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Coronavirus - Chris Kresser with Dr. Ramzi Asfour

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RHR: Everything You Need to Know about Coronavirus, with Dr. Ramzi Asfour

 

HERBAL TREATMENT FOR CORONAVIRUS INFECTIONS Stephen Harrod Buhner

 

 

Spoiler

Supporting Your Immune System to Prevent Infection

Chris Kresser:  And I want to start with just the basics, because I think we forget, we tend to forget the basics in situations like this. Really freak out or hoard the hand sanitizer and the gloves and all that stuff, and forget to just do the basic things. And, actually, one of those basics is stress management. We know that stress weakens the immune system as much [as] or more than just about anything. And there’s a little bit of a catch 22 here or a self-fulfilling prophecy. If people are totally freaked out and panicked about coronavirus, that’s actually going to impact their immune system in such a way that it would make them more susceptible to acquiring coronavirus.

Ramzi Asfour:  Absolutely.

Chris Kresser:  I really encourage people to do some things to try to, if you are feeling really worried and concerned, which is natural, it’s even more important to do things like a meditation practice, mindfulness-based stress reduction, spending time in nature, preferably not in large groups, but, you know, outside. Taking hot baths, whatever it is that helps you to manage your stress, that’s even more critical in this situation. So that’s one of the four pillars of immune boosting.

Another one is getting enough sleep. I’ve done so many podcasts on this [that], hopefully, I don’t need to go [into] any detail about why that’s important, or how to do it here. But seven to eight hours a night. And following all the good sleep hygiene practices. It’s critical for immune function. Physical activity is also really critical for immune function. So making sure to reduce your time spent sitting and then getting enough exercise throughout the week. And then the fourth pillar, of course, is a nutrient-dense, whole-foods, anti-inflammatory diet. But specifically within that context, really a focus on foods like liver, which is very high in vitamin A, which has many different immune-boosting benefits we’ll talk about shortly. Zinc, same thing for zinc, and many other nutrients that are a little harder to obtain, even in the context of a healthy diet.

Immune-Boosting Foods

Chris Kresser:  Foods like garlic and ginger, which have antimicrobial, antiviral effects and also immune-boosting benefits. You might want to increase your consumption of those. Citrus fruits and red peppers for vitamin C. Fermented foods, because we know that somewhere between 30 and 60 percent of the immune system, it really exists in the gut, so those can be helpful. And then a little bit of extra turmeric, if you like that as a spice, can be antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and can be helpful. You might want to consider some extra vitamin A, especially if you feel like you’re fighting something, [and] you come down with some symptoms. [Vitamin] A improves immune function by several mechanisms. It also increases lactobacilli in the gut, which, in the presence of infection, will produce interferons and other immune chemicals that fight infection. If you’re eating liver once or twice a week, you’re probably getting enough for maintenance. If you’re not, you might want to take cod liver oil, which is a great source of [vitamin] A as well as D, which is another important vitamin for immune function.

If you feel like you’re catching something, you can take very high doses of vitamin A for a short period. You don’t want to do that long-term, because vitamin A can be toxic at high doses. But 50,000 IU, for example, twice a day for up to five to seven days. You don’t want to take more than 100,000 IU at one time because it can cause headaches, and it’s a good idea to get enough vitamin D with your A because it can, it greatly protects against the toxicity, potential toxicity of vitamin A. Zinc lozenges support immune function and have also been proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus and other viruses from multiplying in the throat and nasopharynx. And you can use these several times a day as soon as you begin to feel symptoms. It’s best to lie down and let the lozenge dissolve in the back of your throat and the nasopharynx, so it really penetrates to those areas.

