For many months, there were no absolute treatment protocols for COVID, and no vaccine. We had to rely solely on our immune system and our current state of health.
Even though vaccines and treatments are starting to emerge, they only offer some protection against a severe COVID outcome.
This pandemic has highlighted integrative medicine and that our nutrition, environment and lifestyle choices (staying fit, eating right, sleeping optimally, keeping our weight, inflammation and oxidative stress low, matter BIG TIME! Prevention matters as much, if not more, than treatment right now.
Taken from a Recent post on Facebook:
“My wife and I just had the new variant of Covid. (My wife is a type 1 diabetic). The infection was surprisingly aggressive. I am preparing an updated home treatment approach for release in the next few days. Until then here is a snapshot of my approach with some additions (I will try to post the more detailed protocol later this week)
Yes, the operative term is ‘preparation’ because many people reading this will get Covid-19 and will contribute towards South Africa reaching herd immunity. You should however get your body as ready as possible. This is how (ALL dosages are important):
The moment you have the first symptoms start counting the days – your doctor will need to know on which day of the infection you are when you speak to him. (More about this in my next post)
Treatment dosages of the nutrient protocol – be aggressive in the upscale of these dosages to limit viral replication.
*This whole protocol is subject to discussion with your doctor before taking it.”
As for prevention, nutrition plays a crucial role and several nutrients are known for their immune-boosting properties and ability to ward against viral infections. As reported in a February 24, 2020 press release:25,26
McCarty and DiNicolantonio list several nutrients available in supplement form that may be of particular benefit against COVID-19, including the following (below). For more details about each, see the full-text paper28 published in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases:
|N-acetylcysteine (NAC) — Encourages glutathione production, thins mucus, lowers your chances of influenza infection and reduces your risk of developing severe bronchitis|
|Elderberry extract — Known to shorten influenza duration by two to four days and reduce the severity of the flu. According to the authors:29 “Given that elderberry is a very rich source of anthocyanins, there is reason to suspect that its impact on viruses might be mediated, at least in part, by ferulic acid, a prominent metabolite that appears in plasma following anthocyanin ingestion.”|
|Spirulina — Reduces severity of influenza infection and lowers influenza mortality in animal studies. In a human trial, spirulina significantly lowered the viral load in patients with HIV infection|
|Beta-glucan — Reduces severity of influenza infection severity and lowers influenza mortality in animal studies|
|Glucosamine — Upregulates mitochondrial antiviral-signaling protein (MAVS), reduces severity of influenza infection severity and lowers influenza mortality in animal studies|
|Selenium — “Since selenium is an essential cofactor for certain peroxidases, and selenium deficiency has been endemic in certain regions of China and other parts of the world, insuring adequacy of selenium nutrition might also be appropriate in this context,” McCarty and DiNicolantonio note, adding:30 “Selenium deficiency also increases the rate at which viruses can mutate, promoting the evolution of strains that are more pathogenic and capable of evading immune surveillance.”|
|Zinc — Supports “effective function and proliferation of various immune cells,” lowering mortality in the elderly by 27%|
|Lipoic acid — Helps boost type 1 interferon response. As explained in a 2014 paper:31 “Type I interferons (IFNs) activate intracellular antimicrobial programs and influence the development of innate and adaptive immune responses … (IFNs) are polypeptides that are secreted by infected cells and have three major functions. First, they induce cell-intrinsic antimicrobial states in infected and neighboring cells that limit the spread of infectious agents, particularly viral pathogens. Second, they modulate innate immune responses in a balanced manner that promotes antigen presentation and natural killer cell functions while restraining pro-inflammatory pathways and cytokine production. Third, they activate the adaptive immune system, thus promoting the development of high-affinity antigen-specific T and B cell responses and immunological memory. Type I IFNs are protective in acute viral infections but can have either protective or deleterious roles in bacterial infections and autoimmune diseases.”|
|Sulforaphane — Helps boost type 1 interferon response|
A 2005 study32 in The Journal of Infectious Diseases also found resveratrol has the power to inhibit the replication of influenza A virus, significantly improving survival in influenza-infected mice. According to the authors, resveratrol “acts by inhibiting a cellular, rather than a viral, function,” which suggests it “could be a particularly valuable anti-influenza drug.”
