The one certainty that we have as we enter a seventh week of lockdown is that there is no known cure – yet – for Covid-19.
It will come, but too late for the many thousands who have already succumbed to it and the thousands more who will do so in the weeks and months to come.
Could it be, though, that we have an eye on the horizon when the solution to at least stemming the apparently relentless march of this disease is naturally available in limitless supply and already known to us?
If, instead of focusing exclusively on the pursuit of a cure, we turned our attention to improving our natural immunity and capacity for fighting viral infections, we may not only turn the tide against the main complication of Covid-19 infection: acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
There are three natural, yet scientifically proven ways that the human immune system can be strengthened and supported to fight viral infections like the coronavirus.
These are vitamin D, vitamin C (which I have also discussed in a previous blog) and iodine.
For anyone who might feel a certain scepticism that such an obvious answer could be staring us in the face, there are plenty of studies and trials that bear out the power of each of vitamins C and D and iodine as powerful allies in human immunity.
Our immune system is a complex marvel that’s designed to protect us against threats in our internal and external environments, but often our lifestyle inhibits and weakens this natural process, leaving us with a debilitated immunity that leaves us increasingly vulnerable – particularly as we age – to serious infection.
Modern medicine, for all its advancement, can often be counter-productive in rebalancing our immunity through more simple solutions because it prioritises pharmaceutical solutions to health risks.
Pharmacy has its place, but we would do well to prioritise a better approach to maintaining our natural defences which, when operating at an optimum level, are often more effective in prevention than medicine.
This blog summarises my in-depth abstract paper on the subject, which specifically references the trials and research programmes I mention below and which you can read in full here.
THE ROLE OF VITAMIN D IN THE PREVENTION OF VIRAL INFECTION
Vitamin D is produced from the action of sunlight on cholesterol under the skin and its power in supporting our immunity and defence against a multitude of diseases has often been overlooked.
There is a lot of evidence showing vitamin D as an important component in the prevention and treatment of influenza and upper respiratory tract infections as well as in reducing risk of ARDS.
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of intensive care admission and mortality in patients with pneumonia and is common in critically ill patients and associated with adverse outcome.
Recent data from an Austrian study in critically ill deficient patients suggests that treatment with vitamin D is successful in raising levels there is a mortality benefit.
Other medical research programmes also support a role for Vitamin D as a critical protective molecule. These include:
- Oregon State University scientists found vitamin D induces the production of an anti-microbial peptide gene that helps the immune response against minor wounds, cuts and both bacterial and viral infections
- In a Japanese randomized, controlled trial, children given a daily vitamin D supplement had a 40% lower rate of Influenza Type A compared with those given placebo.
Vitamin D is not an anti-viral molecule, it augments immune function, allowing the body to combat the virus more effectively and also suppresses inflammatory processes.
One theory suggests that the seasonality of flu is related to the fact that most people have lower vitamin D levels in the winter than in the summer and research
Indeed, research published in 2009 suggests fatality rates during the 1918-1919 Spanish Flu pandemic were influenced by season, with greater numbers of people dying during the winter than the summer.
Another trial involving 11,000 participants revealed that daily or weekly supplementation of vitamin D halved the risk of infection in those with the lowest vitamin D levels.
So, in summary, there is enough validated research around to make a strong case for a preventative approach to infection that includes a recommendation to maintain a year-round optimal vitamin D level.
According to experts, what that looks like in practice is exposure to 15 minutes of unfiltered sun two to three times weekly, depending on your skin type and the time of day. Arms and legs should be exposed, whilst still protecting the face.
Recommendations about optimal dosages of supplemented vitamin D are outlined in the full article.
THE ROLE OF VITAMIN C IN THE PREVENTION OF VIRAL INFECTION
We have known about Vitamin C since the 1930s, yet the weight of evidence for its very broad anti-viral effect reinforces the notion that there seems to be no virus that has been able to survive it.
A wide range of published and authenticated research establishes that, among other things, the use of Vitamin C as an anti-viral agent has been common since the 1930s, can enhance recovery of patients with pneumonia, is already being used to prevent and treat Covid-19 in China and in Korea with some success and does no harm, even in the highest of quantities.
In Shanghai, the government has officially recommended treatment with high doses of vitamin C as part of its strategy to combat the spread of Covid-19
Based on this and other evidence detailed in my full paper on this subject, I would recommend people consider taking 4 grams a day of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and increase that dose to twice a day in the event of symptoms – particularly where these are being managed from home during self -isolation.
The other common deficiency we suffer in the West that may lead to increased vulnerability to infections is that of iodine.
In the age before pharmaceutical medicine became the norm, iodine was used to treat a variety of ills.
Iodine deficiency now affects around half of the population of Europe, yet this healing mineral – perhaps best known for its role in supporting the health of the thyroid gland – has many other preventative uses.
Among other things, it’s a proven anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, a protector of breast and ovary health and – particularly relevant in a coronavirus context – a potent anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-viral agent.
Iodine has also been used in various forms as an antiseptic for the skin, wounds and mucous surfaces of the body and also as a sterilising agent in the air and inanimate objects such as catgut and surgical instruments.
Research and practice have underlined the important role iodine plays in killing bacteria, viruses and anthrax spores, among other things, and has been used successfully against influenza, herpes, small pox, and chicken pox viruses.
For recommended daily dosages, please read the full abstract paper by following the link in the introduction to this blog.
In summary, then, iodine is another nutrient with anti-viral properties and those who are deficient in it are likely to be more vulnerable to viral infection.
There will be those reading this who will still deny the evidence that exists to support my advocacy of vitamins C and D and iodine in the prevention of Covid-19 and other viral infections. Others will continue to believe their use as a supplemental addition to your daily health regimen is associated with some unsubstantiated risk to health.
There will always be those who are either not informed enough or who have vested interests in pharmaceutical health strategies.
But they miss the point. Which is that as I write this final paragraph, Big Pharma has yet to identify any treatment for Covid-19, and if what I have suggested here gives people and my doctor-colleagues an edge against this virus in the absence of harm, then what is there to lose?