HFF Anti-inflammatory Immune System Tune-Up and Antiviral Toolkit Part 1: Fundamentals
HFF Anti-inflammatory Immune System Tune-Up and Antiviral Toolkit Part 1: Fundamentals
With the whole world spinning on the axis of COVID-19, I wanted to highlight and clarify a few things that my initial COVID-19 article only touched on. Healthcare systems all over the world are overwhelmed with not enough resources to address the people coming to them for help. It is at times like these that the need to be self-empowered becomes underscored on our list of priorities. Proactive people are looking for ways to prevent contracting the virus and to self-treat when they come down with symptoms, but wading through the sea of information is no easy task. There is some very good information circulating the globe right now, but it can be confusing and sometimes conflicting. Not one of even my most trusted sources has all of the information, and some of them don’t even agree. But there are a few things everyone should know if you are going to put it all together and use that advice safely and effectively that I didn’t fully explain in my last article, so here goes.
Please understand that this is a toolkit, not a prescription; it is a gathering of information for you to assess and apply where you see fit. It is meant to empower not overwhelm, not as a script for what you should do but a list of options for what you can do.
Your Immune System
Let’s revisit this for a moment. Due to our medicalized way of viewing health, we strive to suppress symptoms and declare war on “invading” pathogens, while sometimes completely ignoring the fact that we have our own natural defences, the immune system. We carpet bomb our bodies with antibiotics and antivirals killing both the beneficial microbes (our own army) along with the invaders leaving us vulnerable to a second, third, forth attack. The key to preventing illness and recovering from both acute infection and chronic conditions is to cultivate and support a balanced immune system AND allowing our bodies to acquire natural immunity. Working with people all over the world with varying illnesses and living in different family, community, and environmental situations, it has become crystal clear that every one of those people has to address one common factor that is affecting their state of health: the function of the immune system.
It is beyond the scope of this article to go too deeply into the details, but basically, in relation to infection, the immune system protects us from invading pathogens. Every time we come into contact with a bacteria, virus, or antigen that the body sees as a threat, our innate immune system mounts an attack, and during that attack many chemical processes take place that are categorized generally as “inflammation.” Once the body has encountered a potential invader, it will tag and remember it so that it is better able to fight it off should it be encountered again. This is the adaptive immune system at work. So, in a way, our immune systems are being educated with every exposure, sometimes becoming hyper reactive, which is a problem in cases such as autoimmunity or when we succumb to the consequences of a cytokine storm (please see definition and discussion in Part 2 of this article in the section entitled: When You Have Symptoms) or responsive which is the case when we have developed natural immunity to a virus like chicken pox (varicella). Sometimes we have symptoms while this education is happening (what we call getting “sick”), and sometimes we don’t. In fact, the symptoms are not the infection itself; they are the result of the immune system trying to do its job.
As I said, we don’t want to carpet bomb unnecessarily with the overuse of antibiotics (which have zero effect on viruses, anyway) or the overuse of disinfectants and medications for a few reasons. First, we need to keep a good balance of various microbes in the human gastrointestinal tract, skin, and even brain. These microbes do a number of very important jobs such as producing vital nutrients such as b-vitamins (which have a dramatic impact on mental health), help control other opportunistic pathogens such as the coronaviruses (they are a family of viruses of which COVID-19 is only one member), digest our food, help us detoxify, and are an integral part of the immune system. We rely on them for our very survival. Second, medications can interfere with any number of chemical processes in the body creating other serious problems and can also deplete the body of minerals and nutrients that are essential for controlling the very metabolic, chemical, and hormonal processes that keep hyperreactivity down and hence inflammation in check such as glutathione, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and melatonin just to name a few.
