Corona virus, COVID-19, Education and Newsletters, Francie Silverman, Master of Science in Nutrition

Sleep your way to Better Immunity

I would argue that sleep is THE most essential thing you can do for a healthy immune response, yet insomnia is one of the biggest issues I see in practice, and it often derails even the best efforts to achieve weight loss and other health goals.

The optimum 7-9 hours of sleep can be broken down into 5 stages:

  • Light sleep, which is actually divided into two stages, and transitions the body into
  • Deep sleep, which is also divided into two stages, and finally,
  • REM (rapid eye movement), the stage where most dreaming occurs

Deep sleep is when a lot of crucial processes take place:

  • Waste is flushed away from the brain
  • Bones, tissues and cells grow and are repaired
  • Hormones, such as growth hormone, are released from the pituitary
  • Blood pressure drops
  • Blood flow increases to the muscles, promoting energy restoration
  • Brain glucose metabolism increases, supporting short and long-term memory and learning
  • The immune system releases cytokines, some of which promote sleep
  • Infection-fighting antibody production is enhanced by deep sleep

These things are skimped on when you don’t get sufficient amounts of deep sleep.

Because the body is most vulnerable during deep sleep, it prioritizes this stage of sleep early in the night so you can get to a rested place sooner, should danger arise. This is why you’ve heard you can’t “catch up” on sleep; deep sleep stages decline in frequency and length of time as you move into early morning hours.

A common issue I’ve seen in practice is ignoring the fatigue that sets in around 9- 9:30pm.  Most patients find they don’t sleep as well when they delay bedtime in order to “get more done.”  This is because the adrenals must respond with cortisol output to give you that “second wind.” Cortisol should be at its lowest at bedtime, allowing for more restful sleep; once cortisol has been released into the system, it has a half-life….this means it will take a few hours to completely clear the system, interfering with the deeper, more restorative stages of sleep.

During REM sleep, the brain is very active, yet the body is very inactive. Sufficient REM is critical for:

  • Robust immune response
  • Forming new memories
  • Stimulating/balancing the central nervous system
  • Restoring brain chemistry to a normal balance

REM sleep loss is associated with:

  • Higher susceptibility to viruses and other infections
  • Increased inflammatory responses
  • Increased risk for obesity
  • Short and long-term memory problems

Sleep apnea,often associated with a complete or near-complete loss of REM, is associated with an increased risk for CVD, diabetes, obesity and depression.

So how can you improve sleep, and therefore immunity, among other aspects of vibrant health?

  • Make sure you exercise. But do it in the morning as the resulting endorphin rush can interfere with sleep.
  • Limit caffeine or cut it out altogether. At the very least, limit consumption to morning since many of us are slow metabolizers of caffeine.
  • Stage some white noise (fan, soft music or other) if noises inside or outside tend to wake you during the night.
  • Have a calming routine 1-2 hours prior to bedtime. Dimmer lights, relaxing music, a hot bath, whatever you can be consistent with.
  • Avoid blue light after 8pm.  Blue light from screens (TV, computer, tablet or cell phone) suppresses melatonin production.  Many devices now have a feature that allows you to schedule blue light to turn off at a specific time, or you could consider purchasing blue blocker glasses, easily found online.
  • Avoid simple carbs and sugar just before bed since this can boost energy, soon followed by a drop in glucose levels, which triggers cortisol release. (Some healthier ideas are below.) Remember the half-life issue with cortisol from earlier in this article.
  • The sleep/wake cycle is important too. Try to stay consistent with your bedtime as this improves sleep quality.
  • Lastly, supplements can help.  A few of my favorites, with dosing, are below.

Ideas for a balanced snack before bed:

  • Sunflower butter and 1/2 apple
  • Hummus and raw veggies
  • Portion of protein bar or protein shake
  • Whole grain crackers w/sunflower butter, hummus or guacamole
  • Guacamole and celery or other veg for dipping

Dosing info on our favorite sleep supplements:

Melatonin

3-6 mg for most, though dosing up to 20 mg is safe (higher doses are commonly used with cancer)

Melatonin has antioxidant effects and blocks inflammatory cytokines, two reasons it has been shown to reduce the severity of COVID. It’s usually my first recommendation at this time for these reasons, as well as affordability.

