Updated: Nov 14, 2022
Another wave of Sars-COV-2 is ripping through the U.S. Its peer-reviewed extreme contagiousness is tempered by data that suggest, for many, it is a milder form of COVID. This is “good” news in the battle against COVID, as it's causing many people to ask “what can I do to help ensure I stay out of the hospital if I do catch it?”
This is a useful time to revisit the immunological changes that occur with COVID-19 and what support we can provide our body to help prevent severe disease and the long-term ramifications of the infection.
If you are exposed to an individual infected with COVID-19 (for a reminder, see the CDC’s definition) or at the first sign of symptoms – do not pass go, do not collect $200 - immediately pick up a COVID-19 test. Rapid at-home tests are fine. PCR tests are better. If that test comes back positive- don’t panic!
More tools are available to combat COVID than ever before.
Vaccines are now widely available. The FDA has now approved several treatments, from Paxlovid tablets to remdesivir to monoclonal antibodies. In all cases, the earlier you start these treatments, the better. So the moment you suspect you have COVID, it’s a good idea to connect with your health care provider to see if these prescriptions are a good option.
Please give us a call to set up an appointment with a provider to create a treatment plan specifically for you.
In addition, there are supplements* that can help support your immune system to fight viruses, flus, colds, or otherwise. It’s impractical in modern society to take steps to completely eliminate the risk of catching a pathogen. What you CAN do is build layers of protection to increase the chances that anything you do catch is mild.
Almost two years ago, my colleague Dr. Rana Mafee, wrote about supplements to help support your immune system. We now have amassed much more peer-reviewed data on how to use these supplements not just preventatively, but acutely as part of a complete treatment protocol.
Here are some of the most important supplements for supporting and strengthening your immune system and dosing recommendations for treating an illness (these are not everyday doses). For simplicity, we’ve combined the highest quality producers of each of these into a single “MedPak” should you want something in your medicine cabinet for if / when you get sick.
Dosage: 1000-2000 mg, 2 to 3 times per day Glutathione is your body’s most potent antioxidant and detoxifier. When you are suffering from pneumonia or any acute respiratory distress syndrome, your body needs increased amounts of glutathione to clear the oxidative stresses. (Taking Tylenol to lower your fever further depletes your glutathione levels). While I’m not saying “avoid tylenol”, I do recommend that patients supplement their natural glutathione production while sick.
NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine)
Dosage: 600-1200 mg twice a day N-Acetyl Cysteine (pronounced N ah-see-tal sis-teen) is a precursor for glutathione and also has direct antioxidant functions. It can be used to treat a range of conditions, such as paracetamol intoxication, doxorubicin cardiotoxicity, ischemia-reperfusion cardiac injury, acute respiratory distress syndrome, bronchitis, chemotherapy-induced toxicity, HIV/AIDS, heavy metal toxicity, and psychiatric disorders. That’s all a mouthful, to be sure. Specific to COVID-19 infections, research is showing that Acetylcysteine used as a tool in treating COVID-19 may reduce spike and envelope protein disulfide bonds. In short, the fewer spike proteins, the milder and shorter your case of COVID is likely to be.
Dosage: 2000 mg 3 times a day Another potent antioxidant, Vitamin C is also anti-inflammatory and an immune-modulating vitamin. Several studies (here and here to cite just a couple) show that 2-8 grams per day orally may reduce the incidence and duration of any respiratory infection. My one caveat with Vitamin C is that it can be hard on the GI system, especially in higher doses. If you begin to develop nausea or diarrhea, stop or reduce the amount and contact your doctor.
D3 15,000 iu
Dosage: daily for 5 days then 5,000iu daily How great is the sun!? Beyond light and warmth, it is a great source of Vitamin D, which several studies, such as the one here, have shown correlate with less severe COVID-19 infections. For those living in chilly Chicago weather- Vitamin D can be particularly difficult to come by naturally, so supplementation is the way to go. Supplementation leads to increased anti-inflammatory and immuno-modulating cytokines (IL-10) and reduced inflammatory Th17 cells. This leads to lower TNFa, which in turn, decreases inflammation throughout the body. If you’re interested in the science behind Vitamin D supplementation- check it out here.
