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Powerful Covid Early Treatment Protocol

Updated 11-15-21 – see update added to the Nigella Sativa section

Vaccinated or unvaccinated, everyone needs to prepare for the day that they or a loved one come down with covid. Fortunately, much evidence shows that the means to prevent a case of covid from becoming severe are readily available.  While doctors and health authorities in the wealthier countries have been relying on vaccination to prevent severe covid, doctors in poorer countries with low vaccination rates and poor access to vaccines, such as India, have been actively developing early treatment protocols that are inexpensive, simple to administer, but at the same time highly effective.  

One such doctor is the Indian M.D. Darrell DeMello, who has treated some 8,000 covid patients, with few hospitalizations and deaths among them.  Dr. DeMello is staunchly pro-vaccine, but – recognizing that few in India can get the vaccine, and that even the vaccinated can develop breakthrough cases – he is also a staunch advocate of early-treatment.

With his vast experience, Dr. DeMello has this to say: “Covid should never be more than a mild disease.  Doctors in India have learned how to treat this disease early – to start the patient on day 1, day 2, day 3.  And the message about early treatment has been hammered home by many of us who have led the fight against covid.  In India now, doctors treat these patients early.  And you can see that in India the severe illness has come down drastically.  There is no reason that any patient should progress to the inflammatory or clotting stage, or develop severe covid, or be hospitalized, or develop long covid, or die.  The key is early treatment.  Hit it early, hit it hard, and this will be a mild disease at worst.”

I have studied the protocols of Dr. DeMello and others extensively, and have synthesized what I believe to be the most powerful and easiest-to-implement elements into the protocol below. I cannot give medical advice, but I can tell you what I am doing and have done to protect myself and my family.

If you have any specific medical concerns, and particularly if you are pregnant, please ask your doctor before implementing any of the following.

NOTE: I have no financial interest in anything posted on this page. I do not provide any covid-related services, nor do I sell any products for the prevention or treatment of covid. The links to products are for the convenience of the reader only; they are direct links, not affiliate links, and if someone clicks on them and buys something, I get nothing for it.

Early treatment is the key!!!

The most important principle of treatment is to START EARLY!!!  That means IMMEDIATELY UPON FIRST SYMPTOMS!!!  I would not wait for a positive covid test, and even if I were to take a rapid test and it was negative, I would start the protocol below if I felt I had symptoms that were suspicious for covid.  The measures in the protocol below are certainly safer than untreated covid, so there is no reason not to begin immediately.  I have all these items on hand and am ready to start at a moment’s notice.

A word about early treatment of viruses in general.  I personally began the practice of treating viruses at the first sign of illness some 15 to 20 years ago.  I found that by doing so, I could usually knock them out immediately, and I almost never really got sick.  The trick, I learned, is to continue treatment for 3 days, even if feeling perfect.  When I began this practice, at the very first sign I was getting sick – a change in my voice, a tickle in my throat, a mild cough, etc. – I would start treatment immediately.  A few hours later I would usually feel fine – no sign of illness – and I would think I had just imagined the whole thing, and would stop treatment.  That was always a big mistake!!!  Inevitably the illness would come roaring back, and once it did, it was much more difficult to stop. The lesson is that once started, the antiviral measures should be continued for at least 3 days no matter what.

I learned one more thing. During those years, I experimented with 3 different early treatment interventions to see which worked best. The answer? They all worked equally – IF I started in time. So it wasn’t WHICH antiviral regimen I used, it was how quickly I started that was critical. A simple antiviral or immune-boosting supplement started immediately worked far better than the most powerful drugs started a day or two later. And that makes sense when you think about it. Which is more effective after all – a bucket of water thrown on a campfire, or an airplane full of fire retardant a day or two later when it’s a forest fire?

If you don’t catch it in time, however, and do get sick, the protocol calls for continuing treatment for at least 10-14 days.  

A word about the first two interventions below – gargling with an antiviral mouthwash and using an antiviral nose spray.  These may seem like nothing, but studies have shown that the beneficial effects of just this simple intervention are astounding. Coronavirus colonizes the nasopharynx (nasal passages, back of the mouth, and throat), so these interventions hit the virus right where it lives. 

