Real Information on Coronavirus and Focusing on Immunity Health
Hearing news of canceled events, travel bans, and quarantines can be unsettling for sure. You start to wonder whether coronavirus is the next bubonic plague, or if it’s just a bad cold that you’ll catch and get over. One news outlet says it’s going to wipe us all out, others say it’s overblown and the world needs a chill pill. You start to wonder whether officials are telling the truth, and if they’re leaving out scary information to avoid a public frenzy.
Here are a few quick facts about coronavirus:
- It’s not new -- the first strains were discovered in the 1960s. You’ve probably been exposed to at least one strain of coronavirus at some point in your life.
- Regular old influenza is still far more concerning to the medical community with regard to spread, severity, and deaths. There are 86 identified cases of coronavirus cases and two deaths in the US. For perspective, this season, flu infected 45 million Americans and caused 61,000 deaths.
- Usually, epidemics most severely affect infants, the elderly, and people who are already dealing with severe health issues. Coronavirus doesn’t seem to affect infants, children, and healthy adults very severely, and a large portion of the elderly and health compromised people are making full recoveries.
So, does that mean you should ignore the coronavirus hype? No, it’s not a good idea to act like nothing’s happening. There are ways to reduce your chance of getting it and be ready to fight it if you need to. A strong immune system is key to coming out on the other side of a pandemic stronger than you were before. Here are some things you can try.
Preventing coronavirus and other infections
Whether you feel sick or not, there are things you can do to keep your immune system strong and ready for anything that comes your way. Here are some basic practices to keep your systems running efficiently.
Vitamin C may prevent illness. One study showed that participants who took daily vitamin C supplements were less likely to get a cold and those who did fall ill recovered faster. Vitamin C is easy to take, inexpensive to buy and available at every grocery store and pharmacy. Why not?
UPDATE: In general, elderberry is a good natural treatment for respiratory health; however, in light of more information about COVID-19, this may not be a smart line of defense.
Elderberry syrups and extracts stimulate the immune system and can contribute to positive outcomes when you come down with an illness. It’s so effective that it can trigger autoimmune flare-ups if you have autoimmune disease, so check with your doctor before using it. For everyone else, a teaspoon or two in the morning during an outbreak or when you’re likely to be exposed can punch up your natural defenses.
When there’s an outbreak of anything in your community, resist the urge to catch up on stress-inducing emails in the evening, or binge-watch your favorite series past your bedtime. Sleep is one of the most important times for your cells to carry out necessary repair and recovery processes so that your immune system stays strong and ready to fight.
When you experience stress, your body goes into high-alert and fight mode. That means resources are directed to whatever it is you’re up against, and directed away from everything else. Example: if you experience gastric upset from stress, that’s your body sending resources away from digestion.
Stress compromises your immune system in a big way. Think about it - how many college students fall ill after mid-terms?
Stress is a natural part of life, and you have to deal with it sometimes. When you do, take steps to get level again. Meditate, pray, take a yoga class, get out in nature or go for a run. Do whatever it takes to shake that feeling and get back to feeling yourself again.
Basic hygienic practices
Basic hand washing and disinfecting surfaces can go a long way to keeping you well. Outbreaks can give you an excuse to do that deep-cleaning you’ve been wanting to do anyway.
Eating high-quality foods gives your cells and tissues what they need to stay strong and avoid damage. On the flipside, eating lots of sugar or other foods that cause inflammation can weaken your body’s natural defense mechanisms. Treat your body well.
Decide whether events and outings are worth it
When there’s a concerning outbreak happening in your community, be judicious about being in crowds. Sometimes an outing is worth the risk, other times you can skip it or reschedule. You don’t have to turn into a hermit, but be smart about what you choose to do or not do, and be mindful of the current risk levels.
News fasting. In media, attention is currency. If a story stirs your emotions, you’re likely to give it your attention. What makes it worse is that stress suppresses your immune system.
Instead, stay in the loop about epidemics and pandemics from your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). They don’t make money based on clicks and views. Instead, the CDC disseminates information based on the latest research and actionable steps you can take to stay well and prevent transmission.
