Written by Dr. Loreen Dawson, BSc, ND
updated 10 March 2020
Viral infections are common. Influenza, the common cold, many causes of coughs and now corona virus (covid-19) are all examples of viruses which can cause infection in humans.
Many people are worried about this new virus, and this isn't without cause. When thinking about what to do, it is important not to panic. Stress and anxiety are two things which increase your risk of illness of any type. While the news about coronavirus (covid-19) makes it seem alarming, the current medical information is that about 80% of cases of this virus will be mild, and should be easily managed at home. There is however, still much to be learned about how this virus will affect people and how it is spread. There is currently no treatment, either conventional or alternative, which has been proven to be effective. Many things are being tried and suggested based on previous experience with similar viruses, but, the fact is that at this point we just don't know for sure what will or will not be effective.
One thing to keep in mind is that everybody reading this article has likely experienced dozens of viral infections in their life, and their immune system has responded appropriately and killed it off.
The same things that protect you from getting any cold, cough or flu are the same things that you should consider in protecting yourself from the new corona virus.
One. Keep your own immune system healthy. Information on how to do this is widely available and well researched. Eat well. A healthy diet includes lots of vegetables, a reasonable amount of protein rich foods, and good quality fats. Minimize sugar, sweets and junk food. Drink mostly water. Make sure you are getting 7-9 hours of good quality sleep every night. Get some outdoor exercise every day. Manage your stress levels. Make sure you are taking adequate vitamin D every day. Do all the things you already know are important to keep your immune system working at its best.
Two. Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands before eating, after using the bathroom, and after being in public spaces. Keep your hands away from your face, and especially out of your eyes, nose and mouth. Clean surfaces at home regularly, and avoid touching things when out. Maintain a physical distance of 6 feet or 2 meters from other people.
Three. If you have any symptoms, stay home. Ideally, have someone else run errands or bring in groceries. Cough or sneeze into a tissue and throw it away. Do not cough or sneeze into your hand or out into the open. Avoid close contact with others if you are ill. Seek medical help only if you can't manage at home.
Four. Treat any symptoms you may have appropriately. Never suppress a fever. Fever is your best defense, even though it may not feel good. Adults should fast or eat lightly when acutely ill. Stick to broth, soup and herbal teas. Make sure you stay hydrated. Get lots of rest and sleep.
There are many treatments which have been studied and found to be effective for other types of viruses. If you feel you are infected, you may want to try one of the following items which have research backing up their effectiveness for viruses.
Probiotics with lactobacillus – for example HMF products, but there are many others. Probiotics are always a good option for young children.
Vitamin C to bowel tolerance – start low and increase slowly. Stop just below the level which causes loose stool. Vitamin C was used with success in China and is currently being tested on patients in other parts of the world. Vitamin C has a good reputation of being beneficial in viral illnesses. Taking 500mg of vitamin C per day (with bioflaviniods) is probably a reasonable preventative strategy. If ill, increase the dose to 1000mg 3-4 times per day. Reduce if you get diarrhea.
Many herbs are being tried against corona viruses. Until we have more definitive information, know that there are many herbs which can help your body fight viruses. Herbs are generally mixed together into combinations that have synergistic effects and match the symptoms that a person is showing. Different herbs are helpful for respiratory infections that are focused in the nose vs the lungs. There is currently no definitive, proven combination of herbs effective for covid-19. There are however, many herbs which will help your body manage the symptoms it is experiencing. Ask for help if you would like to use herbal medicine.
Sometimes it is not the virus itself which is dangerous, but the cytokine storm which it stimulates. A cytokine storm is an overreaction of the immune system. This is common in the flu, but can also occur with other viral infections. The symptoms of a cytokine storm include fever, fatigue, aches, rashes and diarrhea. There are supplements that may help with cytokine storm including herbs and nutrients. There is no need to use these now. They are only used if a person is experiencing a cytokine storm.
Homeopathic remedies will also likely be very important should this virus make its way to our coast. There have been teams of people working to identify which remedies may be helpful in the current situation. Several potential remedies have been identified. Remember that homeopathic remedies are not prescribed for the disease, but for the symptoms that a person expresses. Different remedies will be helpful for different people, even if they have the same diagnosis.
The bottom line is this. Yes, there is a new virus and a flu virus circulating. Viruses are common and we understand in general, how they replicate, spread and behave in our bodies. Prevention is best, and how to prevent many types of viruses is well understood. There are many effective treatments for viruses should they be needed. Most people will not need to do anything beyond what they are doing now to prevent the flu. Keep yourself healthy. Practice good hygiene. Stay home if you are sick. Keep calm and carry on.