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Can We Prevent Viral Infections?

What should Canadians do to protect themselves from viruses this season?

The flu virus, and the 2019 novel coronavirus associated with Wuhan, China are two hot topics right now. Everything you need to know about them can be found on the Ontario Ministry of Health’s website, which is updated daily. The symptoms of the 2019 novel coronavirus, which include fever and cough, are similar to other respiratory infections, including influenza. At this time, the differentiating factor (other than lab confirmation), is travel to Wuhan and Hubei, China, or close contact to someone infected with the novel coronavirus. This makes the novel coronavirus low risk for Canadians.

So what can we do to protect ourselves from viruses in general? As mentioned by the World Naturopathic Federation we should educate ourselves on Prevention and Health Promotion.


  1. Hygiene: Wash your hands often with soap and water. Avoid touching your face.
  2. Cough hygiene: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, then discard the tissue and wash your hands. Coughing into your elbow will still spread the virus.
  3. Food hygiene: Use different cutting boards for meat and vegetables and clean them well. Avoid sharing water, food, or utensils with anyone experiencing respiratory symptoms.
  4. Clean surfaces: clean and disinfect communal areas (e.g. office phone, shopping carts, chairs).
  5. Avoidance: Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay home and avoid large crowds.

Naturopathic care recognizes the importance of decreasing viral exposure and promoting overall health and immunity. The following guidelines may be beneficial in supporting your immune system. For specific recommendations, work with your naturopathic doctor or health care practitioner.

Health Promotion:

  1. Stay hydrated: with water and herbal teas
  2. A clean balanced diet of lean protein, vegetables, fruit and whole grains. Limit sugar and processed foods.
  3. Spices: many warming spices have anti-microbial and anti-viral properties such as ginger, garlic, onions, thyme, oregano, and sage.
  4. Sleep: ensure adequate sleep.
  5. Stress management: positive relationships are associated with a stronger immune system and overall health.
  6. Indoor pollutants: address indoor pollutants like mould which can exacerbate respiratory symptoms.
  7. Avoid smoking as it can increase your susceptibility to lung-related illnesses.
  8. Exercise: enhances immune function at moderate intensity.

Remember, it is important to follow the advice of your local Ministry of Health during an outbreak. Call ahead if you need to go to the hospital or any health care facility and you are experiencing fever and respiratory symptoms.