Is there a cure for COVID-19 and are we allowed to talk about it?
In writing a review about a Covid-19 cure, I hope to help provide a way out for those that seek it. Out from the false security of handing away our choices to politicians, reductionist experts and retired software engineers, but not into those of the hand-waving “viruses are a solvent” and the “COVID virus does not exist” brigade.
My professional life has been spent helping to empower those that want more. More health, more life, less bullshit. For this, by some colleagues, I have been seen as everything from contrarian, through to fringe and most flattering “that witch doctor.” So, yes this is about me and about my response to COVID-19.
I have worked for the “little guy”. The ones who were told nothing could be done. The ones who were told they were depressed and to rest more, when in effect a small change would make a big difference. The ones who were dis-empowered by the mainstream. I did this by continually studying everything about the body that I could get my hands on. I did this at considerable risk of censure. I eschewed any government funding, which would decrease my independence, choosing to finance the clinic by working shifts in rural hospitals that took me away from home. What I see now is at great odds to what I have dedicated my professional life to. I see populations dis-empowered by fear, clinging to the comforting words of authority, the same authority that recommended an anti-depressant for fatigue, which was cured by nutrients. I believe this is at great risk to the mental and overall health of the population.
This is not to deny or diminish the effect of COVID-19. This is not suggesting that a vaccine will not be effective, and that appropriate social distancing has not taken the pressure off health care facilities. To be clear, a sudden spike in very sick people that cannot breathe, overwhelming hospitals is a crisis. The effect on doctors, nurses, and all staff in the hospitals, as well as the undertakers having to resort to mass graves and to the families who have lost loved ones cannot be over-estimated. This is not to diminish the difficulties of medical staff and those in authority needing to make decisions when all options appear equally bad.
This is to explore whether there is a valid alternative to sitting on the couch waiting for a vaccine to save us before we can pick up where we left off, blissfully unaware of the next virus that may be lurking — and may be more deadly.
Is there a cure?
Cure, as it turns out, is not defined in medicine. In usual parlance cure can be defined as “the end of a medical condition, a substance or procedure that ends the condition, or the state of being healed.”(1) In most dictionaries the word cure is heavily weighted towards an external force that the unwell person passively receives. When medicine has “no cure” we feel all is lost and we must never “catch” the disease as nothing can be done.
However, in medical school we were often told that “the patient recovered despite the correct medical treatment.” This was particularly stressed with regards to anti-biotics. In a bacterial infection, the body does most of the healing, the anti-biotics just help. Without a healthy immune system, the antibiotics would be close to useless. The body, and thus life, has a great capacity for regeneration.
So, while modern medicine indeed does not have a cure for COVID-19, or for the vast majority of viral infections, your body sure does. Modern medicine, however, may be able to keep you alive and attenuate some of the effects of your body doing all it can to get rid of the virus. Sadly, for some, this results in the body shutting itself down.
However the vast majority of those who are infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) experience few, if any symptoms. (2,3) This is confirmed by reports from Germany (4) and California. (5) Prior statistical modelling predicted that between 36% & 68% of the UK population had been exposed to SARS-CoV-2.(6) This model has, however, been widely criticized and how accurate the blood tests are is a moot question.
In a nutshell, many people will get infected, a few will die, and many will barely, if at all, get sick despite medicine not having a cure. These are people who did not have a vaccine and they survived. The body knew what to do and had the resources to do it.
We know the answer to the question of cure. The body has it. What we should be asking is:
How can we be more like the people who are able to successfully fight the disease?
Most mainstream advise runs along the lines of: get enough sleep, exercise, eat a balanced diet and try not to be stressed.(7)
And wait for a vaccine.
COVID-19 Vaccine: Is this critical?
As stated, a large number of people have overcome SARS-CoV-2 without a vaccine. Vaccines for corona viruses are notoriously difficult to create. There is as yet still no vaccine for other Corona viruses including SARS(8) and MERS(9). Furthermore, a vaccine may be at least a year away. We don’t know what the effectivity will be (in healthy adults the flu jab probably decreases influenza-like illness rate from 2% to 1%(10)) or whether, like Influenza, we will need an update every year, trying to capture the latest mutation of the Corona virus while it is still active.
Are we going to live in fear forever?
Healthy Body, Healthy Immunity, Happier life, Less Viruses
Of course you can boost your immunity. By boost, I do not mean temporarily increase your white blood cells or raise your inflammatory pathways to quash any virus that might be passing. I mean mounting a healthy, balanced defense when required to.
The human body has three ways it defends itself from an external assault, be it infective, toxic, or traumatic. These defenses are inflammation, oxidative stress, and immune activation.