Normally produced by the pineal gland in response to waning daylight, melatonin readies the body for sleep.  Bright lights and blue light from TV, phone, iPad, etc can interfere with production, as can traveling to different time zones.  Taking too much melatonin, or taking it too late in the evening, can result in morning grogginess, so adjust your dose and/or timing accordingly.

Alpha GABA PM

Take 1-2 capsules near bedtime

Each capsule contains 3 mg melatonin, 400 mg l-theanine (naturally calms brain waves by boosting GABA), valerian, lemon balm and 5HTP (precursor to melatonin and calming to the brain).

L-Tryptophan

500-1500 mg near bedtime, on empty stomach or with a small snack.

This amino acid is a precursor to 5HTP and serotonin, both of which support healthy sleep.

Perfect Sleep (available in drops and tabs)

Take 10-30 drops or 1-3 tabs at or near bedtime. Some people get their best results if they begin dosing with dinner and get 2-3 doses in before bedtime.  This gets ahead of cortisol production that takes hours to clear from the bloodstream.

Magnesium glycinate

500-1000 mg taken at bedtime (this form should not impact bowels)

Cerenity PM

2-4 caps at or near bedtime

Cerenity PM is a blend of vitamins, minerals and amino acids that support sleep.

CBD

At Leaves of Life, we’ve been using CBD with our patients for over 4 years, and what we’ve learned is that different plant profiles affect people differently.  While some companies producing CBD products utilize the leaves and stalk, some utilize the leaves and flower, or the flower only, each of which produces a different plant profile.  The message here is that if you’ve only tried one brand of CBD and it’s been unsucessful, you should certainly give CBD another try.

For information about dosing for different goals, as well as an in-depth dive into how CBD works, click here to read our previous blog series.

I hope this information soon has you sleeping soundly!

 

Corona virus, COVID-19, Kelli Cuda, Masters in Science, Family Nurse Practitioner, Leaves of Life Practitioners

Bolstering Immunity: Nourishing Spirit

I used to be an avid runner. When I was in college, I’d run everywhere. I guess that’s the beauty of an open college campus with sidewalks that never end.  I’m not really sure why I stopped running, other than learning to appreciate the comradery of group fitness, however with everything happening in the world lately, group anything, just isn’t an option. Over the last few weeks there has been this heaviness in my chest, and while I’ve debated, “Is this COVID-19 paying me a personal visit?” what I’ve realized is that this pandemic has a much bigger burden than just physical illness. So, in all fairness to my mental health, I decided to pause the research and lace up my running shoes.

Despite my favorite playlist blaring, the world was quiet. I saw folks fishing at the pond by themselves, others walked their dogs, a few flew kites with their family, while neighbors talked amongst themselves from their front lawns. I began to appreciate that despite the distance that has been wearing on all of us, we stand together.

There IS something beautiful about a shared struggle.

Even though the heaviness was still there thinking about all of my friends and colleagues on the front lines, everything else slowed down. I could appreciate the collective efforts being made to win this battle.  So, while most have been inundated daily, with emails and news updates on our current global pandemic and as we, at Leaves of Life, have worked together to sort through the rapid developments and new information daily, today I felt the need to step away from the details of COVID-19, and focus on the effect that this has had on our mental health and well-being.

For most of us, life today looks much different than it did just a few weeks ago. There is an uncertainty that has left us all wondering what the next few weeks and months will hold. We’ve been asked to make changes that have never been asked of us before. We are a social species and this physical separateness seems very unnatural. For many, this change means homeschooling children and trying to balance multiple work schedules from home. (I for one have never been so appreciative of our teachers!) For others, that means working around the clock to serve in some capacity in this crisis, or perhaps leaving a job, without knowing when the next paycheck will come. No matter how this has affected our day to day, collectively we are all carrying the burden of these shifts in our economy, our healthcare, and certainly in our stress levels.

What I do know, is that despite what we are faced with, we are growing every day. We’re mobilizing resources in ways most of us have never imagined. We’re witnessing the most innovative movements in medical history. We’re being called to stand up or stay home, BOTH of which have a significant impact. There CAN be clarity in chaos.  In all of this, it’s equality important to support one another in optimism, resiliency, and nourish our physical and mental health.

Follow along, as we offer ideas on how to keep calm and carry on, in these uncertain times, and remember, some of the best things in life are not canceled.