Developing Natural Immunity
The best line of defence against any illness is to make your body inhospitable to disease. Within every human body, there exists a natural colony of microbes, and even a small number of parasites live in and on us without causing us harm. New scientific insights into the human microbiome and virome show that we are actually meant to live in a symbiotic relationship with trillions of bacteria and viruses, and not only is this OK, as I said before, it is essential to our very survival. In fact, this relationship is so important, if we were to sterilize the human body, we would face certain death. What causes a symbiotic relationship to become an infection is the overgrowth of bacteria or the over-replication of viruses which happens when? You guessed it! When the immune system is out of balance, underactive, hyperactive, or overwhelmed. And when heavy-handed “solutions” to an infection such as harsh medications and broad-spectrum antibiotics are used (and sometimes there may be no perceived choice but to use them), this delicate balance is inevitably disrupted.
When we encounter a pathogen, as I said earlier, as long as there is no disruption to the immune system, the body will either shuttle out any unwanted guests or develop natural immunity to them. It will maintain its own borders and protect its own cells without the need for an all out war – more like a peaceful gathering of all walks of life rather than a battle, because when we have war, we have casualties, and not all of these casualties are those of the “enemy.”
The way to develop natural or acquired immunity is to let an illness take its course without interference. As long as a fever is not in a dangerous range, you can let it ride while monitoring closely. The fever is actually the immune system at work, and we want it to do this work. Each time we get “sick” with a cold or flu, our bodies become better educated, and the next time that strain comes around, we are most likely immune. This is why children get sick more often – with every encounter with a new friend or foe, their immune systems are still learning, adapting, and developing. And this is a good thing. Now, I am not saying that it is a good thing to contract any kind of coronavirus, but I am saying that if you encounter a virus and your immune system is balanced, then your body will naturally go through this process.
So, our goal is to reduce stress on the body and increase immune function by way of lifestyle practices, supplementation, and methods designed to support the microbiome, support genetic pathways, kill/knock down the viral load, stop viral replication, and ultimately allow for the development of natural immunity.
The Toolkit Part 1: Fundamentals
The following is a round-up of possibilities useful for preventing infection, for fortifying the body’s immune defenses, and for knocking down infection and preventing viral replication if you do happen to contract COVID-19 or any other virus; again, this is not a treatment guide as I do not treat illness but provide suggestions for tools that can support the body’s own defence mechanisms and processes.
My wheelhouse is the potent natural pharmacy at the fingertips of every person. Given the action and positive effects each of the tools below have on the immune system and overall health of the body, people are reporting success in illness prevention and recovery using a personalized combination of them. Having this kind of information will further empower you to make autonomous decisions regarding how your family moves through this trying time.
OK, so let’s start with actions then move into supplementation. What can you do to balance your immune system and fight infection?
Prevention Step One: Cultivating Immunity
The first step is to maintain this balance and prevent pathogeneic infection in the first place. As discussed, one of the ways the body does not succumb to illness is to be immune to it. In an attempt to lower mortality rates and improve health outcomes for the masses, conventional medicine has created and utilized vaccinations in an attempt to replicate the body’s process of the development of natural immunity. I will not get into any debate over the safety or efficacy of vaccinations here but simply want to introduce a definitively safe, effective, nonmedical way to educate the immune system without getting sick which is homeoprophylaxis. If you understand and utilize homeopathy in the maintenance of your family health, this application will make perfect sense. If you are not familiar with homeopathy, this may be a bit of a mindbend, but let me briefly explain.
Homeopathy basically works on the principle of “like cures like” and can be taken by all ages and states of health in highly simple modes of delivery – either by way of drops in water or as sugar pellets. Please see Cilla Whatcott’s websites for more information about homeopathy, specifically, homeoprophylaxis, and the homeopathic remedy Influenzinum CV30. Find the links at the end of this article.
Prevention Step Two: Addressing Your Internal and External Environments
The answer to keeping the immune system in balance is to keep the bad stuff out and put the good stuff in. We want to prevent both toxicity and deficiency. If we can be proactive in how we live, what we take in by way of food and water, and what we expose ourselves to, we take some of these steps before the immune system has to respond, and if it does need to respond, it is less-burdened and more functional. In fact, toxins, deficiencies, and poor lifestyle habits definitively impair the immune system due to a dizzying number of factors and in a complex symphony of ways.
