How to Keep Your Loved Ones Safe
Infodemphic or epidemic? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. Unless you live under a rock, news about the coronavirus is infiltrating your life. Whether you are an avid traveler, are planning a Spring Break vacay, or even just heading to your local mall this weekend, you have assuredly questioned your decision to go out into a major public area – especially if you have kids tagging along.
However, is this outbreak truly as big as it has been built up to be? Or is the fact that news spreads in the blink of an eye that is making the spread of coronavirus an almost unavoidable certainty?!
I’ll have to admit, I am planning on flying to San Diego and then driving up to Orange County next week for Expo West – the world’s largest natural, organic and healthy products event. I am going solo (with my 3 kids), and was honestly starting to second guess my decision – especially since there are nearly 100K people who attend (many of which are from all over the world, China included)! (Here’s my blog post about it from last year, if you’re interested).
However, I have gone for the past 7 years now (crazy!), and so wanted to do my research before deciding whether or not to make the trip since I truly do love going. So here it is.
What is Coronavirus?
Let’s back up for a moment. Before we go into all the latest info about how fast it’s spreading and whether or not you are doomed, let’s go into what exactly the coronavirus is.
First, here’s what it’s not: it’s not a disease stemming from Corona Beer – although you’ll be surprised at how many actually think that! Haha.
But in all seriousness, the coronavirus, or COVID-19, is the name of the respiratory illness caused by the 2019 virus that was first detected in Wuhan, China. You will also see it referred to as the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, or SARS-coV-2. In general, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are named for the spikes on their surface that look like crowns (“corona” in Latin means crown).
What are the Symptoms of Coronavirus?
What most people don’t realize is that for the majority of infected people, the coronavirus simply appears to look like a mild infection – with mild cold-like symptoms and fever, with many others having no symptoms at all. In fact, there are many reports of asymptomatic carriers. However, most people who contract COVID-19 do seem to develop some type of symptoms, including:
- Fever (which may not be present in the very young or very old, or immunocompromised)
- Uncomplicated upper respiratory symptoms (cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, malaise, headache, muscle aches)
- Difficulty breathing
- Mild pneumonia
- Severe pneumonia (the severe pneumonia caused by COVID-19 is now named severe acute respiratory infection (SARI))
- Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)
- Sepsis and Septic shock
The Severity of Coronavirus (and does it affect kids?)
The fact that death is involved with coronavirus is, of course, which has so many of us worried. So let’s delve deeper into that.
As a Mom of 3, and again, the fact that I am planning to take an airplane to a place where 10s of 1000s of people are going to be shaking hands, potentially touching foods that I am, etc. this has me worried – maybe even a bit paranoid – if I’m being honest.
However, what I’ve learned is that children seem less vulnerable to infection and appear to have milder symptoms than adults. In fact, there have been NO reported deaths in children 0-9 years of age. Moreover, one very small study of 9 infants under 1 year of age infected with COVID-19 found that none of the infants had severe illness or complications. In fact, 1 had no symptoms, 2 had mild upper respiratory tract symptoms, and 4 had fever.
Pregnant women also do not appear to be at greater risk for complications. And while I’m not currently pregnant (so don’t jump the gun here), I am hoping to be in the near future so again, this had me worried. In a small study of 9 women in Wuhan in their 3rd trimester of pregnancy with confirmed and symptomatic COVID-19 infection, none developed severe pneumonia or died. All gave birth via c-section to healthy-appearing babies with normal Apgar scores. No virus was found in amniotic fluid, cord blood or breastmilk.
Who is Most Prone to Illness with COVID-19? To Death?
According to the data, certain populations seem to be more at risk for infection and for death, with increasing age seeming to play the biggest role. In a report released by the Chinese CCDC on February 17, 2020 in the Chinese Journal of Epidemiology, the risk of death increases with age, with being over 80 the highest risk factor. The fatality rate of patients over 80 years old was estimated to be 14.8%. Death in those under 50 appears to be unlikely, with the mortality rate of 40-49 year olds estimated to be 0.4% and 0.2% for patients 10-39 years of age.
Further, as noted above, there have been NO deaths in children 0-9 years old. Having a chronic, pre-existing medical condition also significantly increased the risk of death. Without any pre-existing condition, the mortality rate was 0.9%. A history of cardiovascular disease increased the risk to 10.5%.
So, just like with the influenza virus, the elderly and those with underlying chronic medical conditions appear to be most at risk for serious complications and death from COVID-19. However, unlike influenza, children so far appear to be relatively protected and honestly, is what is giving me the biggest peace of mind at this moment.
