Last updated 3/27/20: My patients and newsletter subscribers are receiving these updates via email, which I am compiling here as an easy reference for all. Please do your own research and consult with your own physician, as information changes rapidly during this pandemic. You can subscribe to my newsletter (and get my free eBook) by filling out the form at the bottom of this blog article page.
The best outcomes we can hope for are that 1) you can avoid getting ill, 2) you can recover more quickly if you do get ill, and 3) that you avoid spreading the virus to others, especially to those who may be less able to cope.
NEW: Here (in a separate post) is my latest experience with my own patient being admitted to a hospital with COVID-19 and the difficulty I had with the hospital not agreeing to the Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) treatment that I prescribed for him. My patient is doing better so far, but do read the full story here.
My team and I have been working hard to implement the practices I recommend below and to keep ourselves isolated (at home and the office) so that we can continue to take care of you. My hope is that we will get through this without having to close the office for any significant period of time. Fortunately, I’ll be able to do patient visits through a Telemedicine program called Doxy.me or by phone. If you have an upcoming visit one of my staff will let you know how to connect.
We have also been working very hard to keep a supply of the highest quality supplements in stock for you to be able to continue to have the supplements you usually take as well as ones that will help support your immune system and hopefully keep you healthy. Many of the supplement companies are running into temporary shortages. I will be posting a supplement bundle recommendation frequently based on what we have in stock that will support a strong immune system.
You can place your orders by phone, our Updox patient portal, or email, and some products are available in our online store. Local courier and curbside pickup orders are available, as well as phone and online orders.
Clinic IV Therapy:
We will be suspending IV therapy at the clinic for now. However, we will alert you when we have the mechanisms in place to keep both you and my staff healthy. I’ll be excited to start it back up again because of the benefits that IVs provide.
Here are some of our available items at the moment:
Immune Protect Bundle: This bundle includes very potent, comprehensive immune system support. Each supplement was carefully selected to boost your immune system defense and help you fight viral infection. I’ve included enough supplements for a one month supply (instructions will be emailed to you and included in your package). During the difficult time of this pandemic we are bundling these products together to offer you the best products at the greatest value, below the suggested retail price.
Extra Immune Support Bundle: During the difficult time of this pandemic we are bundling these products together to offer you the best products at the greatest value, below the suggested retail price. I put together this Extra Immune Support Bundle for anyone who feels they may have been exposed, they feel that their immune system may be compromised, or they want to increase their level of immune support.
B IMMUNE Wellness Support Formula: A powerful combination of supplements in AM/PM packets designed to help strengthen and support the immune system. (Limited availability)
And here is a link to my store’s home page if you’d like to browse in general. Please keep in mind that availability is subject to change rapidly.
Other Supplements That Are Helpful:
There are many supplements that support the immune system or have antiviral properties that you can also use if we have them in stock or if you have them at home.
Allicin (garlic extract)
Green Tea Extract – ECGC
What to Eat and Drink for Optimal Wellness:
- Eat a variety of vegetables: celery, greens (beets, chard, kale), eat orange foods for vitamin A/ beta carotene (beets, squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots), onions, garlic, Brazil nuts
- Fruits that are good antioxidants: blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, strawberries, goji berries
- Drink green tea, or stew turmeric and/or fresh ginger and drink the brew.
- Incorporate lots of healing food/spices/herbs into your meals:
- Top Two beneficial anti-viral foods: Garlic & Celery– Also Turmeric/Curry, Cinnamon, Oregano, Pepper, Cloves, Ginger, Rosemary, Cacao, Mint, Cayenne, Beets
- Avoid sugar, gluten and dairy.
- Drink your vegetables – Exceed Greens & Reds or Dynamic Greens are the ones we have in the office that I love!
- Make sure you include good sources of high-quality protein in your diet, ideally grass-fed and pasture-raised meats.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco.
Other Vital Wellness Tips:
- If you got the flu vaccine – A study shows that COVID-19 can be worse in those who received the flu vaccine, so you may want to give yourself extra support with supplements and the list above.
- If you are taking Advil, Motrin, ibuprofen or other NSAIDs, you could be more susceptible. Reduce or stop your dose if possible. If you are not able to stop for severe pain issues, you may want to consider extra immune support. For some needs, studies have shown Curcumin supplementation can provide equal or better results than NSAID medications. This virus is also causing liver issues—so avoid taking NSAIDs for fever if possible (not even Tylenol).
- Get a least 8 hours of sleep— rest makes your body more resilient.
- Gargle with warm salt water- promotes throat health.
