Covid-19 cases are spiking all over the world again, so it’s more important than ever to be informed on the latest Covid-19 treatments and to keep your immune system healthy throughout the winter months.
Fortunately, there has been an enormous amount of research and some impressive breakthroughs since the original outbreak in March, along with new tests, treatments, and measures to keep you and your family safe and healthy.
The first thing to do is to ensure you have a strong defense! Nearly every expert suggests taking three key actions to prevent the spread of Covid-19: Wear a mask, wash your hands, and maintain a distance of 6-feet or more from others outside of your household.
Get and Stay Healthy
The virus is more likely to cause severe symptoms in unhealthy people with chronic inflammation, weak immune systems, obesity, or insulin resistance. This is the case with most illnesses, which is why it’s so important to always keep your immune system strong.
Functional medicine provides many tools to restore optimal health by supporting your immune system.
You can support your immune system by:
- Supplementing with vitamin C, vitamin D3, zinc, vitamin A, and glutathione – comprehensive supplements such as The Myers Way® Multivitamin contain most of these (and more!) which make them easier to take daily
- Getting optimal sleep
- Repairing your gut
- Exercising daily and getting fresh air
- Relieving your stress
There are several different types of masks: respirators (N95, KN95, and P100), medical or surgical masks, plastic face shields, and cloth masks. While no mask can fully prevent infections, wearing a mask can greatly reduce the spread of the virus.1 Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for care and replacement of your mask. Some, such as cloth masks, should be washed frequently and replaced if they get worn out or dirty.
Masks can make it more difficult to recover from physical exertions, such as exercise. If you do exercise, it’s best to engage in outdoor activities or workout at home, rather than at a public gym or health club. Sometimes the best workout for both your body and your mind is tackling a household project such as organizing your garage. Right now, I’m swimming in my lap pool, using my infrared sauna, and doing weekly yoga and bodyweight workouts.
Hand Washing and Hand Sanitizer
By now you’ve heard this over and over and have seen the signs hung everywhere you go, however, it’s worth repeating. By far the best thing to do to keep your hands clean is to wash them with regular soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If that’s not possible, sanitize them with an at least 60% alcohol solution frequently. Be diligent about washing your hands when you get home, after touching surfaces used by multiple people, and before and after you handle your mask. Some hand sanitizers and soaps include toxins and hormone disrupting ingredients, so be sure to check the labels. These ingredients are not necessary to protect you from transmitting Covid-19 and should be avoided.
Social Distance and Avoid Large Gatherings
The best Covid-19 prevention is still to stay home whenever possible. If someone is sick within your home, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and yourself. If you need to go out to get essential items, maintain 6-feet of distance from others as much as possible. Most stores are providing services such as curb-side pickup so take advantage of these when available. Remember, people without symptoms can still spread the virus, so even if people are out and look safe to be around it doesn’t necessarily mean they are!
It is also best to keep large gatherings outdoors, however, if you do go to an indoor gathering or host one, the CDC suggests following the above Covid-19 prevention methods as well as opening windows for increased ventilation and air flow.2
What if I get Covid-19?
If you suspect you may have been exposed to Covid-19 – don’t panic! First, review your symptoms. It’s cold, flu and allergy season so it’s easy to confuse your symptoms.
Symptoms may begin to appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus and include: fever or chills, persistent cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.
Here’s what to do if are experiencing any of the above symptoms or you believe you have been exposed to Covid-19:
If you feel that you have been exposed to the virus or are displaying symptoms, it’s important to get tested and self-isolate for at least 10 days to not spread the virus to others.
There are three types of tests for Covid-19: A molecular test (nasal swab); an antigen test, also known as a rapid test; and an antibody test.3 The molecular test is the most common and the gold standard, although it does take 24-48 hours to get results. The antigen test returns results in about 10-15 minutes, however, it has produced false negatives.4 Getting tested is easier now than it was before with numerous testing sites available. If you feel like you should be tested, seek out a testing site in your area.
Keep in mind that no diagnostic test is precise. A negative Covid-19 test alone doesn’t mean you don’t have the virus, nor does a positive test definitively diagnose Covid-19. The safest way to ensure you don’t spread the virus to others when displaying symptoms (or when you’ve been exposed) is to stay home, maintain distance and quarantine when possible.
If you do get Covid-19, there is an 80 to 95% chance you will have a mild case and recover at home.5 You can manage your symptoms with common at-home remedies:
- Stay hydrated.
- Drink a lot of warm fluids, herbal tea, or bone broth.
- Make sure you’re supporting your immune system.
- The World Health Organization (WHO), states that either acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used to treat the early symptoms, with a total dose not exceeding 3,000 milligrams per day.6 However, they should be used sparingly. In fact, long term use can have some serious side effects that could wreak havoc on your gut and your liver.
If your symptoms become severe and you have difficulty breathing, persistent chest pain, bluish lips or face, inability to stay awake, or develop mental confusion, seek emergency medical care. If you have health conditions that may increase the risk of complications, always consult your doctor.
Covid-19 Treatment Updates
There is hope. There have been several breakthroughs in Covid-19 treatments since March of 2020. Even with new Covid-19 treatments available, it’s best to work with your doctor because everyone’s case and prior health history will be treated differently. Also, most clinical trials are in severe and hospitalized Covid-19 patients, so data is limited for mild cases. It’s also important to keep in mind that as new research is made available, Covid-19 treatment options change.
