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We had a tremendous response to the recommendations we sent out last week regarding how to protect yourself for COVID-19 and many people requested more specific information as well as protocols they could use, so we offer this update as an addendum.
First things first, here is a great summary of some of the most effective natural strategies to boost immunity and protect yourself against infection: https://www.ifm.org/news-insights/boosting-immunity-functional-medicine-tips-prevention-immunity-boosting-covid-19-coronavirus-outbreak/. Keep in mind that most of these recommendations are designed to help improve overall immune function, which will reduce your chances of getting sick, as well as improving your immune system’s ability to identify and effectively eliminate foreign invaders (i.e., viruses and bacteria) as quickly as possible.
In addition to the suggestions offered above, here are some points of emphasis and recommendations you can use:
- Minimize/eliminate sugar. Sugar is known to reduce immune function for up to 5 hours after ingestion, so avoid as much as possible to reduce your risk of infection.
- Follow a Mediterranean-type diet. The Mediterranean diet has been associated with improved overall life expectancy in the general population. Large studies in individuals aged ≥ 65 years have shown that close adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with prolonged survival, supporting its utility amongst people in this age group.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation reduces immune function. Get to bed 1-2 hours after it gets dark and sleep as long as possible – most studies indicate 8-10 hours is ideal for supporting immunity. Reduce screen time before bed, keep your bedroom ~68F (or lower) and try and get to bed around the same time every night.
- Do whatever you can to manage stress. This is certainly easier said than done, but it can help a lot. Something as simple as breathing deeply throughout the day, going for walks outside and meditation can go a long way to calming down the stress response and improving immunity. Also, helping others in need, volunteering and staying connected as best you can with loved ones and friends via the phone/internet can help you feel less isolated, more hopeful and safe.
- Exercise. Regular moderate exercise is known to improve immunity and improve health. It’s also a great stress reliever. Aim for 20-30 minutes or more daily. Get outside when possible; walk, run, bike, paddle, lift weights, do body weight exercises and/or yoga (check out youtube for ideas, routines and workouts) – mix it up and use the time to let go of/’work out’ stress while you are improving your physical health.
- Stay hydrated. In order for a virus to cause infection, it must be able to adhere to and cross the respiratory membrane. That is easier to do if you are dehydrated, so make sure and drink about ½ your body weight in ounces of water per day, consuming about 2-4 ounces of water every 20-30 minutes while awake. Also, use a vaporizer, humidifier and/or facial steamer to keep the mucus membranes lubricated.
- Eat anti-microbial foods daily, including garlic, onion, ginger and plenty of deep colored vegetables and fruit.
- Take supplements to boost and support optimal immune function. You can find general recommendations in the link above; here is a protocol that we recommend. NOTE: we have set up a new shopping cart that sends orders directly to the manufacturer to minimize delays in shipping; you will be asked to set up an account in order to order the products below – it will take about 30 seconds.
- Foundational Support for adults (continue taking these products until the risk of infection declines):
- Immune Support (3-4 caps/day in divided doses) OR Biocidin – you have multiple options to choose from to support your immune system; all will help, so choose the product that fits best for you and/or is available.
- D3-5000 with K2 – 1-2 softgels daily with food (based on blood work – aim for a 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood level of ~60 ng/ml).
- C Aspa Scorb – ½-1 tsp 2x/day. This formula contains therapeutic amounts of buffered ascorbate (Vitamin C) as well as zinc and selenium, all of which improve immune function.
- Foundational Support for children (continue until risk of infection declines):
- Suppys Immunity Children’s Chewable – Children ages 2-3: chew one tablet daily. Ages 4 and older: chew 2 tablets daily on an empty stomach. This product contains Wellmune WGP® which is a natural ingredient that human clinical research shows can safely enhance immune system function.
- Vitamin D3 – children under 50 lbs: 1000 IU/day; children 50-120 lbs: 2000 IU/day. Over 120 lbs: 3000-4000 IU/day.
- C Aspa Scorb – ¼-1/2 tsp 1-2x/day.
- Support for those with compromised immunity and/or that would like additional support:
- NAC-600 – 2-6 capsules daily. N-acetyl cysteine has been shown to inhibit replication of seasonal human influenza A viruses, upper respiratory viruses (coronavirus) and respiratory bacterial infections. It can also help lessen cough severity.
- Vitamin A (25,000 IU) – especially useful for those most susceptible to respiratory illness; 1 softgel daily with food
- Ultra Biotic Daily Multi-Strain or Ultra Biotic Defense– 1 capsule daily; for children that cannot swallow capsules, open capsule and mix in anything the child will eat or drink. Since about 70% of the body’s immune defenses are found in the GI tract, to build resistance to viral infections, it makes sense to support the gut microbiome, promoting a healthy immune response, and helping the body eliminate toxins.
