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Dr. B > Hi, I’m Dr. James Biddle. Today we’re going to talk about boosting your immune system. While I’m recording this, we’re still on the front edge of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. I’m not going to talk specifically about treating that right now. We do have a summary of resources available on that. But my goal today is just to talk in general about how to keep your immune system up so that you’re less likely to get COVID-19, or you get it later, or when/if you do get it, your symptoms are going to be more mild.
So the first thing is sunshine, get outside and take a walk! You need physical activity and you need sunshine. We are out at the park today with our four year old and her best friend and they’re running around and my wife is expressing just how grateful she is that this all came on in the spring rather than in the middle of the winter or the late fall. So even if you’re doing social distancing, which I certainly hope you are, you can get outside and get exercise and get your bare feet on the earth and get your hands into the garden and still be productive and get your exercise and feel good. It’s really important to keep reminding yourself about all the blessings in your life.
The next thing you want to do is to stay mindful and there’s many ways to do that. If you don’t have your own method for doing that, I recommend a gratitude journal. I would recommend taking two to five minutes once or twice a day. If you took two minutes a day just on scrap paper or some journal you have sitting around, and just scribble about things you’re grateful for, for two minutes….that’s enough! Consider all of the things that you’re grateful for and jot them down. And then after a few days of new material, you can do some of the same things, but try to find new ones. Dig deeper because there’s so many things to be grateful for. At any moment in time, we can choose to focus our thoughts on a million different things. We can focus on the butterfly or we can focus on the stock market and you need to take care of yourself (and your finances)….so take the time to think and feel about all of the things you have.
It doesn’t do you any good to dwell on things that are out of your control. So what’s that serenity prayer…? God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
So the things you can’t change, don’t, and don’t keep dwelling on them. If they’re just making you feel bad, they’re going to drag down your immune system. Focus on what you can do something about, and then focus on the good things that are already happening. Focusing on things that make you feel good helps your immune system…and also helps you fall asleep easier.
We just did another podcast on sleep. And by we, I mean my new patient coordinator, Joy Lambert, and I, so there’s a lot more about sleep in that one… so I’m not going to say too much about that right now, but do keep up your good sleep hygiene. Stay on a fairly regular schedule, don’t stay up late at night watching movies or social media or on your device of any sort. It’s been said that one hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours of sleep after midnight. So get to bed early and get up early even though you don’t have to go to school or even if you don’t have to go to work in the morning, it’s better to still follow the rhythms of the sun…that’s way better for your system, and use melatonin regularly right now even if you don’t need it. Melatonin is one of those things that one of my mentors, Dietrich Klinghardt, who’s a German MD-PhD says really helps decrease inflammation. Unfortunately is not available widely in the UK and in the EU….it’s been taken away from them because it’s such a good alternative to other things.
But it’s available here! And it’s cheap as dirt. It’s really good for you. The only bad side effect is it can give you vivid dreams, they can be a little bit too “technical” to be comfortable for some, or you can have grogginess in the morning if you’re a slow metabolizer, but there’s nothing seriously bad and it does not inhibit your own production of melatonin, which is controlled by sunshine and darkness. So have a very dark bedroom at night. Get out and get sunshine during the day. Get your regular activity and physical exercise. Keep moving and use the melatonin anywhere from a half a milligram up to even as high as 20 milligrams if you tolerate it. But for most people, three to five milligrams is a big dose. If you wake up in the middle of the night, use either a sublingual spray to get back to sleep or use a prolonged release when you go to sleep because melatonin doesn’t last that long, about three to four hours, but the prolonged release lasts six to seven hours.
And there’s also some information about using it around the clock if you actually are infected, in order to decrease the inflammation as part of this pandemic. So you want to keep up your exercise, get out in the sunshine, sleep with good sleep patterns, and then use some form of mindfulness. And if you don’t already have one, then I do recommend a gratitude journal.
Now, more specifically, what can we be taking right now to help our nutritional status and to support our own detoxification status? Because those are the next two big areas of immune support. So for nutrients try to stay away from too much sugar and processed foods and try to eat real food. Luckily it’s time to plant a lot of stuff and as soon we’ll be harvesting more. Bone broths are wonderful!