Be careful with Vitamin D! It is possible to get too much (although it is difficult). When taking Vitamin D supplementation, you should always consult with your physician, who can test you to monitor your individual levels.
Dosage: 500mg 2x/day Quercetin is a flavonoid with anti-viral properties. You may know flavonoids from your morning smoothie- they give berries all of their beautiful colors. Luckily, they have more than an aesthetic purpose. Quercetin blocks chymotrypsin-like protease (3CLpro) and papain-like protease (PLpro) on the COVID-19 virus- helping to further disable it. Essentially, quercetin has the ability to interfere with the SARS-CoV-2 replication. Check out this fascinating study here.
100mg per day with food Zinc is one of your body’s most important minerals, second only to iron. This essential nutrient is necessary to maintain your immune system, promote wound healing, and decrease inflammation and oxidative stress throughout the body. Furthermore, zinc is necessary for your taste and smell. If you have found that your smell and taste are slow to recover with COVID-19, zinc supplements are a great place to start. More specifically to the COVID-19 infection, zinc is an immune modulator and has been found to inhibit NF-κB signaling and modulation of regulatory T-cell functions. In turn, this may limit the cytokine storm that is often found in severe COVID-19 cases. Furthermore, many suspect that zinc may decrease the activity of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), known to be the receptor for SARS-CoV-2. Note: Zinc can lead to a copper deficiency, so I recommend to my patients to use high doses for a short period of time. Again, as always, consult with your physician to monitor your levels of zinc and copper if you’d like to remain on zinc long term.
10mg before bedtime Melatonin is a wonderful supplement to add while you’re fighting any infection, including COVID-19. This antioxidant has a multitude of helpful properties, such as reducing inflammation, initiating sleep, and immunoregulation. Additionally, viruses often cause suppression of pineal melatonin, which can contribute to an initial cytokine storm. Check out more about how melatonin supports your fight against infections.
Probiotics Many people infected with COVID-19 experience unpleasant and uncomfortable GI Symptoms. That’s where probiotics come in. Probiotics do more than just make you feel better. In a study you can find here, researchers posit that there is “more and more evident existence of a lung-gut axis, suggesting the modulation of gut microbiota among the approaches to the COVID-19 prevention and treatment”.
Immunoglobulins Last but not least, immunoglobulins. Immunotherapy using oral chicken immunoglobulin has gained a lot of interest as an inexpensive and non-antibiotic treatment for a variety of infectious diseases. Additionally, it has routinely been used to treat respiratory illnesses and even GI viruses such as rotavirus.
This is obviously a lot to take in. To help simplify CIH has put together a Viral First Aid pack with the above supplements to make this support simple. Please call the office and we can get this shipped to you in a 5 or 10 day pack.
As you can hopefully see, the global health care community has been busy over the last two+ years digging into the literal minutiae of how COVID-19 works. Combined with the millions of real-life clinical studies going on, this research is beginning to deliver a picture of how to protect against severe COVID. (For an even-more-in-depth study, read “Three novel prevention, diagnostic, and treatment options for COVID-19 urgently necessitating controlled randomized trials” by Dr. Richard Horowitz, MD.)
We know that the last thing any patient wants to hear is “you’re positive for COVID,” but with the layers of protection you can build into and around your immune system, there is now more hope than ever for a mild case and swift, complete recovery.
Case Integrative Health is always here to support you through your complex illness, be it COVID, Lyme Disease, an auto-immune disorder, or even just the flu. Never hesitate to call if you feel worried, or would like some additional support. We’re in this together.
If you are experiencing COVID-19 Symptoms, call Case Integrative Health to create a plan designed for you to aid in recovery:
Disclaimers: None of the information listed above is intended to supersede or replace a plan you have created with a healthcare professional already. As with any changes to diet or supplementation, you should consult with your healthcare provider before implementation.
Unless specifically stated by the manufacturer, supplements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.