Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Hype or Real, & Natural Methods to Consider

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Coronavirus has been a major pain in the butt. 

The academic institution that employees me placed a ban on ALL faculty for traveling for conferences, business, or courses under any circumstances for 60 days.

That means I will not give my male hormone lecture at my scheduled talk this week for the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) in Charleston, South Carolina. IFM later cancelled the conference. I was looking forward to it. 

Bummer!

But I understand. 

I see myself getting in all sorts of awkward positions as I try to open doorknobs with my elbows. 

Weird times. 

For the last week  I have paused on my research on prostate cancer and men’s health for a moment and have taken a deep dive on the Coronavirus… what is it? Is it really that much of a big deal? what can I do to protect myself and my family?

This is what I found.

The statistics on the Coronavirus (March 8, 2020) are:

Before I share my thoughts on the Coronavirus, whether or not you should freak out over it and what to do to keep yourself and your family protected, allow me to give you an overview on it all. 

What is the Coronavirus (COVID – 19)?

Technically speaking, COVID-19(Coronavirus Disease 2019) is not the name of the virus, but the name of the disease caused by SARS-CoV2, the real name of the virus everyone is concerned about.

The common name, Coronavirus, stems from the fact that the SARS-CoV2 virus has spikes around it in a circular shape, which looks like a “corona,” Latin for crown.

How do Viruses work?

A virus is an infectious agent, about one hundred times smaller than a bacteria, and, unlike a bacteria, it needs a host to survive. In other words, for viruses to cause health problems, it needs to get into your cells.  

Once in your cells, viruses infect you and begin infecting other nearby cells unless your body does something to stop it.

The “something” your body needs to stop the virus from going haywire in your body is a robust immune system (more on that later).

That said, some viruses are more severe than others. Still, a robust immune system is the name of the game to avoid getting ill from the Coronavirus, or any virus for that matter.

What are the Symptoms Associated with the Coronavirus?

The main symptoms of the Coronavirus are similar to the flu and the common cold (rhinovirus, mostly). 

The most common symptom is fever in about 80% of the cases followed by a cough. 

Other symptoms include shortness of breath, body aches, headaches, and upper respiratory symptoms.

Severe symptoms include pneumonia, bronchitis, and death can occur mostly in the feeble, the weak, or the elderly who often, not always, have a weak immune system.

You can be older (above 65 years) and still have a strong immune system, but the older one is, on average,  the more work it requires for robust immunity – you know, sleep, nutrition, exercise, etc. (more on that too, stay with me)

How can the Coronavirus be Deadly?

Death is caused by pneumonia or swelling in the lungs, which can cause the lungs to stop working effectively.

The less optimal the lungs function, the less it can send oxygen to critical organs in your body like the heart and brain. 

How Can the Coronavirus Spread?

The Coronavirus, like most viruses, is passed on from person to person, either from:

  • an infected person coughing or sneezing in the air, and then you breathe in the viral droplets from the air, 
  • or by having direct or indirect contact with a contaminated person (e.g., shaking hands) or an object touched by someone with the virus, say, a doorknob or faucet in the bathroom.

Can someone have the Coronavirus and not know they have it?

Yes.

The incubation period is about two weeks, meaning someone can have the virus without symptoms for up to two weeks and still spread it. 

The average incubation period seems to be about four days, however.

What are the Medical Treatments to treat the Coronavirus?

None. At this time, there are no vaccines or medical treatments available to treat the Coronavirus.

What Countries Have the most cases of the Coronavirus?

The Coronavirus is affecting close to 110 countries. (March 8, 2020)

Countries most affected to date with the coronavirus are China, Japan, South Korea, Iran, and Italy. 

How can You Protect Yourself from the Coronavirus Naturally?

The following suggestions are based on my experience (both personal and clinical), the available scientific data, and common sense. None of my advice is meant to replace a consult with your physician or a nutritionally oriented doctor. **

Behavioral methods to protect yourself from the Coronavirus.

Wash your hands often for 10 to 20 seconds. I mean, be compulsive about it. Aside from after using the restroom and going from room to room at the clinic, I am not obsessed about washing hands. Some exposure to microbes is healthy. 

