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Welcome to AIM For Health – Root Cause Conversations with Dr. James Biddle. 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.
Hello, is this Dr. James Biddle, and we are doing the “ask Dr. Jim Bob podcast” from Asheville Integrative Medicine. Today is June 10th, 2020, and I have our new patient coordinator, Joy Lambert to help me out today. And we are going to do a COVID-19 update…we’ve done a couple of podcasts before, but it’s been two months since I did our treatment protocol. I’m just going through a cycle of completely updating it because we’ve learned so much in two months. There’s so much information coming out! I try to spend about an hour a day, and that means I try to keep it down to an hour a day, studying this stuff and integrating it all. And we’re going to organize this into prevention and then treatment. And then what we expect in the future and new findings [which will be broken up into two podcasts].
Alright, well let’s get into it. So prevention…everybody knows you should wash your hands. And I want to say that viruses aren’t alive. You can’t kill them. That’s the first thing I hear people getting the wrong concept about it’s like, Oh, you gotta kill it. No, what you have to do is you have to denature it. It’s a strip of RNA with a lipid membrane over it. And it lands on our cells and it uses that lipid membrane to fool our cells into taking it inside of us and activating it. And then it hijacks our cellular mechanisms. But it’s not alive. So you can’t kill it.
>> So it’s not like a bacterial infection, no critters!?
It is NOT like a bacterial infection. So you’ve got to think more about denaturing it than killing, which lets you think properly about it, which is the reason why soap and water is better than an alcohol sanitary rinse.
>> So how does soap and water denature of the virus then if it’s on our hands?
By definition, if you go back to chemistry, you see it’s a molecule that at one end is hydrophilic and the other end is hydrophobic. What that means is one end likes water and the other end likes fat. And because of that, the fatty end goes into the fat and then the water end stays in the water and it pulls pieces of fat out of the fat. And then it denatures the fat, which is why you use soap to clean the bacon grease off your morning breakfast dish. So soap is way better than alcohol, but you know, if you don’t have it, you’re not carrying around a sink in your car after you go into the store, then the second best thing is to use the 70% alcohol to sterilize your hands….to disinfect.
But some of the interesting new research is that surfaces are not the main route of transmission. If you have a little droplet, even a microscopic droplet of fluid, like if somebody had snuck a sneeze or cough or something like that, then yes, there could be a virus in that and you can touch it and then you can touch your mouth and that’s how you can get infected. That is a primary way that we spread the common cold and the flu is by our own hands to our own faces.
>> So not absorbing topically through our skin, but bringing up to our faces?
Right. It does not go through the skin. You get infected by touching an active droplet and bringing it up to your face (or inhaling live droplets from infected people who are talking, breathing, sneezing, or coughing in close proximity to you.) And that is important (to be aware of).
We all continue to do that, but I can see my own behavior. I’ve really relaxed about some things, for example, somebody handing me a sheet of paper. Two months ago I, you know, I was like, “Oh no, I can’t take that piece of paper from you because it might be covered with COVID-19 and I’m going to get infected.” So I’m not so paranoid about that anymore. It’s really about what’s floating around in the air, on these microscopic droplets and how long you’re exposed to somebody, how close you are and how enclosed the space is. And it seems to be, they’ve set kind of 3000 particles of virus that you get exposed to and breathe in, as kind of the threshold for getting the infection.
>> Are you able to speak a little bit to help us all understand when we talk, how many droplets are coming out of our mouth?
Well, plenty…and I don’t know how many that means as far as particles of virus, but you know, the deeper your breathing, the more droplets. For example, choir’s or gyms puts you more at risk. You’re spreading a lot more out there. And the more people in a small space, the more particles you have, then the longer you’re in that space the more exposure – and some of the best information comes from some of the case studies about a choir rehearsal where 70% of the people ended up infected from that choir rehearsal. And then a couple of restaurant cases where you can see the people up wind are not getting infected, and the people downwind, meaning the air return for the HVAC system is carrying the virus particles towards them. And they all got infected. So that’s why you and I right now, we’re both wearing masks.
>> Yes we are.
