We need to stop worrying about an herb or vitamin triggering a ‘cytokine storm,’ (CS) a massive immunologic overreaction that is seen at the end stage of certain viral infections. Most of the time CS is not triggered by the virus but rather another end-stage consequence, septic shock, and with it, multiple organ failure.
Septic shock is triggered by molecules known as TLRs (toll-like receptors) that are usually activated in response to bacterial toxins known as lipopolysaccharides (LPS).
Activation of TLR leads to the production of ‘inflamasomes’ (principally one known as NLRP3), which then trigger the release of cytokines. NLRP3 is inhibited by nitric oxide (NO) a small signaling molecule produced by virtually every cell in the body.
Matter of fact, you might have benefited from elderberry, since it has been shown to enhance NO blockage of inflammasome activity and actually suppress TLR4. Dark pigmented fruits have been known to block LPS activation of inflammasomes for decades.
So let’s get things straight. This is man-bites-dog stuff. If you’re headed for this type of consequence, a cytokine storm preceded by septic shock, I can assure you they we need not worry about the elderberry you’ve taken. In fact PubMed shows zero studies when ‘elderberry’ and ‘cytokine storm’ are entered as search terms. Zero. It’s the equivalent of waiting for a commuter train, seeing a brown bag lunch on the track and worrying that it might potentially derail your ride.
I’ll put it in even simpler terms, virtually all rational natural therapies for Covid19 are not potent enough to do this level of harm. If they did, that would be bad, but then again we’d have some really great new drugs for a slew of other human ailments, like cancer.
- Anti-inflammatory activity of fruit fractions in vitro, mediated through toll-like receptor 4 and 2 in the context of inflammatory bowel disease.
I posted this article on FaceBook while back but since I now endlessly have to deal with assertions that elderberry will put you on a ventilator with an out of control cytokine storm I thought I’d share it again. Turns out elderberry is directly lethal to coronavirus. In all fairness, it was studied in chickens, and the type of coronavirus was the gamma form (Covid-19 is the beta form). But in reading the entire article I could find no evidence that a single chicken went into cytokine storm after being administered elderberry.