Updated: Apr 28, 2020
Here is some information to educate and empower you about the novel coronavirus and COVID19. I am updating this article periodically to make sure it provides the latest research on this topic, immunity, and prevention. Most people (50%) who get the virus recover from it or do not get symptoms at all. 5% of people get very severe symptoms and 1% experience death from the virus. People who die from the virus have a weakened immune system to start with. Different symptoms occur between people because each person's ability to heal and fight infection is different. This is due to our microbiome, the bacteria in us that regulate inflammation, immunity, mood, and pain. I have compiled the latest research on why this is, how the novel coronavirus works, how to kill it, its origin, symptoms, how it spreads, prevention, and treatment.
Immunity: To be immune means to be protected and self healing. The body uses vitamins to operate several natural systems to protect and repair itself from tiny invaders (called pathogens) such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites. The ability to fight infection comes from beneficial bacteria that live in us and on us known as the microbiome. The microbiome develops the immune system and brain. The first line of defense is the skin. When we get a cut on the skin, tiny invaders can enter the cut. The body responds by alerting the immune system to kill the tiny invaders, clean out the cut, and grow new skin. This is how the body defends and rebuilds itself naturally. The second line of defense is the digestive system. This system is made up of your mouth, stomach, and intestines. This system turns the foods you eat and the drinks you have into vitamins for the body to function. Medications, processed foods, processed meats, sugar, dairy, corn, flour, chronic stress, alcohol, trauma, toxins, suppressed emotions, and recreational drugs all weaken this system and leave the immune system deficient in vitamins. When the digestive system is weakened, immunity weakens.
When a tiny invader gets into the body, the immune system triggers a fever. A fever is a great thing! This means that the body is working to fight tiny invaders. After the immune system kills the invader, it creates a memory of it so that it knows what to do if it comes across it again. This is called natural immunity. Another line of defense is the sirtuin family of proteins. These are molecules that repair DNA, slow down viral replication, and slow down aging. The body is always working for us but when it has to race against a deadly virus without proper nutrients, hydration, rest, exercise, or beneficial bacteria, it is not equipped to win. When the body becomes imbalanced for an extended period of time, the burden accumulates, and the body's ability to heal weakens. This leads to chronic inflammation, illness, and symptoms.
Most people who develop severe COVID19 symptoms have pre-existing inflammation or weakened immunity. Fear also weakens immunity. What we think has a serious effect on our immune system's ability to fight infections. Feelings of fear and chronic stress raise inflammation, insulin resistance, blood pressure, and slow the body's ability to heal. Research has shown that plant based nutrition, hydration, sleep, exercise, fasting, nature time, gratitude, positivity, processing suppressed emotions, meditation, fresh air, sunshine, cold showers, yoga, qigong, breath work, and time in silence can all enhance immune function. Research has also shown that we can activate our sirtuins by reducing our calories by 30%, exercise, extra virgin olive oil, turmeric, kale, berries, broccoli, mushrooms, green tea, red onion, parsley, Vitamin D, NAD+, Resveratrol, Quercetin, and Walnuts. We all have a natural ability to enhance immunity but it takes work. It begins with what we eat, drink, think, and do. If we fail to support our bodies, minds, or spirit, then our ability to fight viruses or any other infection weakens.
Origin: According to the latest research, the novel coronavirus also known as Sars-Cov2 virus is believed to be an ancient RNA virus of bat origin. How it got into people in the first place is still up for debate and might always be. However, viruses that jump from animals to humans are very common. Wet markets in China have been shown to breed infectious disease for years.
Nature: The virus looks like a round ball with spikes sticking out of it. The virus has proteins that make it deadly and allow it to get into human cells called spike proteins making it six to ten times deadlier than the flu. The virus is not a living organism and is very fragile; the only thing that protects it is a thin outer layer of fat. Since it is made of fat, soap or detergent are the best remedy, because the foam from these substances cuts fat. This is why we are recommended to rub our hands for 20 seconds when washing our hands; to create foam. By dissolving the fat layer, the protein molecule disperses and breaks down on its own. Soaps, detergents, alcohol over 65%, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, windex, and listerine all disintegrate the virus. Heat melts fat which means that hand washing with hot water, regular sweating, sunlight, humidity, and saunas are shown to be beneficial. Summer months may provide some relief but it it is expected to ramp up in the fall. Social distancing, hand washing, and wearing cotton face masks are essential practices going forward for some time until more of us build antibodies to this virus.