- Support for those that feel ill/have symptoms (ideally start at first sign of symptoms and continue until you are symptom-free for 2 weeks):
- Biocidin– 3-5 drops three times daily (or 1 capsule 3 times daily); can be increased up to 10 drops 3 times daily (or 2 capsules 3 times daily) if needed. Children under 12: 1 drop for every 10 lbs of body weight per day, in 2 doses – for example, a 40 lbs child could take 2 drops AM and 2 drops PM, for a total of 4 drops per day. Do not use Biocidin during pregnancy. Biocidin is a potent broad-spectrum botanical compound designed to support the entire immune system.
- Foundational Support for adults (continue taking these products until the risk of infection declines):
- Biocidin Throat Spray
– 3 sprays to the back of the mouth/throat as needed for throat soreness.
Do not use during pregnancy.
- C Aspa Scorb – ½-1 tsp 2-3x/day (if ill, can increase dosing to bowel tolerance). This formula contains therapeutic amounts of buffered ascorbate (Vitamin C) as well as zinc and selenium, all of which improve immune function.
If you are currently taking any medications, be sure and check with your health care provider before taking the supplements listed above.
A Couple of Other Thoughts
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the changes that are occurring at this time. Keep in mind that the number of reported cases (especially in the US) is likely much lower than the actual number of infected persons due to lack of testing. This should be viewed as a good thing, as it means that the reported fatality rate is likely much higher than the actual fatality rate (i.e., an increased actual number of infected people with a known number of fatalities equals a lower rate of fatality). That means that even if you or someone you love has symptoms and/or tests positive for COVID-19, chances are, their immune systems will fight it off with no long-term harm. So, if you or someone you love has symptoms, think back to how you would have handled this two or three months ago (before you had heard about COVID-19): stay home, rest, drink lots of fluids and let your body fight off whatever you have. If your symptoms progress (i.e., fever climbs above 103-104F or you have difficulty breathing) or you are immunocompromised, follow up with your health care provider (call first) for further direction and support.
Lastly, if you are off work or now have more non-work time, use it to get those projects completed that you didn’t make time for in the past. You know, those things on the ‘to do list’ that just never seem to get done. This is a unique situation – make it an opportunity to check things off your list and take extra time for you and your loved ones.
You are amazing; give your body, mind and spirit what it needs, take care of yourself and your loved ones and help others however you can. We will get through this, and be stronger for it.
*This document is only intended to identify modalities that may boost your immune system. It is not meant to recommend any treatments, nor have any of these modalities been proven effective against coronavirus. Always consult your physician or healthcare provider prior to using any of these modalities. For up-to-date information on COVID-19, please consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov.
- Viral Immunol. 2016 Sep;29(7):398-400. doi: 10.1089/vim.2016.0038. Epub 2016 Aug 9. – Association Between Acute Infectious Mononucleosis and Vitamin D Deficiency.
- ORTHOMOLECULAR PSYCHIATRY, VOLUME 10, NUMBER 2, 1981, Pp. 125-132 – The Method of Determining Proper Doses of Vitamin C for the Treatment of Disease by Titrating to Bowel Tolerance – Robert F. Cathcart, III, M.D.
- Gorton HC, Jarvis KJ Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1999 Oct;22(8):530-3.
- Banerjee D1, Kaul D. Nutrition. 2010 Jan;26(1):128-32. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2009.09.015.
- De Flora S, Grassi C, Carati L. Attenuation of influenza-like symptomatology and improvement of cell-mediated immunity with long-term N-acetylcysteine treatment. Eur Respir J. 1997 Jul;10(7):1535-41.
- Dröge W, Breitkreutz R. Proc Nutr Soc. 2000 Nov;59(4):595-600. Glutathione and immune function.
- Geiler J, Michaelis M, Naczk P, Leutz A, Langer K, Doerr HW, Cinatl J Jr. Biochem Pharmacol. 2010 Feb 1;79(3):413-20. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2009.08.025. Epub 2009 Sep 2 N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) inhibits virus replication and expression of pro-inflammatory molecules in A549 cells infected with highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza A virus.
- British Thoracic Society Research Committee. Oral N-acetylcysteine and exacerbation rates in patients with chronic bronchitis and severe airways obstructions. Thorax 1985;40:832-835.
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- Moyad MA1, Robinson LE. Urol Nurs. 2008 Apr;28(2):146-8, 145. Lessons learned from the 2007-2008 cold and flu season: what worked and what was worthless.
- Urashima M, et al. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91(5):1255–60.
- Cynthia Aranow J Investig Med. 2011 Aug; 59(6): 881–886. doi: 10.231/JIM.0b013e31821b8755 PMCID: PMC3166406 Vitamin D and the Immune System.
