Bacterial and viral infections are typically contagious, and their symptoms can range in severity depending on the specific type of pathogen involved. Certain illnesses may require medication such as antibiotics or antiviral treatments. In this article, we will examine the main distinctions between bacterial and viral infections, including their transmission and treatment options. Additionally, we will provide tips on how to prevent the spread of these infections, and deal with infections.
Come from bacteria, which are single-celled microorganisms.
Bacteria can be found within or on the surface of the human body.
Not all bacteria are harmful to humans.
Pathogenic bacteria refer to microorganisms that can make humans sick. In some cases, bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics.
Arise from viruses, which are a piece of genetic material, such as DNA or RNA, coated with protein.
Viruses use healthy cells in the body to replicate themselves, sometimes killing their host cells as they multiply.
Certain types of viral infections are treated with antiviral medications.
Antibiotics cannot cure a viral infection.
So, let’s go into more detail about what a viral infection actually is. Viruses are a type of microorganism that are smaller than bacteria and have a diverse range of shapes and characteristics. They are parasitic, meaning that they need living cells or tissues to grow.
Once inside the body, viruses can invade cells and use their components to replicate and multiply. In some cases, viruses can even cause the death of host cells as part of their life cycle.
Touching contaminated surfaces
Close contact with an infected person
Contaminated food and water
The role of naturopathy and naturopathic nutrition in supporting and preventing viral infection.
Naturopathic practitioners may recommend changes to the diet to help boost the immune system during viral infections. This could include consuming more foods high in immune-boosting nutrients like vitamins C, D, and E, zinc, and selenium.
Herbal remedies: Certain herbs may have antiviral properties and can help support the immune system during viral infections. Examples include echinacea, elderberry, and liquorice root[i].
Lifestyle changes: Naturopathic practitioners may recommend lifestyle changes to support the immune system during viral infections. Examples include getting enough sleep, managing stress, staying hydrated, and engaging in regular exercise.
A word on sleep: Sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system, and lack of sleep can negatively impact immune function. According to a review published in the "Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine," sleep deprivation can impair immune function by decreasing the production of cytokines, which are proteins that help regulate the immune response[ii].
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is known for its immune-boosting properties and has been studied for its potential in the prevention and treatment of viral infections. A review published in the "Nutrients" journal suggests that vitamin C may decrease the severity and duration of respiratory tract infections caused by viruses, such as the common cold and influenza[iii].
Zinc: is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in immune function and has been studied for its potential to help prevent and treat viral infections[iv]. This is because zinc is necessary for the development and function of immune cells, and it also possesses antiviral properties. Zinc is believed to inhibit viral replication and attachment to host cells, making it more difficult for the virus to spread[v]. Viridian Vitamin C 500mg + Zinc and Cytoplan Immune Complete
Garlic: Garlic is a popular culinary herb that has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. It contains a compound called allicin, which has been studied for its potential antiviral properties. Allicin, the substance found in garlic is believed to inhibit viral replication by disrupting viral enzymes and preventing them from replicating. Allicin Max
Medicinal mushrooms: have been used for centuries in traditional medicine for their health-promoting properties. Studies suggest that certain species of mushrooms may have antiviral effects and could potentially be used in the prevention and treatment of viral infections. Mushrooms such as shiitake, maitake, and reishi contain bioactive compounds that modulate immune function and possess antiviral activity against a range of viruses, including influenza and herpes simplex virus[vi]. Hifas da Terra Mico-Vir (70 Capsules)
Vitamin D: According to a review published in the "International Journal of Molecular Sciences," vitamin D may help reduce the risk of viral infections by enhancing immune function and modulating the body's inflammatory response. It also helps regulate the expression of genes involved in immune function, reducing the risk of overactive immune responses that can lead to tissue damage[vii]. Viridian Vitamin D
Elderberry: a fruit that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries for its health benefits. Studies have suggested that elderberry has antiviral properties and could potentially be used in the prevention and treatment of viral infections[viii]. Pukka Elderberry Syrup (100ml). Studies have suggested that astragalus has antiviral effects and could potentially be used in the prevention and treatment of viral infections. According to a review published in the "Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine," astragalus has been shown to have antiviral activity[ix]. Terranova Astragalus, Elderberry & Garlic Complex
Pycnogenol: a natural extract derived from the bark of the French maritime pine tree. It has been studied for its potential health benefits, including antiviral effects, according to a study published in the "Phytotherapy Research"[x]. Pure Encapsulations Pycnogenol 100 MG (30 Capsules)
Olive leaf: Studies suggest that olive leaf extract has antiviral properties. The active compounds in olive leaf extract, including oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol, are believed to inhibit viral replication by blocking viral enzymes and preventing viral attachment to host cells[xi]. Terranova Olive Leaf 450mg (50 Caps)
Health Factory - ENT Zinc & Silver Spray - Colloidal silver is a suspension of submicroscopic metallic silver particles in water and has been used as a traditional remedy for various ailments.