  1. Friends and family time: Stop looking at the calendar…soccer is still canceled! Put your phone down and embrace the quiet.
    • Play a board game
    • Write a hand-written letter to someone
    • Plan a “movie-marathon” of oldies but goodies
    • Plan a scavenger hunt for you family on your evening walk
    • Create your own “talk show” or YouTube channel with your family
    • Make a meal together or try out one of these healthy desert recipes
    • Read a new book together
    • Have a “camp-out” in your living room
    • Do an impossible puzzle together
    • Build a camp fire on a nice night
    • Go for a family bike ride or hike
    • Build a scrapbook together
    • Plan and plant a garden together
  1. Togetherness: Even though we are all practicing physically distancing, we are still united in cause and can interact socially. So, put your nice shirt on and grab a glass of wine when you are camera ready.
    • Get your zoom on with a virtual gathering (Zoom Cloud Meetings)
    • Share your afternoon funnies or inspirational quotes on social media
    • Kids can use Flip-grid (school) https://info.flipgrid.com or kids’ messenger to connect with one another
    • Meet your friends at an empty parking lot and chat from your cars
  1. Community:
    • Organize a neighborhood event from your front yards; (for ex; every day there is a themed craft to display in your window)
    • Write a letter of gratitude to Governor Mike DeWine, Dr. Amy Acton, Lt. Governor Husted or other first responders.
    • Buy a gift card or even just a greeting card to thank a delivery team, janitor, waste management crew, grocery employee, etc.
    • Share some of your favorite recipes with neighbors
    • Chalk some inspirational driveway quotes
    • Utilize deliveries or pickup and support local businesses
  1. Optimism:
    • Identify acts of heroism and heroes of optimism
    • Have a positive start to your day
    • Set short term goals
    • Embrace creative outlets
    • Start a gratitude journal. My favorite; https://www.amazon.com/Five-Minute-Journal-Happier-Minutes/dp/0991846206
    • Add value and positivity to someone else’s life
    • Move your large muscles
    • Reframe your negative experience into a more positive one
  1. Cultivating Joy: We’re most joyful, when we’re helping others.
    • Volunteer where you can
    • Drop off groceries to an elderly neighbor
    • Tell someone you love them
    • Give someone a hug
    • Commit a daily act of kindness
  1. Personal Growth
    • Exercise
    • Gardening
    • Cooking and baking
    • Listening to music
    • Reading
    • Dancing
    • Learning a new skill or language
  1. Mindfulness and Meditation

I know these are challenging times and our days ahead will not always be taken with ease. I myself am not immune to this worry and at times have found myself tangled in the fog of this uncertain beast. We have to be forgiving. You will ponder, “How many days CAN I wear these sweats?” “Why is common core even a thing?” “Is it that hard to change the toilet paper roll?” To which I respond, “three days, just carry the one, and be lucky you even have it.” You will worry about bills, the health of a loved one, our essential workers, and on and on. But in those times, remember, we are in this together. If we do it right, getting back to normal will look different.  We’ll rise up and do better. For now, hold your loved ones tight, embrace the quiet, share your gifts any chance you get, appreciate those who are working tirelessly in this fight, and maybe…lace up those running shoes.

In good health,

Kelli

Caitlin Pfeil, FMCHC, CPT, NCAA Personal Trainer, Corona virus, COVID-19, Education and Newsletters

Bolstering Immunity by Eating Well

             Eat a rainbow!

The immune system is an incredibly complex network of cells, organs, and tissues that work together, and what you eat directly impacts your immune system’s ability to fight. Eating whole, unprocessed foods is one of the most significant ways to support a healthy immune system, and the more variety you have in your diet, the better.

Once upon a time, I got sick with some type of infection twice a year, in the spring and fall…allergies that often led to a bad sinus infection, or the flu.  Looking back now, I can see the connection to my diet: I was eating artificial and processed foods — mostly simple carbs and sugar, ie, the Standard American Diet.

When I began learning about the importance of good nutrition, I changed my diet to whole unprocessed foods, and I stopped getting sick. I’m happy to say I haven’t been sick in over five years! I take charge of symptoms right away with immune-boosting nutrition, dramatically decreasing the time it takes to fight off infection.

Below are my top evidence-based tips to help strengthen your immune system through good food!