Spread and Incubation: The virus is spread through respiratory droplets through sneezing, coughing, or talking. The virus is also spread by fecal-oral transmission which can happen with contaminated food or water. It lasts on fabric between 3 hours, copper and wood for 4 hours, cardboard for 24 hours, metal for 42 hours, steel and plastic for 72 hours. Sunlight, temperature, and humidity have been proven to reduce the viruses ability to survive on door knobs and surfaces. After exposure, it takes 8-14 days to develop symptoms however, research is showing that the virus begins changing things within the gut bacteria in 2-4 days.
Mode of Attack: The virus gets into human cells through spike proteins and possibly gets help from a certain bacteria within the body known as Prevotella. More research needs to be done on this but it does give us insight to how bacteria play a role in our ability to fight infections. If we have too much Prevotella or any bacteria in the body, it can lead to illness. We do know that the virus can cause an upregulation of bacterial pathogens, microbiota that can cause upper respiratory disease. We can test our the bacteria within us and see if we have high levels of Prevotella or other bacterial pathogens. Dr. Felty provides at home microbiome testing and at home stool testing for Sars-Cov2 which can be tested for 5 weeks in stool after it leaves the respiratory tract.
Once the virus is inside, it heads to the outside of our cells that have small binding sites on them called ACE2. The virus binds to this site and then triggers it to let it in. Imagine putting a key into a lock and opening a door. The virus' spike protein acts as the key and binding site acts as the lock. This triggers the door to open and let the virus in. In a healthy person, the ACE2 is part of the blood pressure pathway. ACE2 is now found everywhere in the body, in the mouth, lungs, kidney, heart, nose, and digestive system. All of these are entry sites for the virus. Blood pressure medications such as ACE inhibitors may increase ACE-2 receptors on our cells which gives the virus more places to enter but it also may confuse the virus and be protective. Once the virus is inside the cell, it replicates itself, and releases hundreds of thousands viral particles in 1 day. The pathway it replicated on is called Mtor pathway. This pathway can be slowed down by Sirtuin proteins in the body. Sirtuin proteins help DNA repair itself and slow down viral replication. It is a race between the immune system and the virus.
While bacteria is being upregulated by the virus, the immune system is sending out cytokines, proteins that can cause inflammation. While this is happening, the virus attacks the hemoglobin in red blood cells which reduces oxygen and carbon dioxide. When oxygen exchange is reduced in the lungs and in the tissues, they suffocate. All of these processes lead to trouble breathing and multi organ failure which is seen in COVID19. The overreactive immune response leads to a flood of immune cells called neutrophils and macrophages. These cells combined with upregulated bacterial pathogens leads to thick mucus in the lungs. All of this inflammation and dysfunction in a weakened individual, can cause a "cytokine storm", a storm of immune cells that can be fatal.
COVID19 Symptoms and Risk: Most people who get the virus never need treatment and recover at home. Asymptomatic people are able to spread the virus without knowing it such as young and healthy people. This is why isolation and social distancing is important. COVID19 most common symptoms include: fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. Then people get aches and pains. Other symptoms include gastrointestinal complaints such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, loss of appetite, and confusion. Doctors that I have spoken with have said that symptoms are affecting elderly people the most, however, they are seeing young healthy people get symptoms too. Some survivors say that the symptoms make them feel horrible for two weeks, worse than any flu experience.
5% of people will require hospitalization and supplemental oxygen. The 5% of people who develop severe symptoms have a weakened innate immune system. Conditions associated with weakened immunity include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, organ dysfunction, alcoholism, depression, anxiety, digestive diseases, cancer, addiction, obesity, or other chronic conditions. People on immunosuppressant medications, chemotherapy, and blood pressure medication also have a weakened immunity. People on these medications usually have a long history of not eating well, sedentary lifestyles, dehydration, and are overly stressed. Children are at lower risk because their innate immunity is stronger than adults who have had less time to reduce their immunity through poor lifestyle choices. There are always exceptions but children deaths are less common.
Death: The death rate from the novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease varies by location, age of person infected and the presence of underlying health conditions. The death rate is around 1%. These numbers continue to change and survival rate is not being reported so we are missing the bottom denominator in the fraction.
