Let’s face it. There’s a lot of fear in the world right now. The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting our lives in ways most of us couldn’t have imagined a few short months ago. While there are currently no known ways to prevent, treat, or cure COVID-19, there are practical, research-based actions you can take to be sure you’re best protecting yourself and your family from this or any virus.
While you’re likely aware of certain viruses such as the flu virus, you may not know there are many types of human coronaviruses. The COVID-19 (COrona VIrus Disease 2019) illness is caused by a new, previously-unidentified form of coronavirus that has never been seen in humans. Like the SARS virus of the early 2000s, COVID-19 is believed to have originated in animals and then spread to and amongst people.1
Coronavirus protection starts with reducing exposure while simultaneously boosting your immune system. And it continues with mind-body medicine techniques that help fight fear and anxiety so you are physically prepared as well as emotionally, mentally, and spiritually strong for what the future may bring. Of this you can be sure…we must cooperate to stop the spread of COVID-19. So put these 20 tips into action in your household. Share them with your friends, family, and members of your community to help contain and, in time, overcome the virus.
Natural Coronavirus Protection Begins with Avoidance
COVID-19 is spread through human contact. This means the more we can avoid other people while they (or you) may be unknowingly infected, the better. Here are tips on practicing avoidance, your first line of defense against the coronavirus. These tips are especially important for vulnerable individuals, including the elderly and those with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.
Tip #1: Avoid large gatherings. Instead, stay home with your family. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the United States government have issued guidelines for canceling events based on the spread of the virus within a community. Current recommendations encourage the cancelation of events of 10 or more people.2 Many states have closed all restaurants, bars, public places, and schools for the foreseeable future. If you’re experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, it’s critical you do not leave your home unless you’re seeking medical care. Reach out to family, friends, and neighbors if you need food or medical supplies.
Tip #2: Practice social distancing: If you must leave the house and interact in group settings, stay at least six feet away from others when possible. Respiratory droplets from an infected person who coughs or sneezes can land in your mouth or nose or may be inhaled into your lungs, potentially passing the infection to you.
Tip #3: Postpone or cancel travel: I know you’re looking forward to those spring and summer travel plans, but spending time in crowded airports, planes, and vacation destinations may increase your risk of contracting the virus. If you must travel, check with your destination’s local health department to find out the status of the virus in the area. Remember, you could bring the virus home with you, putting your family and community at greater risk.
Tip #4: Limit visitors at your home: While I’m sure you’d love some company for yourself or playmates for your kiddos, you can’t be sure who’s been exposed, as symptoms may not appear for 14 days. For now, it’s best to respectfully decline company. Try a virtual meetup with friends or a video call with family, especially those living alone who may be feeling isolated or lonely.
Tip #5: Ask your doctor about telemedicine options: If you’re dealing with a chronic condition that requires regular healthcare visits, call your doctor to see if telemedicine is an option. Remote appointments to renew prescriptions or for certain follow-up visits that don’t require in-person assessments could keep you and your hardworking healthcare provider safe.
Tip #6: Practice next-level hand hygiene: Regularly scrub your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds (sing Happy Birthday...twice), rinse well, and air dry or dry with a towel. If you sneeze, cough, wipe your nose, or touch almost anything in public, you should wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer as soon as you can.
Tip #7: Stop touching your face: This is harder than it sounds. Did you know you touch your face about 23 times an hour? 3 Dirty hands can carry the virus to mucous membranes in your eyes, nose, and mouth, which are prime entry zones for infection, so control those urges to scratch your nose or rub your eyes. Want to test yourself? This website uses your webcam to alert you when you’ve touched your face.
Tip #8: Sanitize your environment frequently: Areas of your home and car should be washed and sanitized often. Use gloves to clean frequently-touched surfaces such as tables, chairs, countertops, doorknobs, cupboard handles, faucets, sinks, steering wheels, keyboards, and cell phones. Always wash with soap and hot water before sanitizing. Use hydrogen peroxide as a natural alternative to chlorine bleach. It breaks down into water and oxygen, making it safe for your family and the environment.
Tip #9: Don’t wear a mask…unless: If you’re healthy, only wear a mask if you’re caring for an infected person or a person with a suspected infection. Also wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing, even if you haven’t tested positive. Finally, if you are positive for COVID-19, wear a mask until you are isolated in a home or hospital.
Boost Your Immune System to Protect Against Coronavirus
While avoidance is your first line of defense, simultaneously supporting your immune system naturally is just as important to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19.