Sip on bone broth. Chicken soup when you get sick isn’t just an old wives’ tale! It’s great for prevention, too. Real bone broth (not bouillon cubes) helps heal and seal the lining of our intestines which is important since 70-80% of the immune system resides in the GI tract. It may also reduce the overgrowth of harmful microbes while providing tons of bio-available nutrition that is readily and easily absorbed by the body, like protein, collagen, and gut-building glutamine. Want to learn more? Check out a previous post on bone broth here.

Increase natural, whole-food Vitamin C, like rosehip tea, papaya, strawberries, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and sweet or bell peppers (particularly yellow, which have double the amount found in green!). Though there are vitamin C supplements available for purchase, getting all vitamins from our food – if possible – remains best.

Eat more fresh, whole foods and less processed, sugary foods. Vitamin and mineral-rich whole foods provide your body with an array of nutrition needed to build a robust immune system, whereas processed and sugary foods weaken your immune system and lead to health problems. These may include increased inflammation, reduced control of infection, increased rates of cancer, and increased risk for allergic and auto-inflammatory disease.

Prioritize protein. It’s very important to consume enough high-quality protein because it breaks down into amino acids, the building blocks needed for tissue repair, building muscle, and antimicrobial activity. Lysine and cysteine are two notable antiviral amino acids. The antioxidant N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) has been shown to help respiratory conditions and inhibit virus replication and virus-induced pro-inflammatory responses. NAC has also been shown in vitro to limit lung inflammation and damage associated with viral growth. Foods that readily contain these important amino acids include chicken, turkey, eggs, sunflower seeds, red meat, fish, and spirulina.

Eat more nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are rich in powerful immune-supporting antioxidants. They contain healthy fats that help to absorb fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin D, which is incredibly important to immune health. It’s easy to add nuts like almonds, pecans, and walnuts to your favorite salads, or as a healthy snack.  We suggest avoiding peanuts because of their mold content, and rotating which nuts you’re consuming so you don’t develop sensitivity.  For instance, we’re seeing almonds showing up quite frequently now as a sensitivity because they’re being over-consumed (almond milk, almond flour, almond butter, almonds)!!

Eat fermented foods for probiotic support. The good bacteria found in fermented foods stand strong like soldiers to crowd out and fight off pathogenic microbes. Fermented foods include raw sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, low-sugar kombucha, and beet kvass. However, if you have an overgrowth of bacteria like SIBO or other GI issues, fermented foods may exacerbate symptoms. This does not mean they’re harmful, they just may not be the right probiotic strains to address that particular imbalance.

Increase antiviral and antimicrobial foods and herbs — fresh ginger, oregano, sage, basil, and fennel. Raw crushed garlic is known for it’s potent antiviral and antimicrobial activity. If you can’t eat two garlic cloves straight up, try making a chimichurri, where it’s balanced with EVOO and fresh green herbs like parsley, cilantro, and sage.  Chimichurri is delicious as a topper for veggies or minimally processed gluten-free crackers. Another way to incorporate garlic is to chop and mix it into salad dressing (shallots, garlic, EVOO, fresh lemon juice, S&P is one of my go-to’s). Coconut Oil is another great addition: it contains lauric acid and monolaurin, both known for their antiviral activity.

Drink more water! Hydration plays a vital role in your health in general and especially your immune health! Drinking water helps your blood carry oxygen to all of your systems. It also allows your kidneys to do their job of removing toxins that would otherwise build up and weaken your immune system. Water also helps to digest and assimilate foods. Another huge perk of hydration is keeping your eyes and mouth moisturized — this helps repel dust, phthalates, nanoparticles, and other harmful things that can cause infection.

I know that’s a lot of information! As a Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach, I’m here to help educate and to work with you to create sustainable change in your day-to-day life. I suggest taking two or three of these and building them up until they slowly become second nature. I used to set alarms to drink more water, but now my body lets me know. So go put a pot of bone broth on, curl up with a cup of rosehip tea, and eat well to stay well!

Meet Caitlin Pfeil, FMCHC, CPT, NCCA Personal Trainer

Corona virus, COVID-19, Education and Newsletters, Patty Shipley, RN, Naturopath

Bolstering Immunity-What You Should Know About Supplements

What’s Novel about COVID-19?

