Putting up Resistance From a Distance Venturing Out
FROM A DISTANCE... 4/8/2020 What a wild time it is. So strange that it is quiet outside, fewer cars and planes, people strolling and cycling. All the while in homes and hospitals people are sick and people are afraid. The ways that death and danger always lurk are pushing, with more urgency, into the day to day lives of those of us who are relatively comfortable.
There is much we can do. As a health care practitioner experienced in natural treatments, I feel like I've trained my whole life for this. I am working hard to keep people from needing to go to the hospital.
Here is some of what is on my mind:
Physical Distancing with Social Connection
I believe words are powerful, and I don't like the term social distancing. We need the physical distance and I am hopeful that it seems to be helping. But we need social connection. I worry that when we hear a command over and over again to "socially distance," we might take it in the wrong way. We need physical distance and social connection.
It's a cliché, but right now it's important to "be in touch with your feelings." I suggest that several times a day you check in with yourself. In such a strange and threatening time, noticing and acknowledging what you are thinking and feeling can create an authentic platform from which you can communicate with others. I say now more than ever, find your ways to connect with others, just from a distance. Allergies (or Spring waits for no virus)
Virus or not, signs of Spring are here along with pollen (photo below). It's easy to see how the fatigue and inflamed mucus membranes from allergies can increase vulnerability to infection (and fear of COVID-19). Manage your allergies aggressively. Don’t exercise outside if the pollen counts are high. Rinse the pollen off your hair and clothing. Use natural, over the counter, and/or pharmaceutical antihistamines as necessary. For example, Quercetin, is a popular bioflavonoid with antihistaminic properties. Quercetin has also appeared in published papers as possibly effective against Influenza A. Of course, that doesn’t tell us it will fight COVID-19. But it has a good safety profile and when taken along with vitamin C it usually helps with allergies.
Sleep and Rest
In every COVID-19 case I have seen, just as the patient was starting to feel better, that person went out for just a little exercise, lost energy, and symptoms relapsed. Getting enough rest is how we resist and heal from infection. If you are sick and are starting to get better, don’t jump the gun, rest till your breathing is normal and your core strength is returning before resuming normal activities.
Preventively, if you are not sleeping well, do what you know works for you to sleep. If that doesn't work, now might be the time to get some help with that problem. If you have any trouble falling asleep, melatonin may be a great multipurpose supplement to help you both fall asleep and fight infection. Dosages must be individualized. I usually have people split the dose, taking the first dose a few hours before sleep and the second dose as you get ready to go to bed. Melatonin also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may help minimize the respiratory distress that can come with viral infections. Click here for more information about melatonin and viral infections.
What should you do?
Take a moment and reflect on your life. Given what is within your control, what has helped you stay well? The goal is to minimize illness, injury and allergy, take care of your mental health, stay out of the hospital if possible. Think about what has worked for you…what did you do or not do, eat or not eat? Is there something that has always worked for you? I'm not a fan of starting new, unproven strategies right now. But, if there's a particular supplement that has helped you fight infections in the past, use it now. This is about what has always strengthened you, rather than an unknown miracle anti-covid virus supplement.
Also, you can try using a humidifier. There is some actual data that more moisture in the air helps people clear COVID-19 when they are ill. There is no harm in using a humidifier in your home regardless of whether or not anyone there is sick - unless you have a mold problem. Try to get your home humidity between 40 and 60%.
I am here, working regular hours doing telemedicine which I am happy to say is going much more smoothly and effectively than I had imagined. Although I am not allowing people come into the office, we are making special arrangements to get you what you need safely.
Thanks for doing this with me. I am touched and grateful for all your kind support. We are indeed in this together.
PUTTING UP RESISTANCE 3/10/2020 The majority of people exposed to Covid-19 have symptoms that range from none to more ordinary flu-like illness. Why a person remains well or recovers is because your own immune system destroys the virus. For immunocompromised people who get severe or life-threatening cases of Corona virus, their immune systems have failed to defeat the infection. Other than the possibly effective and hard to obtain drug, Remdesivir, we don’t really know what substances will destroy this virus. That is why it is imperative to enhance our own immune function. Beyond hand washing, social-distancing, and avoiding touching your face, there are things that can make your immune system work better. This way, if you do encounter a very virulent pathogen, you will be more likely to destroy it.
There are immune system components everywhere in and on your body. From your skin to your mucus membranes, in your digestive tract, your brain and in your blood, immune cells and chemicals are constantly neutralizing infectious microbes and encouraging normal repair of your tissues. There are opportunities to enhance your resistance to infection all along the way.
