A Naturopathic Approach to Viral Infections for Adults

Note:  This is general information which may or may not be applicable to your situation.  Please contact us or set up an appointment if you need specific advise.

This article will be updated regularly as information changes.

Last update:  27 March 2020

Preventing or Reducing Risk of Viral Respiratory Infections

Step One

 

Follow all Public Health Initiatives

  • Maintain physical distance of at least 2 meters or 6 feet

  • Wash hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water

  • Clean and disinfect surfaces touched by other people

  • Only go out for essentials – food, medicine, etc

  • Strictly self-isolate if you have any symptoms

    • Then call the nurses hotline, the local respiratory clinic or do an online evaluation

  • Only go to hospital or call 911 if you have emergency needs

If you go out

  • Avoid touching your face while out

  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home and before you touch anything

  • If possible, change and wash your clothes then hands and face again

  • If you are unpacking or unloading anything brought in from outside, wash your hands after touching it

  • The virus can live on cardboard for 24 hours, plastic or stainless steel for 2-3 days

    • these surfaces can be cleaned, or left untouched for 3 days.​

 

Find a balance between taking care, and developing anxiety

 

Preventative Measures – in addition to public health measures

Disclaimer

  • This is a new virus.

  • There is currently no evidence that any preventative measure or treatment will be effective

  • However, we can apply what we know has been effective for similar types of viruses, particularly if these measure have a zero or very low risk of harm

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What we know

About 80% of cases will have mild to moderate symptoms which can be managed at home

The question is, how can you increase your chances of being in the 80%

We don’t know for sure if it will be helpful, but, we can apply principles which have been helpful in the prevention and reduction of risk of related viruses such as those which cause colds, viral coughs and flu

 

Prevention

Step Two

Keep yourself as healthy as possible by managing all chronic conditions as well as you can.   If you have seen your naturopathic physician recently, follow your last health care plan as carefully as you can.  In general, the following steps should be helpful.

 

Diet

  • Eat a nutrient dense and nutrient rich diet

    • Lots of veggies and some fruits

    • Good quality protein every day – meat, fish, eggs, legumes

  • Avoid all known food sensitivities

  • Avoid sugar and sweets – it is not the time to go on the cookies and ice cream diet!

  • Avoid dairy products.  Dairy products produce mucus, and minimizing mucus has been helpful for reducing risk of colds, coughs and sinus infections in general

  • Keep up your fluid intake – water, broth, herbal teas

  • Add garlic, ginger, warming spices to meals regularly

Avoid eating from boredom, and avoid overeating

Do not watch or listen to the news while eating – put on music, or something light and funny or, if you live with others have light and pleasant conversation while eating.

 

Ensure regular bowel movements

  • if constipated, use healthy laxative foods such as ground flax seed, hemp hearts, prunes, and adequate fluids.  Make sure you are having lots of veggies, and you are exercising every day.  Walking is great for bowel health. 

  • Consult your naturopathic physician if these simple measures are not enough

 

 

Exercise – make sure you get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, more is better

  • Try to get outside for a walk each day but avoid other people

  • Try a new exercise.  There are many free programs online right now.  Try one.

    • Yoga, tai chi, qi gong, dance parties, stretching, at home work outs, etc

 

Sleep – maintain a regular sleep cycle, nap if tired.  If you need help sleeping, start with good sleep hygiene.  If you need something more, try simple, safe remedies first.  For example:

  • listen to soft music or books on tape

  • practice deep breathing, meditation or prayer to aid relaxation

  • chamomile or passionflower tincture (1/2 to 1 tsp) or tablets

  • melatonin (3mg)

  • magnesium bisglycinate (150-200mg)

  • liquid calcium/magnesium (1 tbsp = 600mg calcium)

Stress – Remember to breathe.  The specific qi gong pattern of breathing for anxiety is:

  • Inhale, hold briefly, exhale; repeat.  Breathe slowly and steadily.

 

  • There are many healthy ways to combat stress

    • Get outside every day

    • Do something fun – play music, do crafts, puzzles, games

    • Meditation, prayer, quiet time

    • Contact friends on the phone, via facetime, skype, zoom or a similar platform

    • write in a diary or journal

    • paint, draw, sing, quilt, sew, knit, woodworking, yard work or anything else you enjoy

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Avoid too much screen time – try to stay active doing positive and productive things

  • Clean out those cupboards and drawers

  • Learn how to knit, or speak Spanish or build a bird house

  • Plant the garden 

 

Heat – viruses in general don’t like you to be warm.  This is why when our body mounts a fever it is such an effective way to get rid of a virus.

