As a health care professional, I’ve been receiving daily emails and updates on the state of the latest corona virus, known as COVID-19. As we all know, the disease is spreading. I am sending out this blog to my readership to provide suggestions for optimizing your immune system. If you acquire the virus, it will be a battle fought from within. Even though our bodies have never been exposed to this virus, and therefore have no antibodies to it, there are a few things we can do to help our immune systems combat the effects of the virus. My children asked me this morning if the corona virus was something they should be worried about. I told them no, but then gave them a list of simple precautions they should take starting today. I want them to be ready to combat the effects of the virus should it eventually get to our neighborhood and their school. I’d like to propose the same suggestions to you, my readers and your friends and family members so you all can be prepared for the “just in case” scenario. I suggest you start implementing these practices ASAP so you give your body time to fortify its defenses.
1. Proper Hygiene
Try your best to prevent the virus from gaining access to your nose, mouth, and ultimately, your lungs. Corona virus attacks the respiratory system, i.e. the lungs. If an infected person coughs, the virus is expectorated and contained within the tiny droplets that flee the mouth and land on tables, chairs, handrails, door knobs, the floor, clothing etc. I have read a report from the CDC that the virus can reportedly lay on a surface from a few hours to a couple of days and still remain virulent (CDC.gov) . However, a recent letter from James Robb, MD, a retired professor of pathology from UC San Diego, and an expert on corona viruses, recently wrote a letter to the media expressing his concerns about the virus, in which he states that he believes the virus may remain virulent on surfaces for up to 1 week! When an uninfected person puts their hand on a contaminated surface, the virus can be picked up on the skin surface or on a piece of clothing. The virus gains entry to the respiratory system if a person then touches their nose or mouth with their hand or other colonized material.
To limit your risk for exposure, wash your hands frequently during the day, especially after you have put your hands on public handrails, door knobs, and other surfaces. Try your hardest not to touch your face with your hands. If you are in the habit of touching your face, like most of us are, putting a mask on may help remind you to do otherwise. Although I am not typically a fan of hand sanitizers, if you are exposed to public markets, buildings or other surfaces, and do not have access to a sink and soap to wash your hands, a hand sanitizer is a decent way to go. Note that antibacterial soaps do not kill the virus. A virus is a protein and not technically alive. It therefore cannot be killed like a bacterium. Proteins can be denatured after which they no longer function, which is why the alcohol in hand sanitizers will eliminate the virus.
Keep your home clean. Take your shoes off at the door and wash your hands as soon as you get home. If you were exposed to public spaces in which you might have come in contact with the virus, you may consider shedding your clothes and placing them into a hamper upon arrival home. It might seem like overkill, but it may also help keep the virus out of your living space.
2. Reduce Environmental Toxins
COVID-19, corona virus, causes severe oxidative stress in the cells lining your lung. Oxidative stress is a condition in which atoms and molecules within our cells are robbed of electrons. It is because of severe oxidative stress that some people land in the hospital on respirators. There are many environmental toxins that cause oxidative stress and reducing environmental toxicity is my main push for this blog and my book TOXIC HOME/CONSCIOUS HOME. One of the most easily avoidable is that caused by electromagnetic frequency (EMF). EMF causes oxidative stress! (Yakymenko, I, et al.) Turn off your wifi router when you are not using the internet. Put your phone on airplane mode when you are carrying it in transit. Unless you must react real time, I recommend placing your phone in airplane mode for 30-60 minute intervals and periodically check for messages rather than having the phone on continuously while it is in your immediate vicinity. (For more information about the health effects of EMF, sign up for my newsletter at robbrownmd.com.)
3. Boost your intake of anti-oxidants
The cure for oxidative stress is to increase your intake of anti-oxidants. These are molecules that generously donate electrons to molecules that are deficient. There are many anti-oxidants. Blueberries, strawberries, kale, carrots, oranges, dark chocolate, tea, are among the extensive list. A quick google search will provide you with lots of options. Think of fruits and vegetables. Incorporate at least 5 servings of anti-oxidants into your diet each day and remember to wash your produce with a fruit and veggie wash to remove wax and underlying pesticides and fungicides.
4. Take supplements
There are many excellent supplements designed to help support immune health. Of these, there are 3 I strongly recommend you take daily. In my experience, these will effectively bolster your immune system.
1. Vitamin C – Take 1000 mg twice a day, once with breakfast and once with dinner would work well. Vitamin C is water soluble and will be excreted if you don’t need all that you take. By taking this vitamin twice a day, you will ensure you have a fairly continuous supply of Vitamin C on board for your cells during the day.
2. Vitamin D – Take 2000-5000 iu each day. I recommend 5000 units for most people, but if you are petite, you may want to lower that number to 2000. Vitamin D is fat soluble and can become toxic if taken in excess. At these levels, toxicity will not occur. Vitamin D is incredibly important for the immune system.
3. Zinc – I have received word that corona virus replication is inhibited by zinc. Sucking on a zinc throat lozenge will help reduce the chance of the virus making it to your lungs, should you become exposed. Alternatively, take an oral zinc supplement. I take a 50 mg zinc capsule orally each day.
5. Get a Good night’s sleep each and every night
If you haven’t read my blog on how light and EMF affect your sleep and melatonin production, I suggest you take a few minutes to read it now. It is crucial to optimize your melatonin production every night, especially during the winter months in the northern latitudes. Ambient light and EMF in the bedroom will suppress melatonin production. Turn off night lights, TVs and anything else in your bedroom that produces a glow in the darkness of your bedroom. In addition, eliminate all sources of EMF in or near your bedroom. Wifi and other sources of EMF suppress melatonin production just like light. Eliminating sources of EMF can be a tricky proposition and I suggest you read my upcoming blog series on EMF for further information. But, for now, there are a few things you can do starting tonight:
- Turn off your wifi router when you head to bed.
- If you have a wireless printer, go into settings and turn off wireless capability before bedtime.
- If you have a cordless phone in your bedroom, turn it off or unplug it.
- If you keep a cell phone in your bedroom while you sleep, either turn it off or place it in airplane mode.
- If you have a loved one in a nursing facility, hospital, or rehab center, provide them with ear plugs and an eye mask so they can get a good night’s sleep. These facilities notoriously have machines that beep and multiple sources of ambient light in patient rooms, exactly the opposite of what the patient needs to optimize melatonin production and regain health.
This is not a time for panic. The overwhelming majority of people that catch this virus will experience mild cold symptoms and that’s it. Only a very small percentage of unfortunate people will suffer catastrophic respiratory failure from this disease and will require hospitalization. Take time to relax for at least 30 minutes every day. Sit in a quiet room with a good book, listen to music, meditate, pet your dog or cat, and/or take a walk. Frequent relaxation will reduce stress and strengthen your immune system.
I trust you will find these suggestions to be helpful. If you take the time to incorporate each of these practices into your daily routine, you will feel healthy and be better fortified to combat the COVID-19 virus should it come in to your community. Please share this information with your friends and family and feel free to forward them this blog and a link to the blog on my website.
Thank you and stay well this spring and beyond.
Yours in good health!
Rob Brown, MD