There’s only one topic on everyone’s minds and hearts right now: coronavirus.
And as a health practitioner, I can’t ignore it!
Unfortunately, there is so much bad information out there right now… and even worse, some of it is coming from the alternative health space.
I don’t want anyone to feel panicked, but we do need to take this very seriously.
Today, I’m sharing exactly what we know about treating coronavirus (aka covid-19) so far.
#1 Social Distancing Is The Best Tool We Have
Other than washing hands and covering your face when you sneeze or cough, (please do these things!) the best tool we have to slow the spread of coronavirus is social distancing.
Social distancing is like “herd immunity” in that it only works if people who are and aren’t sick (and are and aren’t at high risk) all participate.
Even if you are not personally worried about coronavirus, you help protect the health of those at risk by staying home as much as you can. Cancel appointments. Don’t have people over to your house. Don’t go to the gym.
It’s OK to go on walks and spend time outside – just keep your distance from others as much as you can.
When you DO go out (like to stock up on essential groceries), wash your hands, change clothes, and wipe down anything you took out with you (yes, I’m talking about your dirtier-than-a-toilet phone!). And if you are anyone in your household have symptoms that are vaguely viral, I would encourage you to use a service like Instantcart, and have someone shop for you for a very small fee and leave the groceries on your doorstep.
I recommend checking THIS website for accurate, up-to-date information on the virus. However, even medical professionals can’t get access to tests for covid-19 (because there are not enough tests!). You should assume the numbers in your community are MUCH higher than we see reported.
#2 Antioxidants Have Potential To Help
Research has shown that certain antioxidants (lipoic acid, ferulic acid, and sulforaphane specifically) have potential for boosting the type 1 interferon response to RNA viruses (including influenza and coronavirus).
That’s a science-y way of saying, they help your body fight off viruses more effectively.
Even better, there is some evidence that certain antioxidants could help fight off inflammation in the lungs caused by viral infections. This is important, because coronavirus primarily impacts the lungs, and, the part of the illness that can ultimately kill people is called ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome). ARDS occurs when an influx of inflammatory cells from your own immune system infiltrates the endothelial tissue in the lung, causing massive levels of oxidative stress in an attempt to fight the virus.
Other nutrients to consider:
Selenium: Selenium-deficient mice are more likely to get the flu, and selenium deficiency also promotes virus replication. Selenium deficiency also increases the rate at which viruses can mutate, potentially creating more virulent strains that may be better at avoiding detection. Selenium deficiency is known to be wide spread across certain regions of China where the virus has more readily spread.
Spirulina: Has been shown to decrease influenza mortality in mice. (Yes, mice, but the mechanism by which it works functions the same way in humans)
High dose glucosamine: Dampens inflammatory reactions (and therefore may help protect the lungs in case of infection)
N-Acetylcysteine (NAC): promotes glutathione production, the “master antioxidant.” It’s also mucolytic, which means it can clear up mucus and help get rid of gunk in your chest and nose. This has shown to be particularly helpful in the elderly, perhaps because plasma cysteine levels and cellular glutathione levels tend to decline with advancing age.
I’ll also be sharing my own personal supplement regimen at the end of this post.
#3 Vitamin C Is Being Studied Right Now
At the time of this post, there are already 3 clinical trials underway in China right now where patients with coronavirus are being treated with high dose vitamin C.
It’s obviously too early to make any conclusions but…. I like what I’m seeing!
Vitamin C helps in multiple ways. It can help prevent the onset of sepsis-related lung damage (a major concern for anyone who is hospitalized). It helps shorten the duration of the common cold and some studies have shown that low vitamin C levels are related to increased flu risk. And it is known to play a role in killing viruses and preventing their replication.
Just know: taking a vitamin C supplement every morning is not going to be the same as the high-dose IV treatments being studied in hospitals right now. If you are sick, taking vitamin C will not replace getting medical care! That being said, I’m still using vitamin C supplements right now., and if you do get sick, I recommend oral Vitamin C hourly, or administered via an IV by a licensed professional if you have access to one.
#4 TCM Can Aid Western Medicine
Most people don’t know that during the SARS epidemic, healthcare workers were treated with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to help prevent them from getting sick.
Today, the formula being used with coronavirus is adapted from Qing Fei Tang (clear the ling decoction). It is being used in combination with Western medicine to help people recover more quickly.
(FYI: This formulation isn’t for prevention – it’s for those who are already ill.)
In south Korea, public health officials are doing trials with Fah Talai Jone herb (Andrographis paniculata, also known as Chuan Xin Lian in Chinese Herbal Medicine) which contains Andrographolide (an extract from the herb). Tests in China indicated that Andrographalide could help prevent viruses in humans.
My hope is that anyone who is sick will be offered both Western and TCM treatments. The more we can do, the better!
→ Brie’s Supplement Regimen
I’ve amped up my supplement regimen in wake of the coronavirus. I don’t believe any of this will prevent me from getting sick… but I do know that it will help me recover should I become ill.
Even with supplementation, I’m still relying on washing my hands religiously and staying home as much as possible.
Luckily, I work with all my patients remotely, so it hasn’t had to impact the flow of our practice.
OK, here’s what I’m doing:
Multivitamin (this is the one I use)
Selenium 200 mcg
Zinc 20 mg
Vitamin C 1000 mg 3 x day (it’s key to take vitamin C multiple times per day, as it is depleted and excreted very quickly)
Cold away by Health Concerns and/or Olivirex –1-2 times daily
Vitamin D 2000-5000 IUs
Magnesium 400 mg
NAC 600 2 x day
Spirulina 15 g
Jade Wind Screen (There are many brands with different names for this product. It is a chinese herbal formula called Yu Ping Feng San, and contains high dosages of astragalus in combination with other chinese herbs, and is intended to be used long term during cold and flu season to avoid illness. Do not use if you have known, active autoimmune disease. Some of the brands I like are Health Concerns AstraC or Astra Essence and Kan Herbs Initial Defense).
I’m avoiding Elderberry because with PCOS, I’m on the autoimmune spectrum. Elderberry can flare existing autoimmune conditions, but it can also promote a “cytokine storm” – an overproduction of immune cells. If you’re prone to autoimmunity and you contract a virus, the resulting cytokine storm can trigger the development of autoimmune conditions.
What if you get sick? I would increase oral Vitamin C to hourly. High doses of vitamin C can cause loose stool, but this is less likely during times of sickness when your body has a higher demand of C.
I keep on hand any brand of the Early stage “Wind attack” chinese medicine formulas, as variations on these are what is being used in China both for sick patients and preventatively for health care providers. Some of the formulas that can be used are:
These are taken if you are exposed, and/or if you start to have symptoms like sore throat, or fever and are continued for as long as the symptoms stay in the throat, sinus, or upper lung.
Combining any of these, or similar, with Andrographis, one of the main chinese anti-viral herbs, (which I mentioned above is being used and studied for this virus). Some forms of this are Chuan Xin Lian, Antiphlogistic Formula, or Clear Heat)
There are other chinese herbal formulas being used for symptoms, but these should be prescribed and adapted by a chinese herbalist. I’m available for consultations should you or someone you love need support beyond the first stage of symptoms.
And equally importantly: don’t forget to consider your mental health and stress levels. Take a break from the news when you need to, and even with social distancing, stay connected via phone with the people you love.
I hope this information has given you some practical advice, as well as hope.
Do you have questions about the coronavirus? I’d love to help clear up confusion where I can. Click here to contact my office.
More Information (And Works Cited In This Article)