  • Ways to increase your heat

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Supplements which may be helpful and which have evidence of benefit for other types of viruses, and which have zero to very low risk

Vitamin D – adults about 2000iu/day, a bit more if you have other health conditions such as osteoporosis which benefit from a higher dose

Vitamin C – 500-1000mg/day if no symptoms

If you have any adaptogen or adrenal type supports at home – tinctures or capsules – these would probably be helpful right now – use them.  Adrenal support herbs and supplements generally help the body cope in times of stress.  They build immune and nervous system resiliency.  Examples are: reishi, astragalus, American and Siberian ginseng.  Other adaptogenic herbs will likely be helpful for prevention, but we just don’t know this yet.  These adaptogenic herbs help us in times of stress and also have immune supporting effects.

Continue any previous recommendations you were given to improve your health

Make sure any chronic conditions are well managed

 

Treat at the first sign of symptoms – don’t wait to see how bad it will get

Disclaimer

There is no treatment that has yet been proven to either prevent or treat this new virus

It is a novel virus that we haven’t seen before. There is:

  • No homeopathic remedy, no herbal remedy or supplement proven to be effective.

  • No antiviral drug, no anti-inflammatory drug, no drug at all proven to be effective.

  • Ventilation may save your life if it gets to that point, but there is no proven effective medical treatment which will combat this virus.

  • If anyone is claiming to have an effective or proven treatment or preventative, they are not telling the truth.

This may change over time, however, keep in mind that there is no formal studies that I am aware of that are looking at the effectiveness of any “natural” or “alternative” remedy.

However, this said, we do know a lot about how to manage the symptoms of other viral infections with natural remedies.   The goal is to treat early, treat aggressively, and keep you in the 80% of people who manage their symptoms at home.  It is important to use remedies with a long history of use, which are known to be safe for the vast majority of people.  If you are not sure what might be right for you, please ask your naturopathic physician for assistance.

My goal in posting these recommendations is to ensure that you remain with the 80% of people who are able to manage their symptoms at home and recover without long term effects.

Fever 

  • First – do not suppress the fever!  (except for pregnant women and small children - in this situation, call 811 for advice)

    • Use a thermometer and monitor carefully

    • Suppress only if your fever is rising above 104F or 40C

    • Fever kills viruses

    • Fever is your body's natural and healthy response to an invader

    • Fever is uncomfortable, but try to ride it out

    • Use cool cloths on forehead and back of neck if needed to help you feel better

    • If the fever goes too high, the correct homeopathic remedy is usually very helpful for fever

    • Your other option is to use Tylenol, but not ibuprofen to bring it down

    • it is critically important to be sure you have lots of fluids if you have a fever

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Fluids

  • Fluids are critically important when you are ill, even if you don’t feel thirsty

  • Have warm water, teas, broths and soup hourly

  • Use an electrolyte solution if you have diarrhea or a high fever

    • a quick home electrolyte solution is 1/2 litre of water, 1/2 litre of apple juice or other juice and 1/2 tsp sea salt​

  • Avoid pop and sugary drinks including kombucha

  • Avoid alcohol

Food

  • Adults who are ill and have no appetite should not force themselves to eat

  • Have fluids only if you are not hungry, but drink even if you are not thirsty

    • If you are hungry, eat lightly – soups, stews and other easy to digest foods

    • Canned fruit, especially peaches are particularly good if you feel nauseous

    • Ginger in tea or soup is helpful for nausea

    • If you have diarrhea, eat lightly

      • Foods like plain white fish, white rice, bananas and applesauce are helpful for diarrhea

 

Rest and Sleep

  • Fighting infection is hard work.  You will need lots of rest and sleep.

  • Nap if you need to.  Don’t try to push through the fatigue.