As an emerging infection, it’s important to note that there are no controlled studies on specific therapies for COVID-19.  However, as information emerges about how this virus works, we feel responsible to share that information.  We’re NOT experts in treating this virus, but have had many years of experience working with patients to treat infections, including viruses, so we’re drawing on that here, as well as sharing what we’re learning.  We’ve decided to turn this post into a “living post” that is updated as new information emerges.

ACE2 receptors

This virus uses ACE2 receptors on cells to gain entry. Different substances interact with and increase the number of receptors or bind and potentially block them, including Vitamins A and D, Zinc, ibuprofen and anti-hypertensive drugs.  Also, certain conditions can increase the number of these receptors on the cell surface: cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension, conditions increasingly seen with aging and associated with worse outcomes.  Let’s drill down a bit…
While optimal levels of vitamins A and D are critical for a healthy immune response, there has been concern that high-doses of these vitamins during active COVID-19 infection may increase the number of ACE receptors on cell surfaces, allowing for more access points into the cells where these receptors are present (they’re especially abundant in the epithelia of the lung, small intestine, kidneys and blood vessels).
However, there is now emerging evidence that Vitamin D could be increasing only soluble ACE2, which would not increase viral access to cells, but instead act as a decoy, as described in this article from the journal Clinical Science.  In this video interview with Dr. Heather Zwickey, professor of immunology at The National University of Natural Medicine, she discusses ACE2 receptors, medications that increase their expression, and vitamin D’s role in ACE2 binding, which starts at 15:25.  So far, I’ve been unable to find any reference to vitamin A with regard to soluble ACE2, so our advice on that stands for now.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is important for the health of the respiratory tract and mucus membranes, both of which play a central role in overall immune response However, in practice, I only see vitamin A deficiency in maaaaybe 5% of the nutrient tests I review, so aside from what’s in your multivitamin, this is a good one to leave out if you’re not sure you need to supplement extra, at last until we know more.

Vitamin D

If you’ve been living north of Georgia for the past 6 months, and you’re not taking vitamin D, you’re likely deficient, and should consider taking enough supplemental vitamin D to achieve a sufficient serum level to support overall immunity (50-80 ng/mL, which usually requires 3000-5000 IU daily).  If just starting vitamin D, it may make sense to double the suggested dosing range for 3-4 weeks to achieve sufficiency more quickly.

ACE-inhibiting drugs used for hypertension

There’s an urgent need for clinical trials to determine whether ACE-inhibitors (including drugs with the suffix “-pril”, angiotensin receptor blockers and thiazolidinediones) help or harm patients with active COVID-19. Here’s an interview with Dr. Josef Penninger, a molecular immunologist at Life Science Institute at the University of British Columbia that discusses some of the nuances of ACE2 receptors, as well as the newly emerging belief that there are now two strains, an S-type, which is more mild, and a more recent mutation, an L-type, associated with more pronounced symptoms.

Zinc

It appears zinc can benefit in two ways: by lowering the virus’s ability to enter cells through ACE2 receptors and also inhibiting replication once it’s gained access.  We recommend 30-50 mg/day, doubling the dose at the first classical signs of illness (shortness of breath, cough, loss of taste and smell).

Ibuprofen

Some observational studies have demonstrated an increase in ACE2 receptors with ibuprofen use, however, it’s still too soon to say for sure if it is significant enough to affect outcomes.  We’ve seen many advising acetaminophen as a safer alternative to addressing fever, but here’s our take on that:

Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen depletes a crucial antioxidant: glutathione.  In fact, we feel acetaminophen should be severely limited for any condition because it has a poor safety profile in general.

 

What CAN you do for a fever?

A fever is your body’s way of fighting infection, and lowering it allows the cause of the illness to live for a longer period of time, so we usually don’t advise patients to attempt to lower it.  Most healthcare professionals would say to only treat a fever if it rises above 103 degrees, but temperatures up to 107 degrees are not associated with any lasting damage to the body, according to Medline Plus, a service of the Natural Institutes of Health and U.S. Library of Natural Medicine.  If you feel you must address a fever, try drinking cool water and putting cold packs under your arms, or sitting in a lukewarm bath.