For more information on boosting your immune system naturally, read our guide to boosting your immune system naturally and take the holistic approach to staying strong all year long.
What to do when you experience the first signs of illness
You know the feeling -- there’s a tickle in your throat, pressure between your eyes, your voice changes, and you start to feel run down. These subtle cues let you know it’s time to step it up. Here are some steps you can take.
Extracts of echinacea have been shown to boost the immune system in various studies. You have a short window to take it though. For echinacea to work properly, you have to start it as soon as you suspect you have a cold coming on. Follow the label on the package or ask a naturopathic doctor for guidance on how to use it.
Zinc is a crucial mineral for a strong immune system, and your immune system doesn’t work as efficiently without it. It’s so critical that several aspects of the immune system change the way they work in response to long-term zinc deficiency.
Zinc combines with copper in the body to form superoxide dismutase, an enzyme that acts as a strong antioxidant. Antioxidants are the key to protecting cells and tissues when your body is under attack.
More vitamin C
Experts seem to disagree as to whether vitamin C can prevent illness, but research shows that vitamin C does shorten the duration of sickness.
What’s the effective dose? When you don’t have a cold, the recommendation is 60 mg/day based on the amount needed to prevent scruvy. However, you use a lot more when your immune system is activated. According to this study, taking 9000 mg throughout the day relieved symptoms. Your ideal dose is highly individual. You’ll know you’ve exceeded your upper limit if you’re making extra trips to the bathroom or if you experience heartburn or stomach discomfort.
Garlic contains allicin, a compound that has strong antimicrobial properties. Sure, garlic tastes amazing in your vegetable saute, so this sounds like an easy remedy… but there’s one small caveat. Cooking inactivates a portion of allicin, so raw garlic works better than dried or cooked. And, you have to take quite a bit of it a few times a day to get the full effect.
The best thing to do is to smash and mince a few cloves of raw garlic, swallow small bits at a time, then chase it with lemon water. You may feel the burn on your tongue, but it’s harmless and the feeling will pass in a second. You may have garlic breath and a distinctive body odor for a day or so, though. It’s okay, though. You’re supposed to be at home resting anyway.
Hot and cold therapy
A fever is your body’s way of turning up the heat on bacteria and viruses. Most germs can only live in a certain small temperature range, so those few extra degrees that register on your thermometer can tip the balance and kill harmful microorganisms in droves.
You can raise your core temperature using a dry sauna, infrared sauna, or a hot bath. Once you’ve warmed your body for 20 minutes or so, switch to a cold shower. Cold constricts your lymph vessels which pushes fluid along. When you have a cold, lymph collects waste products like dead bacteria and damaged cells, and moves them through to your lymph nodes for elimination. Clearing waste out of the way helps your immune system work more efficiently and pulls you closer to recovery.
You can find extracts, teas, and capsules containing antibacterial and antiviral herbs to help your immune system along.
- Oregano contains carvacrol, a broad-spectrum antimicrobial compound that chips away at a virus’ membrane capsule (capsid), causing it to dissolve
- Clove has antiviral and antioxidant properties that can lessen the severity of an illness
- Bupleureum root, a Traditional Chinese Medicine herb, contains saikosaponin, a compound that has demonstrated effectiveness against several coronavirus strains (although no studies have come out yet showing testing against COVID-19, the strain that’s all over the news)
- Goldenseal and Oregon grape root both contain berberine, which is an antibacterial and antiviral compound that science shows is effective against flu
- Mullein has been used traditionally for thousands of years for respiratory conditions, even severe illnesses like pneumonia. Its compounds have anti-inflammatory properties, which can soothe irritated airways, and it is an expectorant, which could break up mucus.
If you experience symptoms, call the doctor on the phone
Resist the urge to show up at the walk-in urgent care clinic or doctor’s office with symptoms. Call first. Your doctor may assess you over the phone and decide whether in-office testing is beneficial. You don’t want to infect others if you do have it, and you don’t want to risk exposure in the waiting room if you don’t.Read this guide next for more supplements, essential oils, tips, and easy practices to stay well no matter what kinds of crud comes your way.