Individualization We are all different in our vulnerabilities. Age, economics, where we live, genetic relationships to different pathogens, personal habits, stress and emotional factors all contribute to our ability to fight infections. What are your vulnerabilities? Be honest with yourself and work hard to make necessary changes. Focus on supporting yourself in the areas where you need it most.
Mucus membranes One of our first lines of defense are the linings of our nose, throat, sinuses, eustachian tubes, and lower airways. Special cells and chemicals like Immunoglobulin A fight viral invaders. Then mucus traps them and brings them up and out, or into your stomach where acid can destroy them. In such a dry climate as Colorado, maintaining normal moisture in your nasal passages is important. If your forced air heat or CPAP machine or just breathing our dry air leaves your nasal linings chronically dry, humidify your sleeping area. Use a salve in your nasal passages, consume enough liquids. Gargling increases circulation to the throat area and is associated with less illness. Gargle twice daily. Nasal saline products help clear collected mucus and debris and maintain healthier nasal passages. Remember to think about lipsticks and moisturizers, makeup, toothbrushes and toothbrush holders as sources of re-infection for all kinds of things. Clean and replace them if you have used them while ill. Gum and dental infections will lower your immunity throughout your body, this is a great time to focus on your oral health.
Caring for your white blood cells White blood cells like neutrophils and macrophages race to the scene when mucus membrane barriers have been breached. They engulf and break down non-human materials, release chemicals that call in other immune forces, then die quickly forming pus. Blood sugar spikes can impair these cell’s ability to entrap pathogens. This is one of the reasons minimizing consumption of sweets, sweet drinks and all-carb meals helps you fight infection. You want steady blood sugar to support your neutrophils as they work to protect you.
Digestion and nutrition Your digestive tract contains somewhere between 60-80% of your immune cells. I am sure you know that it is hard to be and feel well when your digestive system is compromised. Avoid foods that you know cause you problems; if dairy or alcohol or chocolate or whatever it is bothers you, skip it till this contagion winds down. Neither over nor under eat; both can be weakening. Besides hydration, the most common deficiencies I encounter for fighting infection are protein, zinc, vitamins A and D. Taking excess of these nutrients won’t help, rather making sure you have enough is what is right. I suggest some protein at all meals, lots of vegetables, including nuts and seeds and perhaps supplementation with D3 if you are deficient. If someone is anemic, they will have trouble fighting infection, so if you are oddly fatigued consider testing. Iron levels, like vitamin D levels, have a sweet spot. Too much or too little can be a problem.
Speaking of tired… Besides anemia, low thyroid, lack of sleep and underlying chronic illnesses can cause fatigue. Consider thyroid testing if you are tired, cold, constipated with dry skin and hair falling out. Needing sleep to fight infections is a real thing. I know that saying, “Get more sleep” is easier than getting it, but at the very least, be more disciplined about bedtime and sleep hygiene and get some help with sleep if needed.
An odd thing I have long been a proponent of a cold finish after hot bathing as long as you are in good cardiac health when you begin this habit. In a warm bathroom, I suggest cool to cold water to your front and then back for 30 to 60 seconds at the end of a hot shower. Then quickly dry and dress. This promotes circulation and improved immune function. Research says that this works best in people who also get regular exercise. I quote, “The combination of routine (hot-to-) cold shower and regular physical activity resulted in an expected 54% reduction of sickness absence compared to people who don’t do either.” That is compelling. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5025014/)
The mind body relationship How do we manage stress, especially when the news of this virus creates even more stress? I remember the motto of the Y2K panic was “Be afraid!”. For those of you who are too young or don’t remember, people were worried that computers wouldn’t be able to handle the change from the year 1999 to 2000 and global chaos would ensue. People were doing trainings about storing food and water. I was skeptical but I did buy some boxes of wooden matches as a gesture (I still have those matches). This is a more realistic threat. I don’t know what kind of disruptions will happen here, but it has been hard for the communities and nations in lock down. Even with this being a realistic threat, being afraid will not help. Build in a balance of rest and activity, humor, inspiration, beauty and connection and whatever brings you joy and makes you laugh out loud. For some of you who are not going out, stay in touch with others by phone or computer.
Supplements? Clearly, I am emphasizing behavioral approaches to optimizing your immune response. If you want to take supplements, emphasize those that repair deficiency and enhance your own immunity as opposed to antimicrobials, because we have no clue as to what antimicrobials will inhibit this virus. Instead think about things like colostrum, medicinal mushrooms, larch bark, monolaurin and elderberry, all of which can support various immune functions.
Summing up Yes, definitely, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, lay low if you are vulnerable. But more than that, take better care of yourself and your family right now. Make a bigger effort to eat well, sleep enough, get a little exercise. Take a big breath, and let your love flow.