Well, at least for now, I am obsessed with washing my hands. 

You can get infected from touching any object that has the virus; doorknobs, hand-to-hand contact, faucets, even money from a contaminated person.

Sneeze or cough on the opposite side of your elbow (called the crotch of the elbow), not your hands. 

Sleep well. This is not the time to skimp on good sleep. Get at least 6 to 7 hours a night. Sleep resets your immune system. 

Exercise daily, but no marathons or extreme physical activities. Exercise strengthens your immune system, but excessive activities like marathons or triathlons weaken it.

It is common for runners to get colds after running the New York City marathon, for example.

No Handshaking. This one is hard as I am used to shaking hands al day. It feels disrespectful to no extend my hand to greet someone. Because of this, I have been about 50% compliant with greeting people with anything other than my hands. (That’s why handwashing is so important)

Use fist bump or elbows to greet. Forget about using feet to greet, please. Thank you.

Foods to Avoid and Foods to Eat to Protect from the Coronavirus

Sugar and processed foods weaken your immune system. Avoid them. This includes white table sugar, candies, candy bars, cookies, and baked goods. Sorry. I like them too, but…

Eat immune-boosting foods: soups with garlic, onions, ginger, mushrooms. A great book on soups is Clean Soups by Rebecca Katz.

Practice some fasting. Notice when you are sick that you don’t want to eat much. That’s because your body is trying to heal, and digesting food can be taxing to the body trying to fight disease. Stay hydrated.

Time-restricted eating, 14 hours a day or so away from food works well. 

Hydration, hydration, hydration. 

( I feel like a realtor here, location, location, location :)). 8 to 12 glasses of filtered water a day. Soups, fruits, and vegetables contain mostly water too, so, when consumed, you may need less drinking water.

Get an N95 mask, but you may not need it. Keep it stored just in case. If you have a compromised immune system, stay home, but if you have to come out, use a mask. 

Load up on the right dietary supplements.

When it comes to using dietary supplements, it comes down to using the right type along with the best amount.

Dietary practices do not replace a physician’s advice and proper behavioral practices. In general, the better your diet and behavioral practices, the less dietary supplements you need.

VITAMIN C

Vitamin C is one of my favorite nutrients as it does a lot of good things to the body beyond treating scurvy. One of them is an excellent immune booster, but if taking vitamin C in supplement form, one pill a day will not cut it.

Vitamin C increases iron absorption, which is OK in most, especially menstruating women (not a problem in men too, just get ferritin, transferrin and liver panel levels checked), UNLESS the person has Iron overload in the body, a conditioned called hemochromatosis. If iron overload is suspected, stay away from vitamin C.

Talk to your physician about this or a nutritionally oriented doctor. **

“Wait, I heard most vitamin C is urinated out of the body, so it’s not worth taking,” you are thinking, “isn’t vitamin C just expensive urine?”

Yes, the kidneys control how much vitamin C stays in your body and how much is urinated out. When there are high amounts of vitamin C going through the kidneys, the body, in its great wisdom, gets rid of what you don’t need.

That’s why vitamin C consumption should be spaced out to no more than 500mg at a time. At that amount, most vitamin C stays in the body to do the work it does. 

So, while, yes, some vitamin C comes out in your urine, you should take enough to saturate your cell with this essential nutrient. 

Keep in mind you also pee out most of the water you drink. Should you stop drinking water?

For prevention, take 500mg  of vitamin C two times a day. 

If fighting an infection take – 500mg of vitamin C EVERY two to three waking hours. That sums up to about 4000 to 5000mg a day.

Your stools may soften a little when taking high amounts of vitamin C. That’s not a big deal – it will normalize when you scale back.

ZINC

Zinc is essential from a strong immune system. Foods high in zinc include grass-fed meats, oysters (the highest), pumpkin seeds and chicken.

Take 15 to 30mg of zinc, once to two times daily. Taking 60 mg of zinc a day for a long time may require at least one to two mg of Copper with it to avoid copper deficiency. 

Zinc lozenges are also excellent.