- Practice daily meditation to alleviate the anxiety and stress many of us are feeling and for general well-being, boosting immunity, and many other benefits.
- Exercise, but do not overdo it– you could actually lower your resistance to infection by exercising too much.
- TrueLight Energy Square by the company Truedark stimulates cells to heal faster and reduces inflammation.
- Spend time outside and get some sun exposure to your skin (don’t get burned)
- Stay connected with those you care about
- Be a good neighbor. Check in to see how you can help (by phone).
What Is COVID-19 and Why Is It Different?
The coronavirus is a type of virus we have dealt with previously, and this year the strain we are dealing with is SARS-CoV-2. Once a person has contracted the virus, the resulting disease is called COVID-19.
- The incubation period before symptoms occur is 5 days on average, but can be up to 14 days, which is one of the challenges for containment.
- About 80% (these are rough estimates) of those infected with the virus have no symptoms or are mildly ill.
- About 20% of people (again, roughly) get more serious symptoms.
- Death rate varies widely by age and location. (For example, Germany and South Korea have much lower rates than Italy)
- The elderly and immunocompromised are more severely affected, but this doesn’t rule out any age group having severe consequences.
What Are The Symptoms?
The main symptoms are sore throat, fever and cough. Additional symptoms include body aches, sore throat, headache, diarrhea. Usually congestion is not a symptom, but some people do cough up sputum later in the illness.
When the virus moves into the lungs, it can cause pneumonia. It can progress to ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) requiring oxygen and when very severe, intubation and a respirator. Some patients are also having heart issues (cardiomyopathy).
The American College of Gastroenterology is reporting that up to half of COVID-19 patients present with a digestive symptom as chief complaint, and further, that there may be a higher risk in these cases: “In this study, COVID-19 patients with digestive symptoms have a worse clinical outcome and higher risk of mortality compared to those without digestive symptoms, emphasizing the importance of including symptoms like diarrhea to suspect COVID-19 early in the disease course before respiratory symptoms develop,” said Brennan M.R. Spiegel, MD, MSHS, FACG, Co-Editor-in-Chief of The American Journal of Gastroenterology. “This may lead to earlier diagnosis of COVID-19, which can lead to earlier treatment and more expeditious quarantine to minimize transmission from people who otherwise remain undiagnosed.”
How Does The Virus Spread?
The virus starts in the throat, then moves to the airways and lungs–essentially becoming a “coronavirus factory” releasing the virus into the environment.
You can get it from breathing in the virus from someone coughing or by touching a contaminated surface and then your face.
What Are The Best Prevention Strategies?
- Practice social distancing, stay home.
- Do not share personal household items such as dishes, glasses, cups, utensils, towels or bedding with other people or pets in your home. Wash these items thoroughly with soap and water daily.
- Prepare homemade meals.
- Know your risk – who are your family members coming in contact with? Are they at risk? Do what you can to limit your family’s contacts and emphasize to your teens and older children that they are not invincible! The rumor that younger people are less affected is not true– Saturday 3/21/20 the New York governor reported in his press conference that 54% of their state’s cases were patients ages 18-49.
- Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces at least once daily.
- Understand that the virus can live on some surfaces for many days. Cardboard and plastics possibly too – if you receive a delivery, wear gloves if you have them, don’t sign using their pens/devices, open boxes to remove items, dispose of the packaging and wash your hands.
- Be vigilant about cleaning your hands.
- Clear air with a HEPA or other air filter (they don’t do much for viruses, but breathing clean air is helpful for your immune system in general).
- Keep your hands away from your face…. this one is such a challenging habit to change!
- Wear gloves if you must go to the grocery store or get gasoline or any other necessary errand.
- Leave your shoes by the door so you don’t track anything in.
- Clean surfaces at least once daily. From Harvard Medical School: How long can the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 survive on surfaces? “A recent study found that the COVID-19 coronavirus can survive up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. The researchers also found that this virus can hang out as droplets in the air for up to three hours before they fall. But most often they will fall more quickly. There’s a lot we still don’t know, such as how different conditions, such as exposure to sunlight, heat, or cold, can affect these survival times. As we learn more, continue to follow the CDC’s recommendations for cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects every day. These include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables.”
What About Testing?
There are several locations in Austin and most cities set up to do testing… but testing is still limited so it is being reserved for those with known exposures and those who are very ill. At-home kits are becoming available through Everlywell (an Austin based company) on Monday, March 23 (read more here). This may be the best option so that you don’t have to go out. If you have a mild case and can’t get testing, please contact the office, and I’ll give you my recommendations on how to prevent it from getting worse. If you develop a severe case, please also let me know so that I can give you my latest information on the best treatment available. I am also working on getting a supply of “at-home tests” and will keep you posted.
