With thanks to Dr John Campbell Retired Nurse Lecturer in Cumbria and his daily You Tube updates: to Dr Dietrich Klinghardt Physician from Washington state USA; Robyn Puglia, Nutritional Therapist with the immune system as a speciality; Liz Butler, Nutritional Therapist and former colleague at Penny Brohn Cancer Care as Lead Nutritionist; The Body Chemist; Ninja Nerd Medicine on You Tube for detailed, understandable explanations of science and immunology.
Here is an attempt to distil some of the masses of information about the virus and what to do about it. It is not exhaustive, but may help to give some direction.
- Very few young children are affected by the virus or have virus symptoms.
- Virus is a slow mutator so once you have immunity it is likely to last for the foreseeable future.
- Men are catching the virus more than women and are more likely to have serious symptoms. Experts don’t know why.
- Serious complications occur in just 4% of cases. 80% of people will have a mild form of the disease. 12% will be poorly and may need hospitalisation. These figures seem to be the same in most countries.
- Prevention measures:- vitamin D3 and sunshine support the immune system, melatonin, quercetin an antioxidant found in red onions, red apples, berries and broccoli, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin A and NAC, probiotics, low stress, good rest and sleep. Stop smoking. Eat lots of vegetables and some fruits. 8 to 10 portions a day! Bone Broth is good and nourishing to the immune system. Avoid sugar as it has a disproportionately suppressive effect on immune function.
- The virus attacks the respiratory system, especially all the mucus membranes from the mouth down into the lungs. Complications occur when the immune functions of these areas are overwhelmed and the disease process becomes well established. Help must be sort with breathing problems.
- Treatment 1- let the fever develop. The fever stimulates the immune response and is the immune system fighting the virus. It is uncomfortable but letting the fever run is likely to result in less complications.
- Do not use medications that will bring the fever down, so no paracetamol or aspirin or other pain reducing medications. Reducing the temperature of the patient is more likely to increase morbidity (by 5%) and complications. Instead treat the cause.
- Do not use anti-inflammatory medications like NSAID’s as the inflammation is part of the healing process. Using anti-inflammatories is more likely to lead to complications.
- Taking drugs like paracetamol and other temperature reducing drugs increases the duration of the disease and the duration of infectiousness (increases spreading of the virus).
- Dangerous fever only occurs when the body temperature is over 41.1 C
- Normally fever is self limiting so won’t get this high.
- Treatments 2 – drink plenty of fluids. This prevents the mucus fluid lining the respiratory tract from becoming too thick and gumming up the flow of contaminated fluid being wafted up and out of the lungs.
- Don’t lie flat. Consider sitting up or reclined. Keep your space well ventilated with fresh air.
- If you have no appetite, don’t make yourself eat. If you do want to eat, have thin soups, like bone broths.
- Taking vitamin C in several doses a day can support immune function.
- Stay isolated within one room of your house to avoid giving a high viral load to your family members which would give them worse symptoms.
Nursing a person who is sick with the fever
Firstly, for healing, sick people need calm, quiet, and warmth. A pleasant room, comfortable bed, chair or sofa, and relaxing activities will support healing. The immune system has to work hard when we are ill, and distractions are best avoided. Avoid background noise, bright light, perfumes, and cooking smells as all a person’s senses are heightened when we are ill.
Use a hot water bottle to warm a cold bed and warm clothes on a radiator before putting them on.
Fresh air is also important, so ensure the room is well ventilated. Allow the patient to spend a short while outside in the garden if it is not too cold.
Fluid in the form of water or juice should be given regularly. Drink lots of water.
Appetites are usually low so give small managable portions of food.
Carers need to keep calm so as not to communicate worry and anxiety to the patient so try to stay relaxed. However they also need to care for themselves so that they have the strength to care for the ill person.
A carer should be alert to various signs in a patient. Use the power of your observation to notice the colour and pallor of the sick person, including noting breathing rates and depth, alertness vs sleepiness etc. If you are concerned at any time, contact the NHS helplines or call an ambulance.
People can get dehydrated very quickly. Use the pinch test where you pinch some loose flesh between the your fingers – but not hard! The back of the hand is a good place to try. If the flesh goes flat very quickly the person is ok but if it takes a long time to go flat, then they are dehydrated. Compare with your own flesh as long as you are not dehydrated. Also look for dry lips and the inside of the lips which could be dry. Eyes may get dry too with dehydration. Encourage the child to drink small sips frequently.