And mushrooms! We have Shataki logs in my house and they’re putting out lots of mushrooms with all this rain. Fresh citrus if you can have it is excellent. And then the specific nutrients that we like are vitamin D at least 5,000 units a day. If you can get a vitamin D blood level test, usually we’re looking for a vitamin D blood level of 50 to 80, but during this time, I want more like 70 to 90. We don’t want above a hundred, because you can start to get toxic effects, but we want much higher than usual. And most people can tolerate 5,000, 10,000 iu’s a day of vitamin D to keep that level up. And right now I’d go higher on that.
You want to take zinc about 30 milligrams a day. You want that always with food, never on an empty stomach. Zinc can really wreck your stomach. You need to have zinc onboard with this virus. What you don’t want is the selenium because I just got new information that Selenium actually opens one of the channels that helps the virus enter ourselves. So it’s not the time to be taking a selenium for your immune system, although for other types of immune support, general immune support Selenium is generally on the list but just not right now.
And one of my favorites I think you should be taking preventatively is Transfer Factor. Transfer Factor is part of colostrum and colostrum is what is produced from the breast right after a baby’s born…for the first week. It transfers immunity from the mother to the baby and it’s full of things that ‘goose’ the baby’s immune system and stimulate and support it. And of course, we’re not using human transfer factor. We’re using bovine Transfer Factor. So we’re stealing this from baby cows. And every time I say that I feel sad for the baby cows, but here we are. It comes into capsule form and you want maintenance doses, two to three – once a day on an empty stomach. Very important. And it should also be refrigerated. And you want to do that at least 15, 20 minutes before you eat. Don’t, don’t pour hot coffee right on top of it. If you actually get sick, the dosages are much higher, like three to five capsules, three to five times a day on an empty stomach. But preventatively, I think vitamin D, Zinc and Transfer Factor go a long way. And then detoxifying, you know, detoxification is not a passive process.
So this is not really the time for fasting because fasting puts everything on hold. People think they’re detoxifying on a fast but something else may be happening…cause detoxification is really an energy intensive process. Being in starvation mode is not really that supportive of the detox process. I do think that fasting for three days and then going on a keto diet is going to be one of the most important parts of treatment for this type of pandemic though, because of how it supports your immune functioning. But for now, the way to focus on detox support, I recommend Vitamin C, about a thousand milligrams at least three to four times a day in the preventative phase.
If you get into treatment, and there’ll be a whole other show on this, what other people are doing is a thousand milligrams, perhaps every 15 to 30 minutes. And we like a powder vitamin C for that…just plain buffered sodium ascorbate. Nothing fancy about it. It’s 1,100 milligrams at a quarter teaspoon, kind of like an emergen-C, but a lot less expensive and comes in a jug.
That does a lot to support the detox system in your body.
And the next biggest thing is NAC, which is N Acetyl Cysteine. It has been widely used in medicine for a long time. When I was in medical school over 30 years ago, it was called Mucomyst. It’s used to thin the mucus….for people who are having mucus problems, like with asthma and emphysema or just the common cold or flu where you start to get too much mucus or thick mucus and have a hard time clearing it. So obviously that’s very important when people are getting this particular infection. NAC is also one of the prime components of our major pathway of detoxification, known as glutathione. Glutathione is a tripeptide…it is three amino acids together and NAC is one. The other two are glycine and glutamine.
So putting NAC in our system will speed up your glutathione production. For example, in the emergency room, if you have a friend or family member who was suicidal and tried to kill themselves with Tylenol overdose, after we pumped their stomach we then put NAC down their G-tube because the NAC will boost their glutathione. And the reason people die of Tylenol overdose is their liver runs out of glutathione trying to detoxify the acetaminophen. I thought when I was an ER doctor, 25 to 28 years ago, why don’t we just use this every day? And when I got into nutritional medicine, I finally learned, well of course we can use it every day and support people’s detox systems. They use it for overdose and they also use it to protect people’s kidneys…people who have borderline kidney function and they need IV contrast dye for certain x-rays and CT scans.
By boosting glutathione you actually save people’s kidney function. And again, we use it ongoing everyday for people with borderline kidney function and it works really marvelously. I would start taking 500 milligrams of NAC twice a day right now. And then of course if you get the virus at all, you’re going to take a whole lot more NAC. I think it should be taken with food because it tends to be a little bit hard on the stomach. Most amino acids you want on an empty stomach, cause they kind of get diluted with the food. But NAC is a very strong amino acid. You’re not going to dilute it. Just get it into you. It will make everything smell like sulfur. It’ll make your urine and your poop smell like rotten eggs. That’s okay. Don’t worry about it. That’s fine. It’s no problem. It’s just the sulfur as part of the detox process.