Let’s take, for instance, glyphosate. In a conversation I had just yesterday with MIT researcher Stephanie Seneff about her take on the whole COVID-19 situation, she points at glyphosate (the main ingredient in Round-Up, a pesticide sprayed readily and heavily on inorganic food) as a potential smoking gun (stay tuned for my interview with Stephanie later this week). Why? How can this be for real? Well, in her words, “glyphosate disrupts the microbiome’s ability to convert inorganic sulfur into organic sulfur (in the form of methionine). As a consequence, Desulfovibrio and Bilophila wadsworthia [two strains of bacteria] overgrow – as species that are able to reduce sulfate and sulfite to hydrogen sulfide gas. The gas piles up and causes the discomfort associated with sulfur sensitivities. Sulfate becomes systemically deficient due to dysfunction in the sulfur homeostasis system due to chronic glyphosate poisoning. This has huge consequences in health and disease. An over-reactive adaptive immune system induces a cytokine storm, and glyphosate’s disruption of antioxidant defenses (such as glutathione) makes it that much worse.”
So, essentially, glyphosate disrupts the microbiome, impairs detoxification, and reduces sulphur production and utilization having devastating effects on human health that are way beyond the scope of this article to sort out. Where else are we exposed to glyphosate? In biodiesel expelled in high amounts through emissions in countries that are trying to save the planet but are perhaps inadvertently poisoning the human microbiome subsequently rendering our immune systems defunct. According to Stephanie, “Breathing glyphosate from the fuel disrupts the lungs’ ability to kill and clear viruses.” Wow, right?!
Soooo, choices such as eating organic food (as much as possible in a time of scarcity) and improving the health of the microbiome through supplementation and eating the proper foods are HUGE steps toward cultivating robust immunity and preventing illness and disease.
OK, so this article is not intended to debate the causal factors of COVID-19 (and there are many factors that have created the perfect storm, and that article is to come), but knowing that doing simple things as I will outline below will address all of them at once, even the factors we have yet to discover, by making the terrain of your body inhospitable to disease.
The Lifestyle Fundamentals
What can you do (as in, how can you act) to improve your immunity, reduce inflammation, and knock down viral load? All aspects of your being must be included here, namely the body, mind, spirit, and environment while focusing on stress reduction.
Breathing and Exercise
Get ample fresh air and get out in the sun. Even though most of the world is practicing social distancing, this does not mean that you cannot go outside. In fact, doing so will raise your immune boosting vitamin D levels and your spirit at the same time. (See details about Vitamin D in Part 2 of this article.) Your body needs oxygen and to engage with the negative ions in the air and on the ground. So, get outside if you possibly can.
Movement and exercise indoors is always an option, as well. There are so many ways to move and play inside such as exercise routines, yoga, free online classes, dancing, active games, even cleaning and renovating that neglected room, that there is no reason to sit bored and still in front of the TV.
Breathwork, singing, chanting, and humming improve nitric oxide levels in the nasal cavities and the lungs enabling increased capability to combat viral infection.
Sleep and Rest
Get some rest and enough of it at the right time of the day. A disruption in school and work routines can give us lisence to stay up all night, and I get it – we want to do our thing when we want to do it – but keep in mind that maintaining a natural circadian rhythm will enable our immune systems to do their job and for our bodies to repair and detoxify if and when we get sick. Melatonin, the master antioxidant, is produced at night, which is also the time of day when our glymphatic systems clean out the debris from our brains. So, please sleep. Bedtime is not a punishment but a gift you can give to yourself and your children.
Avoid blue lights from electronics at least 1-2 hours before bed. Blue light signals the body to be awake creating a cascade of hormones (namely, cortisol) that will make it so. This can cause trouble going to sleep and unrestful sleep and all of the fallout sleep deprivation can create, including, you guessed it, a fatigued immune system.
