As the situation with Coronavirus continues to develop, as individuals we are presented with the question of how to respond.
I have compiled the following post to help you understand how to:
- Prevent the further spread of Covid-19
- Boost/Modulate your immune system
- Manage symptoms related to Covid-19 using Natural Methods
This is based on my many years of experience as a Functional Medicine Practitioner, helping individuals manage their health alongside the latest advice and recommendations from the Functional Medicine Institute, CNM and the World Health Organisation.
PREVENTING THE FURTHER SPREAD OF COVID-19
If most people are likely to get Coronavirus and recover, why are we still trying to prevent it from spreading?
It is still hugely important to work on preventing and slowing down the spread of COVID-19 so as not to overwhelm our Healthcare System.
Simply put, if we do not take action now – people who would otherwise be able to recover from the virus will be put at risk due to support not being available to them.
So, what’s the most effective way to do this?
You may have heard the following methods a thousand times already, but they’re worth repeating.
Simple, but effective.
One of the most common ways of getting infected is by touching things in public, so make sure you’re not only washing your hands every time you sneeze, cough or blow your nose – but also every time you leave and come back into your house.
Wash and scrub your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds using soap and water.
Where soap and water is not available, you can use hand sanitiser. If you can’t get hold of any, why not make your own? Anti-bacterial hand sanitiser can also disrupt the skin’s microbiome, so I personally recommend that you combine it with a blend of essential oils.
- 99% Rubbing Alcohol (1-2 cups)
- Hot Water (5 tbsp)
- Aloe Vera Gel (5 - 7 tbsp)
- OnGuard® Essential Oil Blend* (6 - 8 drops)
- Vitamin E Oil or Almond Oil (1/4 tbsp)
Simply combine ingredients and use a glass spray container (available from Amazon or Boots). NEVER use plastic.
*OnGuard® Essential Oil Blend available to purchase here.
Covering Your Mouth and Nose
When coughing or sneezing, be sure to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. If you don’t have your hands free, or no tissue available then instead use your sleeve, not your bare hands.
Keep Surfaces Clean
This is good advice for everyday living but is particularly important right now. Whilst we don’t yet know how long Coronavirus can survive on surfaces, it is good practise to be proactive in our response.
You should clean and disinfect surfaces which are touched frequently, such as door handles, computer keyboards and remote controls. Likewise, give extra attention to rooms which are in frequent use such as kitchens and bathrooms.
Don't Touch Your Face
This is slightly harder to integrate, particularly as the average individual touches their face an average of 15 times every hour!
However, it is not impossible. Below are 4 suggestions to help you
1. Be Mindful
Yes, this does sound a little simplistic. However, by even committing to the intention to stop doing something, we bring it to the forefront of our mind. Simply noticing every urge to touch your face is a good start to changing this behaviour.
2. Identify Why You Touch Your Face
Again, it’s simple, but if you notice you constantly touch your face to brush your hair out the way then simply getting a hairband/hairclips can reduce the urge to do so.
Likewise, you may find it’s largely due to stress or boredom. The best route for treating persistent stress and anxiety is to seek professional help, however if you notice that your stress peaks when you’re watching the news or scrolling through Social Media – it may be time to cut back on these activities.
3. Find something else to do when you want to touch your face
Like with trying to adjust any habit, you can also utilise the method of forming a ‘competing behaviour’. All this means is that every time you go to touch your face, you instead touch another part of your body instead (e.g. your arm).
4. Enlist help
Often, we don’t even notice the behaviour in the first place, never mind trying to stop it. If you have friends or family around, ask them to point out every time you touch your face and do the same to them. It may be annoying, but it will be effective!
The way we live can have a massive impact on our immune system. As the situation develops we are going to have to adapt the way we currently live anyway, so now is a perfect time to start incorporating some new habits to build up your immunity and general wellbeing.
I think you’ll agree that feeling stressed isn’t great, even in normal circumstances. Not only does it have a negative mental and emotional impact on us, but it also weakens our immune system.
