Coronavirus – How Can I Protect Myself?
With coronavirus dominating the daily news, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
Read on to discover the importance of a healthy immune system and some natural ways to protect yourself as the outbreak arrives in the UK.
What Exactly is the Coronavirus?
Coronavirus, or SARS-Cov-2, is a novel type of virus never before detected in humans. The infection it causes is known as COVID-19.
Coronavirus belongs to a family of viruses, many of which can be transmitted from animals to humans. Less severe types of coronavirus cause the common cold.
Viruses make us ill by entering body cells, then replicating and invading other cells. Damage to the cell means the body’s immune system reacts and mounts an attack against the virus.
How Serious is Coronavirus?
As of the beginning of March, 89,000 infections with the new coronavirus have been detected in 70 countries, with just over 3,000 fatalities.
By contrast, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in USA state seasonal flu has been responsible for over 30 million infections and 18,000 deaths this season alone.
The fatality rate does seem to be higher than for seasonal flu, with estimations of between 1.4% and 2.3% depending on age and general health.
What are the Symptoms?
Many people will experience mild symptoms; for others they’re more severe. Some may not experience any symptoms at all, making containment difficult.
Typical initial symptoms include a fever and dry cough and shortness of breath along with other symptoms typically associated with seasonal flu such as a fatigue, headache, sore throat and runny nose.
Natural Protection Against Viruses
A healthy immune system is your defence against coronavirus or any other virus.
- Vitamin C
This essential nutrient tops the list simply because so much evidence has accumulated over the years about its effectiveness not only in supporting the immune system but also as an antiviral agent.
Supplementation with vitamin C has been found to shorten the duration and intensity of viral and bacterial infections, including pneumonia.
Vitamin C levels are much higher in the white blood cells of the immune system than in blood, and it’s thought to affect the functioning and production of immune cells. Vitamin C appears to stimulate the production of substances inhibiting the replication of viruses.
Humans, other primates and guinea pigs are the only creatures which cannot manufacture vitamin C.
If vitamin C levels are low the immune system may be less effective. However, we’ve seen how it can become depleted when the immune system is fighting an invader, and many studies have shown benefits of supplementing vitamin C in high doses in this case.
It’s sensible to take a well-absorbed supplement of vitamin C every day, and to increase your dose if you suspect you may have been in contact with the virus, or if you develop symptoms.
We know people who are deficient in zinc are more susceptible to picking up bacteria and viruses.
Zinc is essential for the functioning and development of immune cells, as well as preventing the virus from entering host cells. This mineral also been studied in relation to acute respiratory syndrome.
- Vitamin D
This nutrient has also been shown to possess anti-viral properties and plays an important role in supporting the immune system.
Because the majority of vitamin D is synthesised from sunshine, many people in the UK are thought to have low blood levels.
Much of the soil in the UK is low in selenium. This mineral affects the functioning of immune cells so it makes sense to ensure you’re not deficient.
- Black Elderberry
Compounds in this little berry are thought to prevent viruses from entering cells, so it may be useful as a preventative as well as if you have already contracted the virus.
Echinacea is believed to be capable of preventing the replication of viruses within body cells as well as reducing inflammation associated with a virus.
It seems to be particularly effective at reducing the incidence of infection by viruses belonging to the coronavirus family.
- Olive Leaf Extract
A substance in olive leaf extract called oleuropein has been found to possess antiviral activity, particularly against influenza and respiratory viruses.
- Saccharomyces Boulardii
The micro-organisms inhabiting the gut interact with the immune system. S. Boulardii is a type of yeast naturally resident within the microbiome. It helps in the production of important antibodies, which play a crucial role in immunity.
Viruses are far smaller than bacteria and usually enter the body through the nose or mouth.
The virus travels from person to person in tiny droplets spread by coughing, sneezing and exhaling. These may be inhaled or sit on surfaces to be picked up on hands.
- Avoiding places where large amounts of people congregate, especially confined spaces, can help prevent you coming into contact with the virus.
- Hand washing can be very effective at removing the virus from your hands. Wash thoroughly with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. A colloidal silver hand gel or spray may be useful, because colloidal silver has been shown to have antiviral properties.
- Avoiding touching your nose or mouth with your hands.
- Clean and sanitise doorknobs and other surfaces regularly.
- Masks are thought to be ineffective in preventing the spread of the virus.
Functional Medicine and Your Immune System
Remember, anything claiming to be a cure for coronavirus is misguided because there’s no cure for this virus – it hasn’t been around long enough for a cure or vaccine to be developed. But knowledge of existing viruses can help identify natural antiviral agents along with science-based nutrients to support your immune system to help you avoid infection or reduce your symptoms.
If you suspect you are suffering from coronavirus or if you’re concerned about your symptoms, it’s vital you contact your GP or dial 111.
If you would like further advice about naturally supporting your immune system with Functional Medicine, contact me.