A well-done Indian study randomized 606 patients who tested positive for covid into two groups, treatment and placebo. The treatment group used a dilute povidone iodine (Betadine) gargle and nasal spray every 4 hours.  The placebo group did the same, but were given plain water instead of the povidone iodine solution.  After seven days, all study subjects were PCR tested for covid again.  In the placebo group, 70% tested positive while in the treatment group, just 2% tested positive.  Again, this is an astounding result.  More importantly, in the placebo group, 6.6% of the patients died, while in the group that received the povidone iodine solution, just 0.6% died.  That’s 11 times more deaths in the placebo group than the treatment group.  These patients did not start the intervention until they had already been sick for several days, so by starting the protocol immediately upon first symptoms, your results should be even better.  The study is here: https://www.bioresearchcommunications.com/index.php/brc/article/view/176/159

Basic treatment to be started at the first signs of covid

  • Antiviral mouthwash.  Gargle with antiviral mouthwash 4x daily.  The Indian study mentioned above used a dilute, 1% solution of povidone iodine (Betadine).  Betadine makes a similar gargle, which is available at pharmacies – but it usually is in the Cold and Flu section rather than the mouthwash section.  

However, typical mouthwashes such as Scope appear to work equally well if they contain the ingredient cetylpyridinium chloride.  Check the label to be sure.   

  • Antiviral nasal spray The Indian study used 1% povidone iodine drops (0.5% – 1% seems to be the concentration of povidone iodine most often recommended as both effective and sufficiently gentle on nasal mucosa).  0.5% is generally recognized as being as effective as 1%, and is more gentle on nasal mucosa.

You can make your own dilute solution of 0.5% povidone iodine by diluting 10% povidone iodine 20:1.  Participants in the Indian study used the drops intranasally 4x daily, 4-5 drops per nostril.  You can also buy empty nasal spray bottles on Amazon;  one squirt of a typical nasal spray bottle equals the 5 drops used in the Indian study.  But it is probably easiest to buy the povidone iodine product that FLCCC recommends, called ImmuneMist Nasal Cleanse spray, https://www.immunemist.com/products/immunemist-nasal-cleanse.  

Certain cautions apply when using iodine.  The FLCCC website says to use no more than 5 days in pregnancy but if you are pregnant, definitely ask your doctor.  Some people are allergic to iodine.  Other cautions are for patients with thyroid disorders, kidney failure, dermatitis herpetiformis, and lithium therapy, and perhaps others as well.  If in doubt, ask your physician.

A medical journal article in June 2020 reviewed the safety of using povidone iodine solutions in the nose and mouth, and concluded the following: “Povidone-iodine can safely be used in the nose at concentrations up to 1.25% and in the mouth at concentrations up to 2.5% for up to 5 months. Povidone-iodine rapidly inactivates coronaviruses, including SARS and MERS, when applied for as little as 15 seconds.” https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0145561320932318#

Be aware that if you go on Amazon, you will find a nasal spray made by Betadine, called Betadine Cold Defense Nasal Spray.  Oddly enough, this product contains no Betadine or iodine, and is not as good for this purpose. It can, however, be used if for some reason one cannot use iodine.

The FLCCC has said that another way to eliminate viruses colonizing the nasal passages is to use a neti pot, or a NeilMed Sinus Rinse Kit, available at any pharmacy, to which you must add a little baby shampoo.  Coronaviruses are lipid-coated, so the slightly soapy solution has been shown to dissolve the viruses’ lipid coating, destroying them.  It can also dissolve biofilms in which microorganisms can “hide.”  

The NeilMed Sinus Rinse Kit comes with pre-measured packets of powder you add to water, making a solution similar to normal saline solution, which is gentle on sensitive nasal mucosa.  The FLCCC does not give details about adding baby shampoo to this, but when I had a sinus infection some years ago, my own ENT doctor gave me instructions to add 1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) of baby shampoo to the contents of the NeilMed bottle, which is 1 cup.  Some commercial baby shampoos apparently contain chemicals that may cause loss of sense of smell, but the baby shampoo that my ENT doctor recommends as safe is Johnson’s Baby Natural’s Head-To-Toe Wash.

