By Dr. Cliff Han
With the novel coronavirus COVID-19 now officially a pandemic, I want to tell you, “Hakuna Matata,” and that with this method outlined below how you can prepare yourself to beat the virus. This method won’t save you from catching it, but it will help you temporarily increase your immune system’s response to the virus’s invasion before it causes serious problems.
To explain it with a metaphor, our immune system is like a car, with an accelerator to speed it up and brakes to slow it down. Pathogens act as an accelerator, stimulating the immune system so it can protect us from infectious diseases. Probiotics, or “friendly” bacteria, act as brakes, slowing it down when there is no infection. Like a car, our immune system is designed to be parked most of the time by our probiotics.
These protective mechanisms have evolved through humankind’s long history.
Our immune system operates in the gut (70 percent), airways (25 percent) and under our skin (5 percent). Different probiotics inhabit these biological spaces and send signals to pacify our immune system from all of the outer stimuli we encounter on a daily basis.
Our body’s probiotics become suppressed when we are infected by bacteria or viruses. For example, probiotics in the airways do not survive well in temperatures above our normal body temperature and will be suppressed when we have a fever, allowing our immune system to kick in. Probiotics in the digestive system are expelled via vomit or diarrhea when we have an infection in the gut, again letting our immune systems react to the threat.
Equipped with this knowledge, we can design a method to increase local or whole-body immunity when we need it. The guiding principle is to minimize the probiotics in the necessary areas.
The preventive measure for COVID-19 targets only the immune system around the airway in four steps.
1. Oral hygiene: Wipe your tongue with a wet washcloth to remove the white/yellow biofilm. Brush your teeth and use mouthwash twice a day. Floss every day.
2. Breathe the steam from hot ginger soup (recipe below) and then drink it slowly.
3. Keep yourself warm, especially your mouth and throat. Lower, cold temperatures in your mouth and airway help probiotics grow, which makes us more vulnerable to airway infections. This is why the cold and flu epidemics occur in the winter.
4. Exhaustion also reduces immunity. Get lots of sleep and take rests or naps as you feel they’re needed.
In addition to the above measures, you can mobilize your stomach’s immune system if you have developed early symptoms: cough, fatigue, headache. (Please go see your doctor if you have developed symptoms of pneumonia, such as shortness of breath.)
1. Switch to a liquid, fiber-free diet (e.g. no milk). Fiber is the main nutrition for gut probiotics. The goal is to have everything you eat to be absorbed in the small intestine and leave no nutrition for gut probiotics in the bowel.
2. If you have a fever, do not control it too much with drugs. Keep your body temperature between 101 and 104 degrees. Use physical methods to control your body temperature when it is too high, such as wearing less clothing or applying warm water to your palms and forehead. Do not use a pain killer to lower your fever except for when it cannot be controlled by these physical means. You may stop the preventive measures when you have a fever.
3. If needed, use a laxative or stool softener.
Keep doing these preventive measures if you do not have a fever, but if you do run a fever, you can stop. These preventive measures might have side effects, such as making your airway’s immune system sensitive to pollen or dander, causing allergic reactions. If you already have allergies, these measures may worsen existing symptoms. I do not suggest use these methods if you have allergic rhinitis or asthma.
Do not start these preventive processes when your chance of getting an infection is low. The preventive measures should work within a day, if not hours.
People with compromised immune systems, other diseases, and seniors may be more vulnerable. These people should take preventive measures when the virus starts to circulate in their immediate neighborhood. I think the death rate will be below 0.4 percent in the U.S. and these preventive measures will help you become more fortified to the virus.
As with any medical procedure, please discuss these measures with your doctor first.
Ginger Soup Recipe
- One ounce of fresh ginger.
- Slice ginger into thin pieces.
- Combine 2 to 3 cups of water and ginger in a pot.
- Quickly heat to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.