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  • Writer's pictureDr. Paul Rhodes

COVID-19 Practical Measures, not Panic - Part II

In a time of crisis, fear divides us.

In the words of Dr. Maria van Kerkhove at a panel discussion at the WHO headquarters last week, “We need to be educated, and help each other.” Knowledge is empowering at times like this, so here’s a little more information. In my last article, I discussed that coronaviruses are a class of viruses that have been around for centuries, and that about 20% of common colds are caused by coronaviruses.[1] Most of us have already been infected by one at some point in our lives. This new mutation is new and the pneumonia (SARS or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, also called SARI - SAR Infection) it can cause is serious, so it’s not to be taken lightly, nor is any other flu virus.

Is this coronavirus more deadly than most flu viruses?

According to data from the CDC’s website, on 3/19/2020, in the US there are reported to be 10,442 cases and 150 deaths attributed to the COVID-19, which is about a 1.4% fatality rate.[2]

In Italy, the 2nd most infected country, the rate is quite a bit higher: nearly 7%, however this high rate is likely due to the large population of elderly citizens. On 3/19/20 the US CDC’s data for cases and deaths worldwide (191,127 and 7807, respectively) showed a fatality rate of approximately 4%.[3] This is high compared to the recent 2017-18 influenza season (worst of the last decade), where the death rate worldwide was .13% (an est. 45 million cases and 61,000 dead).[4] We have not yet seen the end of this coronavirus season so more is to be revealed, but it is worth noting that in China it varied greatly with location from 0.4% in areas outside Hubei, to 2.9% within Hubei.

How severe does COVID-19 get?

The China CDC did a study of the initial epidemic there which is instructive to look at now since China’s outbreak is over. China’s CDC divided the COVID-19 cases into three basic categories: mild, severe, and critical. The vast majority of cases - just over 95% - were in the first and second categories: mild and severe.

For those categorized as “critical” however (critical defined as “exhibited respiratory failure, septic shock, and/or multiple organ disfunction/failure”), the fatality rate was 49%, but critical cases made up less than 5% of cases. So approximately 95% of cases improved WITHOUT becoming critical. Of the 5% that did become critically ill, just over half (51%) survived. The groups that have the highest fatality rate are the elderly and already immune-compromised, which is true with any flu virus. So 95% of China’s cases did not become critically sick.[5] It would appear that if one became infected, based on these data one would still have about a 95% chance of not becoming critically ill.

  1. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

How can we prevent getting sick?

The usual precautionary sanitary procedures all apply, but the name of the game now is to keep the immune system strong. In fact, MOST infectious diseases are only able to get a foothold in our bodies if our immune status is compromised, such as when we’re have other health issues, are systemically inflamed, or nutrient deficient in some way.

What we know about germs is that they cause disease WHEN THE CONDITIONS ARE RIGHT. Pathogens are like seeds of a plant, which can only produce a new plant if they land on a soil with the proper conditions. Or like mold spores, which are ever-present in the air but can only produce new mold colonies when the conditions are right for growth. A pathogen needs fertile ground - a susceptible host - to successfully infect that host. Individuals with good health and strong immune systems are poor candidates for the successful invasion of flu viruses. We see examples of immune control of viruses all the time - herpes viruses that are successfully held in dormancy and can only create symptoms when the host is run down or stressed, and even AIDS patients that manage to survive the disease. What we understand today is that the severity and duration of an infection is perhaps due MOST to the host’s immune and health status.[1]

So if the key to not “catching” or beating a virus is to have as strong an immune system as possible, what are some things we can do to quickly to boost our immune systems?

The common sense things still apply: getting enough sleep, hydrating well, eating nutrient-rich foods, avoiding processed foods that inflame us [2] (white sugar, for many wheat flours and dairy products, and any foods that you have a known sensitivity or allergy to), and being calm and positive versus stressed and anxious. In today’s world, stress is nearly guaranteed. We can get extra immune support, however, from vitamins and some herbals, and there are good “natural” treatments for viruses. In my last article I talked about the power of higher-dose Vitamin C (3,000mg/day in divided doses) as an immune booster and well-established treatment for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI).[3]

  1. [1] [2]!-2/ [3]

There are others. Vitamin C[1], D3[2], magnesium[3], zinc[4], and selenium[5] have been shown to strengthen the immune system against viruses. Dr. Andrew Saul, Editor of Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, recommends the following daily amounts: Vitamin D3 (which most of us are deficient in) at 2,000 IU daily (start with 5,000 IU/day for two weeks, then reduce to 2,000/day). Magnesium (another common deficiency) is recommended at 400mg daily (in citrate, malate, chelate, or chloride form). Zinc is recommended at 20 mg daily. Selenium at 100mcg (micrograms) daily.[6]

This is by no means a complete list, but these are nutrients shown to have a protective or dampening effect on viral infections. Taking a good multi-vitamin containing these nutrients would be a good idea for prevention.

A quick history of chiropractic and a flu pandemic

In the 1917-18 flu season, when the Spanish flu pandemic swept the globe, little was known about flu transmission, prevention, or treatment. The medical profession was nearly powerless to help flu victims, but chiropractors, knowing no more than their medical colleagues about the disease, seemed to have nearly miraculous results:

“In Iowa, MDs treated 93,590 cases, with 6,116 deaths - a loss of one out of every 15.

In the same state, excluding Davenport, 4,735 patients were treated by chiropractors with a loss of only 6 cases - a loss of one patient out of every 789.”[7]

Similar dramatic results for chiropractic were reported in New York City, and in Oklahoma. The Spanish flu is now estimated by some to have killed nearly 100 million around the globe, …”but most chiropractors and their patients were miraculously spared.”[8] The power of removing nerve interference (especially at the brainstem) and allowing the nerve system - which is intimately connected to the immune system - to operate at its highest and best capacity, cannot be overstated. Volumes have been written and studies continue to document the power of the adjustment to restore health.

The precedent of a natural health approach to a pandemic can give us all hope in this time of uncertainty. We can take comfort in knowing that we have not one, but an arsenal of natural remedies. The ones I’ve mentioned above are perhaps some of the best but hardly a complete list. Take heart to note, we are not powerless today over this virus, nor any other. I hope this answers some questions and empowers the reader that there ARE things one can do to be protected and strengthened. And don’t miss your chiropractic adjustment!

Dr. Paula Rhodes

Blue Ridge Wellness and Massage

  1. [1] OMNS (2009) Vitamin C as an antiviral [2] Ginde AA, Mansbach JM, Camargo CA Jr. (2009) Association between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level and upper respiratory tract infection in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Arch Intern Med. 169:384-390. [3] Dean C (2017) Magnesium. OMNS, [4] Shankar AH, Prasad AS. (1998) Zinc and immune function: the biological basis of altered resistance to infection. Am J Clin Nutr. 68:447S-463S. [5] Hoffmann PR, Berry MJ. (2008) The influence of selenium on immune responses. Mol Nutr Food Res. 52:1273-1280. [6] [7] [8]

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