Neti pot or NeilMed Sinus Rinse can also be used with povidone iodine, and in fact, one study showed that sinus rinse is more effective than the nasal spray. For this I would use a lower concentration. Two teaspoons of 10% povidone iodine added to one cup comes out to about .4%. I’ve tried this and I find it a bit “intense.” I prefer to use one teaspoon of povidone iodine for each cup of saline rinse solution, which produces a 0.2% povidone iodine solution. One study shows that even a 0.1% solution – 1/2 teaspoon of povidone iodine in one cup of saline rinse solution – rapidly deactivates viruses.

  • Zinc.  If you look at clinical trials measuring the effectiveness of zinc against viral infections, you will find a dizzying range of outcomes – from dramatically-reduced duration and symptoms to no effect whatsoever.  Why might that be?  

The answer lies in the research of a physician named George A. Eby, who discovered in the 1980s that the formulation of zinc used is critical.

It began when Dr. Eby was treating a 3-year-old girl for leukemia.  The leukemia treatments suppressed her immune system, and she suffered from frequent colds.  At the beginning of one episode of a cold, Dr. Eby gave her a 50mg tablet of zinc and tried to get her to swallow it.  She could not, so instead she kept it in her mouth and sucked on it.  To everyone’s surprise, her cold symptoms disappeared within hours.  

That serendipitous observation launched Dr. Eby on a quest to learn all he could about the use of zinc in the treatment of viral infections.  Laboratory research showed that only ionic zinc was effective against viruses, and through years of painstaking research, Dr. Eby discovered that it is the percentage of zinc released as ionic zinc that determines the efficacy of any zinc formulation.  Many formulations, including some formulations of the popular supplement zinc gluconate, released 0% as ionic zinc and were therefore found not effective.  

The most effective formulation Dr. Eby found was zinc acetate, which – at a physiological pH of 7.4 – released 100% as ionic zinc.  He further found that the longer it was held in the mouth, the better – large, slowly-dissolving lozenges kept the zinc in the mouth and pharynx, where the viruses colonize.  He made his highly-effective zinc acetate formulation into large, slowly-dissolving lozenges and sold them under his name.

Dr. Eby’s brand of zinc lozenges is no longer around but, fortunately, the identical formulation is available from Life Extension Foundation.  The American physician Syed Haider, who specializes in treating covid patients and has treated many thousands of such patients, specifies this particular lozenge and says he has seen it “knock out covid” right away if started at the first symptoms.  Chris Masterjohn, a Ph.D. who has done extensive research on early treatments for covid, likewise specifies this formulation and no other.  Life Extension makes two types of zinc lozenges, so be sure to get the Enhanced Zinc Lozenges. It is available on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BKURF1A/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1.  It is cheaper directly from lifeextension.com, but you may have to pay shipping. 

Why is this particular formulation – which is clearly the most effective against viruses – available from so few vendors?  It turns out that the high absorbability of this formulation is a two-edged sword.  Zinc competes with copper in the body, and so long-term use of highly-absorbable zinc can throw off one’s zinc/copper balance.  For that reason, this formulation is appropriate for short-term use during an acute viral infection, but not for long-term everyday use.  Most vendors do not want to offer a zinc formulation that they cannot recommend for long-term everyday use.  So bravo to Life Extension, which offers this powerful formulation for short-term use in acute viral infections, and a different formulation for long-term use. 

Some consumers have complained that these lozenges are too large and dissolve too slowly.  But that’s the whole idea – to keep this active, antiviral form of zinc in contact with the areas where the virus is colonizing for an extended period of time.  Don’t bite or chew, just patiently suck on it and expect each lozenge to last a half hour or so.  Each lozenge contains 18mg of zinc, and many sources indicate you can take up to 100mg of zinc daily (approximately 5 of these lozenges) while fighting an infection (not for long-term use at that dose).  Life Extension Foundation sells this formulation specifically for use against viral infections and says to use up to 8 a day, but not for more than 3 consecutive days.