Allicin Alliderm Gel (30ml) – Allicin in the form of a gel for topical application.
de Mamiel Altitude Oil (10ml) - Just a few deep breaths of this of lovingly created, sensory blend of luxurious and antiviral plant oils throughout a busy day counteracts a multitude of modern day stresses.
[i] Maggini, S., Beveridge, S., Suter, M., & Aebischer, C. P. (2010). Selected vitamins and trace elements support immune function by strengthening epithelial barriers and cellular and humoral immuneresponses. British Journal of Nutrition, 104(S3), S11-S18. doi: 10.1017/S0007114510001740
[ii] Irwin, M. R. (2019). Sleep and inflammation: partners in sickness and in health. Nature Reviews Immunology, 19(11), 702-715. doi: 10.1038/s41577-019-0190-z
[iii] Carr, A. C., & Maggini, S. (2017). Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients, 9(11), 1211. doi: 10.3390/nu9111211
[iv] Hemilä, H. (2017). Zinc lozenges and the common cold: a meta-analysis comparing zinc acetate and zinc gluconate, and the role of zinc dosage. JRSM Open, 8(5), 2054270417694291. doi: 10.1177/2054270417694291
[v] Read, S. A., Obeid, S., Ahlenstiel, C., & Ahlenstiel, G. (2019). The Roleof Zinc in Antiviral Immunity. Advances in Nutrition, 10(4), 696–710. doi: 10.1093/advancesin/nmy120.
[vi] Patel, S. (2011). Medicinal importance of mushroom beta-glucans. Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms, 13(1), 1-7. doi: 10.1615/jmedmushr.v13.i1.10
[vii] Grant, W. B., Lahore, H., & McDonnell, S. L. (2020). Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths. Nutrients, 12(4), 988. doi: 10.3390/nu12040988
[viii] Tiralongo, E., Wee, S. S., & Lea, R. A. (2016). Elderberry supplementation reduces cold duration and symptoms in air-travellers: A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Nutrients, 8(4), 182. doi: 10.3390/nu8040182
[ix] Mao, S. P., Cheng, K. L., Zhou, Y. F., & Zhang, Y. Y. (2013). Astragalus polysaccharide and its anti-tumor activity. Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine, 19(3), 236-239. doi: 10.1007/s11655-013-1374-9
[x] Belcaro, G., Cesarone, M. R., Dugall, M., Pellegrini, L., Ledda, A., Grossi, M. G., ... & Appendino, G. (2008). Product-evaluation registry of Pycnogenol® (French maritime pine bark extract) in fighting mild-to-moderate symptoms of H1N1 and influenza-like infections. Panminerva medica, 50(4), 301-308
[xi] Goulas, V., & Exarchou, V. (2020). Olive Leaf: From Ancient Times to the Present Day. Nutrients, 12(3), 610. doi: 10.3390/nu12030610
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.