Take some time to be, rest, and go into neutral. Please see Part 3 for more about stress and stress reduction.
Food (Nutrition) and Water
Food is not only sustenance but can also be medicine. The way we eat directly impacts our natural ability to stay well, fight infection, and maintain energy and good mental health.
Eat nutritious, organic, whole food, and drink ample, clean water, and fermented foods as these will improve the health of the microbiome, deliver vital nutrients to every cell, and reduce toxic overload of chemicals such as glyphosate. (See “30 Reasons to Avoid Fast Food Like the Plague” Link at the bottom of this article.)
Eat alkaline, immune boosting foods as it is difficult for any kind of pathogen to live in an oxygenated, alkaline environment. (See “30 Reasons to Avoid Fast Food Like the Plague” Link at the bottom of this article.)
Reduce sugar intake as sugar will impair the immune system for up to 5 hours after ingestion. (See “30 Reasons to Avoid Fast Food Like the Plague” Link at the bottom of this article.)
Consider a low histamine diet as viruses feed on histamine.
Lower your caloric intake by eating less as calorie restriction is known to improve the body’s ability to fight infection.
Mind and Spirit
We are living through a very significant time in history right now where everything has changed seemingly overnight. At the top of everyone’s minds is each of our family’s physical survival and economic survival, but what is also coming into our awareness is our emotional/mental/spiritual survival. How will we survive? Everyone on the planet is faced with this question right now and the answers are as many as the number of people contemplating them. And there is significant shifting and adapting that is taking place for each and every one of us whether we want to be affected or not.
Self reflection, positive thoughts, gratitude, gaining clarity, enjoying time with family, embracing change, all of these things will help lift us out of fear and into the creation of something new on the other side of all of this. And this is never easy but always worthwhile.
Positive belief and reducing stress directly affect the vagus nerve, nervous system, endocrine system, and the communication between the brain and the body, which are the control centres for immune function and health recovery.
Social distancing may help to reduce the spread of viruses yet we are already seeing people feeling lonely and isolated. My own grandmother is in a care home under lockdown unable to see her family at all, the family who keeps her wanting to live at all since she is unable to move around on her own or even dial a phone number. My daughters are missing their friends despite being here with 2 siblings and their mom and dad. So what do we do?
Play games, do projects, clean and improve your home, get outside together. Take the time to solidify your family bonds.
Have gatherings where everyone “meets” outside on their own lawns with distance but in the presence of each other. I have seen birthday parties done this way, and one of my friends spoke to his mom on the phone outside of her facility while outside her window; these solutions are the brilliance of the human spirit at work.
Reach out outside of social media by way of telephone, facetime, and zoom to the people that really matter in your life like parents, cousins, friends, siblings, and grandparents.
Do not get too caught up in social media. It can be poisonous for the mind, and reduce your consumption of the news. Know enough but take the time to explore other things that you may have the opportunity to explore right now. My own daughters are writing books and painting and my son is writing content for a new health website and planning for his future business while still working full time on the railroad. Me, I am doing significant emotional work while editing my book, working with trainees and clients, and writing these articles.
My hope is that after all of this, despite technology getting us through in some ways, we will be less reliant on it in the future to connect with each other with a new-found appreciation of face-to-face contact, of hugs, and of true and deep connection.
Supplements and Botanicals
The use of supplements and botanicals in your toolkit is a massive subject and not as simple as it may seem on the surface. But I want to make it simpler for you, so I will be fully exploring that topic in “HFF Immune Boosting and Antiviral Toolkit Part 2: Guide to Supportive Supplementation” to be released later today. To keep things simple for you, I have updated our online dispensary, and most supplements discussed in the article can be found there. So, stay tuned!
Clean up your home by creating a clean (not sterile) environment using botanicals, safe chemical-free cleaners, and good old soap and water.