 

Cytokine storm

When this particular virus gets going in your body, it can create what is called a cytokine storm, which is when your immune system reacts vigorously and releases an enormous amount of chemicals (cytokines) and free radicals to destroy the virus. This is generally a good thing, however, what is concerning is that in some people, COVID19 triggers an extreme cytokine storm, causing (among other things) acute respiratory distress (ARDS) and lung injury.

 

Though there are not yet human clinical studies to prove this, there are concerns that some immune-boosting supplements, based on their specific mechanisms, could make this inflammatory, oxidative process much worse in some people.

 

Hence, until we know more, our recommendation is to stop these supplements if you develop some of the more concerning classical symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, loss of sense of taste/smell).
  • Echinacea
  • Larch Arabinogalactan
  • High-dose vitamin A
**We’ve removed elderberry from the avoid list below after doing some additional research, some of which we’re sharing here:
  • Dr. Mark Iwanicki, ND, explains in this 5 minute video that, although elderberry has been found to raise IL-6, it has numerous other balancing effects on inflammation.
  • Dr. Elisa Song further elaborates and makes a few really great points: cytokine storms are RARE and anyone experiencing one will most likely be hospitalized and too ill for any type of herbal therapy.
  • Elderberry has possibly the most research behind it for use with RNA viruses, though to be clear, none on this particular virus.  Dr. James DiNicolantonio covers the depth of research available on elderberry in this 2 minute video.

 

Considered safe and beneficial during active COVID-19 infection:

  • Zinc
  • Probiotics
  • Vitamin C
  • Astragalus
  • Andrographis
  • NAC
  • Silver
  • Melatonin
  • Elderberry
  • Vitamin D

*I am aware that many other remedies are worth considering here, but there is no way to make this into an exhaustive list, so we’re including a focused list that prioritizes the remedies we feel are most important.   For The Institute for Functional Medicine’s recommendations that include quercetin, curcumin, PEA, green tea, resveratrol and others covered in this post, click here.

 

Zinc

Dosing: 30-50 mg/day, doubling dose if you get sick.  This article discusses zinc’s ability to inhibit the virus from gaining access into the cell, as well as its ability to inhibit viral replication once inside the cell.

Probiotics

Our favorites here for coronavirus prevention (Ultra Flora Immune Booster and Ultra Flora Balance) include specific strains that benefit the respiratory system, the system that is of utmost concern in severe cases.   Take 1-2 per day, preferably away from food.

Vitamin C

Because there is some controversy over whether oral high doses (above 3000 mg/day) may potentially cause harm, we recommend keeping your daily dose to 3000 mg, in divided dose, or less if you develop diarrhea or loose stools.  Liposomal vitamin C can be dosed twice daily for round-the-clock vitamin C protection.  Vitamin C helps stimulate production and function of white blood cells, and helps your body produce important proteins that bind invading microbes (antibodies) to neutralize them.

 

Update: In Wuhan, doctors have been using high dose intravenous vitamin C for those who are sick as well as for those in the hospital. Nearly all patients with symptoms received 50-100 mg/kg/day for mild symptoms and 100-200 mg/kg/day for severe forms.  Many hospitals in the US are now using intravenous vitamin C in the ICU.

 

Astragalus

Research indicates that astragalus stimulates white blood cells to engulf and destroy invading organisms and cellular debris as well as enhance the production of interferon (a key natural compound produced by the body to fight viruses).  Follow label directions for prevention and increase the frequency of dosing if symptoms appear.

Andrographis Plus by Metagenics

Over the years, we’ve trialed other brands of andrographis without the same success, so this is the only andrographis we typically stock (lately, because of shortages from our suppliers, we’re trialing a powder form that was recommended by an acupuncturist who has seen good results).  Though you can take this as a preventive, I find that it truly shines at the first sign of infection, and since it has been difficult to keep in stock, we recommend reserving it for fighting infection, not prevention. Most of the time, patients report that if they’re able to start taking this immediately at the first sign of infection, after 3-5 hourly doses, symptoms are completely resolved.

NAC

Used in hospitals to treat acetaminophen poisoning, NAC is also used as a mucus thinner that targets the lungs, improving respiration.  Dosing is typically 600-3000 mg, and in hospitals, if available, it can be administered as an IV or taken orally, as an aerosol spray.

