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Coronavirus & COVID-19 Topics in this Post:

Update On My COVID-19 Positive Patient

You may be wondering how my first patient with COVID-19 is doing, who was hospitalized last week. You may recall that it was challenging to get the hospital to provide him with the best medical treatment based on my research.

I am extremely happy (and relieved) to report that, after the combination treatment of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), azithromycin, zinc and vitamin C, plus other immune system support, my patient is now completing his recovery comfortably at home.

This illuminates a larger issue at play here about your rights to have the medication that you and your physician have decided is best.

The Protocol That Is Currently Working the Best

Some reports are talking only about an HCQ and Azithromycin combination, excluding the Zinc and Vitamin C that I believe are also absolutely essential for this protocol to be most effective. It’s also important to start the protocol at the appropriate time. The limited availability of COVID-19 testing and slow turnaround times is still making this very challenging.

This week the FDA has issued an Emergency Use Authorization for healthcare providers to use HCQ from the Strategic National Stockpile, specifically for hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Even the governor of Michigan has reversed her misguided stance that originally restricted the use of HCQ for COVID-19 patients. Many drug companies are ramping up their production of the drug to help have an adequate supply line, and several companies are donating millions of doses to the Strategic National Stockpile.

The most compelling study from France by Gautret (et al) this week showed dramatic reduction in the viral levels within 3 days with the virus gone in 5 days. The control patients who did not receive medication still had high levels of virus even after 6 days. One of these researchers has gone on to treat 1004 patients, with 1003 surviving.

Safety of HCQ  

Hydroxychloroquine was approved for medical use in the United States in 1955. (Yes, it’s got a long track record.) 

It is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicinesthe safest and most effective medicines needed in a nation’s health system.  

In 2017, it was the 128th most prescribed medication in the United States with more than five million prescriptions. 

Just like with any pharmaceutical drug, there are possible side effects. Given the history and experience that the medical community has with this drug, and the anecdotal and documented evidence that combining it in the protocol above is actually saving lives, it seems completely obvious that doctors should be considering providing this medication to COVID-19 positive patients who are hospitalized or are still at home developing concerning symptoms. If a patient has a long QT interval on their EKG, the risk/benefit would need to be weighed in considering how to treat the patient. 

Your Rights for Medication Choice 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the lead physician on the government task force, said in a media interview on March 24 (before the FDA formal authorization): “Physicians throughout the country can prescribe that [HCQ] in an off-label way. Which means they can write it for something it was not originally approved for. People do that all the time, and it really is an individual choice between the physician and his or her patient as to whether or not they want to do that.” 

Only an attorney, and possibly a higher court, can know for sure until it is tested in practice, but it appears that your rights to receive this medication may be protected under the new “Right to Try” act that was passed in May of 2018. This law allows patients with life-threatening illnesses to have access to eligible investigational drugs. Here are some other therapies under evaluation: 

Whatever the situation, if possible, find out if your physician will be allowed to prescribe this HCQ protocol BEFORE you are admitted to the hospital with COVID-19. Don’t let this prevent you from being admitted in a timely fashion if you are experiencing an emergency – but do know that not all hospitals are allowing this protocol to be administered.  

My Outlook Moving Forward 

I want to impress upon you that the situation we face together is serious—but there is some great news: 

1) We are EMPOWERED to do what we can to protect our own health and our family’s health. If you are practicing social distancing and isolation/quarantine as appropriate, and building up your own immune system, you are doing so much to further your own success in avoiding the consequences of this virus. 

2) Our country has a history of figuring things out. There is so much hope in our American history of innovation and adaptation. Some of our government agencies and officials have been very slow out of the gate to provide accurate testing at the capacity needed and medical supplies, and some aspects of our medical system remain rigid rather than nimble, but I firmly believe that we can do this! I am feeling optimistic about developing protocols out of the research that is evolving daily, implementing best practices, improving access to and accuracy of testing, and using supplements that can help tremendously to ward off this infection. 

want to acknowledge those doing “the right thing” who are socially distancing and keeping things clean and sterilized until we have a clear path. I also want to acknowledge those that don’t have the option to stay home and isolate because their jobs are key to continuing to provide essential services.  

In the meantime, TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY. Do not think you can see just “one or two” people or that you can interact as long as you’re outdoors (someone we saw was having a children’s birthday party outside this weekend!) or get your hair done (because they are just seeing one or two people at a time) or have friends over to dinner because they are quarantining too.  

This virus is “novel,” meaning our bodies have not encountered this virus before. You don’t know how your body is going to react to this virus. 

I am doing only telemedicine appointments right now, as I don’t want to expose myself, my staff, and others inadvertentlyI am concerned about my team and am not even able to see my own sons right now. That is what this situation dictates. But stay hopeful! 

Based my assessment of preliminary data on a vaccine, I don’t believe that a vaccine is going to be our savior. I think that prevention and treatment options are our best defenses against becoming seriously ill with this virus. 

Increased access for testing will also make a huge difference in our ability to combat this threat. If we are aware of whether we are infected very early, it will enable us to make better decisions and take appropriate actions with supplements and medications. There is also antibody testing coming soon that will allow us to know if we’ve had the virus and are now immune. 