The provisional daily dosage suggestions offered by McCarty and DiNicolantonio to help control RNA viruses, including influenza and coronavirus infection, are as follows:33
|Ferulic acid||500 to 1,000 milligrams (mg)|
|Lipoic acid||1,200 to 1,800 mg (in place of ferulic acid)|
|NAC||1,200 to 1,800 mg|
|Selenium||50 to 100 micrograms (mcg)|
|Glucosamine||3,000 mg or more|
|Zinc||30 to 50 mg|
|Yeast beta-glucan||250 to 500 mg|
|Elderberry extract||600 to 1,500 mg|
Solar ultraviolet-B radiation and supplemental vitamin D have also been shown to reduce pandemic fatality rates, which makes sense considering how important vitamin D is for controlling infections and lowering your risk for influenza and the common cold.
As detailed in “Vitamin D Prevents Infections,” research shows high-dose vitamin D supplementation lowers the risk of respiratory illnesses and lung infections in the elderly by 40%. As noted by an author of that study, “Vitamin D can improve the immune system’s ability to fight infections because it bolsters the first line of defense of the immune system.”
Research34 published in 2009 pointed suggests fatality rates during the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic were influenced by season, with greater numbers of people dying during the winter than the summer. According to the authors:35
As a general guideline, get your vitamin D level tested twice a year, in the winter and summer, to make sure you’re in a healthy range of 60 ng/mL to 80 ng/mL year-round. (A compelling body of research suggests 40 ng/mL is the cutoff for sufficiency.)
Last but not least, should the inclusion of Prevotella bacteria in COVID-19 turn out to be accurate, prebiotics, probiotics and sporebiotics may be of significant use. A number of studies36 have shown Bifidobacterium bifidum strain probiotics can help reduce Prevotella, while Lactobacillus strains tend to increase it.
Sporebiotics may be particularly beneficial. As explained in “How Spore Probiotics Can Help You,” which features an interview with Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, spore-based probiotics consist of the cell wall of bacillus spores — the protective shell around the DNA and the working mechanism of that DNA — not the whole, live bacterium.
Bacillus spores have been shown to dramatically increase immune tolerance, which means they help repair damage in your intestinal barrier. Since they’re not “live,” they’re also unaffected by antibiotics.
The bacillus very effectively modulates cytokines — anti-inflammatory cytokines are upregulated while inflammatory cytokines are downregulated, thereby restoring balance between the two.
Research has also shown that sporebiotics massively increase reproduction of acidophilus, bifidus and other microbes in your gut via the electromagnetic messages they send out. This is entirely unique. When you take a regular probiotic, they primarily take care of themselves. Bacillus spores, on the other hand, actually enhance many of the other beneficial microbes.
Bacillus spores also create 24 different substances that have strong antimicrobial properties. However, they do not kill indiscriminately like antibiotics do. They specifically suppress pathogens that do make a valuable contribution to the whole.
As COVID-19 continues to take its toll, taking measures to strengthen your immune system would be a wise strategy as a strong immune system is your No. 1 defense against all types of infections, both viral and bacterial, and the nutraceuticals discussed in this article can all aid you in that effort.
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Stress reduction: Chronic stress can negatively alter immune system responses, making you more likely to get sick. Identify your personal stress reduction strategies and practice them regularly.
Sleep: Sleep has a big influence on immune function, so it is essential to get plenty of sleep. Practice good sleep hygiene and maintain consistent sleep hours—turn off screens, ensure the room is cool, quiet, and dark, and set a reminder to help yourself go to bed on time.
Exercise: Moderate, regular physical activity helps to boost immune system function by raising levels of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies, increasing circulation, and decreasing stress hormones. Establish and follow an exercise program to not only help prevent respiratory infections but also to improve cognitive and physical resilience.
Nutritious foods/diet: Research indicates that brightly colored vegetables and fruits boost immunity better than most supplements. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables—aim for 10 servings per day. Include fermented vegetables or other probiotic-containing foods.