These three defenses need to be in balance. Too much or too little and disease develops. Interestingly too much inflammation and oxidative stress, along with a depressed immune system are thought to contribute to the cytokine storm of COVID-19.(11)
Most non-communicable diseases exhibit a chronic imbalance of inflammation, oxidative stress, and immune activation, usually on the excessive side. As is often pointed out, most non-communicable diseases are lifestyle related. Too much food (which can be argued is fueled by high carbohydrate processed food intake) leads to larger fat stores, leads to insulin resistance, leads to diabetes.(12)
In COVID-19 this is a problem. In the presence of chronic disease, such as diabetes, our ability to ward off viruses and other infections is lessened.(13)
It has been reported that chronic diseases were more prevalent in those admitted with COVID-19.(14) In fact, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease were more problematic than underlying respiratory disease.(15) In a virus that affects the lungs, this is astounding.
Obesity is strongly correlated with poorer outcomes at any age.(16)
It seems our need for treats is inviting the virus in through the front door, dampening down our immune system and increasing inflammation. Even without a diagnosis of diabetes, high blood sugar on its own, may increase risk of infection.(17)
Improving your health today, supports your defense against COVID-19 today
Every time the body makes a protein compound, for example an anti-inflammatory cytokine (message) or a pro-inflammatory cytokine, genes have to be activated or silenced; which protein is made depends on environmental signals. The biggest signals for genetic expression come from nutrition.(18) That means every time you eat, you turn genes on and off. Eating junk-food has immediate ramifications, regardless of whether these are obvious.
In 2004 a study was published indicating that the nutritional status of the infected being (host) was significant to disease outcome. If the host was deficient in nutrients, not only was the immune response diminished but the genetic make-up of the virus changed, making it more virulent.(19) In our quest for cures, it seems we have forgotten about the terrain that either gives advantage to viruses or inhibits them. The nature of the terrain is the health or otherwise of our bodies.
Improve the terrain of your body and the viruses will be less successful, even if you have high blood pressure, diabetes or excess body fat. Making small changes can send your body the signals for a healthier you — immediately.
Strategies for Enhancing Your Body’s Defense
Metabolic and Nutritional Health
This will make you happier too. It is a fact.(20)
Concentrate on quality protein such as pastured meat and eggs, wild-caught fish, and lots of vegetables.(21) This contributes to adequate micro-nutrients and minimizes refined and processed carbohydrates.(22) In fact, a ketogenic diet has been suggested as a means stave off COVID-19 complications.(18)
Stopping the sodas, baking, bread, pasta, and muesli bars immediately boosts your immune system.
Stop the grog. Not only does this numb your mind, mitigating a healthy stress response, but it dampens your immune system too.(23)
It has all been said before.(24) Even a single bout of exercise can boost your body’s anti-oxidant status.(25) Keep it moderate and ideally outside.(26,27) Listen to your body, should you start to feel tired or unwell to avoid decompensation.
Get into Nature(26)
Staying inside and locked away is bad for your health. We all know this; the reductionist experts know this. Don’t do it.
Again, this is said ad nauseum. The Netflix series is not worth it. The COVID mantra should change to: Get to sleep.
Laughter, (29)especially with friends (30)
Yes, meditation helps to prevent respiratory infections.(31)
This is the most “out there” recommendation but is based on the role of positively charged “free radicals” that accumulate at the site of inflammation and aid in destruction of microbes and host tissue. If this system is unable to be neutralized, inflammation and oxidation continue.(32–34) The Earth’s surface is electrically conductive with a negative potential that is maintained by the global atmospheric electrical circuit.(35) Physically accessing this negative potential by absorption of the free electrons on the Earth’s surface neutralizes free radicals, reducing inflammation and improving immune response.
Isolating from the Earth is making us weaker.
Try it — walking barefoot on the beach, on the grass, getting your (ungloved) hands in the earth.
Sunlight and fresh air
Air conditioning may enhance droplet transmission of SARS-CoV-2,(36) while increasing natural ventilation and opening windows improves air-changes and reduces transmission of infections.(37) Early data suggests that Coronavirus is quickly destroyed by sunlight.(38)
More reason to get outside, assuming a low pollution environment.
Research on supplementation for prevention of disease is fraught on many levels. Further discussion of this topic can be found here.
Suffice it to say, rather than absolutes, risks and benefits need to be considered. Generally, most nutritional interventions tip the scale to potential benefits. To date, no oral supplements have been studied directly for effect on COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2. However, supplements listed have supporting research on immune enhancement or effect in other viral infections. This list is by no means an exhaustive list.
Vitamin D (best in combination with Vitamins A, K2 and E)
Vitamin D is being researched with regard to its role in maintaining a healthy immune system and decreasing inflammation.(39) Furthermore, in a large review of clinical studies, supplementation of Vitamin D particularly but not limited to those who are Vitamin D deficient was shown to decrease the incidence of respiratory tract infections.(40) Taking very large doses of Vitamin D can be harmful to health, so stick to the recommended doses.
This essential vitamin has generated more controversy than any other, to the point of religious fervor amongst pro- and anti-Vitamin C believers. We really do not want any believers in science, just questioners.