Because we’re in an enclosed space together for a fairly prolonged time and wearing the mask has been shown to help. Now, it’s not that me wearing a mask is protecting me from you so much. It’s that me wearing a mask is protecting you from me. And vice versa. So it’s about decreasing how much virus I’m spewing into the air, if I’m asymptomatic. And that’s the next thing is that there’s been just this week, the World Health Organization came out and put their foot in their mouth and said, “Oh, asymptomatic spreads are not really very important.” Then on the very same day, the Annals of Internal Medicine published a very scientific article saying that at least 30% of cases are from asymptomatic spread and probably 40 to 50% of cases.
>> That is a very significant number.
It’s huge. And you know, it’s got be that way. You wouldn’t have 110,000 dead Americans from something that was only spread from when you’re obviously sick. That you only get that type of pandemic spread when the spread happens without much symptoms or no symptoms. So just because you feel fine, doesn’t mean you can’t be spreading the disease. And that’s the big trick about this thing is that I have to assume at any moment that I could be infective to you.
>> Or I could be to you!
Right. And wearing the mask is not about me being selfish and protecting myself. It’s about me being caring and protecting you. So that’s why we’re doing it.
>> So do you feel, as people are going back to work more now that wearing a mask in an indoor office space like that, is that sufficient?
Well, it helps. What helps indoors is having more air filters and so what we’ve done is we put an air filter in every room and a couple of them in the larger air-shared spaces– also with ultraviolet because ultraviolet does help denature that type of fatty membrane. That should help too, although that hasn’t been particularly studied with this virus, but with other things has been shown to help. I think it’s even more important when people are going back to work now. In our family, we’re not doing that and this where we start talking about these social bubbles, like, who are you going to just give in and say, okay, you and I are sharing space and you know, that’s just the way it is. And we’re not going to protect it, try to protect ourselves from each other. And so that’s what you’re doing in your own family. And then you’ve got watch how those social bubbles interact with each other. So that there’s just the exposure from the surfaces and from the air.
There are a lot of people who are worried about wifi exposure. I don’t think I can say much scientifically about that. People are going to make up their own ideas and I’m not going to get into the middle of that controversy. Cause I can’t. I can’t really speak to it with authority.
I would say that taking good care of yourself by getting plenty of sleep and having a good attitude and not getting too anxious and depressed about this, and still continue to exercise and keeping a good diet without bingeing on sugar, that all these things in general have been shown to help boost your immune system and keep people in shape.
Next we’re going to get into supplements. Is there more to talk about before we get into supplements?
>> Oh, outdoor risks! Especially since basically most of us have to exercise outdoors now, unless we have space in our own private homes.
Right, I think being outdoors dramatically decreases the risk of you getting an exposure that’s significant, unless you’re right in somebody’s air trail, like you’re jogging right behind somebody or biking right behind somebody, or you get some weird random thing, like you’re out there and somebody coughs or sneezes directly on you as they’re passing by.
I feel like when I’m outside I’m not going to be wearing a mask, and even having meetings outside, if we can set our chairs six feet apart, then I think we can meet without masks on because it’s not going to build up and get that viral load cumulative effect.
>> It does have a cumulative effect, right?
Yes. So the concentrate, the particles are never going to reach concentration levels when you’re outside. There’s an infinite dispersal. So I feel really good about being outside and suggest people be outside as much as they can.
>> More opportunity for grounding too!
Yes! You take your shoes off and put your bare feet on the earth. All right, supplements… And we’re going to break these into prevention and then treatment…but some of these as I go through them, I may hit them both at the same time because they’re the most important. And I think the single most important supplement is vitamin D. You really want a vitamin D level of at least 30, which is the baseline for the normal lab range. And we prefer at least 50 on the blood level. And it’s perfectly safe up to 80 and probably safe up to a hundred for most people to take five to 8,000 IU (per international units) a day of vitamin D to achieve that. Almost nobody, unless they’re in Florida, The Bahamas or someplace like that, and they’re getting a lot of sun, is going to achieve levels without taking a supplement of vitamin D.
>> So taking that D supplement daily….ongoing is fine?
Yes, one of the early studies showed that when you’re deficient in vitamin D you double your risk of dying from this, should you get it. So that’s one of the best things you can do. Now if I got sick, then I would dramatically increase that vitamin D level for the first five days and increase it to 50,000 international units a day. Because, while you can overdose on vitamin D, it takes weeks or months at high dosages to create an overdose on vitamin D.
