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If you’re looking for a natural way to fight COVID-19, the key may be right in your pantry.

Green tea, chocolate and grapes all contain compounds called flavonoids, historically known to enhance health.

A North Carolina State University researcher decided to put them to the test against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. And while not definitive, the results were strong enough to elicit some excitement, some attention and now a request to the National Institutes of Health for special consideration.

Plant biologist Deyu Xie is a professor of plant biology at North Carolina State University and knows the benefits for his and his family’s health. He has spent his career studying the compounds in nature.

“20 I study how plants make different diversive chemicals,” he said.

And those chemicals make great nutrients. But in some cases, they also have power against viruses.

Many, many phytochemicals like flavonoids, many of them they have antiviral activity,” Xie said.

In the lab at North Carolina State University, the plant compounds are extracted and saved for research. Xie and his team ran them through computer models first.

“We used computer to identify any compounds that could be potentially interacting with virus protein required for virus survival in human cells,” he said.

The compounds appeared to weaken those familiar spike proteins which give SARS-CoV-2 its power to infect and spread.

“One compound had the best scores,” Xie said. “We were excited.”

The chemical came from green tea. In lab studies, at high concentrations, it worked to weaken the virus that causes COVID-19. 

The key in real life is to drink it strong, and do not add milk. Cow’s milk and soy milk can deactivate the power. That’s why only dark cholcolate, not milk chocolate has health benefits.

Xie lists this items as well:

  • Cacao
  • Cocoa powder
  • Cacao drink
  • Dark chocolate.

Grapes are also beneficial. But to get the most out of them, chew the grape skin til it tastes bitter. That is your cue, the chemicals are strong.

Three potential tools to help in the pandemic.

“Most people know green tea, grapes and chocolate cacao,” Xie said. “They are functional to human health.”

And if they can protect against the ravages of COVID-19 Xie said it will mean a lot to him.

“If we can do it, my career will be very meaningful,” he said.

After publishing the paper with his results, Xie filed a formal application with the National Institutes of Health to attempt to make a supplement with these compounds to aid against COVID-19.

For now, Xie said he urges people to wear masks, distance from others and take a vaccine when it is available. Just like the science of natural medicine, he says these tools are scientifically proven to save lives.