Honey and Other Bee Products

Chris Kresser:  So another preventative remedy, and something I will use for treatment, as well, that I like is propolis. Propolis is from the beehive, of course, and it increases cellular immune response and acts as an antiviral. My favorite way to take propolis is the Beekeeper’s Naturals propolis spray. It’s very convenient. You can spray it in the back of your throat several times a day at the first sign of symptoms. I will also use it prophylactically when I travel, even when I am not experiencing symptoms. And then another product from Beekeeper’s Naturals that I love for its immune-boosting and protective effects is called B.Powered, which is a honey, raw honey.

Honey is antimicrobial and antiviral, and it also has royal jelly, bee pollen, and propolis in it. So I will often take that if I feel like I’m coming down with something. You can just eat it right off the spoon. Kids love it. It’s probably the cold and flu medicine you’ll have the least trouble getting your kids to eat and that you might take yourself. And I have a relationship with the Beekeeper’s Naturals folks, so you can actually get 15 percent off if you go to Kresser.co/beekeepers of the propolis spray and the B.Powered.

Botanicals

Chris Kresser:  In addition to that, there are some botanicals that really help to support immune function. Cordyceps is one. It boosts immune function, protects cilia of the lung, modulates cytokine response, and increases T-cell count. Cordyceps is actually technically not a botanical; it’s a parasitic fungus that lives on insect larvae. So now, you’ll probably never take it after hearing that. It’s a pretty vivid description, but it’s a remarkably effective medicinal. Angelica sinensis, which is known as dong quai in Chinese medicine, aka female ginseng, modulates the cytokine response and lowers TGF-beta [transforming growth factor-beta] levels, which can be high in a viral infection.

Rhodiola improves immune function and protects the lung cells from hypoxia, which is one of the major impacts that a coronavirus can have. Astragalus boosts immune function and lowers TGF-beta levels. These recommendations all come from Stephen Harrod Buhner who’s one of, I think, the most foremost herbalists in the world. And his recommendation is to create a formula with three parts Cordyceps to two parts Angelica, one part Rhodiola, and one part Astragalus. And then take one teaspoon of that three times a day for protection and one teaspoon six times a day if you’re feeling symptomatic. If you do feel like you have come down with something, whether it’s coronavirus or just a seasonal flu, I posted some articles a while back. We’ll put the links in the show notes, to some other recommendations. One is a fresh ginger tea.

Ginger is a potent antiviral that prevents adhesion of viruses to the upper respiratory mucosa. But you have to take a lot of it for it to be effective. So, in these articles, I have a recipe for making a very potent fresh ginger juice or tea. Use one to two pounds of ginger, which is a lot, and the easiest way to do it is to use a juicer. So you juice it. If you don’t have a juicer, you can grate it, but it will take a while. And then you put two to four ounces of that ginger juice in a mug with the juice of one half lemon, a large tablespoon of honey, which is also antiviral, and then one eighth of a teaspoon [of] cayenne pepper, and six ounces of hot water. And then you drink two to six cups of that a day, sipping slowly throughout the day. It does not taste good. I’m going to tell you right now. It’s pretty intense, but it can be remarkably effective.

And then, for antivirals, herbs if you already have become infected, there’s a formula in Chinese medicine called Shuang-Huang-Lian, which was found to help a lot in China with the previous SARS outbreak and it’s now being tested in clinical trials there for COVID-19. And it consists of Forsythia suspensa, which is lian qiao in Chinese medicine, [the] weeping forsythia plant. So you use two parts of that. It’s antiviral for the SARS group, including COVID-19. It blocks viral attachment, modulates cytokine response. Then Lonicera japonica, which is jin yin hua in Chinese medicine, Japanese honeysuckle. Use one part of that. It’s also a strong antiviral for COVID-19. And then Scutellaria baicalensis, which [is] huang qin or Chinese skullcap. You use one part of that. And that’s antiviral for COVID-19. It blocks viral attachment, it modulates cytokine response, and it protects the spleen and the lymph nodes. And the dosage for that is one teaspoon, three times a day. And it’s best to take that in combination with some of the immune-boosting herbs that I mentioned previously.

