Thursday, 19 March 2020

Essential Immune Supports

With a novel virus at pandemic levels most of us are aware of what we CAN'T do at the moment.
I hope we have all become aware of how to apply good hygiene practices, how to identify when to self-isolate and know what social distancing means.

As a Natural Health practitioner I know how important a healthy, WELL REGULATED immune response is when responding to infection.

Collectively, there has not been a lot said about how-

A) it is our immune response to the virus that may cause most harm, what is referred to as a cytokine storm, occuring in lung tissue in the case of Covid-19 and 

B) what can we do at the individual level from a nutritional and phytotherapeutic perspective to support ourselves.

And I won't start on the polluted air we're exposed to, the chemicals in our food and water supply as well as the energy dense nutrient poor non-food foods that are aggressively marketed to us and our young people. All these things place us at further risk!

What else beyond handwashing and social distancing?


I absolutley say YES to handwashing, social distancing and self isolation. Personally though, I prefer to be far more proactive in my self care. 

In turn I then feel empowered by my actions, thus reducing the potential for despair and despondency that for me, can result from a sense of powerlessness (doing nothing).

Below is an excerpt shared with permission from Goulds Naturopathica about what we, as individuals can do on a daily basis using, primarily, food as medicine.

We’ve put together a list of simple steps you can take at this time to take care of yourselves and your loved ones.
Our list of suggestions below has been compiled with the intention of providing you with simple steps for actions you can take at home, or recommendations for things that you can access fairly easily. These treatments have the potential to support your general health and immune resilience, but to be clear, none of them have any proven action in preventing or treating coronavirus infection.

Gargle and drink GREEN TEA. Consuming green tea, in particular gargling it, has been shown to reduce the risk of contracting influenza and the common cold. The tannins in green tea have been shown to have broad antiviral effects topically. In one study, residents in an aged care facility gargling the equivalent of ½ cup of green tea three times daily were more than 15 times less likely (OR 15.7) to catch the flu https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=16970537

Take a Vitamin D supplement. Living in Tasmania (or the Bega VAlley for that matter) is known to increase our risk of having low vitamin D. A number of studies have shown that taking vitamin D, particularly in people who are vitamin D deficient, reduces the chances of developing acute respiratory infections including influenza. Most studies reviewed used adult doses ranging from 2000IU to 4000IU a day, which is known to be safe to take long term even in the absence of deficiency https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=30675873

Eat probiotic foods daily. Consuming probiotic foods regularly or taking a probiotic supplement has been shown to reduce the risk of developing an upper respiratory tract infection https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=25927096 You can consume probiotics through foods such as probiotic yogurt (Vaalia has 3 well researched viable strains in therapeutic amounts), sauerkraut or kimchi, in addition to many others. All of these can be consumed on a daily basis. If you would prefer to take a supplement, talk to us at Gould’s (or Health Expressions) about the most ideal one for your situation.

Eat plenty of raw crushed GARLIC. We don’t care if you stink, we can all stink together! Garlic is one of nature’s best antimicrobials, and it is quite amazing in that it appears to be selective in its action – it doesn’t wipe out your good bacteria. Local organic garlic is best if you can access it, but don’t worry if you can’t – eat what you can find. Ensure you are eating raw garlic according to your own tolerance as not everyone can stomach it. We find that adding crushed garlic to a meal just before consuming it, or having it with avocado on wholesome bread, improves tolerability.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=PMC4103721

Keep any medicines you regularly use in stock and within date. This includes pharmaceuticals (check your scripts are also in date), herbal remedies and nutritional supplements. At Gould’s, we have taken measures to ensure we have enough immune and respiratory herbs in stock to get through the winter season, and while we encourage you to be prepared, we emphatically ask that you don’t stockpile herbs, so that we can continue to serve the community through the winter period. Tinctures are also not something we can accept returns for, so please think about how much you realistically need. We are setting a limit of 500ml per person for respiratory and immune mixes, and while we won’t be policing repeat visits, we ask that everyone be mindful of others within the community also having access to herbal medicines.

Keep your home above 16°C. Having a cold home reduces respiratory resilience and increases susceptibility to and mortality from respiratory tract infections. This is especially important for people who are elderly, asthmatic or have other chronic/recurrent respiratory conditions. http://www.instituteofhealthequity.org/…/the-health-impacts…

Eat a healthy well-balanced diet. Eat an abundance of plant foods, high antioxidant foods (especially berries, kiwifruit and purple grapes), fresh local fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and plenty of legumes. These help to feed your beneficial gut bacteria, which will assist you with immune resilience. They also ensure you have a healthy intake of vitamin C along with other nutrients important for immune health.

Don’t overindulge with alcohol. Binge drinking is bad for your gut flora, and also impairs immune function and increases the severity of respiratory tract infections https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4590612/
If you smoke, action a quit plan. Contact QuitTas for support https://www.quittas.org.au/…

Get enough sleep, maintain a healthy exercise regime, and try to keep stress levels in check. We understand that these things can be easier said than done, but all three of these are integral to your immune system working well. So take the opportunities that present to take care of yourself.

If you do get sick, don’t panic, but please minimise your contact with other people, and follow the guidelines about self-isolation.

SELF ISOLATION IS RECOMMENDED IF:
● You have returned from or transited through any high-risk countries within the last 14 days. (It appears prudent to extend this to moderate risk countries also.) At the time of writing this post (12th March 2020) the following countries are considered high and moderate risk: Mainland China; Iran; Italy; South Korea; Cambodia; Hong Kong; Indonesia; Japan; Singapore and Thailand. It appears that USA may soon be classed as moderate risk also.
● You have been in close contact with anyone who has recently transited through these countries.
● You have been in contact with anyone who has confirmed coronavirus or is suspected to be at risk of being exposed to the virus.
● You have recently returned from anywhere overseas and have even mild cold or flu symptoms.
***In all of these cases you should call the Coronavirus hotline on 1800 020 080 nationally (in Australia) to clarify your next step. https://www.health.gov.au/…/coronavirus-covid-19-informatio…


Additional Focus


Other key nutrients (in addition to Vitamin D) that support our immune system are Zinc, Vitamin C and Vitamin A. Vitamin A is a key nutrient for mucous membrane health and immune regulation. It's functions include:

  • downregulating cytokine production thereby modulating immune response

  • supporting most immune cells such as T cells, antibodies, macrophages and Natural Killer cells.

  • helping to maintain cell wall structure and defense, in the form of cytokeratin- an important part of cell membrane structure and integrity

Vitamn A's role is crucial to the 'frontline' defence capabilities of our respiratory mucosa.


Anti-Oxidants may be a helpful addition to our first aid kits. In any inflammatory immune response our bodies generate free radicals to excess. Anti-oxidant nutrients (Vitamins C, D, E, A to name a few) and foods high in antioxidants, such as green tea, prunes, spinach, berries (think coloured plant foods/ Rainbow Diet) can help to reduce excess production of oxidising free radicals.

And quickly, I know these may be stressful times and how that can trigger stress eating. Please be aware that sugar can have a directly immune suppressive affect. Sugar intake leads to the production of gliotoxins that damage T cells and macrophages, important immune cells.


And finally, let's all look after each other as best we can. Think about having catch ups with friends in open spaces or in virtual spaces as social support can be tremendously important to our overall AND immune health.


One last thing...life goes on and the current pandemic is not the ony health concern for many of us. We still have our acne or PMS or insomnia or autoimmune disease or gut issues and so on to contend with so with this in mind I want to remind you that I can offer my consultations via Skype or over the phone.

Any questions...please just reach out.