Most over-the-counter medications only treat the symptoms of viral infections; most don’t actually help the immune system fight the infection. Although there is no research to determine what is effective specifically for coronavirus, the following are some natural modalities you can utilize to both address symptoms as well as boost your immune system if you do come down with an illness:
Self-care: When battling upper respiratory infections, top priorities are plentiful hydration and rest. Drink plenty of fluids; homemade vegetable or bone broths are also extremely beneficial. Various herbal teas/hot drinks can help with hydration and reducing symptoms; good choices include peppermint, ginger, eucalyptus, chamomile, and hot water with lemon, honey, and cinnamon.
Sore throats: Salt water gargles are excellent for loosening mucus and helping fend off bacterial throat infections. Hot teas and lozenges containing slippery elm are excellent demulcents (to relieve minor pain and inflammation of mucous membranes) for soothing irritated sore throats. Two tablespoons of honey in hot water can also help to soothe and decrease throat inflammation and pain. Chamomile and peppermint teas are also helpful for soothing irritated sore throats, as are teas or infusions made from marshmallow root and licorice root, both of which can act as soothing demulcents.
Respiratory congestion & sinuses: For respiratory congestion, use a humidifier, vaporizers, or steam inhalers, or spend time in steamy baths or showers. Vaporizers and inhalers can also be used with decongestants or essential oils such as eucalyptus, menthol, peppermint, or frankincense. Nasal xylitol sprays are very beneficial, as is nasal irrigation using a neti pot or nasal irrigation bottle. Buffered saline is easy to make or can be purchased in packets and eliminates any irritation to delicate, irritated mucous membranes.
There are several nutrients, plant-based botanicals, and supplements that can boost immune function and provide symptom relief during illness and may help to shorten the duration of illness. For preventing and treating viral upper respiratory infections, consider some of the following:
Vitamin C: Vitamin C may help to prevent infections, including those caused by bacteria and viruses. Regularly administered vitamin C has been shown to shorten the duration of colds, and higher doses of vitamin C during an illness can also act as a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D, known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is one of the most important and powerful nutrients for supporting the immune system. Numerous studies have shown that it helps reduce the risk of colds and flu. Unfortunately, a high percentage of the population is deficient, so daily supplementation (ideally in the form of vitamin D3) offers the best protection.
Vitamin A: For short-term use and particularly for those with moderate vitamin A deficiency, supplementation can be extremely helpful in supporting the body’s ability to fight infections, particularly with regard to respiratory infections.
Zinc: Zinc plays a significant role in boosting immunity. Often available as lozenges, zinc can help to reduce the frequency of infections as well as the duration and severity of the common cold when taken within 24 hours of onset.
Selenium: Selenium, a key nutrient for immune function, is also an antioxidant that helps boosts the body’s defenses against bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells. It may particularly help to protect against certain strains of flu virus. Selenium is easily obtained from foods, with the richest source being Brazil nuts.
Honey: Honey, preferably raw, is a good demulcent (it relieves minor pain and inflammation of mucous membranes), has antioxidant properties, and has some antimicrobial effects. It is helpful for coughs and sore throats and can be added to hot tea.
Garlic: Garlic contains a variety of compounds that can influence immunity. Some studies have shown that both fresh garlic as well as aged garlic extract and some other garlic supplements may reduce viral upper respiratory infection severity as well as function in the prevention of infection with viruses that can cause colds.
Probiotics: Probiotics contain “good bacteria” that not only support the health of the gut but also influence immune system functioning and regulation. Studies have shown that probiotic use can decrease the number of respiratory infections, particularly in children.
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Dr Anton Janse van Rensburg is a practising medical doctor from Pretoria (MBChB degree University of Pretoria 1997). He is trained in the field of metal toxicology and has a master’s degree in Applied Human Nutrition (MSc University of Pretoria). He currently fulfils the role of Chief Medical Officer for the Executive Wellbeing Company which specialises in the health of company leadership. They have centres in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.
As an author Dr Anton published an eBook in 2006 entitled ‘The Health Mentoring Programme’ which enjoys an international readership. In 2009 he co-authored the book ‘Diamonds in the Dust – crafting your future landscape’. His contribution to this publication deals with the use of nutritional & supplemental approaches in the treatment of mood disorders.
Dr Anton is an established public speaker and he specialises in motivating audiences to adopt healthier habits through well researched lifestyle and food approaches. He is very involved in the wellness programmes of numerous South African companies like Sasol, The Reserve Bank, Nedbank, ABSA, SARS to name a few.