What Should I Do If I Feel Ill or Someone In My Family Is Sick?
- STAY HOME. Avoid spreading your illness to others. Stay isolated for 14 days or until advised it is safe to be around others, even pets (pets are a vector!). Ideally use your own bathroom. If you need to share others should take care with touching surfaces. Wear a face mask if you need to leave isolation. Quarantine yourself or the individual according to these guidelines.
- SLEEP. Resting is the best thing you can do!
- SIP. Hydration is key. Always have clean, filtered water available and drink as much as you can. Avoid plastic bottled water and use a glass container.
- SOUP. Eat simply–chicken and vegetable broth-based soups are perfect. Protein and vegetables only, nutrient-dense and simple to digest. Cooked rather than raw– sauteed veggies rather than a salad.
- SKIP all gluten, dairy, sugar and processed foods. The goal is reducing inflammation and allowing as much energy as possible to go toward healing. I don’t recommend Tylenol or ibuprofen unless your temperature is over 104, because there are some studies that imply it could give you a worse outcome.
- SUPPORT yourself with meditation and visualizations, and be mindful to bring positive things into your awareness. Reduce electronics, listen to your favorite music, read books, and try some guided meditations.
- SOAK. Take a relaxing bath. (Especially beneficial with my Clear + Restore Bath for detoxifying)
- SUPPLEMENT with some items from the list given here above, and increase your dosage.
- SEEK TREATMENT if you are having trouble breathing or feel short of breath– call 911 or call the hospital where you would like to be evaluated so that they can prepare for you. Emergency warning signs include, but are not limited to, this list: Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, bluish lips or face. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
What About Pets?
Pets are a hot topic. There are some recent reports that dogs can get sick, and coronaviruses in general (previous strains vs. this one) are a known pathogen in dogs. Here is a PubMed article published 3/16/20 discussing coronavirus/COVID-19 eye infections in animals and humans.
Also, it makes sense if the virus can live on other surfaces like cardboard and plastic for hours or days, it could live on your pets for hours or days.
It may be a relief from cabin fever to take your dog to the park, but remember that if your dog is off-leash and interacting with other dogs and then comes back to you and your home, he may be infecting your environment.
Take appropriate precautions to keep your pets safe and those around you. Will try to delve into this more in the next newsletter.
“If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed), you should restrict contact with pets and other animals, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, (NOTE: since this was written, now there are anecdotal reports of pets with COVID-19) it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus. This can help ensure both you and your animals stay healthy.”
“When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. Avoid contact with your pet including, petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with them.”
Remember prevention is the best option. Use the above recommendations to reduce your risk (social isolation, supplements and good food to keep your system strong).
But it’s good to know that there are some treatments that are looking promising.
- Chloroquine (Plaquenil) or one of its derivatives– it’s inexpensive and made by several drug companies that are donating millions of doses and ramping up production. It’s a generic malaria drug and is helpful for some autoimmune diseases. Official studies are underway, but it has been used in other countries. It is usually well-tolerated but can have rare severe side-effects that are usually reversible.
- Several antivirals that are used for HIV and other infections also have some preliminary results that are hopeful. Agents being studied include: remdesivir, lopinavir/ritonavir, rintatolimod. Read more here.
- Camostat Mesilate – used in Japan for pancreatitis. Read more here.
- Nitric Oxide -Inhaled nitric oxide helps with recovery (not nitrous oxide used at the dentist). Supplements that boost your nitric oxide may also help (one of my favorites is Neo40).
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is also a very promising therapy and possibly prevention too. Read more here.
- Interleukin-6 inhibitors
- Steroids may reduce the risk of death
- Antibody directed therapy
Request for Masks:
Please donate any N95 or N99 masks or respirators (the type used for painting and working on cars) if you have them so that the health care, dentists (now limited to emergency care) and EMS workers that are on the “front lines” have them. Simply call your providers and ask them if they would like a donation. One of the biggest challenges is that so many of the doctors and nurses and other health care workers are getting the virus because they don’t have adequate protection as they are caring for patients. I am so grateful to Mike Dillard for donating some N95 masks to my office so that we can stay safe and continue to care for you!
We are empowered to help our bodies be more resilient in any situation. I believe that if we take daily actions to support our immune system, we will have a much better outcome. This may feel overwhelming, but just take the next best step and the steps will add up. Use this time to implement more proactive habits in your life for your future. Sending my best wishes for you and your loved ones. My sister sent me this poem that I would like to share with you:
Pandemic –Lynn Ungar 3/11/20
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.