Updated: Jun 6
In response to COVID -19, I'd like to highlight some things you can do at home to help yourself and those around you by controlling the factors that are within your control.
Here are some of the messages we've already been exposed to and should be abiding by:
1. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and do this regularly throughout the day, especially after coming into close contact with others, traveling on public transport or being in public areas.
2. Avoid the temptation of touching your eyes, nose or mouth
3. If you are ill, avoid contact with people, especially the vulnerable. The vulnerable are generally those over the age of 60/70 and those with pre-existing health conditions.
4. Call a healthcare professional if you think you have the virus, based upon the symptoms that you are experiencing.
Nutrition & lifestyle considerations
These are not considerations specifically for COVID-19, but more to create a strong foundation to help your own immune function, making it easier to prevent or get over illness.
Simply put, a lack of sleep impairs your immune system and increases the risk of catching common cold and flu viruses. Try to regulate your sleeping hours as best as you can, waking up and going to bed around the same time. Your goal is around 7-8 hours of good quality sleep, for the majority of the population, but certainly aim for at least 6 hours of quality sleep.
Minimize all processed foods
While everyone rushes to the supermarkets to fill their pantry with non-perishable processed foods, it is important to highlight that the consumption of highly processed foods can acutely impair immune function. This is one of the reasons it frustrates me when I see emphasis on calories only when it comes to nutrition guidance by some professionals. Focus your diet on wholefood options and a naturally colourful diet to help support immunity.
Here’s another important one, as everyone scrambles about COVID-19 and they enter into a chronic state of anxiety, the stress responses related to factors that are largely out of their control is most likely contributing to impaired immunity, resulting in a lessening of white blood cells, immune proteins etc, hence increasing their risk of becoming ill.
Unless you find yourself in quarantine, get outdoors in natural sunlight. This is not only good to help with managing sleep and stress, but it can also help to support your Vitamin D levels naturally. Vitamin D can help to prevent upper respiratory infections and at this time of the year. Most people’s vitamin D, unless supplementing or living in the southern hemisphere, is at least insufficient or potentially deficient. You can even test vitamin D at home to guide supplemental dosing if that is necessary.
I checked the health food store of one of my trusted suppliers in the US and it seems there was some panic buying in regards to supplements. Nearly all vitamin C was sold out, zinc lozenges were completely sold out, many of the vitamin D products were also sold out.
Are nutritional supplements something that could help? The reality is, we don’t know. We don’t know what this virus responds or doesn’t respond to. At the moment there are around 80 clinical trials going on in China alone on COVID-19 using various pharmaceuticals and also natural substances.
All we can do when it comes to nutritional supplements is look at their history with other viruses and immune function.
Here are some supplemental considerations:
-Vitamin D – History of helping with upper respiratory infections.
-Vitamin C – Can reduce the duration of cold + flu symptoms in older people
-Zinc oral lozenges – may help to inhibit viral replication in the throat. Normal oral zinc supplementation does not have the same effect but may support immune function in general if one has a zinc insufficiency.
It's also helpful to understand the basic tenets of immunity--how you can support your immune system, and how the different categories of immune herbs affect the body. Here's an article on the topic.
This is an excellent time to be taking botanical immune tonics and immunomodulators daily. Here’s an article on Tonic Immune Herbs.
In contrast, stronger-acting immunostimulants are more appropriate for when you believe you have been exposed to a pathogen or when you are sick with an infectious illness, like the flu. Here’s an article on immune stimulants. Keep in mind that some of these are not for everyday use, and should only be used in the case of exposure or illness—these are noted in the article.
Here’s Rosalee de la Forêt’s Herbs for Immunity article, which addresses respiratory herbs and immune tonics, relevant to the COVID-19.
Herbalist and doctor Aviva Romm has also created a hub of articles on the topic: COVID-19: An Integrative MDs Commonsense Approach.
7Song of the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine has offered his thoughts, herbal suggestions, and recipes in this article, An Herbalist’s Notes on the COVID-19 Virus.
Clinical herbalist Paul Bergner has assembled his writings and resources on topics relating to the virus.
These are some of the herbs and tinctures my family is taking:
-Lemon, Cayenne, Ginger Tea
-Homemade Organic Garlic Sauce
-Herbal Infused Honey -CBD known for it's antioxidant, anti inflammatory, neuroprotective and calming properties
Feel free to send me a message to request the recipes.
If you’re not able to prepare medicine, or can’t find certain ingredients, I would focus on raw garlic, black seed oil, colloidal silver and a daily herbal immune tonic tea. Reishi, astragalus, shiitake, maitake, turkey tail, tulsi, and elderberry are all excellent options. Astragalus, reishi, and tulsi are immunomodulators and traditional respiratory medicinals. (The COVID-19 affects the lungs and, in some individuals, causes shortness of breath, a dry cough, and copious mucus that’s difficult to expectorate.) See the CDC's Resources on Symptoms.
I’d like to take a moment to appreciate all the brave health care providers who are working hard on the front line and putting themselves at risk to keep us healthy!
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