So I know that was a lot. If you’re struggling to write all this down, we have a transcript of the podcast. So you can go to ChrisKresser.com and click on that, and you’ll see the transcript, and we’ll actually write out the recipes, so that you don’t have to dig through the transcript. So that you can just scroll down and get those recipes. And Ramzi, anything else you want to add in terms of treatment? I think in terms of antiviral drugs, we don’t have anything that we really know about, know that will work for coronavirus at this point. And what about a vaccine for coronavirus?

Ramzi Asfour:  Companies are already on the way. I mean, just really quickly, Remdesivir is a drug produced by Gilead. They’re already starting a phase three clinical trial. They’re targeting 1,000 patients to be enrolled. There are smaller trials taking place in China and the [United States], as well. And the first patient in Seattle actually received that medication. There are, Regeneron, they’re the company that made the antibodies or some of the antibody treatments for Ebola, and they are already hard at work making them for COVID-19. And then there are lots of companies working on vaccines.

Vaccines are going to take a while, but, hopefully, we’ll have some treatments. And one of the ideas is that we want to contain the infection as much as possible. So that once it becomes even more widespread, we’ll have some treatments. So the reason to be super aggressive, one of the many reasons to be super aggressive in containment, is waiting for treatments to become available for those [who] need it.

Chris Kresser:  So for those of you who want to learn more about the science behind some of the botanical recommendations that I shared from Stephen Harrod Buhner, you can go to his website. It’s a wealth of information. It’s StephenHarrodBuhner, S-t-e-p-h-e-n-h-a-r-r-o-d-b-u-h-n-e-r.com. Click on [“Writings,” and then] “Articles,” and then click on, under the [“Medicine/Herbs/Healing”] section, there’s a link. Click on “coronavirus.” It was written on March 1st. It’s a 19-page monograph [that] goes into great detail on:

  • The characteristics of coronavirus
  • What’s needed
  • What kind of pathological effects it causes
  • What specific medicinal botanicals address those particular effects of coronavirus

And so, [it gives] you a little bit more of the understanding behind how some of these formulas are created and also additional recommendations for medicinals that I didn’t cover in this podcast just due to time constraints. So that, hopefully, will be a good resource for you. Okay, everybody. Thanks for listening; stay safe and healthy. Ramzi, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and experience with us.

Ramzi Asfour:  You’re welcome.

Chris Kresser:  Where can people learn more about your work? And if they’re interested in seeing you as a patient, how do they do that?

Ramzi Asfour:  For patients, go to CCFmed.com. And they can learn more about becoming a patient of mine through California Center for Functional Medicine. And I also do some infection control and work for especially nursing facilities. That’s CapsidConsulting.com.

Chris Kresser:  And although we spent today talking about an infectious disease, coronavirus, and Ramzi has deep experience in treating infectious diseases, that’s not all that he does. He’s also a phenomenal Functional Medicine practitioner, and that is what he is primarily doing, of course, at CCFM. Although, of course, treating infections is one of the things that we do as Functional Medicine practitioners.

So, Ramzi, thank you again. And we’ll definitely have you back to do the part two of the gluten and Lyme disease connection show because I know we got a lot of feedback that that was particularly interesting to people and we still [have] some material to cover there.

Ramzi Asfour:  Thanks, Chris. Appreciate it.

Chris Kresser:  All right. Okay, everybody. Thanks again for listening. Send in your questions [about the] podcast [at] ChrisKresser.com/podcastquestion, and we’ll talk to you soon.

 

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Thanks for the info.  With 5 people in my household and a big extended family I'm looking for ways to protect them.  Not as good as getting it from a China town herbal expert, but the above influenced me to get the Shuanghuanglian pills from Amazon.  For $22 why not try something that can help.  Along w/ zinc&C lozenges. 

 

 

From PDF above- 

Shuanghuanglian (Note: this was found in the earlier SARS outbreak in China to help considerably – a review of the already mentioned mechanisms indicates why. It is now being tested in clinical trials in China for treatment of Cov-19 infections). The formulation is composed of Forsythia suspensa fruit (2 parts), Lonicera japonica (1 part), Scutellaria baicalensis (1 part).