Silver

Silver is an earth element that has broad-spectrum effects when targeting infections.  Most brands taste like water, so it’s an easy thing to add, especially with kids. We’re now using 2 brands of silver with good success: Smart Silver from DesBio and Silvercillen from Designs for Health.  We recommend 1 tsp twice daily as prevention (though we typically don’t use silver as a long-term remedy), increasing to 1 tbsp twice daily with signs of infection (or more – neither of these brands will cause blue skin – this is a condition associated with colloidal forms of silver taken excessively over prolonged periods of time).  We’ve recently heard from one of our providers that her husband, who had developed a severe upper respiratory illness (no testing done), responded well to nebulized silver. It does make sense to deliver treatment directly to the area most affected, so we are now stocking home-use nebulizers for those in need.

Melatonin

Many researchers now believe one of the reasons younger people are not as affected by this virus is their melatonin status.  Melatonin is a hormone that declines with age, which could explain some of why the risk of death with COVID-19 increases with age.  Melatonin has been used for years as a natural therapy for cancer (usually 10-30mg is used if tolerated) because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties, not to mention that it can help with sleep, the loss of which impacts the immune system.  We recommend using a dose that helps improve sleep, but doesn’t cause drowsiness the following morning, and we offer a variety of doses to allow for this individualization.

Wrapping it up

With so many options, many patients have asked me what I do for myself as prevention and how would I address symptoms if they were to appear.  Andrographis Plus is the herbal formula that helps me the most and the quickest when I’m fighting infection. At the first sign (typically a sore throat for me), I begin taking 1 andrographis hourly, and if available, I pair it with 1 tab of Essential Defense from Metagenics (recently on a long backorder but starting to trickle in) and Herbal Throat Spray from Medi-Herb (as often as I think about it when sore throat is present–it’s antiseptic and has a lovely numbing effect from the clove oil it contains) since most viruses start in the throat (silver throat spray and other natural antiseptic throat sprays are available).  I find vitamin C drinks soothing (I now prefer LiquiMins Power Pak over EmergenC because it’s buffered with minerals, tastes great and only contains 1g of sugar).  For prevention, I’m currently taking melatonin 5-10mg, zinc, vitamin C and a probiotic.

Addendum: treating active infection

Many stories are emerging on natural interventions that may help shorten the duration and severity of COVID19.  We’re including links here, though as stated previously, we are NOT experts in treating this infection.  We simply want to ensure that you are able to access important information if you or a loved one becomes ill.

The EVMS Medical Group is providing guidance for healthcare providers treating COVID-19 patients. This approach to COVID-19 is based on the best (and most recent) available literature and the Shanghai Management Guideline for COVID. Their continually updated article can be found here.

Jill Carnahan, a well known functional medicine doctor, pulls together information from many sources that illuminate what we are learning about how this virus behaves in the body.  She is also continually updating her blog that can be found here.

Lastly, for now, here is a link to the clinical trials currently underway to determine effective treatments, including MANY natural interventions! It’s exciting to see.

I hope you find this article helpful.  Please feel free to reach out in the comments below with questions or comments.  And above all, stay home and stay well!
Corona virus, COVID-19, Dr. Emily Roedersheimer, Education and Newsletters, Karen Bush, NBC-HWC

Bolstering Immunity by Managing Stress

Stress… We use this word so often that we don’t even take it seriously anymore.

Stress occurs when life’s events surpass our ability to handle them. It comes in many forms: rush hour traffic, unexpected bills, your boss yelling at you, your kids fighting, or worst yet, there’s no toilet paper to be found in central Ohio! Add the corona virus to this list and our stress levels are boiling over. During this time in history we need our immune systems to be ready for anything and one of the best ways to help with that is to decrease stress.

Why? Because believe it or not, stress lowers immunity.

Fight or Flight

The immune system is a complex network of cells and proteins that defend the body against infection. Think of it as an army poised and ready to go to war for you if needed to prevent infections of all kinds – viruses, bacteria – and even cancer cells.  This army works best when we’re in a calm, rested state.

You’ve likely heard of the “fight or flight” response that kicks in when we’re under stress. This system is uniquely designed by our bodies to prepare us to flee or fight if we’re attacked. Now with our modern day “attacks” being more ongoing (work, bills, kids, TP, etc) we tend to stay in the fight or flight state. In preparation to fight or flee, our body shuts down the less important functions (ie, immunity) that aren’t needed in what should be a short-term stress response. Who cares about that cold virus or cancer cell if we’re about to be eaten by a tiger?! Unfortunately, with our current pace of life in America, most of us tend to stay in that fight or flight state all the time. So, we tend to get sick much more easily than our non-stressed friends (if you have any of those!)