The One Thing You May Be Forgetting with Social Distancing 

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, each item you bring into your home may carry the live coronavirus from 1-4 days, depending upon the surface upon which it resides. The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) coronavirus can survive up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard (Amazon boxes!), and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. It’s also detectable for up to three hours in an aerosolized form. We must act accordingly. 

A doctor in Michigan made a video that has already over 22 million viewsand his analogy is this:  Anything that is introduced to your home from the outside world needs to be imagined as having “glitter” all over it, which represents potential SARS-CoV-2 contamination.Everything that enters your home is covered with “glitter,” and your goal is to have no “glitter” on your face or on the surfaces of your home. I don’t agree with using toxic chemicals like Lysol on your bare hands or eating fast food like he is demonstrating in this video—but the spirit and message of this video is very on-target for considering the potential SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus contamination of the items that are brought into your home from the grocery store or take-out deliveries. 

The One Thing You May Be Forgetting About Immune Protection 

One of my unique approaches as a Functional Medicine physician is something that nobody else is really talking about… how exposure to everyday toxins like these Lysol wipes we’re using and other harsh chemical cleaners is actually weakening our bodies’ defenses. 

We definitely need to be taking strong measures against this virus and wiping down all surfaces frequently, especially countertops, light switches, car door handles, steering wheels, doorknobs, sink handles, phones, keyboards, your computer mouse, and your iPad screen.  

The solution? Use a simple, reusable pair of dishwashing gloves when you are handling these harsh chemical wipes. Wipes are preferable to toxic sprays, which aerosolize the chemicals and make it more likely that you will breathe them into your lungs. 

If you want a safe spray product, I do like this “Force of Nature” cleaning spray which is completely non-toxic and EPA-approved for killing this specific COVID-19 virus—but note that it does require 10 minutes of contact to be effective on surfaces. 

You may have heard my analogy of the overflowing sink… Basically, the inflow of the faucet is greater than the outflow of the drain. Our bodies are just like this in terms of what I call #EverydayToxicity 

everyday toxicity kitchen sink

A little bit DOES matter, because toxins are cumulative, the same way the water collects in the sink. When we are overwhelmed with toxins like BPA, phthalates, heavy metals, and pesticides, and our bodies cannot process them properly, our health problems show up– sometimes in a trickle, sometimes in an overflowing wave. 

There are only two ways to stop this:  

1) Reduce the faucet inflow (avoid exposure) or  

2) Unplug the drain (help your body detoxify better).  

✔️ AVOID EXPOSURE by educating yourself about environmental toxins in your everyday life– by way of toxic cleaners, canned food, fragrances, thermal cash register receipts,conventionally-sprayed produce, plastic bottles and other food packaging, poor indoor air quality, and many other overlooked sources.  

✔️ DETOXIFY BETTER by drinking plenty of clean, filtered water, having at least one bowel movement per day, filtering the indoor air in your bedroom, taking supplements like Liposomal Glutathione, using an infrared sauna, and eating lots of cruciferous vegetables. 

This #EverydayToxicity preventative mindset will give you the EDGE in boosting your immunity against this pandemic– and if you did get sick, your body’s resilience will be greater to overcome the virus. 

Your Feelings Are Normal 

I’ve talked to friends and patients who have been experiencing a wide range of emotions, including sadness, weepiness, irritability, depression, lack of motivation, anxiety, and general stress. Some of these friends are mystified or even feeling guilty about their emotions, especially when their own family is healthy, and nothing necessarily is going badly in their own situations.  

The reality is that we are all experiencing a fair amount of LOSS… loss of our normal way of life. At minimum, our daily habits, customs, etiquette, social norms, activities and freedoms are dramatically changed. And some of us have experienced tremendous loss of our jobs, income,or businesses, and some of us have COVID-19 related health challenges in our own families.Others of us are empathically sensitive to the tremendous upheaval and negativity present in the world from this pandemic. 

First—give yourself permission to feel. Know that this level of loss creates very normal feelings of grief, and that these feelings do make sense. My friend Joan Rosenberg wrote an incredible book called “90 Seconds to a Life You Love:  How to Master Your Difficult Feelings to Cultivate Lasting Confidence, Resilience, and Authenticity.” She says that you can think of emotions like waves in the ocean—that they can pass over and even crash over you, but you know that they will subside. You just allow the wave to pass.  

I will be hosting Joan live on my Instagram channel this weekend (April 4-5)—watch my social feed for the exact date and time and get your questions ready for this remarkable conversation. 

Second—make sure you are exercising. Morning exercise is great for your epigenetics(influencing positive gene expression), your weight, your mindset and stress, and your sleep quality. If you no longer have a commute, it’s even easier to fit your exercise time into your day! 

Third—take this opportunity during this time of transition and new routines to pick up the habit of meditation. Here is a video I made that will give you some strategies on how to start. 

And finally, prioritize your sleep. Make sure you are following all the tips in my Good Night’s Sleep Checklist, which you can download from here. 

If you are experiencing debilitating emotional states that are not just temporary, please seek professional help, which is easily accessible via virtual sessions by almost any mental health provider now. 

There is other helpful information on COVID-19 in my previous blog posts here and here.