There is no ‘one way’ to reduce stress as much of it depends on your personal preferences, however below you can find a couple of different things to try.
- Avoid/Reduce Caffeine, Alcohol and Nicotine
- Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol in small quantities are stimulants so will increase your levels of stress rather than reduce it. Try swapping to matcha tea instead to get that boost of energy without the jitters!
- Get some exercise
- Stress increases the levels of the ‘fight or flight’ hormones adrenaline and cortisol in your body. Physical exercise can help metabolise the excessive stress hormones and restore your mind and body to a calmer, more relaxed state.
- Try some Relaxation techniques
- The thought of meditation can be quite daunting if you’ve never tried it, but apps like Calm, Headspace, Music Zen and Inner Balance can be a great introduction
- Indulge in ‘self-care’
- You know your body and mind better than most. Take some time to do the things you love, whether that’s curling up with a good book or taking a long bath. Self-care can even be doing the dishes if you find it therapeutic!
We all know what it feels like to wake up after a bad night’s sleep. You feel sluggish, lack concentration and have little motivation to do anything.
But did you know that sleep also has a big influence on your immune system?
Here’s my top tips to help you get to sleep better:
- Go to sleep at the same time every night
- If we suddenly find ourselves at home without having to get up for an alarm clock, if can be easy for our bedtime routine to go out the window. Sticking to the same routine, even at the weekends, will help maintain our internal body clock.
- Create a ‘wind-down’ routine
If you have to stay at home, it can be difficult to distinguish between ‘day-time’ and ‘night-time’ as we no longer have the routine of returning from work to signal that we can wind down. You should allow plenty of time away from screens and create a routine to signal to your brain that it’s time for bed. Things like creating a ‘to-do’ list for the following day, some gentle relaxation exercises or reading a book can be very effective
- Make your bedroom sleep-friendly
Create a ‘tech-free’ zone in the bedroom to avoid unwanted distractions. Your bedroom should ideally be dark, quiet, tidy and at a temperature of around 18 degrees for optimum sleepiness + some essential oils like lavender, geranium, patchouli, sandalwood.
It’s well documented how good exercise is for us.
It can boost our immune system by raising levels of antibodies and infection-fighting white blood cells along with increasing circulation and decreasing stress hormones.
But with self-isolation and social distancing restrictions being put in place, how do we maintain exercise at home?
Well, if yoga is your thing Yoga Teach Carley Small is hosting online Yoga Sessions every Tuesday and Thursday 8 - 9am GMT. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for the invite!
Not into Yoga? Check out Clifford Studios who will be hosting online Fitness classes also.
This is an entire topic in itself, but to keep it simple and accessible for you – research has shown that brightly coloured vegetables and fruits can boost your immunity better than most supplements.
You should ideally aim for 10 servings per day, and include fermented vegetables or other probiotic-containing foods wherever possible.
SUPPORTING THE IMMUNE SYSTEM WITH SUPPLEMENTS
When considering what supplements to take, it can become overwhelming very quickly.
Although there is no research to determine what is effective as a specific response to COVID-19, the following recommendations are shown to help boost/modulate immune function and also provide symptom relief during illness and may help to shorten the duration of illness.
Regularly administered Vitamin C has been shown to shorten the duration of colds and reduce high temperatures. May help to prevent infections, including those caused by bacteria and viruses.
NAC increases the levels of a substance called glutathione, a powerful antioxidant found in every cell of the body and can also act as a mucolytic agent (helps break/soften the mucous). It is also used to reduce hepatotoxicity of paracetamol (the damage caused to the liver by extended use of paracetamol).
- NOTE: It might not be safe for people with asthma, bleeding problems or anyone taking nitroglycerin, including blood thinners and certain blood pressure medications. If these apply to you, check with your doctor before using NAC supplements to discuss any possible interactions. Please consult with your health practitioner
Helpful for supporting the immune system. Numerous studies have shown that it helps reduce the risk of colds and flu.