  • Melatonin 10mg daily.  This helps to prevent cytokine storm, i.e. the inflammatory/clotting hyperimmune response that causes severe covid. Melatonin will make you sleepy, so take only right before bedtime.  Dr. Haider suggests taking it 6 days a week then skipping a day to prevent your body from shutting down its own internal melatonin production. 
  • Nigella sativa and honey protocol.  Nigella sativa – also known as black seed or black cumin – is used extensively as a spice and medicinal herb throughout the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent.  It is known as Kalonji in India.  You wouldn’t think that a simple, common herb in combination with honey could dramatically alter the course of serious cases of covid, but an impeccably-done multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled, triple-blinded (even the biostatisticians doing the analysis were blinded) study at four prestigious medical centers in Pakistan shows that it does exactly that.  

The trial really put the nigella sativa and honey combination to the test by including patients with comorbidities such as diabetes and hypertension, and hospitalized patients as well.  Still, it showed dramatic improvements in viral clearance, time to resumption of normal activities, and mortality.  Among hospitalized patients, by day 6, 50% of the treatment group had been discharged, while among patients taking placebo, only 2.8% had been discharged.  In hospitalized patients with severe covid, those in the treatment group had 4 times lower probability of dying than those in the placebo group.

The treatment is the essence of simplicity, and consists of consuming ground nigella sativa seeds and honey.  Nigella sativa seeds are widely available – I get organic seeds from Starwest Botanicals: https://www.starwest-botanicals.com/category/nigella-seed/.  They should be finely ground to a powder before consuming; a simple coffee grinder works well.  

The dose is 80mg nigella sativa per kilo of body weight, and 1g of honey per kilo of body weight, daily.  Since both of these are natural, safe products, exact precision is not required.  Someone such as myself who is 75 kilos, or 165 pounds, would take 6 grams daily of nigella sativa seeds divided into 3 doses.  One level teaspoon of seeds is approximately 2 grams.  So a 165 lb. person would take one level teaspoon (2 grams) of ground nigella sativa in the morning, another in the afternoon, and another in the evening, for a total of 6 grams per day.  With each dose, you should take 1/3 the daily dose of honey.  Since I weigh 165 lbs – 75 kilos – I would take 25 grams with my morning dose, 25 grams with my afternoon dose, and 25 grams with my evening dose.  For those of different weights, see below:

Again, 1 level tsp of nigella sativa is approximately 2 grams.  But to be precise, you can weigh it.  Weighing such small amounts used to require an expensive scale, but electronic scales accurate to 1/100 of a gram are now available on Amazon for as little as $11.00.  This is the one I have: https://www.amazon.com/Weigh-Gram-Digital-Jewelry-Kitchen/dp/B06Y61YW7S/ref=sr_1_14?dchild=1&keywords=electronic+gram+scale&qid=1632095992&sr=8-14

A word about honey.  With the diminishing bee population worldwide, real honey has become hard to find.  Studies show that much if not most of the honey sold in supermarkets is either adulterated or contains no actual honey whatsoever.  I have even bought honey in farmer’s markets that did not smell or taste like honey.  Other than buying from a trusted local farm, your best bet is probably to go to a health food store or Whole Foods and buy certified organic honey to put in your early-treatment kit.  It doesn’t have to be expensive Manuka Honey, but it does have to be real honey, raw if possible.  Honey keeps almost indefinitely.

Once begun, continue the protocol for 14 days.  The full study can be found at https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.10.30.20217364v4.full-text

UPDATE 11-15-21:

About 2 months ago I felt like I was coming down with a virus and had a low-grade fever, and immediately started the early treatment protocol, including nigella sativa. Whatever virus it was, it was gone within 24 hours. I continued the protocol 3 more days to be sure, so I was on it 4 days total.

By the end of the 4 days, I noticed that my breathing had improved substantially. I suffer from severe chronic asthma requiring me to take inhalers daily, and even then I feel constant discomfort and pressure on my chest. But after being on the protocol for those 4 days, the pressure on my chest had substantially lightened and my breathing seemed easier.

