Coronavirus and gut health

Posted by Melissa Callaghan on

Coronavirus and gut health

We have all been informed on how to go about protecting yourself from the outside when it comes to coronavirus but did you know that you can also build up your defenses on the inside? Please note that the information provided in this post is for educational purposes only it is not medical advice.

The medical community has learnt alot from previous coronavirus infections and one point of particular interest to me is the connection between the lungs and gut health.  We are learning more and more about the gut connections to the rest of the body everyday.  An area that may be new to you is the connection between the gut and the lungs.  It is called the



We can see in the above image that it starts with dietary intake which then moves to the intestines and the food you eat combines with the gut microbiome which then eat it and then produce metabolites (just think of it like your microbes are eating then going to the toilet), these metabolites impact the immune system and it is now seen in research that these metabolites can move via lymph to other organs in the body such as brain and lungs. Your gut health plays a role in your lung health.  Improve your gut to improve your defense. 

I think now is the time to remind you that

You are what you eat

The metabolites that our gut produces make changes to our immunity, these can be good changes or bad changes, depending on what you feed your microbes. The right diet will feed the good microbes and improve your immune system whereas a bad diet will feed the bad microbes that cause lots of chaos.  Having the bad guys in charge has been implicated in several lung diseases, including allergy, asthma and cystic fibrosis.  

In a paper published in the journal Mucosal Immunology (Dec 2008) it was documented that coronaviruses not only infected the respiratory lining but also the surface of the small intestines.  In previous coronaviruses just over half of the people studied also experienced symptoms of nausea and diarrhoea.  In studies being conducted with the current COVID-19 up to 50% of patients are also reporting digestive symptoms. New symptoms emerging are loss of appetite, diarrhoea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.  As the severity of the disease increases so too do the digestive symptoms.  There are also now even newer symptoms emerging which are loss of taste and smell.

As a Naturopath I like to work with the motto prevention is better than cure and whilst I can’t prevent you from getting this virus I can at the very least give you some relief from any digestive issues that you are currently experiencing as well as immediately begin to repair any damage that you already have in your gut lining and begin to help you grow your good microbes which can in turn support and improve your immune system response. 

Build up your defenses now!!!

I have talked previously about the importance of gut bacteria supporting the immune system in my article - "The immune system needs a super hero!!!" click on the photo below to gain access to this. 

When it comes to understanding gut health we need to look a bit further than just the microbes that live there, it is also the stomach and the gut lining that are very important players in your defense. 

If you experience reflux, heartburn or indigestion that it is an indication that there is an imbalance in the acidity of your stomach.  This is your first line of defense. 

As I am also an early childhood teacher I often use easy to understand anecdotes to explain a complex process.  When I talk about the bodies defense systems I use the story of the three little pigs. 

The wolf (pathogen eg virus, bacteria, toxin) is trying to get into your body (the house), your microbes (the three little pigs) do everything they can to stop the wolf (pathogen) from getting in.  They keep the fire going so that if the wolf (pathogen) comes down the chimney, it will go into the boiling water (stomach), they built the house out of bricks (skin) to keep the pathogens outside of the body.  If the water isn't hot enough and the fire stops burning then the wolf gets in and causes a whole lot of problems (disease, illness).  

We need to try to keep the wolf out!!!

And it starts with the health of your digestive system.

Below in Figure 1 you can see that image a shows a healthy gut lining barrier between intestinal flora (red) and lymphocytes (blue) then as the damage to the gut lining increases you can see in image c that viruses and bacteria can make their way into the body to the lymphocytes which will then transport them around the body.  Your health begins in your gut. 

For more information on gut health read the following article:

Signs that your digestive system needs some help

The above article talks about some of the signs you may experience if your digestive system needs some repair and they can include the following.

What are some of the other signs that you need digestive health support?

* Hormone imbalances - pcos, infertility, heavy periods, clotting

* Skin conditions - eczema, acne

* Allergies - hives, hayfever

* Respiratory - asthma, recurring cough

* Mood imbalances - anxiety, depression, behaviour difficulties, memory loss a, foggy brain

* Pain, including fibromyalgia and joint pain

* Autoimmune - thyroid, Rheumatoid, Psoriasis, Lupus

* Bacteria imbalances - candida

* Food intolerances - gluten, dairy

* High blood pressure

* High cholesterol

* Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes 

What can be done?

As a Naturopath I assess each patient individually to work out a treatment plan that suits them. Then I compound products for each individual patient to get them back on track and enjoying life again.  These include herbal and nutritional medicine as well as making dietary and lifestyle changes. Rather than needing to know the location of every single toilet, everywhere you go. Gut repair and rebalance are done in stages, starting with repairing the lining and reducing inflammation, improving digestion and then onto re-balancing the microbiome.


Who am I?

I am a Bachelor qualified Naturopath who specialises in improving metabolic processes in the body. Major areas for improvement include gut, thyroid, kidney, skin and liver health. Conditions such as hypothyroidism, fatty liver, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, & irritable bowel conditions. I help my patients by giving them symptomatic relief while working on repairing the underlying causes of metabolic stress and waste accumulation. Patients experience amazing results which are seen in their blood tests with improved thyroid markers, cholesterol, and liver markers.  As well as lower blood pressure and see relief from improved gastrointestinal symptoms like the ones that mean you need to know where every single toilet is before you leave the house. 

Melissa Callaghan BHSc, BTeach


To book an appointment click here 

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Please note – that according to World Health Organisation (WHO), three of the most common symptoms are a fever, coughing, and some difficulty breathing.  This article is in no way superseding the information released by Authorities.  WHO is still considering these symptoms uncommon, the information I am giving you is from previous coronaviruses (Crossing barriers: infections of the lung and the gut), as well as new information coming from a Wuhan Medical Treatment Expert Group for COVID-19 who have suggested that the gut symptoms may be more widespread than originally thought.  Detailed in the research paper (Clinical characteristics of COVID-19 patients with digestive symptoms in Hubei, China: a descriptive, cross-sectional, multicenter study)


The most important point that I must make very clear is that there is no magic pill to stop you from getting COVID-19. All you can do is take care of your health and support your body to defend itself in the best possible way.

These are unprecedented times, this is a new virus. As herbalists we have learnt a lot from COVID-19’s relatives SARS and MERS but this one is new and acts a little bit differently. 

As they are all coronaviruses we can put measures into place to give your body the best chance possible but only based on past experiences.

Most importantly follow all the government guidelines. Especially hygiene and social distancing.

Stay safe

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