>> Are there symptoms to look out for? If you happen to be taking too much, or for an extended period?
Interestingly an overdose of vitamin D feels the same as vitamin D deficiency, and it’s inflammation of the lining of your bones or periostin, it feels like fibromyalgia. The Mayo clinic wrote an article years ago, I have it in my files, that says half of all fibromyalgia is actually vitamin D deficiency or adult crickets called osteomalacia. So vitamin D is vitally important for our overall health and feeling good and keeping your bones strong, but especially now, if you want to keep your levels up to normal.
Next and new item, that wasn’t on our prior podcast so much, is vitamin A. And a vitamin A deficiency is really common in the United States. It’s a little bit easier to get a toxic with vitamin A… we worry about it more…because it turns into dry eyes, and things like that can cause more permanent damage than vitamin D can if you overdose. But I just read a study that it takes a hundred thousand units a day for six months to get toxic.
>> Now, how do we normally get vitamin A?
Well, vitamin A is usually found in things like carrots with beta carotene, and then our body converts it into vitamin A, but there’s a lot of genetic abnormalities where people don’t convert beta carotene well into A. So it’s good to actually take a vitamin A supplement. For prevention, you want 5,000, 10,000 ICU a day of vitamin A and for treatment, should you get sick, a hundred thousand units a day for the first five days.
And again, that’s perfectly safe for short periods of time, but I tell people they should only do that a maximum of three times a year just to be super cautious. There’s new evidence that that’s even more important. The next one that’s really important is zinc. And the reason zincs is important is because it helps interrupt how the virus gets into us and how it replicates. So for prevention, zinc is 30 milligrams a day, always with food, never on empty stomach. For treatment, 30 milligrams, four times a day. But you’ve got to take it with food, which is kind of funny because one of the things we do for treatment is fasting. But it’s medical fasting. We use Opti Cleanse, which is a particular brand, but it’s a medicinal food supplement you take maybe a scoop of that four times a day so that your body is still fasting, but yet your stomach and your vital organs are nourished enough. That way, the zinc is not going to irritate your stomach. So that’s how you get around that.
The next is NAC, which is N-Acetyl-Cystine, and this works in a couple of different ways. One is it boosts glutathione, which helps us detoxify, but it’s also a great anti-inflammatory, it’s very important. Anti-inflammatory and that’s especially important with this cause what people die from is the inflammation. NAC is also a mucus thinner and helps our sinuses and our lungs to create this layer called surfactant that actually helps keep integrity. So one of the reasons why flu happens in the winter, for example….people have wondered about this….it turns out to be humidity is the reason! In the summer right now, when we have 95% humidity, that is terribly uncomfortable – but it’s great for the integrity of our mucus membranes. We have a lot less microscopic chapping and cracking of our lips and our sinuses and even our eyelids and everything else.
So there’s less opportunity for the virus to enter us. And in the winter when humidity in your house drops below about 40%, then you lose the integrity of your mucosal membranes, and that’s why the viral infection rates go up so high. And there’s been some great studies I just became aware of in the last year that if you keep your humidity up in your house and your business, infection rates go down dramatically. So we can imagine it’s going to be the same here, even though this virus doesn’t seem to be as seasonal as others, this particular thing about the mucosal integrity is always seasonal. So keeping humidity up this winter will help, in the summer you don’t have to worry about it. And NAC also helps with that mucosal integrity in our lungs and in our sinuses.
>> So if someone hasn’t taken NAC before, if it’s a supplement they’re not familiar with and they want to start taking it, would they notice anything different? Would they feel anything different when they started?
Yeah. You’ll notice that your urine smells like rotten eggs because it’s a sulf-hydro containing compound, which is part of why it helps us detoxify. It’s the direct precursor for glutathione. And so your urine is going to smell funny and it can sometimes be a little bit hard on the stomach. So I recommend it with food for the usual dosage which for prevention is 500 milligrams once or twice a day. If you have emphysema or lung damage or chronic sinus infections, I recommend taking it twice a day.