Now the vitamin C you can take anytime. You can take it with food or on empty stomach, but there is some data, especially with powdered vitamin C, if you take it on an empty stomach, you get very high peak blood levels, which then really peak the levels in the white blood cells, which is what you want…to really boost your immune system. So I like take the vitamin C powder on an empty stomach and one way to do that is to trickle it in. Everybody has a water bottle these days. Just put some powdered vitamin C into your water bottle and sip it throughout the day and keep your levels up that way. Do take good care of yourselves. Stay gentle in your relationships. Think good thoughts.
After you’re done thinking of all the crazy things you’ve got to do to take care of yourself and your family, don’t perseverate on the bad things that you can’t do anything about. Instead, do your gratitude journal and think about what you can be grateful for in your life. Get some sunshine and exercise, especially outside. Keep breathing, get regular sleep, use melatonin, vitamin D, zinc Transfer Factor, vitamin C and NAC.
In the long run, and even now, we’re here to help you learn how to detoxify better and support yourself better. And we can do specific testing to help you detoxify. For example, we can do a simple hair analysis, not a perfect test, but it’s a good enough test to use and it can tell us what toxic metals you have coming off in your hair like lead and mercury. And it can tell us all your nutritional status like magnesium, zinc, selenium, molybdenum. Molybdenum is a very important mineral. Our liver uses it to bind on to heavy metal toxins such as mercury. So that we can actually create it. And if you’re low in molybdenum, you’d never know it unless you measure it. And I wouldn’t suggest that everybody should be taking molybdenum routinely, but if you’re low in it, you’re not going to detox successfully without it. And so unless you test for that, you’re not going to find out. We also have a variety of ways to look deeper for heavy metals and other toxicities. We have a blood or a urine test….a urine test called a porphyrin, and porphyrins are these recycling products of your red blood cells. Most of you know that your red blood cells live for three months and then they get filtered out by your spleen, the old ones and the components go over to your liver where it goes through this pathway called the porphyrins.
And then at the end of that, it goes back to your bone marrow to become new red blood cells. This is the type of stuff that gets me really excited about biology! But if you are poisoned at the cellular level, which could have been from 50 years ago, in things like lead, mercury, arsenic… then we can actually measure alterations in your porphyrin pathway coming out in your urine levels. It’ll gum up certain pathways and others it won’t. So we can see patterns which are indicative if your toxic load…with certain things, and it give us clues about what to give you to detoxify specifically. The next thing we can do is a chelation challenge where we give you things called chelating agents. “Chele” is a Greek word for claw. And it just means one thing is hooked onto another.
For example, we have magnesium that’s chelated to an amino acid, so you can absorb the magnesium better. Here we’re talking about specific things that bind onto heavy metals. And we can give you some of these by IV and even orally. And then we have you collect your urine over a six hour period and see how much lead mercury, cadmium, arsenic, aluminum, even bismuth and gadolinium come out into your urine. That’s called our chelation challenge. It’s a post provocation urine test. So, that’s a little bit more invasive. This isn’t for everybody. You can’t be really fragile and handle it. If you’re very chemically sensitive or very fragile, then you don’t do a chelation challenge, just to the porphyrins. But afterwards, we treat you for a year or two or three….then most people are not so fragile anymore, and we can see what their residual levels of heavy metals are.
We can also do a urine test to see what other toxins you have. Now there’s 80,000 chemical toxicities put out by the industrial revolution over the last 150 hundred years. But we have a test that measures the top 160 of them called a GPL tox. That’s just a non-provoked urine test and we can see if you are getting too much Roundup, for instance. Are you getting exposed to petrochemicals? Is your well-water contaminated and something’s coming through there? Some markers of a mold toxicity can come through there too. But we have a whole separate test for that. If you’re worried about mold toxicities, the test is called a GPL Mykotox. Myco stands for the molds or fungi. We can look there to see if you’re being exposed to excessive mold toxins either through your diet or in your living or work environment. So you can do some simple things to boost immune function, like detoxify yourself, but if you want to do a real comprehensive detox, then you want some guidance and we can help you do that. Meanwhile, keep supporting your immune system, stay healthy, and take care of each other. This is Dr. Biddle, and we at Asheville Integrative Medicine are here for you.
**All content from the conversations in this podcast are created and published for informational purposes only. This is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on for personal medical decisions. Always seek the guidance of your doctor with any questions you have regarding a medical condition.