COVID-19: Immune System Support

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by Val Koganski, MD

I am sure you’ve been overwhelmed with information on Coronavirus and COVID-19. This is a new virus that belongs to the family of “cold” viruses. We’ve been exposed to them yearly for many generations and usually have been able to handle it without major complications. So why are we having such a difficult time fighting this particular strain?

There are many theories that have been discussed in the scientific community and relayed by the press. I do not pretend to be an expert, but I’ll try to present my view on this pandemic.

First, this is a brand new virus that our immune system (body’s defense against “invaders”)

a) has never been exposed to,

b) has no memory of how to react,

c) has no immunity to it ,

d) is not responding appropriately by sometimes overreacting.

Typically our innate immune system (first line of defense) would attack a pathogen and prevent it from invading healthy cells. Our innate immune system is a non-specific defense, which constantly monitors the body’s exposure to environmental threats. It does not have immunologic memory of pathogens. If our innate immune system is strong enough, a virus or any other pathogen doesn’t cause any symptoms and is contained, so a person can be a carrier of the infection without even knowing it. As you see from the current pandemic, the number of “silent carriers” – people who are infected by the Coronavirus but show minimal or no symptoms – could be as high as one-third of those who test positive, according to classified Chinese government data. [1]

If the innate immune system gets overwhelmed, then the second line of defense, adaptive immune system gets involved. Depending on the health of the person and the burden of the infection, a viral disease takes its course from mild to severe, and people usually recover in 7-14 days. This follows the typical immune cell cycle of activation, expansion, resolution of the infection, and then contraction of the pool of immune cells, with memory cells formation. So next time when the body gets exposed to the same pathogen, memory cells would allow a faster response and easier recovery. If your immune system is not strong enough, or burden of the infection is too high, then you can develop complications and a secondary infection.

The main difference of the new Coronavirus is that in susceptible individuals after 2-5 days of mild symptoms, when the innate immune system is trying to protect us, but fails, then the special lymphocytes (part of the adaptive immune response) become involved, and can get overexcited and produce to many “weapons”, so called “cytokine storm”(is an “overreaction” to infection in the body) that aims to kill the infected with the virus cells. This change in the events can cause unintended consequences with collateral organ damage. The new Coronavirus itself can penetrate the lymphocytes and activate the mechanism of these cytokine overproduction, “inflammasome”, potentiating the damage. Low potassium, acidic environment ( due to lack of vegetables in the diet, high trans fats, “junk food”,etc.) and other factors, like high blood sugar, high cholesterol, elevated uric acid, stress.

The Coronavirus binds to ACE II receptors that allows it to penetrate into the cells. Cells that carry this receptors get infected. Our immune response that aims to kill the infected cells and virus is aimed toward these cells. They are mostly located in the lungs, cardiovascular system, heart, intestines, and kidneys, where we see the most damage.

So what can be done to prevent the disease and to mitigate its symptoms?

For prevention and minimizing the exposure please follow CDC guidelines[ 2 ].

There is no specific herb or supplement that has been proven to kill this virus. However, to help the body fight this infection and minimize the damage, we need to strengthen our immune system.

The basic approach starts with a healthy lifestyle, that includes:

  • Healthy diet, rich in in colorful vegetables and fruits, prebiotics and probiotics. Low glycemic index food. Maintain a healthy GUT. Avoid “junk food”, highly processed food.
  • Moderate exercise. Overexertion can suppress your immune system, and no activity make it weaker.
  • Adequate sleep allows you to regenerate your immune system, while stress suppresses the immune response.
  • There is no supplements proven to kill the virus. To support your immune system you can take vitamins and supplements, like:
  1. Vitamin D, Vitamin A that support the innate immune system,
  2. Zinc and quercetin that prevent viral replication,
  3. Potassium, better from food, like avocado, tomatoes, beans, squash, potatoes,- to prevent inflammasome formation,
  4. Andrographis, Black Currant Seed Oil, Sulforaphane, Astragalus [4], Black Elderberry to support the innate immune system.

If you feel that you are getting the first symptoms PLEASE CALL YOUR DOCTOR , then add:

  1. Vitamin A , Vitamin C , and Vitamin D higher doses for a short period to provide a boost; Higher intakes of vitamin C up to 6.000 mg may potentially help people who are critically ill with COVID-19 and on ventilators [3],
  2. Coconut oil might have some antiviral activity [5],
  3. Melatonin, Echinacea, Golden seal, Berberine to boost the lymphocytes response and prevent inflammasome formation,
  4. Glutathione, NAC, NAD/NMN, Rosemarinic acid, Potassium, Quercetin, EGCG to control the inflammasome.

When you are in the recovery stage add: omega-3/fish oil, SPM, colostrum, extra prebiotics and probiotics.

Avoid NSAIDs, like: Motrin, Aleve, Ibuprofen, Celebrex, Mobic, etc., as they can suppress your immune system.

Also be careful with taking Tylenol, as it can damage your liver, worsening the effect of the virus.

Remember that temperature elevation is the way your body kills any viruses or bacteria, and unless it is debilitating, temperature should not be treated with medications, and can be managed with cold compresses.

BUT DO NOT FORGET TO CONTACT YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER WITH ANY PROGRESSION OR WORSENING OF THE SYMPTOMS!!!

These are not specific recommendations, but just my understanding of the disease process, and general guidance.

For specific dosages of the supplements please contact the office of Dr. Val Koganski

by calling 215-750-7000, or going online: https://www.newtowninternalmedicine.com