VITAMIN D3

Vitamin D is vital for a healthy immune system, but it is better to get it from dietary supplements in the winter since we don’t have much sun exposure around this time of the year. 

4000 to 5000 units a day is good before or after a viral infection. 

SELENIUM

Selenium, like zinc, is one of the most important minerals to boost the immune system and anti-viral activity.

(scientific references below)

For prevention or treatment, take 200 micrograms of selenium a day.

Medicinal Botanical & Herbs that Strengthen the Immune System & Anti-viral Qualities

Medicinal herbs that have anti-viral properties and essential for immunity include elderberry, Andrographis, goldenseal, Echinacea, Astragalus, and Arabinogalactan (Larch tree).

ACTIVE HEXOSE CORRELATED COMPOUND (AHCC)

AHCC *- known to help with viral infections and boost immunity. (also the main cancer nutrient used in Japan).

For prevention, take 1 pill (750mg) two times a day

For treatment, take 2 pills (1500mg) two times a day

Herbal & Nutritional Formulas to Consider

ImmunoPCTN and GDtoxSel* which I formulated for prostate support is loaded with immune-boosting nutrients including, zinc, vitamin C, glutathione, Grape seed extract, Reishi mushroom, Alpha Lipoic Acid and selenium, combined.

It is common for my patients who take ImmunoPCTN and GDtoxSel report they avoid colds and flu as well.*

For ImmunoPCTN*, take three pills two times a day is a general good dose for all.

For GDtoxSel* take three pills a day for prevention or treatment

Immunitone plus by Designs for Health is a good formula for viral prevention and natural treatment.

Immunitone plus contains many of the botanicals mentioned above to support a healthy immune system:

Echinacea, Astragalus Extract,Elderberry, Andrographis,Green Tea Extract, Arabinogalactan (ImmunEnhancer™) (Larix laricina),Mushrooms including Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum).

For prevention, take one pill two times a day for prevention.

For treatment , take 2 pills two to three times a day.

Herbal throat spray like Gaia’s Echinacea, Goldenseal Propolis is a good one. Throat mist from Wise women is good too. I carry either one in my pocket and spray numerous times a day throughout the day.

My Final Thoughts on the Coronavirus

What comes next is my rapid-fire views on the Coronavirus. This is my opinion, based on my research on the topic and being a healthcare practitioner for over fifteen years. 

Let’s go…

Yes, the media is overdoing it in creating unnecessary fear.

Let’s put things in perspective.

While the coronavirus is indeed deadly, the flu killed 18,000 people this past flu season, compared to 3800 people, so far from the Coronavirus.

And 18 million who died from heart attacks globally.

And 10 million died from Cancer.

That said, this is not to undermine the deadly potential of the Coronavirus pandemic, but just we should not go crazy over it. 

You will likely die from something other that the Coronavirus and should do everything in your power to avoid it. Keeping a strong immune system is one very important component to accomplish reaching those older year successfully.

Most articles you are reading say that the elderly (those above 65) and very young children are most vulnerable to the Coronavirus because it’s assumed that those in this age group may have a compromised immune system. 

This may be true, but anyone can have a compromised immune system, not just small kids and older people.

People on medical treatments that weaken the immune system like chemo or anti-autoimmune drugs should be particularly careful, despite age. 

Masks are unnecessary and an “overkill” for almost everyone. However, a mask might be helpful if you have a weak immune system medically induced or for any other health reason. 

Relatively Young People are Getting sick from the Coronavirus or dying from the similar infections

The lawyer gentleman from New York who is quarantined in a nearby hospital with the Coronavirus is only 50 years old.

The average age in China of those with this is 47.

And a recent news article reported the unfortunate case of a physician who died from flu complications at 62.

How can this be? How can young people, whom, presumably get the virus, or worse yet, die from it?

Well, regarding those in China… almost everyone smokes there, which weakens the lungs, the primary target of the Coronavirus. 

The lawyer in New York, who is still severely ill in a nearby hospital ” burns the candle on both ends” as the saying goes, like most New Yorkers. His wife was quoted in saying

“He is a very caring hardworking person who constantly cares for his clients and those around him over himself. I think it is from this that he was run down and susceptible to the illness he acquired.”