Take Vitamin C in large doses. Amount recommended varies from 8g to 18g or ‘bowel tolerance’ (running to the toilet). Probably take 10g unless your stomach is upset. This will help the immune system fight the virus and help avoid a cytokine storm which leads to fatalities.
Use decongestants like eucalyptus, thyme, or Vics vapour rub. Give a steam inhalation a couple of times a day or when needed. See below.
Have root ginger teas as ginger has a powerful anti-inflammatory action. Put a slice of ginger in a mug of hot water 2 to 3 times a day.
Keep warm but ventilate the sick room, without letting a draft come in. REST
Practise deep ‘yoga’ breathing, taking air deeply and slowly into the bottom of your lungs during a count to 3, hold for a count of 4 then release over a count of 5. Repeat several times a day. This will help remove stagnant air in the lungs and build lung strength.
Several sources say that humming helps. It seems to increase nitric oxide in the nasal passages and this inhibits inflammasomes which may stop the cytokine storm. Hum your favourite tunes. Alternatively, apply a vibrating tuning fork to points on the chest.
Switch of your wifi unless you really need it, but especially at night. There is some evidence to suggest that wifi frequencies inhibit actions of the immune system, and may aid viral entry to cells. Put your phone down some distance away from where you are resting.
Inhalations can help keep the airways clear. Use Thyme oil or Ecualytpus oil.
What you need:
1 Large bowl and a large towel
Herb tea or oil suspension – Any of these in boiling water
Scatter a small handful of chamomile flowers in bowl or use 1 chamomile herb teabag
Or an infusion of Thyme tea (1-2 teaspoons/ 500ml) or fresh thyme (handful) boiled for 1-2 minutes
Or an infusion of Sage tea (1-2 teaspoons/ 500ml) or fresh Sage (handful) boiled for 1-2 minutes
Or 3-5 drops of Eucalyptus oil or Olbas oil
1. Prepare a good quantity i.e. 1 – 2 litres of herb tea or a few drops of oil in boiling water and pour it into the bowl.
2. Sit patient comfortably at a table and place bowl in front of them so they can bend forward over it. Make sure feet are warm with socks or slippers or the feet are placed on a hot water bottle. Be careful that the face does not come too close to the steam, as it can burn.
For younger children this method requires great care, because of the hot water. A parent can sit with the child under the towel – holding both hands of the child, or under an umbrella.
3. Place large towel over the head so it makes a tent covering the bowl. The patient should inhale the steam for as long as it rises from the bowl. Encourage the patient to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. The tea or oil suspension should be as hot as possible to produce a lot of steam.
4. Remove bowl and towel. Dry patient’s head and forehead and put on a hat or scarf to prevent cooling down too quickly: The patient should rest and be kept warm for an hour after the inhalation to prevent catching cold because of temperature.
5. Apply calendula or hypericum/calendula cream around nasal area of if sore or inflamed.
6. Rest after the inhalation and repeat when needed.
Diet and Nutrition
While it would be wonderful to see everyone eating a really healthy diet all the time, people have the freedom to choose how they eat. However, at a time when ones health is particularly at risk, eating well will help to support the immune system and maybe even ensure that any infection is a mild one.
Firstly, eat lots of vegetables and some fruits – around 8 to 10 portions a day. Have a wide variety and lots of different colours to cover all the different anti-oxidants. Have them fresh, steamed, or sautéed in a meal. Where possible, avoid boiling them.
Eat lots of nuts, seeds, beans, and pulses for their protein and nutrients. Sprouted seeds are excellent sources of nourishment.
Have eggs, fish, chicken, lamb and game for protein if you eat animal proteins.
Use lots of herbs and spices as they are rich in anti-oxidants too.
Eat whole grains but avoid eating a lot of wheat products even if it is whole grain wheat. There is some evidence that it interferes with some immune function and some liver functions so you won’t be operating at top rate if you eat a lot of it. Instead have whole grain rice, or buckwheat, millet, or quinoa.
Reduce dairy products and have more fermented products like live yogurt and keffir.
Use olive oil, goose fat or coconut oil for cooking but only at low temperatures.
The spring is an excellent time to be supplementing your diet with wild foods like wild garlic, nettles and dandelion leaves. All of these plants have very high levels of minerals and anti-oxidants so will give you more nourishment.
Drink lots of water – around 2 litres is recommended but more if you are exercising or sweating a lot.
Foods to avoid: pork products, coffee, alcohol, vegetable oils unless it is virgin olive oil, salt, sugar, additives, flavourings, preservatives, artificial sweetener, soya protein like TVP, quorn.
Have simple colourful meals with ingredients that you have prepared at home.