Thursday, March 12, 2020

Potential Natural Options for Prevention and Treatment of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

My Integrative and Functional Medicine training has helped me to consider ways to naturally boost our immune system and fight infections. My family and I use most of these strategies to prevent the flu each year, however, there are several specific concerns and recommendations that I will cover that are specific for this virus.

In the case of this novel coronavirus, there are several goals.

First, to boost our immune system in general. Second, to help prevent the virus entering cells and replicating if an infection occurs (this is the way many antiviral pharmaceutical medications work). Third, to try to prevent something called a “cytokine storm” which is an inflammatory response that may be so excessive that this it can be deadly.

Before I get into what we are doing as a family to protect ourselves, I think it is important to emphasize that there is no direct evidence that any of the the things we are doing might be helpful. This is a new virus and so we can only surmise what might be helpful based on previous experience with other respiratory viruses. Also, please understand that while most of the things we are trying are benign, some of them have the potential for side effects. Therefore, I recommend you consult your physician(s) to discuss whether these ideas are safe for you to also consider undertaking.

Here is the protocol that my family and I are now following in response to this virus.

To boost our immune system in general, there are several options:

Choosing healthy foods - a low carbohydrate, moderate protein and high healthy fat diet. There is some evidence that this diet may help the immune system. On the other hand, eating sugar seems to suppress the immune system for up to 5 hours after ingestion. We have discontinued all sugar, grains and even dairy. This may not be the right decision for many people but we are familiar with using this diet for healing and so it is the right choice for us.

Getting enough sleep - sleep deprivation is associated with decreased immunity. We are trying very hard to get to bed on time. 

Getting some movement/exercise - evidence suggests that movement may increase immunity. Even a 20 minute walk may be helpful. My husband runs every day and I try to walk each day. 

Calming our stress response
- evidence suggests that relaxation therapies like meditation and prayer (and exercise) can boost immunity.
Excessive stress, which we are all faced with right now, is associated with a decrease in immunity. This is a hard one given the level of panic that is surrounding us all. I don't believe it's time to panic, I believe it's time to take action to mitigate our personal and societal risks. We will get through this and we should work to help each other and be a positive influence in everyones life right now. Meditation and prayer can be very helpful to allow us to distance ourselves from our emotions and connect to something higher. 

To boost our immune system, there are also other options:

Vitamins and Minerals - Vitamin D, A, Zinc and Vitamin C may possibly be helpful in preventing infection and shortening the length of the flu. I am supplementing with a good multivitamin/mineral complex as well as extra A, D, C and Zinc. 
There are many other excellent supplement companies. The important thing is to look for supplements that are in capsules (or loose powder) and that have no added fillers or dyes. 

Please be cautious not to overdo any of this. Vitamins and minerals can be helpful but excessive doses for lengthy periods of time may not be safe.

Medicinal mushrooms - almost all mushrooms have immune boosting qualities. The more unusual “medicinal mushrooms” like Reishi, Cordycepts and Lions Mane may be even more helpful. 

A good company is Host Defense (or you can buy mushroom powder from some of the herbal resources I mention below). You can even just cook up mushrooms every day as part of dinner. Tasty and healthy.

Essential oils from plants
- many essential oils demonstrate antiviral activity. These include Cinnamomum Zeylanicum (Cinnamon), Daucus Carota (Carrot), Eucalyptus Globulus and Rosemarius Officialis (Rosemary). These have been used in research to kill viruses like Influenza. 

Many other essential oils also have antiviral qualities. I always have Eucalyptus, Tea Tree oil and Lavender oil available at home. I use them for steaming.

To steam, I pour boiling water into a bowl and add a couple of drops of several essential oils. I then take a towel and put it over my head and breathe in the steam. You must be careful not to burn yourself. I let some of the steam out until it is comfortable to breath deeply. I continue for as long as steam seems to still be rising. You can also use essential oils in a humidifier or in an essential oil diffuser.

Herbal remedies- Herbal remedies have been used for thousands of years to treat infection. Stephen Bruhner is considered the most experienced herbalist in the United States. He has written a book on herbal antivirals and a monograph specifically about this new virus.
Here is a link to Steven Buhner's book on herbal antivirals 

Here is link to his monograph specifically dealing with this outbreak 

Sage Woman Herbs carries the Herbs recommended by Stephen Bhuner herbs for sale online

Also, Stephen Buhner recommends some other useful things in his book. Things like fresh ginger tea. He explains how to make it in the book. He recommends you drink the tea if you get ill (or an herbal tincture of ginger as a less potent option). If you do not have the resources to make the tea then the ginger tincture is worth considering. Given that we might feel pretty lousy if we get this virus, I figured it was a good idea to have a ginger tincture available, so I ordered some of that too. 

Finally, I want to emphasize again that there is no way to know if any of this will be helpful. Unlike studies done on pharmaceuticals, very few studies are done on natural and herbal remedies. There are many reasons for this but the point is that we must discern from a combination of historical knowledge and modern research (that is available) what might be potentially helpful.

Another thing to keep in mind is that anyone can have a negative reaction to anything. If you consider starting any of the things that my family are trying then I would recommend that you check with your physician(s) in case you have any contraindications. This is especially true if you have any preexisting medical conditions or are prescribed any pharmaceutical medications. Herbs and supplements tend to be quite safe but they are not benign. Some supplements and herbs are contraindicated in certain conditions and drug/herb and drug/supplement interactions definitely do exist and need to be considered before starting anything. Also, if you decide to start any of these treatments and suffer any kind of symptoms, it is imperative that you stop the treatment and consult with your physician immediately.

Wishing health and healing to you all.

Dr. Rebecca

P.S. For any questions, feel free to email and I will try to respond.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.