And then the treatment is 500 milligrams, four to six times a day. So, a lot of it! The next one is transfer factor, and transfer factor is an extract of colostrum. Colostrum is what comes out of the breast in the first week after a baby is born and is full of things to boost the immune system passively. To boost immune system of the baby, it transfers immunity from the mother to the baby…and we steal this colostrum from baby cows and put it in capsules and give it to people. Well, I don’t, but I sell it…we prescribe it for people. It’s great for boosting the immune system in general. The usual dosage is two or three capsules once a day for prevention. And then if I’m sick I might take 12 to 15 of these a day split up through the day, like five at a time on an empty stomach. And that’s one of my favorite things for boosting the immune system in general. So I’ll have people take that all winter long.
The next one on my list here is melatonin. And most people just think about melatonin as a sleep aid. And it certainly is that, it’s our sleep hormone, but it’s also a wonderful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer compound and is actually good for our immune system. So a baseline might be anywhere from one milligram to five milligrams at night. But during the treatment you might hit 10 or 20 milligrams and I would actually spread that out. I would take five milligrams, five or six milligrams, four times a day to keep it up all day long. Now, am I going to be tired all day? Yeah, but you’re sick. You going to be in bed, right?
>> It’s a good time to take a nap anyway.
You’re supposed to be home resting. Don’t go out if you’re sick with COVID-19!
>> So even if someone doesn’t have trouble falling asleep, melatonin might not be a bad idea. It’s still good.
You know, we routinely look for excuses to put people on this who are having early memory loss, or any sign of an inflamed brain…. even children with brain issues. So I’m a big fan of melatonin. And the next thing, which I bet a lot of people have heard of this for the first time since COVID-19, is Andrographis, cause it’s gotten a lot of traction at least in the articles and stuff that I’ve seen in natural medicine. And I bet people have never heard of it before. It’s an herb. And it’s particularly good in this usage. And it seems to be particularly good at interrupting the reproductive cycle, or the way that the virus enters our cells. Andrographis usually comes in a tincture and it’s usually two droppers, twice a day for prevention and four to six times a day for treatment. A lot of Andrographis! For a while people were out of Andrographis…a couple of months ago, but now the production has caught up. And I think it’s available again, to get more specific it’s known as a F U R I N inhibitor. And furins are the molecules on our cells that the virus attaches to. So it kind of blocks where the virus lands.
>> Is it similar to zinc, or are they different functions?
Slightly different functions. But similar in the way that it interrupts that cycle.
>> And how can one get the Andrographis, just shop around?
Yeah, we actually don’t carry it. I’ve seen it in tea. You can get it in tea….but it usually comes in tincture. So those are most of the things that I would do for prevention. I want to talk about some of the resources that we are getting this information from too, but first, Magnesium! So I have a couple more things. For prevention, magnesium, iron, and selenium. Magnesium is deficient in two thirds of Americans and runs over 400 known enzymes, especially the enzymes that help our smooth muscle relax. And one of the most important areas of smooth muscles is in our lungs. And so when people start having difficulty breathing, being low in magnesium is a lousy state of affairs.
So you want to have your body replete in magnesium before you get sick. We want to be taking magnesium…about 300 or 400 milligrams a day. You want to split that up because people who are low in magnesium, interestingly, they don’t absorb it well because the ability to absorb magnesium in your intestine runs on a magnesium dependent enzyme. So if you’re low in magnesium you’ve got to build up slowly because if you don’t absorb it, it hits your colon and causes diarrhea. So magnesium is a laxative. But it’s also a creator of relaxation in our smooth muscles. And that’s important here.
>> Doesn’t magnesium also tie in with, as you’ve said before, limiting sugar intake, alcohol, etc. Don’t those things use up our magnesium?
Yes, they use up our magnesium, and interestingly magnesium deficiency causes cravings for those things. For example, the classic association is if you constantly crave chocolate, you’re probably low in magnesium. Because chocolate has some magnesium in it, but all the sugar in chocolate makes you waste more magnesium than you’re actually getting.
>> I thought it was just cause it’s delicious.
It is delicious. And it makes you feel loved. But everybody should be on magnesium, lifelong all Americans forever. So even without this, don’t wait, take magnesium now. Okay. Iron. Iron depends upon your status. If you’re deficient in iron that inhibits your immune system because our white blood cells use iron and vitamin C to make hydrogen peroxide, I’ve got to mention vitamin C too, to make hydrogen peroxide to fight off infections. But if you have no iron you’re shooting blanks in your immune system, and most menstruating women are low in iron and you can be low in iron long before you’re anemic.
