, homes and offices is essential to our health. From heavy metals to pesticides, from plastics to dental toxins, we must do what we can to limit our exposure.

Block EMFs

One thing I’m convinced is behind skyrocketing cancer cases in younger people is EMF exposure. Electromagnetic fields are bombarding us from cell phones, computers, power lines, appliances, smart meters, Wi-Fi and more.

To reduce EMF exposure, keep your phone in airplane mode whenever you can and talk on speaker mode rather than placing it next to your head. Don’t store your phone in your pocket; keep it away from you if you’re not using it.

Try using battery power instead of leaving your computer plugged in. And if you can hardwire into the internet instead of using Wi-Fi, that’s also great.

You can reduce EMF exposure at night by shutting off all electrical appliances in your bedroom. If feasible, turn off the circuit breakers to your bedroom. A multitude of EMF-protective devices are also available online.

Another option is to practice daily grounding or connecting to the earth. Walking barefoot on grass, beach sand, concrete or dirt positively recharges our bodies through our electrical outlets and negates some of the effects of EMFs. Or you can put your feet on a grounding mat while you work and use grounding sheets on your bed at night.


Proper hydration is required for every physiological function of the body. But if you wait to drink until you feel thirsty, early dehydration has already set in. Set a timer to drink water at regular intervals or purchase a hydration tracker water bottle that marks the amount of water you should drink hourly.

Stick to pure, filtered water or clear beverages like unsweetened teas or broths. For an added health boost, have a serving or two of molecular hydrogen water daily (available online, including in tablet form at Full of antioxidants and minerals, it can enhance metabolism and immunity, boost brain function, increase energy levels and much more.


Sleep is another area I focus on with my patients. Without at least seven hours of shuteye each night, your health may suffer and your immune system can’t function optimally.

A good night’s sleep starts with proper sleep hygiene. Start by darkening your bedroom with blackout curtains. Production of the sleep hormone melatonin halts with even the smallest amount of light, so total darkness is optimal. Use a sleep mask if necessary.

If noise is keeping you up, try earplugs. Or, if you can’t sleep in a quiet room, use a fan or other white noise machine.

Go to bed at a decent time, around 10:00 p.m. if possible. The body produces the most melatonin between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. Also try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day—even on weekends. A sleep schedule will help regulate your circadian rhythms so you can sleep more consistently.

Finally, stay off your phone and computer for at least an hour before bed, and turn off the TV. The blue light from these devices is a known sleep robber.

If you still have trouble winding down, try a warm bath or a cup of hot herbal tea. Sleep-enhancing supplements like melatonin, valerian root and chamomile can also help you sleep like a baby.

Virus-fighting therapies

Once you’ve supported your immune system with these six pillars of health, it’s time to bring in the “big guns.” Therapies and supplements aimed at eradicating viruses and enhancing overall health are available through most integrative physician’s offices.

IV vitamin C

One of the most heavy-hitting antiviral therapies at our fingertips is IV vitamin C. High doses—10 grams—have proven antiviral and anticancer benefits. But the digestive system can’t handle this therapeutic dose. More than a few grams can cause upset stomach and diarrhea.

Infused intravenously, vitamin C enters the bloodstream directly and reacts with oxygen in the affected cells to create hydrogen peroxide, which kills viruses and other pathogens. IV vitamin C is safe, generally well tolerated and an extremely effective tool in our antiviral arsenal.

EBOO therapy

Extracorporeal blood oxygenation and ozonation (EBOO) therapy is another way to eliminate toxins and pathogens and engender total-body wellness. An advanced blood filtration therapy, EBOO infuses oxygen (O2) and ozone (O3) into your blood via dialysis to increase blood flow, prompt cellular healing and boost cellular oxygen use. It’s useful for many health conditions because it targets the primary cause of several chronic concerns: inflammation.

Ultraviolet blood irradiation

Sometimes referred to as the forgotten therapy, ultraviolet blood irradiation (UVBI) “was extensively used in the 1940s and 1950s to treat many diseases including septicemia, pneumonia, tuberculosis, arthritis, asthma and even poliomyelitis.”5 Using UV light to kill viruses and other pathogens in the blood, it boosts the body’s immune response and works as a natural antibiotic.


