It seems like that there’s not a minute that goes by without someone mentioning COVID-19, formerly known as the novel coronavirus. The United States has declared a national emergency. Schools are moving online. Events are getting canceled. Places of arts and recreation are closed.
But what is COVID-19? Should you really panic (hint: Don’t panic!!).
In this article, I will explain what COVID-19 is, what are the symptoms, how it spreads, and who is at risk. I will share my top natural solutions to boost your immune system, prevent illness, and support recovery.
What Is COVID-19?
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new or novel coronavirus. Coronaviruses a group of viruses. Different strains cause different symptoms from the common cold to more serious illness, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2002, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012. COVID-19 is new strain that we haven’t previously seen before (1, 2, 3).
Since the initial outbreak in Wuhan, China in December 2019, COVID-19 has spread resulting in a global pandemic. As of March 19, 2020, we have 228,451 cases worldwide, including 9,357 deaths and 86,254 recovered cases. China, South-Korea, Iran, Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Switzerland, and the United States has the most cases. While China and South-Korea seem to be over the tipping point and are seeing a decline in cases, it is just hitting Europe and North-America with numbers rapidly increasing. The United States has 9,521 confirmed cases, including 160 deaths and 108 recovered cases (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12).
Since the virus is spreading and we are facing a national emergency, it is important that you stay informed. For up-to-date information, including travel warnings, you can check updated statistics here, the CDC’s, and the WHO’s website.
Symptoms of COVID-19
COVID-19 has a long incubation period lasting up to 2 weeks. This means that you may not experience symptoms for as few as 2 or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus.
Main symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
Symptoms may range from mild (even no symptoms in some) to severe. In serious cases, people may develop more severe illness, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. In severe situations, it may result in death (13, 14, 15).
Who Is at Risk
COVID-19 spreads via respiratory droplets coming from the cough or sneeze of an infected individual in close contact or within 6 feet. You may also catch it by touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your face, mouth, nose, or eyes.
While it seems that the virus is the most contagious when it’s the most symptomatic, it may also be contagious during the asymptomatic stage. This is why it is particularly important to practice good hygiene and social distancing.
In most cases, people experience mild to moderate symptoms and can expect a full recovery. The good news is that children are the least vulnerable. However, more severe symptoms and complications are more likely to occur in older generations and those with a seriously compromised immune system or chronic illness. It is important that we all take preventative measures and boost our immune system, not only to protect ourselves but to protect those around us.
It is critical that we follow appropriate precautions to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Here are the CDC’s recommendations (16):
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose, eyes, and face.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Practice social distancing.
- Stay at home if you are sick.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes into a tissue or inside your elbow.
- Use paper tissues and throw them into the trash after using them.
- Disinfect surfaces regularly.
- Use face masks if you are sick, they can protect others.
- Do not use face masks if you are not sick unless you are caring for someone who is sick.
Currently, we don’t have vaccines or anti-viral medication to prevent or treat COVID-19. Treatment includes supportive care to improve symptoms and to support vital organs in serious cases. This makes natural immune-boosting strategies incredibly important for both prevention and treatment.
Lower Your Stress Levels
I know that this is a time of uncertainty. However, stressing and panicking about the situation are counterproductive. Stress and panic can be increase inflammation, compromise immune function, and make you more vulnerable to illness.
Keeping your stress levels down is critical for your immune system. Keep the news to the minimum. It’s important that you are informed, but constantly reading and thinking about the virus is going to keep you at a state of stress. Designate a specific time for it, then move on. Instead, engage in activities that relax your body, calm your mind, and uplift your soul. I recommend meditation, breathwork, journaling, arts and crafts, yoga, dancing, and play. Spend time in nature while keeping a social distance from others.
Eat an Immune-Supporting Diet
Eating an anti-inflammatory, immune-supporting, nutrient-dense diet is the best way to support your immune system and is especially critical as we are facing the COVID-19 pandemic. Eliminate inflammatory foods, including refined sugar, refined oils, artificial ingredients, processed foods, and junk food. Instead, eat plenty of nutrient-dense greens, vegetables, herbs, spices, fruits, healthy fats, and clean protein. Specific immune-supporting foods I recommend, include citrus, garlic, onions, turmeric, ginger, and medicinal mushrooms.