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- Ravaglia G, Forti P, Maioli F, et al. Effect of micronutrient status on natural killer cell immune function in healthy free-living subjects aged >/=90 y. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;71:590-8.
- Galbete C, Schwingshackl L, Schwedhelm C, Boeing H, Schulze MB. Evaluating Mediterranean diet and risk of chronic disease in cohort studies: an umbrella review of meta-analyses. Eur J Epidemiol. 2018;33:909-931.
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It is impossible to escape the daily barrage of information (and mis-information) surrounding the recent awareness of COVID-19. In an attempt to provide you some concrete steps you can take in order to safeguard yourself and your loved ones, here is some information and strategies you can use based on the data that is available to date:
How COVID-19 is Transmitted
COVID-19 can be spread from close or direct personal contact, mainly through the small droplets that are produced via sneezing and/or coughing. It can also be spread when these droplets are transmitted to a hard surface that is then touched by someone else. It is estimated that the virus can remain active for 2-48 hours on hard surfaces.
However, this is a respiratory virus and thus, it is thought that infection can only occur if the virus reaches a person’s mucus membranes (i.e., mouth, nose, eyes, lungs). Thus, distancing yourself from people that are actively coughing and/or sneezing as well as avoiding hand to face contact is thought to dramatically reduce the chance of infection.
Unless you are sick, wearing a surgical mask is unlikely to help reduce your chance of infection. If you are sick, wearing a mask is advisable, as it can catch and capture the tiny droplets produced when you cough or sneeze that can transmit the virus.
Symptoms are similar to other acute upper respiratory viruses and include fever, cough (often a dry cough) and shortness of breath. Just because you have these symptoms does NOT mean you have COVID-19 and even if you do have COVID-19, the probability is that the symptoms will be mild and your immune system will fight it off within 2-14 days. If your symptoms worsen and/or your immune system is compromised, seeking medical attention is advised.
Strategies to Reduce Infection
In addition, there are several other things that you can do to reduce your risk of infection:
- Wash your hands – often. I know you’ve heard it one thousand times, but thoroughly washing your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is an effective strategy to limit your exposure to the virus (it will also help minimize your exposure to the flu). If you can’t wash your hands, using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% isopropyl alcohol will help kill the virus.
If you don’t have or can’t find any hand sanitizer, make your own by mixing about 2/3 cup rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) with 1/3 cup aloe vera gel.
- Disinfect. Disinfecting hard surfaces will also help. Spray or wipe down hard surfaces (like doorknobs, toilets, countertops, etc.) with disinfecting wipes, a disinfecting solution or make your own by combining 1-part liquid bleach with 50 parts water. NOTE: this is a mild bleach solution and it will discolor fabrics, so limit its use to hard surfaces.
- Stay hydrated. In order for a virus to cause infection, it must be able to adhere to and cross the respiratory membrane. That is easier to do if you are dehydrated, so make sure and drink about ½ your body weight in ounces of water per day, consuming about 2-4 ounces of water every 20-30 minutes while awake.
- Stay home if you’re sick. Just like with other viruses, transmission is mainly through personal contact. Thus if you’re sick, it’s best to stay home and let your immune system do its job. Get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids and give your body the time it needs to recuperate.
- Support optimal immune function. Several
supplements will help support optimal immune function and improve your body’s
ability to fight off viral infections including:
- Vitamin D3 – get your blood levels checked and aim for a blood level of 60 ng/ml. Most adults will need to take 4000-8000 IU/day; kids will need 1000-2000 IU/day.
- Vitamin A – vitamin A helps support healthy respiratory function and has been shown to help the body combat respiratory infections. A therapeutic dose is usually between 10,000-25,000 IU/day.
- Vitamin C – research over the years consistently shows that adequate amounts of vitamin C help the body resist and fight off infections. Most studies indicate daily dosing between 1000-6000 mg will help.
- Zinc – zinc helps improve immune function and the body’s ability to fight off infections, especially viral infections; most people will need 25-75 mg/day.
- Mushroom extracts – certain mushroom extracts, including Reishi, Shiitake and Cordyceps, have been shown to improve immune function.
We use and recommend a formula called Immune Support from Nutri-Dyn, as it contains a synergistic blend of vitamins C, D, zinc and mushroom extracts to provide foundational immune support; we recommend 3-4 capsules/day with meals in divided doses. In addition, I personally take supplemental Vitamin D (8000 IU/day) and Vitamin A (15,000 IU/day) to support my immune health.
The good news is that COVID-19 does not appear to be particularly harmful to children or those with healthy immune function. Of the cases reported thus far, those that are most adversely affected are the elderly, particularly those with compromised immune function (i.e., known respiratory or cardiovascular conditions as well as diabetes). What this means is that by taking the steps above, the probability that you will either avoid infection altogether or have mild symptoms if you are infected is very high.
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