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3 hours ago, thelerner said:

Thanks for the info.  With 5 people in my household and a big extended family I'm looking for ways to protect them.  Not as good as getting it from a China town herbal expert, but the above influenced me to get the Shuanghuanglian pills from Amazon.  For $22 why not try something that can help.  Along w/ zinc&C lozenges. 

 

 

You're welcome.

Don't forget to wear a mask.

 

 

An update:

RHR: Updates on COVID-19 and Answers to Your Questions

 

I have since come across research suggesting that propolis and mega doses of A and D may not be a good idea, because at least in theory, they could increase the expression of ACE-2 [angiotensin converting enzyme 2] receptors.

 

Propolis is my go to :(

 

Spoiler

Boosting Your Immune System

(5:35) Okay, the first question is from Chris. “Hey, Chris. I’m curious if you have preventative recommendations via nutrition for immune boosting for these types of viruses. figured zinc, vitamin C, [and] selenium couldn’t hurt. Also, I read that there’s some research about these types of coronaviruses being susceptible to heat and that a sauna can kill a virus if it hasn’t reached the lungs in 130 degree plus temps for more than 25 minutes. Any thoughts on that?”

Great question, Chris. And actually, I want to take this opportunity to revise a couple of the recommendations that I made on the COVID webinar that I did recently. On that webinar, I offered several ideas for boosting immune function, which I’ll cover here as well. But among them were propolis and high dose vitamin A and D. I have since come across research suggesting that propolis and mega doses of A and D may not be a good idea, because at least in theory, they could increase the expression of ACE-2 [angiotensin converting enzyme 2] receptors. Now in many cases, botanicals, plant medicines, and nutrients like propolis and vitamins A and D have a modulatory effect, which means they upregulate or downregulate a function like a receptor on the outside of a cell based on what’s needed.

An example of this would be elderberry. Early on in the COVID outbreak, some people expressed concern about elderberry because it can potentially upregulate inflammatory cytokine production, which could contribute to the cytokine storm that makes people really sick with COVID. However, as Stephen [Harrod] Buhner, a renowned herbalist that I really love and follow pointed out, elderberry is a modulator of the cytokine response, which means it can upregulate it or downregulate it as necessary. I think this may be also true of propolis and vitamins A and D. But since coronavirus can get into our cells by hijacking ACE-2 receptors, I think it’s probably cautious to avoid anything that might upregulate those receptors, including propolis and high doses of vitamins A and D.

So, for this reason, I would suggest not taking propolis and not taking very high doses of vitamin A and D during the COVID pandemic. You can and should still eat adequate amounts of A and D in food, and you can supplement with lower doses of vitamin D like 1,000 IU or maybe 400 or 500 IU per day if you live in a place where you’re getting minimal sun exposure, and/or your 25 D levels are below let’s say 35 or 40 milligrams per deciliter on a lab test.

Now as far as the other steps that you can take to boost your immune system, certainly the four pillars that we often talk about, [a] nutrient-dense diet, sleep, stress management and physical activity, become even more critical in this situation. And in the context of a nutrient-dense diet, certain foods can have an antiviral immune-boosting effect, like garlic, ginger, citrus fruits, and red bell peppers, for example, are rich in vitamin C. Fermented foods can support gut health, which is also important because a lot of the immune system resides in the gut. And then foods like, spices like turmeric are rich in curcumin, which has a number of immune benefits.

Bone broth, I think, is also really helpful because of its impact on gut health. And as I mentioned, gut health is critical for immune function. Zinc appears to be very helpful for all viruses and for coronavirus in particular. Zinc supports immune function, but it’s been shown to be effective in blocking coronavirus from multiplying in the throat and the nasopharynx. So if you can get your hands on some zinc lozenges, you can use these several times a day as you begin to feel symptoms, and it’s best to lie down and let the lozenge dissolve in the back of your throat, and nasopharynx. You can try higher doses of vitamin C. I think the data on this are mixed, but it certainly can’t hurt. So at least 150 milligrams per day. Food is the best source as usual. But if you’re not able to get enough from food, you can also supplement.