Pain Management: Aches and pains are common symptoms as well with COVID19. An article in British Medical Journal suggested that ibuprofen can indeed exacerbate disease. Ibuprofen puts more stress on the body where the virus attaches. And as a result, it's shown to make disease worse. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) does not seem to worsen disease as much. However, Tylenol use causes sudden liver failure in tens of thousands of people, and about 300 deaths per year in the US. In the absence of liver disease, people can certainly start with Tylenol, and then use ibuprofen if necessary. Nutrients to lower pain and inflammation include turmeric, boswelia, bromelain, ginger, green tea, omega 3 fish oil, white willow bark, and sulforaphane from broccoli sprouts. Natural foods to lower pain include dark leafy greens, colorful vegetables, and colorful fruits which all contain phytochemicals that reduce pain. Water is also important to flush the body of toxins, reduce pain, and reduce inflammation.
Treatments: Most people who test positive do not need any treatment. They are told to quarantine and ride it out. Nutrients, chinese herbs, antibodies, anti-inflammatories, ventilation support, antivirals, and hydroxychloroquine are all being used to treat COVID-19. Anti-virals need to be supplemented with anti-bacterial agents to treat this disease. Intravenous Vitamin C is being administered at hospitals along with immune enhancing nutrients Vitamin D, Zinc, Vitamin A, Melatonin, and Quercetin. Vitamin C may reduce duration of mechanical ventilation in critically ill. Some doctors that I have spoken with who are on the frontlines are saying that they must be cautious with high dose vitamins because it could lead to kidney disease in some. Scientists are working on a vaccine. Mushroom and mycelium extracts (not isolated polysaccharides) contain a broad array of compounds which generate an immunoregulatory response that both increases and decreases various cytokines. Unfortunately, no integrative measures have been validated in human trials as effective specifically forCOVID-19.
Prevention: The best steps for prevention is hand washing with hot water and soap (make sure to create foam), social distancing, and taking steps to enhance immunity at home.
Adequate sleep is essential. Quality sleep also ensures the secretion of melatonin, a molecule which may play a role in reducing coronavirus virulence.
Stress management is a must. Psychological stress disrupts immune regulation and increases inflammation. We can reduce stress with exercise, meditation, holotropic breathwork and thinking of something positive or pleasant. Stress and fear alter the gut microbiome which are important in regulating immunity. One way to reduce fear is by not watching fear based media and supporting mental health. Please go to my youtube channel for support. Mental health services are available virtually: psychotherapy, counseling, energy healing, hypnotherapy, and fitness classes.
Practicing spiritual practices enhances immunity. Spiritual practices include yoga, meditation, nature time, prayer, time in silence, journaling, gigong, tai chi, dancing, drumming, and chanting.
Nutrients are required for the immune system to work. Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Glutathione, Zinc, Quercetin, mushroom extracts, astragalus, andrographis are all shown to enhance immunity. Elderberry extracts may help to prevent the early stage of corona virus infections, which includes COVID-19. Elderberry contains compounds which decrease the ability of viruses to infect cells. Elderberry is considered generally safe and in influenza B (cause of common cold), use of elderberry shortens the duration of symptoms. However, as a part of its immune supportive actions, elderberry increases immune cell release of tiny chemicals called cytokines. Specifically, elderberry increases the release of a cytokine called IL-1B which is a part of the inflammatory reaction to COVID-19 that can result in acute respiratory distress. For this reason, to minimize the possibility that elderberry could aggravate the inflammatory “cytokine storm” associated with the more severe COVID-19 infections, it is recommended to stop elderberry at the first signs of infection (fever, cough, sore throat) and/or if you test positive for the virus.
Nutrition is the best way to enhance immunity. At least 5to 7 servings of vegetables and 2to 3 servings of fruit daily provide the immune system the fuel it needs to function. Please review my latest article on immune boosting foods here: https://www.drfelty.com/post/immune-boosting-vitamins. Please review my latest article on making plant based eating delicious with my steamed vegetables recipe: https://www.drfelty.com/post/plantbaseddietdeliciousandimmuneboosting
Moderate exercise of 20 minutes daily has been shown to reduce upper respiratory infection risk.
We must establish and maintain good gut health. Probiotics, fermented foods, and plant based eating can support the beneficial gut bacteria. I highly recommend gut microbiome and nutrient deficiency testing to find out what you may be deficient in. We can do this testing at my office locations and insurance can be used. At home collection testing is now available.
Research has shown the sunshine, fresh air, cold showers, and grounding can all enhance immune function and lower inflammation. Grounding is the practice of standing barefoot on the earth for 20 minutes.
Research has also shown that we can activate our sirtuins by reducing our calories by 30%, exercise, extra virgin olive oil, turmeric, kale, berries, broccoli, mushrooms, green tea, red onion, parsley, Vitamin D, NAD+, Resveratrol, Quercetin, and Walnuts.
Supplement precautions: elderberry, echinace