What is the COVID-19 Mortality Rate?
For this, there are no firm numbers. With rates of spread increasing by the hour and no known wide-spread cure, it’s hard to put an exact number on this. However, it seems that China’s devastating numbers of mortality are not a true reflection of those in other parts of the world, mainly due to the fact for the tragic lack of hospital staff, medical supplies, ICU beds, and test kits that China is facing. If we look at the WHO numbers as of February 22, 2020, of the 76,392 reported cases in China, there have been 2,348 deaths, which puts the mortality rate in China at 3%. Outside of China, however, there have been 11 deaths out of the 1,402 cases, which is a 0.78% mortality rate.
Is There a Cure for Coronavirus?
As of now, there are no specific antiviral medications known to treat COVID-19. Treatment is supportive with rest, fluids, oxygen, and more intensive care if needed. Scientists are actively researching possible existing or new antiviral medications that may have activity against COVID-19, and vaccines that may help to prevent COVID-19. [But no, Tamiflu will not work.] And while yes, these efforts are critically needed, the manufacture and testing of a new pharmaceutical drug and/or vaccine are likely several months to over a year away.
Holistic Treatments for Coronavirus
So what about in the meantime? Are there any existing natural treatments that might work?
While I’m no doctor, I do believe that nature has many options and choices that help with some of the underlying symptoms and causes that make the coronavirus such a scary virus and thus, there are ways to help lessen its effects if not eradicate them altogether. I also trust other doctors out there, with Elisa Song, MD being one of the ones I continually reach out to for advice. With that said, here are some of her findings:
“These are theoretical possibilities only. Please do not stockpile these natural medicines. If you suspect you or your child has COVID-19, please consult with your physician on your best treatment options.
Sambucus Formosana Nakai: (a species of elderberry similar to Sambucus nigra or black elderberry that has been found to have anti-influenza activity) was found to have strong activity against Human coronavirus NL63 (HCoV-NL63). (9) NOTE: This is NOT the same as the elderberry syrup you’ll find on shelves, and I am not recommending that you go out and stockpile Sambucus Nigra). The caffeic acid component of Sambucus Formosana Nakai seemed to be responsible for most of the anti-HCoV-NL63 activity, and significantly inhibited replication and blocked attachment of HCoV-NL63. Caffeic acid is actually NOT related to caffeine, but is found in many foods such as coffee, wine, turmeric, basil, thyme, oregano, sage, cabbage, apples, strawberries, cauliflower, radishes, mushrooms, kale, pears, and olive oil. It definitely couldn’t hurt to load up on caffeic acid-rich foods (minus the coffee and wine, perhaps…).**
**It was brought to my attention that there is an article saying that Elderberry syrup can kill you if you have COVID-19 (due to it increasing cytokines. While this is definitely alarming, I haven’t found any documented information to support this. The reason mentioned is “cytokine storm”, which if you read more below, you’ll find ways to balance out these immunities and avoid sepsis (which is often the cause of mortality in these cases). This reiterates my point that you shouldn’t believe everything you read and always look to the source of where your information is coming from.
Traditional Chinese Medicines: TCMs have been met with significant controversy and panic stockpiling when Chinese researchers claimed that a traditional herbal formula (shuanghuanglian made with honeysuckle, Chinese skullcap and forsythia) could inhibit 2019-nCoV in vitro. This was a premature announcement and clinical trials need to be performed. However, if we look to prior research on other coronaviruses, there are studies showing the efficacy of various Chinese herbal agents against other coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV and CHOV-22E9. (10) These herbal medicines include: Bupleurum, Heteromorpha, and Scrophularia scorodonia (11); Lycoris radiata, Artemisia annua, Pyrrosia lingua, and Lindera aggregata (12); Isatis indigotica and Torreya mucifera (13,14,15); and Houttuynia cordata (16) My hope is that researchers take interest in these initial in-vitro results and consider clinical trials that could potentially find a cure in these natural agents.
COVID-19, sepsis & cytokine storm: When patients with COVID-19 die, it is often due to sepsis, in which the immune system goes haywire and overreacts in what is called a “cytokine storm.” Natural agents that are immunomodulatory and immunoregulatory, and bring BALANCE to an overactive immune system, may be one of the best options to support patients with sepsis. Here’s what the literature shows for what may be helpful for critically ill patients with sepsis.. In life-or-death critical situations like sepsis where conventional medicine does not offer significant success, I would urge researchers to consider all potential treatment options for further investigation.