Lastly, what about the cardiologist who recently died from the flu

Most, not all physicians in my observation, are extremely unhealthy with poor lifestyle practices. They (we, I guess) work long hours, sleep little, eat poorly and take no supplements.

I’d like to think I am in good shape, and, so far, it seems like I am, but I exercise every day and take about twenty-three supplement pill twice a day – many of those mentioned above. My sleep is good, not great (like you, I have so much to do), and I eat moderately well. 

What makes the Coronavirus a big deal is that it is new; we don’t know much about it, and it is killing about 1.4% of people infected, but experts think it is likely lower. For comparison, the seasonal flu kills about 1.3% of people infected on average.

The president of the US has said that the Coronavirus will go away after the Winter season, but we don’t know that to be true yet. 

With the nutrients recommended above, you can take all the recommendations listed above safely, but you should consider seeing a nutritionally oriented physician if worried you are taking too much. (See below under resources)

If on a budget, make sure to do the things that are free, wash hands, sleep well, etc. Also, eat well, no junk food, lots of spices like garlic in your food. 

Vitamin D, zinc, selenium and Vitamin C are relatively inexpensive, start with those.

If there are prostate concerns, try ImmunoPCTN and GDtoxSel, which works, in part, by supporting a stronger immune system.

I know for me, to prevent getting infected or, if I do get the bug, get rid of it swiftly.

I live in a densely populated City.

The lawyer from New York mentioned prior lives in the next town over from where I live, his law office is across the street from my clinic, and his child, also sick with the Coronavirus, goes to a private school a few blocks away from our house.

Yikes! 

I wish him and his family for a speedy recovery.

So, if you see me make sure to greet me with your elbow, no feet, please. Thanks. 🙂

 

REFERENCES:

CORONAVIRUS, COVID-19

Clinical Characteristics of COVID-19, NEJM

How does the Coronavirus compare to the Flu, New York Times.

Real time infographic on the global spread and death rate from the Coronavirus.

Center for Disease Control (CDC)

World Health Organization (WHO)

New York State, Department of Health

 

VITAMIN C

Questions about Vitamin C.

Vitamin C and Immune Function

Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions. 

Influence on Vitamin C and Lymphocytes. An overview. 

ZINC

National health Institute, Fact sheet.

Zinc and immune function: the biological basis of altered resistance to infection.

Functional significance of zinc-related signaling pathways in immune cells.

Zinc and immune function.

VITAMIN D

Vitamin D and the Immune System

Vitamin D and Immune Function

Vitamin D sheds lights on Immune Effect

SELENIUM

The Role of Selenium in Inflammation and Immunity: From Molecular Mechanisms to Therapeutic Opportunities

Selenium in the Immune function

Selenium as an antiviral agent

BOTANICALS

Elderberry compounds could help minimize flu symptoms, study suggests

Immune system effects of echinacea, ginseng, and astragalus: a review.

Astragalus Membranaceus extract activates immune response in macrophages via heparanase.

Andrographis, Monograph

Arabinogalactan (Larch tree)

Does larch arabinogalactan enhance immune function? A review of mechanistic and clinical trials

Echinacea

Enhancement of Innate and Adaptive Immune Functions by Multiple Echinacea Species

Reishi Mushroom

Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi mushroom) for cancer treatment

AHCC

Low-dose supplementation with active hexose correlated compound improves the immune response to acute influenza infection in C57BL/6 mice.

The Effects of AHCC®, a Standardized Extract of Cultured Lentinura edodes Mycelia, on Natural Killer and T Cells in Health and Disease: Reviews on Human and Animal Studies

 

This blog post is my opinion and my interpretation of the scientific articles I have read on the Coronavirus and how to make strengthen the immune system. This blog post is not meant to replace medical advise.

* For disclosure purposes and transparency, I am formulator of ImmunoPCTN and GDtoxSel and Co-founder of XY Wellness, LLC

**Nutritionally oriented doctors include naturopathic physicians, functional medicine doctors and ACAM

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by Dr. Geo

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