It was quite a noticeable and pleasant change. I thought it might be the nigella sativa, and did a goodle search of “nigella sativa asthma.” Sure enough, I found quite a few clinical trials that had demonstrated remarkable benfits of daily nigella sativa for asthma, as it is a powerful anti-inflammatory and bronchodilator.

I stopped the rest of the protocol after those 4 days but continued the nigella sativa at half-dose. I weigh 165 pounds, 75 kilos, so the full dose for me was 6 grams daily, and I continued at 3 grams daily – 1.5 grams morning and evening – along with about a teaspoon of honey each time. My breathing continued to improve and I began cutting back on the inhalers I was taking. For about the past month I have been off all inhalers, and my breathing hasn’t been this good in years if not decades.

As it happens, this daily half-dose protocol is now recommended for covid prevention by FLCCC and also by at least one of the original investigators in the Pakistani study. So my daily nigella sativa is doing double duty for me – enabling me to be free of asthma drugs and also helping to prevent covid. If I do get covid, I will have had an automatic head-start on early treatment by having been on the nigella sativa from the time of infection. Of course, the moment I suspect I am coming down with covid, I will again immediately start the full protocol, including the full dose of nigella sativa.

A word about nigella sativa oil vs ground seeds. Both are used therapeutically, apparently interchangeably. Most studies use nigella sativa oil, although many – including the first-rate Pakistani study mentioned earlier – use ground seeds. The dose of oil used is surprisingly small – most studies used 500mg (1/2 gram) of oil twice a day, a total of 1 gram of oil daily. 500mg of the oil is approximately 1/8 teaspoon, which can be a little difficult to measure. Fortunately, many vendors sell the oil in convenient 500mg capsules. More is not necessarily better, and may even be counter-productive.

And what are the equivalencies between the ground seeds and the oil? Approximately 1/3 the weight of each seed is oil. So one 500mg capsule of oil (1/2 gram) is roughly equivalent to 1.5 grams of ground seeds.

So for anyone who suffers from any inflammatory condition, I see no reason not to try this protocol. Nigella sativa has also been shown to help diabetics control blood sugar, so diabetics should carefully monitor their blood sugar when starting to take nigella sativa to avoid episodes of hypglycemia. Again, 500mg of nigella sativa oil twice daily, or 1.5 grams of the ground seeds twice daily. I also take a bit of honey with it each time. The honey is not in most of the studies, but it is used in the Pakistani study, and is the traditional way of taking nigella sativa. And hey, it’s a good excuse to eat some delicious honey. For medicinal purposes only of course!!


At the first suspicion of covid, this protocol calls for the following. All of them are important elements of the protocol; I am listing them in the order of importance of doing them immediately.

  • Life Extension Enhanced Zinc Acetate Lozenges.  You should have a few of these with you at all times, in your pocket or purse.  If you start early enough, it is possible that the symptoms you were experiencing will disappear within a few hours.  DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKE OF STOPPING TREATMENT!!!  Keep taking the lozenges for the rest of that day and for two or three days following.
  • Antiviral nose spray, as described above.  These are also small and easy to carry in your car, pocket, or purse.  Also to be started upon first symptoms. You can also take a squirt in each nostril before and after any social contact you are concerned about, any crowded indoor event, etc.
  • Antiviral mouthwash/gargle, as described above.  Also to be started at first symptoms.  You can also gargle with this soon after any social contact (as with the antiviral nose spray) to help eliminate any viruses you may have inhaled, before they ever take hold.
  • Nigella sativa and honey protocol.  This is a vitally important part of the protocol, but it is less important that it be started immediately.  No need to carry the seeds and honey with you at all times.  But do begin the same day, as soon as possible.
  • Melatonin.  Do not take until you are ready for bed.

What if the early treatment window has already passed?