Some studies have shown that fresh garlic, aged garlic extract and some other garlic supplements may reduce viral upper respiratory infection severity. They may also function in the prevention of infection with viruses that cause colds.
Honey, preferably raw, can help relieve minor pain and inflammation of mucous membranes. It also has antioxidant properties as well as some antimicrobial effects.
Probiotics contain ‘good bacteria’ which can help influence immune system functioning and regulation. Some studies have also shown that probiotic use can decrease the number of respiratory infections, particularly in children.
For short-term use. Can be extremely helpful in supporting the body’s ability to fight infections, particularly with regard to respiratory infections.
Zinc can be highly effective in helping boost immunity. It can also help reduce the duration and severity of symptoms when taken within 20 hours of onset.
Selenium is a key nutrient for immune function. It is also an antioxidant that helps to boost/modulate the body’s defences against bacteria and viruses. Selenium can be easily obtained from foods, with the richest source being Brazil nuts. Simply eating 1 or 2 Brazil nuts daily can help!
How Do Supplements Work?
Some of the Vitamins recommended below work by combating Oxidative Stress. This is caused by an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals in the body. Oxidative stress can lead to a higher susceptibility of infection amongst other things. Some vitamins help by increasing the production of antibodies and antioxidants to help combat oxidative stress in the body.
Mushrooms contain more than 150 compounds such as beta-glucans, sterols, antioxidants, statins and triterpenes etc. that can radically improve our health. There are more than 2,000 studies and science-backed reasons that validate Mushrooms anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties. Medicinal mushrooms also induce interferon cascade - activating your body’s “internal army” to be prepared. It’s the first life of defence against viral infections.
If you would like to know about which Medicinal Mushrooms are appropriate along with recommended dosages, please do e-mail me.
NATURAL MEANS OF "BOOSTING" IMMUNITY + RELIEVING SYMPTOMS
If you start to show symptoms related to Coronavirus and are looking for natural relief, look no further.
Whilst over-the-counter medications can treat the symptoms, most don’t actually help the immune system fight the infection. The following are some natural methods you can use to both address the symptoms you may be experiencing, as well as modulate your immune system to aid recovery.
When combating upper respiratory infections, staying hydrated is key. Alongside drinking plenty of water, homemade vegetable or bone broths can also be extremely beneficial. Herbal teas and hot drinks can also help not only with staying hydrated, but also as reducing symptoms. Recommendations include Peppermint, Ginger, Eucalyptus, Chamomile or the classic hot water with lemon and honey.
Rest really is important when you’re fighting infection, so make sure you’re taking plenty of it. Everything else can wait, almost nothing is more important than your health.
For A Sore Throat
Adding salt or 1tbsp of Apple Cider vinegar to water and gargling it is an excellent way to loosen mucus as well as helping to fend off bacterial throat infections. Two tablespoons of honey in hot water can also help to soothe a sore throat and decrease inflammation. Additionally, Peppermint and Chamomile teas can also help reduce irritation, as can teas/infusions which are made from marshmallow root and liquorice root.
For Congestion and Sinus Relief
Humidifiers, vaporisers, steam inhalers alongside steamy baths and showers can help relieve irritation related to congestion. Combining essential oils such as eucalyptus, menthol, peppermint or frankincense with vaporisers or inhalers can also help.
Alongside this, Nasal Xylitol sprays can be very beneficial, as can nasal irrigation using a neti pot (available from Boots, pharmacies or online). Buffered saline is easy to make or can be purchased in packets and eliminates any irritation to delicate, irritated mucous membranes.
It’s important to remember you are not powerless right now.
It can feel very scary and overwhelming however as humans we are built to adapt. If you are concerned or would like any more information about the contents of this blog you can e-mail me at
Look after yourselves!
*This blog is only intended to identify modalities that help strengthen your immunity. It is not meant to recommend any treatments, nor have any of these modalities been proven effective against coronavirus. Always consult your physician or healthcare provider prior to using any of these modalities. For up-to-date information on COVID-19, please consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov.