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Protect Your Child with Down Syndrome from RSV and Other Respiratory Viruses Naturally

Updated: May 25, 2023

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This year many children are falling victim to respiratory illnesses namely respiratory syncytial virus, influenza, and rhinoviruses (the virus that causes the common cold).

You're probably worried about how virulent the strains seem this year and you're sure to want to know how to better protect your child or children from getting sick.

Conventional wisdom states that there's nothing to be done against these viruses other than prophylactic flu shots and the hand washing and social distancing. Other than shots, hygiene, and social distancing, there's not much more that conventional medicine has to offer when it comes to preventing a viral infection, let alone caring for your child with one.

RSV is one of the main causes of respiratory illness, hospitalization, and death in young children, especially those with Down syndrome. Therefore, its important to keep your child with Down syndrome as healthy as possible when it comes to protecting him or her from RSV and other respiratory illnesses.

Here are some tips on how to protect your child from RSV, influenza, and other respiratory viruses naturally.

Protect Your Child With Down syndrome from RSV

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Chinese Skullcap

Scutellaria baicalensis, also known as Chinese skullcap, is an herb that has been used for thousands of years in ancient Chinese medicine. Chinese skullcap is a member of the Lamiaceae or mint family.

Chinese skullcap has many different phytonutrients that help to boost its anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. One of these is baicalin. Baicalin is a flavone glycoside that studies suggest packs the most antiviral punch against respiratory viruses like RSV.

One animal study found that RSV greatly damaged lung tissue and caused T cell infiltration into lung tissue further promoting an inflammatory response in the lungs.

Inflammation in the lungs leads to pneumonia which can be deadly to individuals with Down syndrome.

The study went on to find that the baicalin in Chinese skullcap was effective in reducing the T cell white blood cell infiltration in the lung tissue as well as reducing the viral load in the lungs.

This means that Chinese skullcap may help to reduce lung inflammation while reducing the amount of RSV that enters into the lungs. This translates into a shorter and less severe bout of illness.

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Astragalus membranaceous, commonly known as astragalus, has a long history of antiviral activity in ancient Chinese medicine. Astragalus has been found to have specific antiviral activity against the flu virus.

Studies show that astragalus helps to block influenza virus from entering into cells, increases anti-oxidant activity through the superoxide dismutase pathway, and reduces MDA or malondialdehyde, a marker of inflammation commonly high in people with Down syndrome.

Animal studies also suggest that astragalus helps protect against viral induced myocarditis, a serious condition that is characterized by inflammation of the heart.

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Vitamin D

I've written about the important of vitamin D to prevent illness and improve health in individuals with Down syndrome before. Studies suggest that vitamin D deficiency is linked to higher mortality from covid and the flu.

Vitamin D acts to protect the body is so many important ways. It helps improve tight junctions in the gut. Vitamin D also stimulates the production of the body's own antimicrobials like cathelicidins and defensins.

Furthermore, the highest rates of flu infections and the common cold come during the times when vitamin D levels are the lowest in the body.

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Rosemary is a familiar herb used to make foods more flavorful when cooking. While rosemary may be a common kitchen staple, but studies suggest that rosemary may help to protect against RSV.

In vitro studies show that one constituent of rosemary, carnosol inhibits RSV replication up to 12 hours after infection. Rosemary was also able to prevent an initial RSV infection.

While these studies are only in vitro, or in a test tube, they offer scientific evidence for the antiviral uses of rosemary for RSV. Interestingly enough, rosemary wasn't found to be effective against influenza infection.

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N-Acetyl Cysteine

NAC, or N-acetyl cysteine is a powerful antioxidant that may help the symptoms of RSV and respiratory viral infections. NAC is a synthetic form of the amino acid L-cysteine and is a precursor to the master antioxidant, glutathione.

Studies show that NAC is able to inhibit flu virus replication and reduce inflammation in the lungs. NAC also helps to thin out mucus that's so common and devastating in RSV, helping your little one to breathe better.

While Chinese skullcap, astragalus, vitamin D, rosemary, and NAC are heavy hitters when it comes to protecting your child with Down syndrome, there are many other tools in the naturopathic doctor's toolbox to help you and your family stay healthy for many years to come.

Dr. Candace Mathers, naturopathic doctor near me, natural medicine

I'm Dr. Candace Mathers, boy mom, girl mom, Down syndrome mom and naturopathic doctor. Life Blossom Wellness will be releasing a NEW self paced online course all about homeopathy! Homeopathy can be a gentle effective treatment for many conditions, especially those that are hard to manage with conventional approaches.

Sign up for our email list to get more information and be the first to take the course when it comes out!


  1. Löwensteyn YN, Phijffer EWEM, Simons JVL, et al. Respiratory Syncytial Virus-related Death in Children With Down Syndrome: The RSV GOLD Study. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2020;39(8):665-670. doi:10.1097/INF.0000000000002666

  2. Shi H, Ren K, Lv B, et al. Baicalin from Scutellaria baicalensis blocks respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection and reduces inflammatory cell infiltration and lung injury in mice. Sci Rep. 2016;6:35851. Published 2016 Oct 21. doi:10.1038/srep35851

  3. Shen L, Jiang Y, Lu J, et al. Molecular Mechanism of Jinchan Oral Liquid in the Treatment of Children with Respiratory Syncytial Virus Pneumonia Based on Network Pharmacology and Molecular Docking Technology. Biomed Res Int. 2021;2021:6471400. Published 2021 Aug 26. doi:10.1155/2021/6471400

  4. Szwajgier D, Baranowska-Wójcik E, Grzelczyk J, Żukiewicz-Sobczak W. Peripheral Oxidation Markers in Down Syndrome Patients: The Better and the Worse. Dis Markers. 2021;2021:5581139. Published 2021 Jun 28. doi:10.1155/2021/5581139

  5. Liu T, Zhang M, Niu H, et al. Astragalus polysaccharide from Astragalus Melittin ameliorates inflammation via suppressing the activation of TLR-4/NF-κB p65 signal pathway and protects mice from CVB3-induced virus myocarditis. Int J Biol Macromol. 2019;126:179-186. doi:10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2018.12.207

  6. Grant WB, Lahore H, McDonnell SL, et al. Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths. Nutrients. 2020;12(4):988. Published 2020 Apr 2. doi:10.3390/nu12040988

  7. Shin HB, Choi MS, Ryu B, et al. Antiviral activity of carnosic acid against respiratory syncytial virus. Virol J. 2013;10:303. Published 2013 Oct 8. doi:10.1186/1743-422X-10-303

  8. Mata M, Sarrion I, Armengot M, et al. Respiratory syncytial virus inhibits ciliagenesis in differentiated normal human bronchial epithelial cells: effectiveness of N-acetylcysteine. PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e48037. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048037

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