Vitamin C: 1.5 grams IV every 6 hours (6 grams total daily), given with hydrocortisone and thiamine was found to significantly decrease mortality and prevent progressive organ failure in patients with sepsis. In fact, patients treated with the vitamin C protocol had an 8.5% death rate compared with 40.4% in the control group! (17) Thankfully, there is currently a research trial underway to investigate vitamin C infusions for the treatment of severe 2019-nCoV infected pneumonia (18) where patients in the treatment group will receive 24 grams of Vitamin C daily for 7 days.
Vitamin D: has been called a “pro-survival molecule.” In this review of the literature on Vitamin D and immunity (19), the authors conclude that:
“… vitamin D not only helps the immune system to be dampened during an excessive or chronic reaction (anti-inflammatory potential) but also to rapidly reach its completion or exhaustion, helping innate cells to kill bacteria or viruses. In this sense, vitamin D maintains its pivotal role as a pro-survival molecule.”
Cathelicidin produced by Vitamin D can neutralize LPS (lipopolysaccharides) that are responsible for so much of the damage that we see in sepsis, and also has antimicrobial and immunomodulatory effects. (20) Vitamin D deficiency may actually be considered a risk factor for sepsis and inflammatory disorders, so please ensure that your and your child’s vitamin D levels are optimized as I discuss below in how to protect your child..
Other Natural Agents: This journal article from 2014, Therapeutic interventions in sepsis: current and anticipated pharmacological agents by Shukla P, et al (21), is probably the best article I’ve found on evidence-based yet outside-the-box thinking of potential natural treatment options for sepsis that warrant further investigation. Here are just a few of the fascinating findings:
Curcumin: has been found to inhibit NF-kB – potent activator of inflammation in sepsis. Curcumin was also found to inhibit binding of LPS and suppress the LPS-induced inflammatory response and damage seen in sepsis, while improving survival, in a mouse model of sepsis. (22)
Quercetin: has also been found to inhibit the NF-kB pathway (23), and to improve survival and decrease cellular damage in a mouse model of sepsis (24,25)
Naringin: a flavonoid found in the skin of citrus fruit, ameliorated LPS-induced sepsis in mice, via the NF-κB pathway, and reduced LPS-induced acute lung injury (26)
The probiotic Bacillus sp strain LBP32: has extracellular polysaccharides (EPS) that were found to inhibit the LPS-induced release of many pro-inflammatory mediators (such as NO, ROS, IL-6 and TNF-α) by inhibiting the NF-κB pathway. Researchers were able to demonstrate that EPS could greatly improve the outcome of mice with LPS-induced endotoxic shock (27)
Boswellia (Frankincense): can inhibit LPS-induced inflammation in sepsis. This study (28) found that Casperome® (Casp), an orally bioavailable soy lecithin-based formulation of standardized frankincense extract, was able to ameliorate the systemic effect and multi-organ damage induced by severe systemic inflammation using a mouse model of sepsis.
Lomatium dissectum: is a Native American traditional root that was claimed to have prevented the Washoe Indian tribes from dying during the 1918 influenza pandemic (also called the Spanish flu pandemic). In SARS-CoV sepsis, one of the inflammatory chemokines involved is CXCL10 (29). Poor prognosis with Influenza A is also associated with CXCL10 dysregulation. Lomation dissectum, used by Native Americans in Western US to treat influenza, was found to inhibit CXCL10 secretion by lung cells and may explain why during the 1918 influenza pandemic, L. dissectum was hailed as the cure for influenza and influenza-associated pneumonia. (30)”
(For more info on Dr. Song and her findings, please visit her website and her article about the coronavirus, here: https://healthykidshappykids.com/2020/02/27/coronavirus-covid-19/)
While there are still many unknowns about coronavirus, hunkering down indoors until it is eradicated is unreasonable, at best. Instead, educate yourself about what it is, how to prevent it from spreading to your family, and take all the precautions that you would in preventing any sort of flu, disease, or bacteria from spreading to your family and loved ones. Wash your hands, keep your fingers away from your face, stay away from those that are coughing or are showing signs of illness.
And while yes, this is a scary time and the unknowns of it all make it that much more frightening, we have to trust that like all epidemics, God has a reason behind the madness and we just have to do our best to protect those that we love with the information that we are given.
With all that said, stay safe my lovelies and stay tuned to my stories and Insta feed for all things Expo West! I look forward to sharing more soon!
Keep Up to Date on the Latest COVID-19 News:
- WHO: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
- CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 page https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- WHO COVID-19 Situation Reports: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports
- CDC’s COVD-19 travel advisory page https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
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