 

Home Hydrotherapy

  • There are many home hydrotherapy treatments that will make you feel better

  • If you are chilly, have a warm bath.  If you can, have a warm herbal tea at the same time.  Examples of teas which are helpful to induce sweating are:

    • Lemon with ginger or cayenne

    • Any tea with a pinch of mustard

    • Any tea with some yarrow or elderflower (mint/yarrow/elder tea has both)

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  • Warming socks – do nightly for head congestion, headache, sore throat, stuffy nose, sinus congestion - https://www.hummingbirdclinic.ca/warming-socks

  • Sauna – if you are fortunate enough to have a sauna this would be a good time to use it, but just for a short time to induce sweating

  • Mustard plaster - if you have chest heaviness or a sensation of coldness in the chest, and, you know how to safely do a mustard plaster, this will be helpful

  • Castor oil packs to the chest are also helpful for chest congestion

 

Supplements to start at the first sign of illness

This information is provided for people who are managing their symptoms at home and want to do something beyond watchful waiting.  My thinking is that an infection treated aggressively and effectively in the earliest stages is less likely to progress to the point where medical intervention is needed.  You don’t need all of these, but, each of these recommendations has been shown to be helpful in other viral respiratory illnesses.  Start with 1 or 2 and add only as needed.  If you do have symptoms, start something right away, then consult with your naturopathic physician.  Different options are likely better for different symptoms and different people.  

  • Vitamin C –  1000mg 4-6 times per day or to bowel tolerance

  • Zinc – 15 to 30mg once or twice/day

  • Vitamin A – correct dosing is important – please contact me

  • Garlic – use generously in your food

  • Ginger – as tea or in food, especially if you have digestive symptoms

  • Oil of oregano – follow recommendations on the bottle

  • HEMPB, mint/yarrow/elderberry; lung/immune formulas, cough tea, herbal formulas for cough, or flu like symptoms - instruction on labels

  • Probiotics  if there is digestive symptoms including diarrhea

  • UNDAs – 2, 5, 25, 37 – this combo would likely be helpful if you have it at home already

The above recommendations are here so that you have something positive to do at the first sign of illness.  It appears that this viral infection worsens over a week or so.  Please contact your naturopathic physician immediately if your condition worsens but is not yet serious enough for medical intervention.  Remember the goal is to keep you in the 80% of people who can manage their symptoms at home and who recover fully.

In China, 85-90% of those infected were treated with traditional Chinese medicine

  • No single herbs were used.  All were combinations

  • Various combinations were used depending on presenting symptoms and the stage of the illness

  • There were some variations depending on local tradition and physician training

  • In China, they change herbal prescriptions regularly depending on symptoms

  • Not all of the herbs used in China are readily available here, but, local herbs will likely make very reasonable substitutions

 

For people asking for herbal remedies for treatment of covid-19, there isn’t one remedy.

  • I have been studying the various phases of this condition, and, working up possible or probable helpful combinations of herbs, based on reports of what has been helpful in China

 

  • There will be different remedies for early vs later stages of the infection

  • Should you need something, contact your naturopathic physician or someone else trained in herbal medicine

  • Obviously, if you are at the point where you are having trouble breathing, you need medical intervention and should call the numbers listed above.

 

  • Again, I remind you, all of this is based on what has been helpful in China, but, as of this point, there is no research based or scientific evidence that it will be helpful.  It is unlikely there ever will be as, because far as I am aware, no research money is being put into studying the effects or benefits of natural substances.

Much information going around about this or that magic herb which will treat this specific new virus, but we just don’t know that, and it is unlikely that any single herb or even a single combination will be suitable for all, or even most people.

Homeopathy – Dr. Paul Herscu has been researching, studying and writing about homeopathy and epidemics since 1991.  He gives updates yearly on remedies for the current flu epidemics.  He has been writing extensively on coronavirus.  For those interested in homeopathy, here is a link to his blog post.  Start on part I to get the full picture.  http://paulherscuepidemics.blogspot.com/

  • It is likely that homeopathy will be helpful, but, again, there is no one magic remedy

  • Remedy selection depends on symptoms and should be done in combination with other treatments

  • The correct homeopathic remedy will likely be very helpful.  Homeopathy has been shown to be very effective in past epidemics.

  • Remedy selection will require the help of someone trained in homeopathy.  Please ask your naturopathic physician or a trained homeopath for help.

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Other Potential Beneficial Substances

Information is changing daily as doctors around the world try different things.  The following natural health products may be helpful in specific situation. This in no way implies that they take the place of proper medical care should that be needed. 

 

NAC – is very helpful to liquefy thick mucus that is stuck in the lungs and hard to cough up

 

Melatonin – has several properties which would make in beneficial in cases viral infection and of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).  At normal doses it is very safe for the vast majority of patients.  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0024320520303313

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