Responding to stressors

How we handle our stress will determine the impact it will have on our immune system. Some situations cannot be changed – an ailing loved one, paying taxes – but we can change how we respond to these stressors. If we can consider stress reduction to be something we need to work on daily (like healthy eating, sleep and exercise), then we can help to change our body’s response to stress and maintain a healthy immune system. Given the right information, environment and directions, our bodies will choose healing over disease any day!

My health coach, Karen Bush, has offered some of her wisdom on how to handle stress in our lives.

From Karen Bush:

Often, we don’t even realize what symptoms of stress look like. It doesn’t have to be a significant worried or anxious feeling. It can simply be feeling unfocused with tasks, leaving things half done, going on social media too often during the day, reaching for food when you aren’t hungry or not eating enough, moodiness, procrastination and persistent fatigue. Once we see and recognize it, we can start to create change around us.

Let’s start with daily consistent practices and then move into things you can do right in the moment when you’re triggered into stress, anxiety or worry.

Consistent practices that support your health and well-being around stress should be a daily practice, not just something we reach for when we’re stressed or in a stressful situation.

Here are a few places to start:

Create a morning routine

Create a simple morning routine that starts the day out in a calm, contemplative and intentional way. Here are some examples:

    1. Drink 16 oz of water upon rising to replenish hydration after 8 hrs of loss while sleeping.
    2. Take 5 minutes to do some breathing – in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, out for 4 seconds, hold exhale for 4 seconds and repeat.
    3. Take 5 minutes to follow a guided meditation or journal. Meditations can be found on apps such as Insight Timer, Calm or Headspace.
    4. Do some sort of movement for at least 10-15 minutes to get your day started: Walking outside, doing a short yoga sequence (on YouTube with Adrienne or “Do yoga with me”), or even going up and down the stairs 3-4 times!

Set a schedule

Now that we’re all home more during this time it is more important than ever to set a schedule around what we are doing to feel more grounded. Even if you aren’t functioning at full capacity at work, set up your day with things you want to accomplish and include time for white space or down time.

    • Schedule times to do work
    • Set up times to be with kids, doing schoolwork and/or play time
    • Plan time for stress relief – breathing, exercise, meditation, prayer, alone time, time outside, mindful walks, walking outside on the grass with shoes off (grounding).
    • Really take a look at your day and take an honest assessment of what you’re spending your time focusing on. What could be contributing to stress? What you give attention to is strengthened. With that in mind, some questions to ask yourself:
      • How much time are you spending reading or watching the news?
      • How much time are you in conversation about anxiety-producing things you have no control over?
      • How often does your mind go to negative or worrying thoughts?

Make a shift

Now that you’ve taken a look at what your day looks like and what your habits may be in a day, you can make a few choices to shift to things that are healthier.

Here is a way to shift your mindset and gather some awareness around your thinking.

    • The practice of consistent breath work/meditation/prayer makes you more aware of your thinking.
    • Decide how much time you want to spend paying attention to the news and balance that out with joyful, happy activities.
    • When you catch yourself thinking in a way that produces stress, pause…take a moment to breathe.
    • Take the negative or stressful thought and shift to a thought around gratitude or appreciation.
    • Shift language:
      • Instead of anxious, breathe in CALM
      • Instead of stress, breathe in EASE
      • Instead of Bored, breathe in RESPONSIBILITY
      • Instead of Judgment, breathe in TOLERANCE
      • Instead of Anger, breathe in EASE TO COOL DOWN
      • Instead of Financial worries, breathe in ABUNDANCE/GRATITUDE
      • Instead of Lonely, breathe in CONNECTED and APPRECIATED
      • Instead of self-pity, breathe in DIGNITY

Remember that it takes time to shift behavior, so don’t expect it to happen overnight or even in 21 days! But daily practice leads to overall changes and what better time to start than now!?

To help you along these lines, Karen Bush and I are leading a free online stress support/meditation class this Wednesday, March 25, at 7 pm. Click the link to join us! We hope to see you there!

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