In March, The Frontline Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), a group of critical care specialists created in March 2020 to develop treatments for Covid-19, created both a prophylactic and early outpatient protocol called I-MASK+. The treatment centers around Ivermectin, a well-known FDA approved medication used to treat parasitic diseases for over four decades.
Ivermectin has proven, highly potent, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties in laboratory studies. During this pandemic, international labs have conducted controlled clinical trials and are reporting consistent, large improvements in Covid-19 patient outcomes when treated with ivermectin. Ivermectin works by inhibiting the replication of many viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. In addition, Ivermectin has anti-inflammatory properties and reduces viral load and protects against organ damage. It was found to prevent transmission of Covid-19 in studies when taken either pre- or post-exposure and speeds recovery and decreases hospitalization and mortality in patients with COVID-19.7
I-MASK+ in Practice
I-MASK+ protocols have shown to be effective across all stages of Covid-19.8 The full protocol includes Ivermectin, aspirin and specific nutritional supplements. This combination of treatments, in a dosage based on weight, has been found to help patients who are exposed to Covid-19 through a household member or due to any prolonged exposure to a Covid-10 positive person without wearing a mask.9
IMASK+ and Ivermectin were also shown to be effective in symptomatic patients – the phase at which the virus is replicating.10 Scientists believe that the Ivermectin is preventing the virus from replicating while the rest of the protocol is keeping your immune system functioning properly in order to lessen the impact of the disease.
Once a patient is in the late pulmonary phase of Covid-19 in the hospital, studies have shown increased inflammatory response when Ivermectin and the I-MASK+ protocol were combined with the corticosteroid Methylprednisolone along with other key medications and nutrients (referred to as MATH+).11 This is all very promising, although more research is ongoing.
Although they may be recommended in later stages of Covid-19, corticosteroids may increase viral replication and disease severity in early phases and should be carefully considered. Corticosteroids work by suppressing your immune system. This inhibition of the immune system (located mostly in your gut) can cause leaky gut, which is a primary cause for autoimmunity. As you may already know, the key to reversing autoimmunity is to support rather than suppress your immune system so it can return to optimal function naturally. Therefore, corticosteroids should be used as a last resort.
Improved Ventilation Protocol
Since the virus outbreak in March, scientists have found Covid-19 patients respond better to more gentle ways to increase blood oxygen levels rather than placing them on a ventilator.1213 This is great news as well given the lack of ventilators at the beginning of the pandemic.
Proning, or laying face down, makes it easier for compromised lungs to oxygenate blood.14 In Covid-19 patients, proning improves blood oxygen levels even in mild and moderate cases.
The new protocol significantly reduces our need for ventilators, while improving survival rates and outcome for the 20% of Covid-19 patients that require hospitalization.15
Remidesivir has become a popular Covid-19 treatment. It works by interrupting production of the virus. Clinical trials of remdesivir in 1,062 hospitalized patients confirmed those who received remdesivir were more likely to significantly improve by day 15. As a result, remdesivir was approved for hospitalized Covid-19 treatment in the U.S. and Canada.16
Physicians in hospitals, clinics and research laboratories all around the world are hard at work to develop and perfect these Covid-19 treatments. While no one treatment will work for all patients, it’s encouraging to see both the conventional medicine and functional medicine communities innovating and developing these Covid-19 treatments to help reduce the mortality rate during this pandemic.
Vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Astrazeneca have begun to be distributed around the world, while many other Covid-19 vaccines are still in the clinical trial phase. Traditionally, it took many years to get a vaccine approved. As we see these Covid-19 vaccinations get fast-tracked approval in news reports, many wonder how they can possibly be safe if they were produced so quickly.
During the pandemic, many groups came together to try and develop a Covid-19 vaccine without compromising the integrity. Governments expedited the approval process to minimize delays and helped fund the Covid-19 vaccines through pre-purchasing them. Phases of vaccine trials were also merged together to expedite development.
Most vaccines against respiratory viruses are not 100% effective. Also, reports suggest that any immunity offered against Covid-19 by these vaccines might wane over time. Scientists are still working to find out the long-term effectiveness of these vaccines and whether people will need future booster doses.
There are several things to consider when deciding on whether or not to get the vaccine. Will getting the vaccine improve your quality of life? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is still recommended to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and frequently wash your hands even if you receive the vaccine.17
You should also consider your own risk factors, such as age, overall health, and job, of developing complications should you get the virus. The CDC recommends that anyone in a nursing home and health care workers receive the vaccine. It recently expanded its guidelines to recommend the vaccine to anyone 65 or older.18
Experts are warning that there are additional risk factors to take into account when determining if a vaccine is right for you such as whether or not you have allergies, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have underlying health conditions.19 If someone has received antibody therapy for Covid-19 after testing positive there may also be a risk with the vaccine if enough time has not passed.
As with any medical choice it’s important to consider all factors and make a decision that’s right for you.
The conventional and functional medicine communities are looking for innovative ways to fight Covid-19. New treatment options, vaccines, and critical prevention measures will all be major factors in getting us out of this pandemic and back on track to achieving optimal health.