Boosting the Immune System
May 04, 2020 09:00AM
By Local Experts Provide Insight
During this time, many people are looking for ways to boost the immune system in order to prevent illness or infection. Natural Awakenings spoke with a variety of local professionals to get advice on how this can be accomplished and came away with great tips and positive news.
Because a complication of COVID-19 is that the immune system hyper-responds to the illness by “releasing a bunch of pro-inflammatory cytokines, that begin to damage the epithelial lining of the lungs and preventing exchange of oxygen.” Dr. Angela King, AP, DOM at Indian River Acupuncture & Functional Medicine, explains that it makes sense to nurture the body into an anti-inflammatory state of health.
Nutritional substances that are anti-inflammatory agents include Vitamin C, Vitamin D, turmeric or curcumin, resveratrol and quercetin. “We cannot say that any of these interventions can prevent COVID, but we can look at evidence-based research on substances that have shown to downregulate inflammatory cytokines,” says King. High-quality CBD oil and maintaining good gut health are other things that can help prevent inflammation.
Overgrowth of yeast, harmful bacteria or parasites can take over your good flora in the gut causing damage. “Because the gut is 70% of the immune system, it’s important that the lining of the intestinal tract be healed,” says Dr. Steve Alukonis, Chiropractor and Functional Medicine practitioner at Space Coast Advanced Health.
The cells in the gut are supposed to be tightly adhered with tight junctions to keep the gut non-permeable so what you eat stays in the bowel for elimination. But if there is a breach then you have a permeable gut. “Eating inflammatory foods (gluten, sugar, dairy) is going to increase leaky gut which will drop your immune system like a tank,” says Dr. Deborah DeMarta, MD at The Institute of Health & Wellness. She recommends a good broad-spectrum, high count CFU (colony forming units), refrigerated probiotic to build up the reserve of beneficial bacteria which is important to immune health.
To support our cells from a dietary standpoint DeMarta, recommends clean organic sources of good fats such as MCT oil, coconut oil, olive oil and essential fatty acids high in Omega 3 such as cold-water fish like salmon and good quality fish oil. In addition, consume fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A which occurs in food that is orange including sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkin. Vitamin C, Zinc and Selenium are also important for the immune system as are immune enhancing supplements that contain medicinal mushrooms including reishi and shitake.
“Quality matters when you are taking your supplements. For therapeutic efficacy you have to take it at the dose, just like medicine, to be effective or you’re just throwing your money away,” says King.
DeMarta explains that silver, one of the first antibiotics, is used surgically and for wound healing dressings and has antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. Because the COVID-19 virus needs to attach to a mucous membrane in the nose or throat, she recommends silver spray for the throat as well as intranasal silver (such as a hydrosol silver) before leaving the house and upon returning. She also recommends a silver gel or lotion for the hands.
Unfortunately having a personal experience with severe respiratory illness, Dr. Yale Smith, MD, at the The Center for Anti-Aging Aesthetic and Rejuvenation Medicine understands the fear that people have surrounding COVID-19.
Some years ago, while working as an anesthesiologist, he contracted an illness that resulted in pneumonia. He eventually became hypoxic and then suffered Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. He was in intensive care, on life support and in a coma for six weeks.
After waking up, extensive rehabilitation was required to learn to walk and function again. But continued pharmaceuticals were not helping him fully regain his health. Smith attributes his return to health to the Functional Medicine approach he embraced during his recovery, with adequate sleep, a Mediterranean diet and exercise being the lifestyle changes he found most helpful. For recovery or health and boosted immunity, these lifestyle changes have helped many.
“The best exercise regimens include resistance training and aerobics,” he says. “in addition, a plant-based diet has a huge protective effect on the cells to protect the body from stress,” Smith says.
Monitoring the data coming out of China, Hillary Morris at Stuart Acupuncture shares that “In China…hospitals have integrated herbal medicine, as well as acupuncture, as a matter of course, there are actually departments of herbal medicine. What we’ve seen coming out of the hospitals (in China) are a very clear protocol for treatment of COVID-19 all the way from prevention through recovery,” says Morris.
In Chinese medicine, building immunity includes a variety of herbs that build the Chi and the blood, which are the physical manifestations of yin and yang. However, one formula of herbs does not fit everyone. The formula must be tailored to each individual depending on the whole person.
Morris also points out that many people are experiencing anxiety for the first time or an increase in anxiety. Oftentimes, anxiety creates the feeling of shortness of breath or a heaviness in the chest, causing people to become even more anxious worrying that they may have COVID. “For anyone who is going through anxiety right now, it’s important to see it for what it is and to address it,” says Morris.
Stress can suppress the immune system, increase the strain upon the circulatory system and and have an effect on the digestion system. Chiropractic treatments are also very helpful during stressful times as research has shown that patients with measurable high stress levels before chiropractic adjustment has lower stress levels after. The current research on how chiropractic really works shows that misaligned vertebrae sends incorrect messages to the brain. “The nervous system is your master system that controls all the other systems. If the nervous system is not working at peak performance, you cannot be 100 percent healthy. We adjust patients to keep them healthy,” says Alukonis.Watch our video series, BoostYour Immune System Naturally and listen to our interviews with these and other practitioners.
Dr. Angela King shares details on how the covid19 virus can impact not just mild or severe symptoms, but what happens for the moderately ill? She explains how our immune system can react ... Read More »
Hillary Morris, AP, of Stuart Acupuncture in Stuart, FL, shares the Chinese Medicine perspective on strengthening the immune system. Find out the five aspects of Chinese Medicine, what he... Read More »
Dr. Deborah DeMarta, MD, shares how prevention is key. She takes the viewer through many strategies for boosting the immune system and nutrition including good fats, Omega 3s, Vitamin D3,... Read More »
VIDEO: Interview with Dr. Yale Smith, MD of the Center for Anti-Aging Aesthetic and Regenerative Medicine
Dr. Yale Smith, MD of the Center for Anti-Aging Aesthetic and Regenerative Medicine shares his personal experience with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). Dr. Smith rebuilt his h... Read More »
Dr. Steve Alukonis of Space Coast Advanced Health in Melbourne, FL is a Chiropractic Orthopedist and practices Functional Medicine. Read More »