Resisting Viruses With Your Immune System

Being Proactive Using Natural Remedies

By Jim Emkhe, Clinical Nutritionist, Complete Health Services, Inc. – 2020 Spring/Summer

It goes without saying that Coronavirus or COVID-19 has been on everyone’s thoughts. The intent of this article is to provide a basic education on how the immune system responds to viruses, and with this knowledge, what you can do to support immune function preventively and therapeutically.

Basics on Viruses and Cellular Reactions

First some basics: A virus must parasitize a living host – the cells of animals or plants (intra-cellular). They alter the cell in various ways to support the virus. Bacteria, on the other hand, live between cells (inter-cellular) and can grow on living and non-living surfaces.
When the body is exposed to a virus, specifically a respiratory virus such as COVID-19, the first contact occurs at the cellular level, where the virus infects the cell. This activates “cell mediated” immunity, the first line of defense. It’s here where the focus on prevention should occur.

A Healthy Immune System’s Response

The immune system responds to this by producing Cytokines and Chemokines. Cytokines are mostly pro-inflammatory chemicals. Their purpose is multifaceted. As pro-inflammatory chemicals they open cells to expose the virus, but a few Cytokines are capable of killing the virus. Chemokines are white blood cells that now have access to the infected cells, thanks to Cytokines, to eradicate the virus. So the stage is set. The immune system responded as it should.

Hyperactive Immune System & Cytokine Storm – The Real Danger

What happens next is the key. Some individuals are predisposed to over-produce Cytokines, especially the pro-inflammatory ones. This results in a “Cytokine storm,” which causes excessive cell damage that releases fluids into the lungs. As this accelerates out-of-control, the lungs fill with thick viscous fluids that impair breathing, and at a certain point this can be fatal. Even those who recover are likely to have some degree of tissue damage. The early statistics of COVID-19 suggest that well over 90% of infected individuals survive, but it’s way too early to know how this will play-out over time. Also, most of the survivors do have some degree of lung damage, which in the case of other respiratory viruses tends to self-heal over time. Hopefully this holds for COVID-19.

Hyperactive Immune System

Of course, the biochemistry is much more sophisticated, but this provides the lay reader with an overview of how a respiratory virus does its damage. It isn’t actually the virus that kills, but rather an out-of-control hyperactive immune system that generates a Cytokine storm. By the way, this is exactly the same predisposition that individuals with autoimmune disease have; lupus, RA, Sjogren’s, Reynaud’s, Grave’s, etc. Think of driving your car at 50 mph. It’s easy. Then imagine driving at 100 to 150 mph. Now things are out of control and injury or risk of death is dramatically increased.

Strengthen the Immune System

Therefore, in addition to the basics of doing one’s best to avoid exposure by avoiding groups, washing hands, etc., there are some basic steps one can take to strengthen the immune system that have so far been ignored by the mainstream media. Being proactive in this regard makes perfect sense; and there’s no risk, only potential benefits.

Proactive Natural Remedies

Here is a list to consider. These are tried and proven natural antivirals. I’ve listed them for prevention and higher therapeutic doses. The goal is to support cell-mediated immunity, the first exposure.

  • Vitamin D is a profound antiviral. Take 5000 IU (125 mcg) daily up to 10,000 IU (250 mcg). Get a Vitamin D blood test after a month. The goal is 65 to 90. The range is 30-100 ng/mL.
  • Vitamin C also has antiviral qualities. Take 500 to 2000 mg 2 or 3 x daily.
  • Zinc is another antiviral. This is why OTC zinc lozenges are routine in cold remedies. For COVID-19, I prefer lozenges because the Zinc is in direct contact with the virus, but oral Zinc is fine. Take 1 or 2 lozenges daily. Oral dose is 30 to 50 mg daily.
  • Turmeric for mitigating the Cytokine storm is well documented. Take 2 or 3 caps once or twice daily.
  • NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) promotes the production of glutathione, a vital immune system enzyme, and is specific to a wide range of lung therapies: 600 mg 1 to 2 x daily.
  • Garlic is a wonderful antiviral. Take 2 or 3 caps twice daily with meals. Or, suck on a raw clove daily.
  • Don’t forget Sleep, Quality Diet, and Hydration.

Primary Care Provider

Remember to check with your Primary Care Provider before adding new supplements and to make sure there are no contraindications with any medications you may be taking.

This summarizes the basics. Of course, there’s more one can do. However, if these recommendations are implemented as a life-style, I’m confident your resistance to COVID-19 will be greatly enhanced. For those scientifically inclined, I would be happy to provide references to all of the above, except garlic.

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