Another therapy that harnesses the healing power of light is the Weber Medical Endolaser. A minimally invasive treatment, Endolaser uses low-level laser therapy intravenously to regenerate cells, stimulate healing, boost the immune system and deactivate pathogens.

It works in humans like photosynthesis in plants. Both convert light to energy, promote healing/growth and have systemic benefits. Endolaser is a remarkable treatment for a wide variety of health concerns and is worth discussing with your integrative physician.

The best defense

Viruses are everywhere, and it’s virtually impossible to avoid them. The good news is we have tools and therapies to shore up our immune systems and powerful and safe treatments to employ should we fall ill.

Working with an integrative practitioner who is knowledgeable about these methods is vital to getting—and staying—well. If you don’t already have someone you know and trust, check the websites at the Institute for Functional Medicine ( or the American College for Advancement in Medicine ( to find a physician near you.

Antiviral and immune-boosting supplements

Mother Nature provides strong support and protection against viruses in herbs and supplements. These are a few of the most effective.


Curcumin is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory supplements on the planet. Research shows it’s antiviral as well.1 Use supplements with black pepper extract, which increases absorption, or ask your doctor if IV infusion is an option for you.

Suggested dosage: 500 mg three times daily

Vitamin D3

Not only is vitamin D3 one of the most potent cancer-fighting supplements, it’s an immune-system and virus-squashing powerhouse. Per the US National Institutes of Health, “Vitamin D appears to lower viral replication rates, suppress inflammation and increase levels of T-regulatory cells and their activity.”2

Suggested dosage: 5,000–15,000 IU, or get your blood levels tested and aim for 50–70 ng/mL


The flavonoid quercetin is antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory besides being a potent antiviral. Foods with quercetin include onions, asparagus and red-leaf lettuce. Supplements are also an excellent option.

Suggested dosage: follow label or practitioner instructions

Oregano oil

Oregano oil also has mighty antiviral properties due to the active compound carvacrol, which helps fend off viral infections. It also boasts several other benefits, according to the research. Besides having anticancer, antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it helps to relax blood vessels and muscle spasms and protect the liver.3

Suggested dosage: follow label or practitioner instructions


Zinc is well known for supporting immune function and plays a vital role in physiological functions and reactions head-to-toe. Globally, zinc deficiency is rising thanks to lifestyle factors such as poor nutrition and malabsorption. Fortunately, supplements can quickly reverse it and shore up your immune defenses.4

Suggested dosage: follow label or practitioner instructions


Garlic has been widely used as an antimicrobial and antiviral food for centuries. Its powerhouse component—allicincan prevent viruses from attaching to host cells and replicating.5 Eating garlic every day can boost your immune system and keep you in tip-top shape.

Suggested dosage: add garlic to foods regularly


Because the immune system starts in the gut, supporting your microbiome health is essential. A great start is to take a probiotic supplement and eat plenty of pre- and probiotic foods. Some good options include kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, miso and kombucha.

Suggested dosage: consume fiber and probiotic foods regularly and/or choose a high-quality supplement and follow label instructions



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Main text
  1. Front Microbiol, 2017: 8: 1199
  2. CDC, “Basic Information about HPV and Cancer,” Sept 12, 2023,
  3. National Cancer Institute, “Epstein-Barr Virus,” accessed May 14, 2024,
  4. Kellie Bramlet Blackburn, “7 Viruses That Cause Cancer,” Aug 2018,
  5. J Photochem Photobiol B, 2016; 157: 89–96
Antiviral and immune-boosting supplements
  1. Viruses, 2020; 12(11): 1242
  2. Office of Dietary Supplements, “Dietary Supplements for Immune Function and Infectious Diseases,” June 27, 2023,
  3. Front Plant Sci, 2021: 11: 601335
  4. Luke Maxfield, Samarth Shukla, and Jonathan S. Crane, Zinc Deficiency (StatPearls, 2024)
  5. Food Sci Nutr, 2023; 11(8): 4444–4459
JULYAUG24, 'Don't go viral'
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