Tip #10: Get plenty of sun and supplement with Vitamin D3 if needed: Research shows that Vitamin D supplementation reduces respiratory tract infections.4 If you live in a sunny climate, get plenty of sun-to-skin exposure, supplementing only after having your Vitamin D levels checked for accurate dosing. Adults typically require between 2000-5000 IUs of Vitamin D3 per day, especially in winter months.
Tip #11: Move your body: Move your body for 30-45 minutes a day at least three times a week to flush your lymphatic system and boost your immune system. If you’re already experiencing symptoms, don’t over-exercise. Instead, practice a gentle form of yoga or tai chi from the comfort of your home.
Tip #12: Get a good night’s rest: Quality sleep is necessary for optimal immune function. Try to sleep at least six to eight hours each night in total darkness to boost your production of melatonin. New studies are looking at melatonin’s ability to suppress the inflammatory response seen in extreme Coronavirus cases.5
Tip#13: Eliminate or minimize sugar and processed foods: Simple sugars such as those found in white breads, pastas, sodas, sweets, and many processed foods can inhibit your immune function for hours. About two and a half cans of soda, approximately 100 grams of sugar, can reduce white blood cell ability to kill germs by 40 percent. These adverse effects start within 30 minutes of intake and can last up to five hours.6
Tip # 14: Drink more fluids: Proper hydration is key to immune function and flushes toxins from your body. In order to stay well-hydrated, drink plenty of warm fluids such as soup broths, herbal teas, and filtered water. Hint: If your urine is clear, you’re overhydrating!
Tip #15: Optimize your diet: Eat lean, organic animal or plant-based protein at every meal. Eat more colorful fruits and vegetables, including berries, spinach, sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, and kale, which contain vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and zinc. Then add onion, ginger, garlic, and spices like turmeric and oregano to your meals to add antioxidants, selenium, and allyl sulfur compounds that are antimicrobial.
Tip #16: Take protective botanical herbs and supplements: Antiviral and antibacterial herbs such as andrographis, elderberry, astragalus, echinacea, goldenseal, licorice root, North American ginseng, and mushroom extracts produce immune-boosting effects.7 Additionally, the homeopathic medication Engystol® inhibits respiratory virus replication, although it’s efficacy against COVID-19 is undetermined.8 It is highly recommended that you consult with a professional before starting any herbs, supplements, or homeopathic medications. We have a variety available in our office and would be happy to guide you with options that would best support your individual needs.
Protect Against Coronavirus with Mind-Body Medicine
The stress and fear surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic are negatively impacting how we’re handling the approach to containment and care. The research is clear. Stress increases cortisol, which depresses immune function.9 Now is the time to practice mind-body medicine techniques to keep your immune system resilient. Use these tips to help you stay emotionally, mentally, and spiritually strong and stable.
Tip #17: Practice meditation: Meditation, mantra, prayer, and yoga help manage stress levels, increase mental clarity, and facilitate physical healing. It’s a perfect opportunity to begin a stress reduction practice. If sitting quietly doesn’t work for you, try listening to music or walking around the block while repeating a mantra such as…I am happy, healthy, and whole.
Tip #18: Take a warm bath or sauna: While most gyms and recreation centers are closed, a warm bath or sauna at home can do wonders for reducing stress and regulating mood. Try adding essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, or ylang ylang. Or dissolve two cups of epsom salts in your bath for a dose of calming magnesium that relaxes muscles and loosens joints.
Tip #19: Adopt an attitude of gratitude: The power of positive thinking in maintaining health and wellness is backed by evidence-based research.10 Be thankful for your health, your family, and all you do have in your life. You can read more about the connection between gratitude and health in my article: Three Simple Gratitude Practices to Help You Heal.
Tip #20: Reduce stigma: While it’s natural to want answers to why this is happening, it’s important to not place blame on certain people, places, or things. Social stigma negatively affects mental and emotional health and may lead to discrimination or violence. COVID-19 has escalated into a worldwide healthcare pandemic. We must come together to ensure the best outcome for all.
Common Sense and Care Will See Us Through
Yes, coronavirus needs to be taken seriously. But there is no need for you to panic or become overly fearful during this time. If we all use our common sense, following the CDC’s recommended guidelines for social distancing while taking extra care of our physical and mental health, we can greatly reduce the spread and impact of COVID-19 in our communities.
Silver Tree staff are here to answer your questions. Contact us today to speak to a doctor about the role of naturopathic prevention and treatment modalities for any of your healthcare concerns.