A review from the University of Otago, indicates that Vitamin C deficiency impairs immunity and increases susceptibility to infections.(41) Furthermore, infections can result in low Vitamin C levels. Supplementing lower doses may prevent respiratory and other infections, while higher doses are required for treatment.(41)
Zinc is essential in a healthy immune system with zinc deficiency leading to excess inflammation and worse outcomes in infections.(42) Zinc deficiency, especially in the elderly is common and is certainly a regular finding in my clinic population. In developing countries, infectious diseases such as pneumonia have been prevented by Zinc supplementation.(43) While results are mixed, Zinc supplementation probably decreases the duration of the common cold.(44) Long term high doses are not recommended without regular testing.
Viruses actually use selenium to protect their own genes, so having low selenium may sound like a good idea. However, it turns out that if the infected host is low in selenium, the virus mutates and becomes more virulent, resulting in much more inflammation. While no data has been published on SARS-CoV-2, this effect has been seen in other corona viruses. Furthermore, when dietary selenium was increased, immunity was improved.(45) Selenium can be toxic in excess, so it is advisable to get your selenium level checked.
NAC is a derivative of the conditionally essential amino acid, Cysteine. The body uses Cysteine to make Glutathione, a major anti-oxidant. NAC thus provides anti-oxidant capacity and can act as a direct anti-oxidant supporting the body during stress, infection, inflammation, and toxic exposure. Intravenous NAC is used in emergency departments to treat Acetaminophen (Paracetamol) overdose.
NAC has a high affinity for lung tissue, where it thins the mucous by breaking up sulfur bonds and acts as an expectorant helping to bring up mucous and other material from the lungs. NAC has been used to help decrease the effects of influenza (46) and has been shown to decrease the lung damage caused by swine flu in mice.(47)
The gut controls everything. We keep hearing about the gut-brain axis but researchers are looking at a number of other axes, including the gut-lung axis.(48) Research is ongoing, but species of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium may help to prevent against respiratory infections.(49)
A number of different herbal remedies have been traditionally used for prevention and treatment of the common cold and flu-like illnesses. Studies are mixed in whether these agents are beneficial. This may be partially due to the large number of differing proprietary products studied and poorly designed studies. A number of herbs have only been studied in vitro (in a test tube). Be this as it may, herbs generally have a low side-effect profile. Plant extracts that may be considered for prevention and treatment include:
- Black cohosh, Phellodendron(51)
Melatonin has been reported as having direct anti-viral actions due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidation and immune enhancing features and has been suggested as an add-on treatment for COVID-19.(59)
Humans of the world, unite: You have nothing to lose but your bad health. Samuel Veissiere (60)
Intravenous Vitamin C (IVC)
What if you do get sick? Whether it be COVID-19, flu or a chest infection that will not go away. Is there a place for high dose Intravenous Vitamin C?
Here again, there seems to be significant “inertia and prejudices against Vitamin C. 61” Vitamin C is classified as an alternative medicine by the National Institutes of Health in the USA. It is argued that the level of evidence for Vitamin C does not warrant this classification but is rather a reflection of the medical community. (61)
IVC has been used since the 1970s as a treatment for end-stage cancer (62) and has a very good safety profile with the main concern being that of kidney stones. However, this has more recently been refuted. (63)
The immune modulating effect of Vitamin C is well documented (64) and early studies have shown benefit in the treatment of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (65) and pneumonia.(66) IVC can reduce the length of ICU stay and ventilation requirement.(67) A number of U.S. hospitals are now using IVC, along with hydrocortisone and Vitamin B1 for COVID-19 patients.(68) Currently a randomized controlled trial using IVC for severe COVID-19 cases has been registered.(69)
I have treated a number of patients with acute infections using IVC. The usual response after one treatment is, overwhelmingly positive. Most patients will, however, need a series of treatments.
Early Detection and Treatment: A Hypothesis
From purely anecdotal experience, I would recommend IVC as soon as viral symptoms commence.
This may be more obvious if you track your Heart Rate Variability (HRV).(70) A study in elite swimmers indicated that HRV increased five days prior to the onset of symptoms of an infective illness and then dropped as symptoms appear.(71) Initially symptoms may be difficult to interpret and can be attributed to over-work or allergy. However, when combined with the stated HRV pattern, along with other signs such as elevated temperature and respiratory rate, early treatment with IVC may be very beneficial.
Furthermore, the subsequent change in HRV can be used to indicate the progress of treatment and when it is no longer needed.
- Your body holds the cure for COVID-19 and all the other viruses and microbes in our environment and is able to mount a response, even to the mutated ones.
- You can enhance your immunity and support your body’s in-built defenses.
- There is a valid treatment for viral and other infections, including COVID-19.
“We human beings, who have been living with microbes in and on us, should not be afraid of the bug of the day.”
From: Kamepalli, R.K.K., B. How Immune T-Cell Augmentation Can Help Prevent COVID-19: A Possible Nutritional Solution Using Ketogenic Lifestyl. University of Louisville Journal of Respirtory Infections 4(2020).
Available on request.