• Martha Calihan MD

What Can We Do To Protect Ourselves From Coronavirus?

Everyone is wondering: What do we do now in the face of the uncertainty of the coronavirus? There is much about this situation that we don’t know, and we have no specific anti-viral drugs that have been shown to be effective against this new virus. However, there are some reasonable, common sense things we can all do to try to keep ourselves healthy:


  • Wash your hands well with soap and warm water

  • Avoid touching your hands to your face

  • Avoid people who are ill

  • Stay away from others if you are ill.


It is also important to support your immune system overall. A healthy immune system starts with eating a healthy diet; with plenty of fruits and vegetables; these are what provides us with the colorful anti-oxidants that contribute to good health. Getting adequate rest is key; exhaustion will place a huge strain of the immune system.


We need good, healthy NK (natural killer) cells to help the immune system kill pathogens, including viruses. Andrographis, astragalus, mushrooms such as Reishi and Shitake, can all help the immune system by supporting the NK cells.


Vitamins D, A and zinc are all important for the immune system to function well; we usually recommend that the vitamin D and A levels be in the top end of normal range for the best effect. People’s need for vitamin C can vary widely. Generally I recommend starting at 1000 mg/d and increasing the dose until your bowels get loose, then back down by one. Taking more than is needed results in loose stools. It is best to take the vitamin C with bioflavonoids, not just as ascorbic acid.


In people without underlying health and immune issues, elderberry can be an effective anti-viral.

These are general recommendations for people who are generally healthy; people who have known immune system issues such as an auto-immune disease, should talk with their medical provider for more specific recommendations.


Lastly, let’s not forget about managing our stress; obviously a challenge in the midst of this uncertainty; but we do have tools like breathing and meditation that can help dial down the adverse effects of stress in our bodies. Ultimately, this too, helps support a healthy immune system.



To recap:


  • Eat a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, specifically different varieties of mushrooms.

  • Optimize Vitamin D and A status. Cod liver oil and other supplements are a great way to do this.

  • Optimize Vitamin C status. Start with 1,000mg a day and increase by 1,000mg each day until you experience loose bowels, then reduce daily dose by 1-2,000mg.

  • Elderberry supplements or tea can be helpful if there is no autoimmune condition present.

  • Manage stress with deep breathing and meditation

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