An amazing study in an Italian medical journal published by respected British medical journal The Lancet shows that the simple amino acid L-Arginine is astonishingly effective even in advanced patients hospitalized with respiratory distress. Chris Masterjohn is a PhD and researcher, and wrote the following excellent summary: https://chrismasterjohnphd.com/blog/2021/10/01/the-one-amino-acid-that-cured-covid


I don’t know of any clinical trials using these measures for everyday prevention, so I don’t know how well they would work, or what would be the appropriate protocol to follow.  I do take a daily half-dose of nigella sativa as described in the nigella sativa section above. Also, common sense dictates that you could do the antiviral elements of the program for a few days following exposure or suspected exposure to covid (antiviral gargle, nose spray, and zinc lozenges), and it may well reduce the probability of actually developing covid. I would not do the whole program daily long-term, as some elements – such as the povidone iodine gargle and nose spray – may not be appropriate for very long-term use.  As mentioned, the manufacturers of the recommended zinc supplement warn against taking this particular formulation of zinc long-term, particularly at high dosages, as it can compete with zinc and cause a zinc/copper imbalance.  However, I know of no problem gargling with Scope daily.

So for prevention, again, I can only tell you what I am doing.  In addition to the nigella sativa, If I am about to have a contact I am concerned about, I take a squirt of nasal spray just prior, to help form a viral barrier.  Immediately after the event or contact, I take another squirt of the nasal spray in each nostril, and suck on one of the specified zinc acetate lozenges.  If I am very concerned about the contact or event, I may suck on 2 lozenges within the next 3-4 hours.  As soon as reasonably possible, I will gargle once or twice with antiviral mouthwash.  That’s it.  The rest of the protocol, or longer use of the above measures, I reserve for when I actually have symptoms.

Maintain a high level of vitamin D

It should be mentioned that a crucial element of keeping yourself safe from covid is to keep your vitamin D levels high.  Low vitamin D levels markedly raise your risk of getting severe covid, and levels cannot be raised quickly.  Overcoming a vitamin D deficiency takes weeks.  

Most sources suggest taking it as a vitamin D3 supplement.  Vitamin D is fat-soluble and can accumulate in tissue, and if intake of supplements is too high, in rare cases blood levels can get so high as to be toxic.  Vitamin D supplements are measured in “International Units,” or IUs, and almost all experts say that 1,000 IUs daily is a safe amount to take.  Most say 2,000 IUs daily is a safe amount to take, and many say that 4,000 IUs is safe.  But  it is a good idea to have your blood levels tested from time to time to make sure your levels have not become excessive.

Michael Holick MD, Ph.D. is probably the world’s foremost authority on vitamin D.  Dr. Holick explains that there are two blood tests for vitamin D, and the one you should get is 25-vitamin D, also known as 25-hydroxyvitamin D.  Holick considers levels between 30 and 100 nanograms per milliliter to be normal, with levels below 30 indicating deficiency, and levels below 20 to indicate severe deficiency.  Many experts consider levels above 60 to be ideal for peak protection.

Additional information about treatment

Covid comes in two stages: first the acute viral infection, then – in severe cases – the cytokine storm/inflammatory/thrombotic (clotting) phase, which is what does the damage.  By 8 or 9 days following the first symptoms, there are no live viruses left in the body, it is the immune system that has been provoked into overdrive (the cytokine storm and resultant clotting) that does all the damage.  

Treatment therefore can be divided into two categories as well – the antiviral treatments, and the treatments to prevent the cytokine storm/clotting.

The antiviral treatments are the first 3 treatments listed above – the antiviral gargle and nasal spray, and the zinc lozenges.  The melatonin is to help prevent cytokine storm.  The nigella sativa and honey protocol has both antiviral and immune-modulating effects to prevent cytokine storm.

Again, the above is not medical advice, it is simply what I have prepared for myself and my family.  It goes without saying that your doctor’s advice takes priority.

Prescription drugs against covid

Since I am not a physician, the off-label use of prescription drugs against covid is beyond the scope of this article. If you wish to explore this for yourself and/or your family, the FLCCC maintains a list of physicians who prescribe such drugs when they deem it appropriate.  This is usually done by telemedicine and can take several days, so it is best to contact them early and have the drugs on hand in case of need.  The list of physicians in the US is here: https://covid19criticalcare.com/ivermectin-in-covid-19/how-to-get-ivermectin/  A list of such physicians worldwide is here: https://covid19criticalcare.com/network-support/the-flccc-alliance/

Updated 11-15-2021

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