Here are some suggestions:
Essential oils can be used for all of the above according to the desired effect, which could be antimicrobial for use in your external environment (your home and work) as well as your internal environment (your body). In addition, they are anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting, so when you use them in our home, you are also giving yourself a dose of potent natural medicine. They can be used to disinfect, support the lungs, support the gut, and oxygenate cells and tissues. You can also use essential oils to reduce anxiety and lower emotional and physiological states of stress improving the energetic environment in your home. You can diffuse, spray, inhale, apply topically, or ingest the oils (ingest only the organic oils deemed safe for consumption), and you need only a tiny amount for massive effects. I recommend DoTerra brand essential oils, and you can look around the website for more information.
Essential oil details:
For immunity support, you can use frankincense, Lemon, OnGuard, Oregano, Melaleuca, and Copaiba.
For antiviral specific support, you can use thyme, Clary Sage, Oregano, Melaleuca, Melissa, and Black Pepper.
For respiratory, you can use Breathe, OnGuard (both have Eucalyptus), OR eucalyptus and peppermint.
HOCL is an antimicrobial (antibacterial and antiviral) spray that causes very little damage or disruption to the natural ecosystem. It can be sprayed on the skin or distributed throughout the air with a vaporizer. (Find Briotech’s website link at the bottom of this article.)
Propolis can also be used as an antimicrobial (antibacterial and antiviral) with zero damage or disruption to the natural ecosystem. It can also be distributed throughout the air with a vaporizer.
Good old soap and water is really the best way to clean and cleanse your home and body. (Find Propolis in our dispensary under our Spectrum Supplements tab. Link to our dispensary is at the end of this article.)
Improve personal hygiene by washing your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds. The duration is very important.
Turn off the wifi and reduce EMF exposure (this would require writing a whole other 20 page article, so please read up on the detrimental effects EMF, wireless, and wifi exposure is having on the human immune system and stay tuned for an VERY important interview I will be releasing later this week about this very important topic.)
Reduce stress by meditating, being mindful, reducing workload, breathing/breathwork, spending time with family, being out in nature. A full exploration of reducing stress to improve immune function will be released as “HFF Immune Boosting Antiviral Toolkit Part 3: Stress Reduction” later this week. Stay tuned!
OK, that’s all for today. May you and your family be well.
Read “HFF Immune Boosting Antiviral Toolkit Part 3: Stress Reduction” (coming soon)
HFF Dispensary. To keep things simple for you, I have updated our online dispensary, and most supplements discussed in the article can be found there.
Our DoTERRA website
Carla Atherton, MA, FDN-P, Family Health Coach, is the director of The Healthy Family Formula, host of The Children’s and Teen Health Summit, author of the forthcoming book Family Health Revolution (release date: January, 2020), editor, book junkie, research geek, insatiably curious mother of three grown (son age 21), almost grown (daughter age 19), and growing (daughter age 16) children, one of whom has Type 1 Diabetes. Carla lives on an acreage in rural Saskatchewan, Canada, where she works from a home office with families from all over the world on the reversal of conditions such as, Autoimmunity: Type 1 Diabetes, PANDAS/PANS/Autoimmune Encephalitis, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Celiac Disease and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity; Asthma, Allergies, Eczema, and Reactivity; ADHD, Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, Learning Disabilities; Depression, Anxiety, Mental Health Disorders, Eating Disorders, ODD; Other Neurological Conditions; Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, and Metabolic Disorders; Untangling Mystery Symptoms, Complex Cases, and Co-Morbidities (having more than one condition); Mold Illness; Multiple Chemical Sensitivity; Lyme; Other Infection; and Addictions. Carla is on a revolutionary mission to empower families to transcend our new normal of ill health and chronic disease.
Tags: antiviral, Carla Atherton, children and coronavirus, children and COVID-19, coronavirus, COVID-19, Healthy Children, Healthy Family, Healthy Family Formula, healthy immune system, immune system, infection, virus