N-acetylcysteine is not really so much of a preventative, but it could have a role if you have COVID. It can help protect the lungs. Elderberry, despite some of the claims that have been made in the media, can be very helpful. It’s a cytokine modulator, as I mentioned. So 700 to 1,000 milligrams per day of elderberry extract from syrup or lozenges, or you can also even get it in capsules, is a good idea.

Getting adequate copper. Chris Masterjohn has pointed this out, the importance of this, 4 to 8 milligrams of copper per day. That has an immune boosting impact and some people don’t get enough copper from the diet. So taking copper supplementally can be helpful. Like a zinc supplement where zinc is in a 15-to-1 ratio with copper can be helpful too. So you want to always have that right balance between zinc and copper. And since zinc is important, and copper is important, taking a supplement that has both zinc and copper can be a good idea here.

So, those are some basic ideas. We’ve also talked about botanicals like cordyceps, Angelica sinensis, rhodiola, and astragalus. That can be very helpful. Stephen Buhner recommends a formula with three parts cordyceps, two parts Angelica, [and] one part rhodiola and astragalus. As for your question, Chris, about sauna, I haven’t seen those data. But I do think that sauna is right up there with exercise and [a] good diet in terms of just a basic hormetics benefit that we can get. The expression of heat shock proteins and the photobiomodulation if you’re doing infrared saunas, all can support a healthy immune function. And if you have access to a sauna, I think using it regularly during this period makes sense.

(12:05) Okay, next question from Phoebe. “On my last podcast I mentioned the Buhner botanical formula of cordyceps, Angelica, rhodiola and astragalus,” which I just mentioned again, “that was for liquid tincture. Do the same ratios apply to a powder formulation? If so, advise on teaspoon dosage.”

The same ratios would probably apply for powder. It doesn’t have to be exact. I can’t really advise on dosing because I don’t know how this particular powder that you’re referring to was prepared and what the concentration is. But generally, you can just follow the dosing on the bottles, because most botanical producers will put a suggested dosage there.

 

 

 

 

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@KuroShiro or anybody, I've gotten mixed messages on Elderberry*.  Early on I acquired some tincture with it.  Some info was not to take it because of receptor problems.  Anything definitive?       Thanks

 

In my home we have 1 mask, 5 people, so.. no one wears it.  It just sits there, in its packaging, taunting us, waiting for the first person to grab it. 

 

 

from above* '..Elderberry, despite some of the claims that have been made in the media, can be very helpful. It’s a cytokine modulator, as I mentioned. So 700 to 1,000 milligrams per day of elderberry extract from syrup or lozenges, or you can also even get it in capsules, is a good idea. '

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3 hours ago, thelerner said:

@KuroShiro or anybody, I've gotten mixed messages on Elderberry*.  Early on I acquired some tincture with it.  Some info was not to take it because of receptor problems.  Anything definitive?       Thanks

 

Elderberry is antiviral and great for the cold & flu but I think I remember @Taomeow saying it might not be recommended against this virus. Chris Kresser is recommending it.

I have Sambucol and Elderberry juice. I've been drinking the juice although not everyday, I open a bottle drink it in a few days and after a while open another one. I do this to strengthen the immune system, I think it helps. I'm saving the Sambucol for symptoms, it can also be used as prevention but it has sugar and the bottle doesn't last long...

 

 

3 hours ago, thelerner said:

In my home we have 1 mask, 5 people, so.. no one wears it.  It just sits there, in its packaging, taunting us, waiting for the first person to grab it. 

 

See if you can get some. If not it's probably best to make your own, it's not the same but better than nothing...

 

 

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