The past month, Coronavirus has exploded. In the news, in the population and it feels like it’s coming for everyone.
Now, just because it feels that way, doesn’t mean that it’s actually the case.
We’ve all be hearing the data for weeks, so I’m not going to keep harping on it here. I’m going to focus on what we can do to help ourselves instead. I’ve seen plenty of headlines saying there is no way to help yourself prevent it and no treatment, and not much we can do besides hand washing (yes, that is very effective).
But I believe there is plenty we can be doing to fortify our immune systems to hopefully prevent contracting the illness all together, but in the event we do get sick, it will be less of an impact to our health.
Increasing the overall nutrient density of your meals is going to be super important. Aim for 7-11 cups of veggies a day, and several of fruit as well. Specifically, vegetables belonging to the cruciferous family (including Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and kale) may help to stop viruses in their tracks; due to a naturally high amount of a compound called indole-3-carbinol (I3C). Clinical studies show that this compound has the potential to interfere with the way many viruses reproduce.
Cooking with garlic and ginger is helpful as well. Both of these have antimicrobial, antiviral effects and also immune-boosting benefits
Usually I say check your vitamin D levels and supplement accordingly. However right now, I would say you’re safe to supplement with 2-5k IU daily. Vitamin D is arguably one of the most powerful nutrients responsible for modulating and coordinating the immune system. Always use a product with D3/K2. The K2 will help the D3 be more bioavailable for your body to use.
Glutathione and Vitamin A can be particularly helpful as well, specifically during flu season and dealing with Coronavirus. Much of the issue with Coronavirus is subsequent pneumonia infections. Low glutathione and low Vitamin A can increase risk of death by pneumonia. Being sufficient in both of these can be incredibly helpful for your overall immune system.
Zinc is also helpful for your immune system. In our bodies, zinc is used to activate T lymphocyte cells. T cells help the body in several ways. One, by controlling and regulating the immune response. Two, by attacking infected cells.
(If you’re in need of high quality supplements, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have an online dispensary account at Fullscript, where I can order supplements for you.)
You might be thinking, the what? Or what does the vagus nerve have to do with our immune system? And in fact, is has a lot to do with it! Our nervous system is in constant communication with our immune system- via the vagus nerve. Studies show that the vagus nerve can modulate cytokine production. Most of us, have low vagal tone. We need to be focusing on actively working our vagus nerve to improve the functioning of the nerve, and therefore communication between the vagus nerve and the immune system. A few ways to do that:
Deep breathing, using and activating the diaphragm
Cold water rinse, either shower or wash your face
A few things to consider with your lifestyle. Getting enough sleep is paramount. Try for 7-9 hours. Magnesium is a great supplement to consider if you struggle with sleep. Melatonin can help, but your body can quickly become dependent on it and stop making its own. Melatonin is best in severe cases of insomnia, and only for a short time.
Reduce stress. I know, I know. Seems impossible right now. But stressing isn’t doing your body and immune system any favors. If you’re struggling with increased anxiety due to Coronavirus, it’s ok to turn off the tv. Only check in with the news once a day. Take some time away from electronics and your phone. Get into nature, talk to loved ones, read, color, play with pets!
Get low to moderate intensity activity. This will give your immune system a nice boost, and help to bust boredom, as we’re all stuck at home.
Wash your nasal passages out several times a day. This is a bit more intense, but if you feel like you’re possibly getting sick, or have been exposed, this is a great step to be taking. This cleans your nasal tissue and reduces the virus’s ability to take hold.
How does this affect MS?
Having MS, doesn’t necessarily make us in a “higher risk” category. Same goes for all autoimmune diseases. Our immune systems are actually going off the charts! However, some autoimmune diseases can also be immune deficiency diseases as well (but not always). HOWEVER, many of the medications we’re on, are immunosuppressants. Which do cause our immune systems to be lowered. Therefore causing those on immunosuppressants to be in the “higher risk” category. A little more about that:
Copaxone, Aubagio, Tecfidera, Beta Interferons, and Tysabri
These are likely to be safer than the other DMTs as they aren’t thought to be general immunosuppressive therapies. They are more immunomodulating therapy.
Lemtrada, Mavenclad, Gilenya and Ocrevus
These are immunosuppressants therapies. They might possibly be putting you at higher risk of contracting Coronavirus (or any virus- as you probably know if you’re on one).
The other thing to consider as MSers is anytime we get sick, we risk the chance of having a relapse or flare. The increased immune activity can often create more inflammation, and therefore a relapse might occur. This would be a secondary consideration for COVID-19, or any cold or flu.
A few supplements to rethink:
Elderberry: Recent research is coming out saying COVID-19 can cause a cytokine storm, which can lead to multi system organ failure. Elderberry increases cytokine activity, potentially making the cytokine storm worse.
NSAIDS: I know, this isn’t a supplement, but many use NSAIDs with fevers, which is common in the flu and COVID-19. More research is showing that NSAID use can increase your risk of developing pneumonia, if you do contract COVID-19. Ibuprofen (and other anti-inflammatories) may dampen the body’s immune response to infection because it is has anti-inflammatory effects.
If you do contract COVID-19:
If you think you may have COVID-19, call your doctor first before showing up to the office. They will probably have separate instructions for you on where to go, if testing is needed etc.
For treatments, zinc lozenges, preferably zinc acetate lozenges every 3-4 hours. This can help prevent replication of the virus in mouth, throat and respiratory tissue.
If you’re sick enough to be hospitalized, request IV Vitamin C. This is typically given every 4 hours, to total 6-12 grams of vitamin c, over a 24 hour period. China has utilized this treatment effectively, and currently there are 3 clinical trials running using IV Vitamin C.
Obviously this is a very scary and uncertain time. I don’t know what this upcoming week will hold, but if it’s anything like last week, we’re in for a wild ride.
The only things we can control, is our reactions and what we’re doing with our daily life.
In the end, I think we’ll all end up ok.
How are you coping with Coronavirus and COVID-19? What measures have you taken? Have you been significantly impacted? What support do you need right now? Hit reply to this email and let me know. I’ll be answering questions on Instagram and in my FB Group as well. I’d love it if you came over and joined in the conversation!
If you’re interested in learning more about what foods are beneficial for Multiple Sclerosis, get my Best Foods for MS Guide here!