As worry continues to mount over the increasing death toll that the coronavirus is exacting worldwide, a sense of helplessness leading to panic has begun to set in among many people. The way you fight fear is with hope backed by knowledge. In this posting, I’d like to go over some simple things you can do to strengthen your immune system against COVID-19. For those who are older, have respiratory issues, and/or major medical issues this is especially important:
*Disclaimer: While I am a board-certified physician, I’m not an immunologist. I do, however, have a focus on regenerative medicine and hormone replacement therapy, as well as natural medicine. What I’m about to say is informed opinion, but still opinion. It’s up to you whether you wish to follow this advice – when in doubt, speak to your physician as well.
NUTRITION: Americans taken as a whole are overfed and undernourished; poor nutrition leads to a bevy of conditions that are telltale signs of this problem: obesity, many autoimmune conditions, psychological distress, sleep disturbance, irritability, cognitive issues (e.g “brain fog”), fibromyalgia, et. al. In short, there are very few disease processes (excluding some genetic and acquired ones – e.g. Huntington’s disease and radiation sickness respectively) that you can’t find a cause or exacerbation due to a lack of good nutrition. Poor nutrition and a weakened immune system go hand in hand. To a predator like COVID -19, this is like a hungry lion seeing a lame wildebeest on the Serengeti.
Two sayings come to mind:
1) Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food. – Hippocrates
2) The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison. – Ann Wigmore
Please consider the following supplements during this pandemic:
1. VITAMIN D3
If money or circumstances dictated that you could only take one supplement, I’d pick Vitamin D3. It’s essential for a host of bodily functions, including immune boosting of B and T cells; the lack of vitamin D is well documented as causing an increased risk in autoimmune and infectious diseases.
Most patients I see are Vitamin D deficient (your lab values should be between 40-100, optimally between 60-100). A dose that many take is 5,000 IU (international units) a day for maintenance (some people take as much as 10,000 IU/day, but only for 3 months or less – too much Vitamin D can cause problems). The minimum dose I’d recommend now is 2,000 IU/day, but in most cases, 5,000 IU will keep your levels up. As it’s a fat-soluble vitamin, it’s best when taken after a meal.
*I use BioTe’s ADK (Vitamin A, D3 and K combo capsule) – great combo. Available on Amazon.
the immune building properties of zinc have been well established for decades – most of us have taken zinc dissolvable tablets (Zicam) or lozenges (do NOT do zinc nasal swabs – too much expose to the nasal lining can permanently affect your sense of smell). A common dosage is 80mg/day; if you have a weakened immune system, consider double that dose.
Go to any pharmacy and you’ll see oodles of zinc options – they’re cheap and effective. Zinc citrate is one of the best absorbed types and has a less bitter after taste than other formularies like Zinc gluconate.
At least 60% of your immune system resides in your gut (going back to why people who eat lean meats, fish and their veggies have fewer health issues than those who eat McDonalds regularly). A good probiotic will help to stabilize the microflora (the collection of beneficial bacteria) in your gut, which work in symbiosis with your body to help digest certain foods and keep inflammation down to limit occurrences of Leaky Gut Syndrome (show me an overweight, insomniac, “I ache all over” patient who’s prone to chronic infections and in most cases you’ve got someone with LGS). A healthy gut leads to a healthier immune system – ask anyone who has revamped their diet to a healthy one; the weight comes off easier, the skin clears up, joint aches and pains plummet or go away….and you can fight illnesses like COVID-19 better. There are lots of probiotics out there; most come in capsule form, so if you’re not a fan of swallowing those little gelatin oblong things, you can open them up and sprinkle them on your food. I use BioTe Multi-Strain Probiotic 20B personally (yep, it’s on Amazon).
4.ASCORBIC ACID (aka VITAMIN C)
“I have not seen any flu yet that was not cured or markedly ameliorated by massive doses of vitamin C”
– Robert F. Cathcart, MD
*I know I said Vitamin D3 would be the ‘go-to’ supplement to take if you had to choose one, but truthfully, I’d put vitamin C up there at the same level of importance.
Quick question: does the name Dr. Fred Klenner ring a bell?
If not, please commit his name to memory, as Dr. Klenner is one of the great unsung heroes of the 20th century. In the late 1940’s Dr. Klenner theorized that the antibacterial and antiviral properties of vitamin C could be used to combat the polio virus that was ravaging the United States. By infusing high dose vitamin C solution by IV into patients stricken with early onset polio (some of whom had already developed weakness in their legs), Dr. Klenner successfully REVERSED the disease and all symptoms in over 60 patients. I kid you not. Look it up.
Vitamin C in high IV in high doses has been used to treat a host of illnesses, from shingles (often relieves the pain in hours and halts the process) to bacterial infections, and even shrinks and kills carcinoma tumors (the cancer tumors can’t distinguish Ascorbic acid from sugar – and they LOVE sugar – so it acts like a Trojan Horse, once invited in it destroys the cells – ask me if you want details).
Since most of us luckily don’t need or have access to IV vitamin C, it’s much simpler to take oral preparations, which in the settling of a taking it as a preventative measure is typically just fine. Since vitamin C is not nearly as well absorbed orally as in the bloodstream, higher doses are typically needed.
I’d recommend a minimum of 3,000 mg/day; if you are out and about occasionally (e.g. going to a busy store) and expose yourself to strangers who may have COVID-19, up it to 4,000 mg per day. As a health care professional who sees patients who are often infirm and more likely to be infected, I do 4-5, 00 mg every day, and I ramp it up to 6,000mg when I start feeling any flu- or cold like symptoms.
As with zinc, vitamin C is super cheap, and you can buy in bulk and not break your wallet. The pills are easy to crush with the back of a spoon and sprinkle into a drink if you’re not a fan of swallowing them whole. DON’T miss out on vitamin C.
This isn’t a supplement, but it’s your ally in fighting viral infections. Viruses don’t do well at all with both heat (>75 degrees F) and humidity > 35%. If you notice the casualty rate of the pandemic, it tends to be much lower in hot, humid nations like the Philippines or Brazil; the weather is certainly a factor. Set up a humidifier or two (or three) for your house and keep them going for a few hours day and night. Thank God there are now models that don’t have that annoying filter you have to clean the gunk out of – just wash them out with white vinegar once a week.
I hope you found this helpful. I’ll follow up with other things (medical and in-house) that can help with fending off COVID-19 so that we can remain happy and healthy. Be well and stay safe!
John Stavrakos MS, MD
Owner/Medical Director, Heritage Regenerative Medicine