by Dr. Hepsharat Amadi

Much has been made in the media lately about the threat of the new coronavirus known as COVID-19, originating in China. As a result of the barrage of scary sounding news stories, people often feel there’s nothing they personally can do to protect themselves or their loved ones from it; that the only things they can do are wash and disinfect their hands frequently as well as the surfaces that they touch, avoid touching their face or being in large crowds, and wait for a vaccine (which may be at least a year or more in coming). While these precautions may be useful to some, especially the immune-compromised, those with underlying medical conditions and the elderly, none of these steps actually BUILDS the immune system. And it IS possible to fortify the immune system naturally, as has been done by mankind for thousands of years, before vaccines were ever invented.

Basic lifestyle habits have an important impact on the immune system. Getting adequate sleep and rest is critical. The immune system is most active at night while we are sleeping. If we do not get enough sleep, this restorative process cannot operate to its fullest capacity. Moderate, regular cardiovascular exercise is important in circulating the blood thus allowing white blood cells to reach and destroy germs. It can also help reduce stress as can other forms of exercise, including yoga and also meditation. Stress reduction is critical to enabling the immune system to perform at its best.

Good nutrition is also very important in helping the body to resist disease. The most basic part of this is drinking plenty of water. If the body is not well hydrated, then the blood cannot reach the cells or the germs as easily. Good nutrition also means lots of vegetables and fruits, preferably organic, so that the body does not have the additional burden of toxins like herbicides and pesticides with which to contend. Whole grains are also healthy, although many people benefit from avoiding gluten-containing grains if they have that allergy. Avoiding one’s allergens is helpful in general since consuming them places further stress on the immune system. If one consumes meat, then free range animals that have not been fed antibiotics or injected with bovine growth hormone are preferable to conventionally raised animals. If a person eats fish, avoiding swordfish and tuna, which contain high mercury levels, is advisable as is eating wild-caught as opposed to farm-raised fish.

Another important measure is stopping smoking. The virus attacks the body through the lungs and therefore anything that weakens the lungs allows the virus to have an easier time entering and infecting the body. Limiting or avoiding sugar altogether is also a very important measure that everyone can take. Experiments have been done in which white blood cells were removed from the blood and grown in Petri dishes, and the amount of germs that they consumed per minute was measured. For each teaspoon of sugar that was added to the media, the amount of germs that the white blood cells were able to kill went down. For more about this, read Sugar Blues by William Dufty.

There are many herbs and nutrients that can boost immunity as well. Vitamin C (which inhibits viral replication) and vitamin D help, as does turmeric (high in antioxidants), astragalus, ginseng, olive leaf extract, oregano, thyme and medicinal mushrooms (such as reishi, shiitake and cordyceps), and the trace minerals zinc and selenium. Probiotics also support healthy immune function. B vitamins such as B6, folate and B12 also support blood production and the nerves which in turn support immune function.

Last, but definitely not least, is a positive attitude. Research has shown that optimism supports our immune system and our health in general.

Hepsharat Amadi, M.D., L.Ac. is a functional medical doctor offering services including quantum biofeedback and bioidentical hormone replacement, and utilizing lifestyle counseling, nutrition, herbs, supplements and homeopathic remedies in her practice. To schedule an appointment, call 954-757-0064 or email [email protected]. For more information, visit