Take Immune-Supporting Supplements
Eating a nutrient-dense diet is essential for preventing illness and supporting recovery. However, it is important that you support your immune health with immune-boosting supplements, especially during vulnerable times, like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vitamin C is one of the best vitamins that support your immune system and benefits lung infections. I recommend that you take 2000 to 4000 mg of Vitamin C supplement daily, when your immune system needs extra support (25).
Vitamin D is essential for your immune system. While sunshine is the best way to get vitamin D, our modern-world indoor lifestyle doesn’t allow us to meet all our needs. Considering that we may be spending even more time indoors as a result of COVID-19, I recommend that you take 5000 – 10,000 IU of Vitamin D3/K2 a day (26).
B vitamins are incredibly important for supporting biochemical reactions in your immune system, energy levels, and cellular health. To optimize your B vitamin levels, I recommend a daily vitamin Methylated B-complex (27).
Zinc is a vital mineral with an ability to boost your immune system and fight infections. I recommend supplementing with 30 mg of zinc per day (28).
Elderberry syrup is a fantastic immune-boosting supplement that may be effective for coughs and other respiratory issues. It also tastes delicious and even your kids will love it. I recommend a daily dose for prevention and support (29).
A note on elderberry and the conflicting information on it’s affect on the virus.
The argument with elderberry and this virus is that elderberry can activate cytokines (basically activating the immune system). Just like estrogen, thyroid hormone & cortisol, cytokines are not a bad thing. It becomes a problem when there is too much.
I do not believe that is the case with elderberry. It MILDLY activates cytokines. Cytokines are part of the immune system that we need in order to fight off things like viruses. This is why it has been shown to be effective with the flu.
If you are torn on your thoughts on elderberry and this virus, then don’t take it.
Lauricidin, also known as a pure sn-1 monolaurin, is a natural, plant-based medium chain fat derived from lauric acid that is used for the natural treatment of colds, the flu, and other viral infections. I recommend 1 scoop 3 times per day. Start with 1/4 scoop and work up slowly over at least a week’s period (30, 31).
Optimal Reset Liver Love is a powerful supplement that supports liver function, detoxification, and overall health. This bland contains two medicinal mushrooms, Reishi and Cordyceps, that are particularly powerful for immune function. I recommend 2 capsules twice a day for at least 4 weeks (22).
- Jade Windscreen. The top ingredient in Jade Windscreen is astragalus.[Wikipedia entry on Chinese patent medicine]. Please read Dr. Fitzgerald’s article to fully understand the use of this.
- Quenching the cytokine storm. In part, it might be our own immune system – made dysfunctional, imbalanced in its hyper response to certain viruses (COVID19, influenza) – that needs interruption. Two key interventions are topping my list:
- Omega 3 fatty acids for their ability to generate specialized pro-resolving lipid mediators (SPMs). Or, since some of us who are vulnerable to COVID19, like diabetics, don’t make SPMs efficiently, take SPMs directly.
- Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA): 600mg daily for prevention; increase to 600mg tid at first sign.
- Real Mushrooms 5 Defenders (Turkey Tail, Reishi, Maitake, Shitake, Chaga) providing >20% beta-D-glucans: 1 cap daily for prevention; increase to 2 caps twice a day with symptoms.
**Please check with you doctor before starting any new supplements**
While we are facing the spread of COVID-19, it is important you don’t panic. This does not mean I am saying to take this lightly, but panicking will only add stress & reduce your immune system’s ability to fight off pathogens.
Work on reducing your stress levels, eat a nutrient-dense diet (I have written about this many times on my website), and follow my supplement recommendation to boost your immune system and protect your health.
If you are looking for personal guidance to improve your immune system and enhance your health, schedule your consultation here.
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