Virus Care 101
Not at all taking away from the need to exercise caution with spreading the current virus; the strongest protection we have close at hand is our body’s own immune system. I’m quite surprised that this very protective mechanism inherent in everyone, is largely being overlooked. Big picture, having a compromised immune system is the highest predictor of infection and also death in those cases.
Aside from the basic essentials of staying in good health, which protect us from all diseases and imbalances no matter what they are (I share these essentials in this video blog - click here ).
I thought I’d share with you some extra specific immune supporting tips -
1/ Sunshine and open-air – during the 1918 influenza pandemic viral, they found that hospitals who treated their patients outside in the sun and fresh air had much lower rates of death and infection among medical staff than those that didn’t.
- One hospital report outlined a reduction in deaths from 40% down to 13%. They went on to experiment with the ‘Open Air’ in other infections such as TB and found it to be the treatment of choice. Later Research by the Ministry of defense identified something they called open-air factor as containing natural disinfectants, effective both at night and during the day. In fact, open-air regimes remained popular until replaced by antibiotics in the 1950s!
- Sunlight has been shown to inactivate the influenza virus and kill bacteria. Importantly, it is necessary to synthesise Vitamin D in the skin, and a deficiency of this vitamin is linked to respiratory infections and may increase the risk of susceptibility to influenza.
2/ Nutrients that support the immune system include vitamin A and C and zinc.
- Vitamin A or its plant-based form of beta-carotene are fat-soluble, so needs to be consumed with fat for absorption, healthy fats. These boost mucosal immunity, so of the lungs, reducing susceptibility. Foods high in these vitamins include sweet potatoes, carrots, dark green leafy’s, capsicum, dried apricots, tropical fruits, rockmelon, fish and liver.
- Vitamin C is used by our immune cells to kill bacteria. When there is an infection, the body creates more immune cells so there is a need for higher than recommended intakes at these times. It can be taken as a supplement in divided doses as the body can only absorb between 250-500mg at a time, depending on the body's need. Foods high in vitamin C include fruit and vegetables, especially red capsicum, kiwi fruit, black currents, pawpaw and citrus.
- Zinc should only be supplemented if there is a deficiency. As a trace element, there is a risk of toxicity of taking high-dose supplements over a period of a few months. Zinc deficiency signs include poorly healing wounds and stretch marks, poor growth and development, frequent colds and flu, lack of ability to taste. Zinc supports the immune cells in being able to divide and replicate, making more immune cells when a person becomes infected. Stress and poor digestion affect the capacity to be able to absorb zinc.
3/ Add anti-viral herbs and spices to your food, including loads of garlic and ginger.
- Make a tea with sliced ginger root and the juice of half a lemon (high in vitamin C). Add liberally to your cooking. Research shows that fresh but not dried ginger blocks viral attachment and absorption in the lungs and airways.
- Put garlic in all your food! Try not to overcook by adding if finely chopped towards the end of cooking to maintain more of its potency. There are many studies using garlic with the influenza virus, showing that it both supports the immune cells to fight the virus and is also directly anti-viral itself. Research shows that it reduces the length and severity of both colds and flu.
- Cinnamon and turmeric may also assist in preventing infection from taking hold.
- Research shows that echinacea is strongly antiviral and strengthens the immune system, however, benefits are much greater if taken prior to infection and as a preventative. There is also some evidence that olive leaf extract, cat’s claw, golden seal, liquorice root and Asian mushrooms are also antiviral or immune-boosting.
4/ Restful sleep – whilst the data isn’t available for influenza, there is research in a controlled study that shows people who sleep less than 6 hours a night are 4 times more likely to catch a cold.
- Another study showed that a full night's sleep allows the immune system to adequately replenish, while another found that long-term sleep shortage, shuts down the programs involved in the immune response.
5/ Stress less and relax!! Stress not only affects sleep, but it also leaches many of our essential nutrients from the body, the very nutrients that we need to keep it healthy!
- Chronic stress affects the digestive system, further impeding our ability to break down and absorb our vital nutrition.
- Staying away from and reducing the spread of this infection is reasonable, however being in constant fear of the ‘what if’ scenarios will put you at a higher risk of contracting this virus and also limit your ability to keep the symptoms down to a low level if you do catch it.
- If it helps, here is another video blog sharing some simple practices to help tame the mind - click here -
6/ Diffuse anti-viral essential oils - Please don't ingest!
- peppermint, thyme, rosemary, lemongrass, eucalyptus, lavender, lemon balm and tea tree.
- if you don't have an oil diffuser, add about 10 drops per 50mL water into a spray bottle and spray around your office and other shared spaces where you have to spend time.
- you can add 1-2 drops of pure essential oil per 10mL of hand cream or body lotion as an added layer of protection... check your individual sensitivity first by patch testing a small area.
7/ Anatomically, the thymus gland which produces many of our immune cells, resides in the area of the energetic heart. As such working with the heart energy can improve our protection against infections.
- In fact, research demonstrates that function of the immune system, by measure of the T-cell numbers, is increased when people have higher levels of happy tendencies and decreased when negativity is a mainstay at any given time.
- The practice of holding feelings of gratitude, joy and appreciation for 5 minutes, has been shown to support immune responses for up to 6 hours!
- Big picture, try to see the light side in situations you find yourself and you will not only be at much less risk of becoming ill, you also create the environment around you that matches the way that you feel and share your energy within the collective <3
Research references are available on request.