You have to be really low in iron to be anemic. So we measure iron by a ferritin level and we desire a ferritin level between 50 and 100, but you don’t get anemic until it’s less than eight, but anything less than 50, for example, can cause an ADD like brain dysfunction, which I think is the whole root of that ditzy blonde meme. And it can cause hypothyroid symptoms. So even if you’re not hypothyroid, you’ll feel like you’re hypothyroid if you’re low in iron…of course with fatigue. But on the other hand, iron overload, if you’re high in iron, that portends a poor outcome for COVID-19 infection because it makes more inflammation. So if you have a ferritin level over a hundred, then you need to go to the Red Cross as soon as possible and donate blood. Don’t tell them you’re high in iron by the way. Just go, they need your blood.
There’s no reason not to give it to them and you need to lower your iron level because the way this virus causes the low oxygen levels is by knocking iron off of our hemoglobin. So we can no longer carry oxygen in our blood…that happens long before there’s any lung damage. You know, certainly there is lung damage that happens, but the low oxygen levels early on are caused by dissociation of iron from the hemoglobin. And then that free iron is a huge inflammatory problem. It really is one of the major causes of that cytokine storm, that is what ends up killing people. So if you’re high in iron, you’ve got to bring that down. If you’re low in iron, you’ve got to bring it up.
>> And if you’re already on an iron supplement right now…?
It depends on what your lab value is. I know if you’re on it and you’re on it because you’re anemic, you’ve got to stay on it. If you’re on it because your blood count is normal and you’re just slightly low in iron, I don’t know…maybe you can back off a little bit, if you’re on it and you don’t know what you’re doing, you should stop because a lot of people take iron because they’re tired and they can get really severely overdosed with that.
But if you’re menstruating, you’re unlikely to be high in iron. If you’re a postmenopausal female or a male, you’re very likely to be overdosed and you should not be taking it. You should get your ferritin level checked and see if you need to get rid of iron. So that’s very important. And the other one is selenium. And in my prior podcast I said you should not take selenium for prevention. I’m going to reverse that now. You should actually take selenium for prevention. I just don’t think you should take it during treatment.
>> Now, what is selenium? What does it do?
Selenium helps with our immune system…for general immunity. It’s usually given with zinc because they kind of work in similar parallel mechanisms for fighting viruses. But this particular virus uses selenium to enter our cells. So you don’t want to pour gasoline on the fire by taking selenium if you’re infected with the virus. But the main data that makes me reverse my decision on this is that the area in China that had the worst levels of COVID-19 was an area that is low in selenium in the soil. The population there has some selenium deficiencies, chronically. And that seemed to really facilitate the spread of the virus. So selenium deficiency is not a good thing. And then vitamin C. I think you know that vitamin C is a fundamental.
It’s so fundamental that I sometimes forget to talk about it. I assume everybody’s on it, or should be right. So, there’s so much to say about vitamin C it’s overwhelming, which is why it’s hard to talk about it, but it’s important. I believe you should be on 500 to a thousand milligrams twice a day for prevention and baseline. If you get sick, you should be on huge amounts of it – to your bowel tolerance. Anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000, multiple times a day, pushing at least 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 milligrams a day of vitamin C… you’ll know when you’ve had too much because you’ll get a gassy, bloaty diarrhea and then you’ll back off. But when you’re sick, you can take huge amounts and it won’t give you that. Cause you’ll be absorbing it…because you need it.
Vitamin C is extremely important and there’s multiple case studies put out by some of the people that I get information from showing that people go into the ICU, they’re not on a ventilator yet, so their family can still give them the vitamin C and they start hitting this protocol and they’re out in 24 hours. So very, very good stuff there. All right. So now, Oh, I want to tell you who I’m getting information from. Probably the most scientific information I’m getting is coming from this article in Integrative Medicine, which is a (medical) journal. It’s volume 19, number S1, which means the first supplement, and it’s an E publication ahead of print. The main author is Y a N U C K. And the second author is Joseph Pizzorno. He’s the guy who wrote a huge two volume textbook of natural medicine. So I’ve been following his information, and he helped found and run the naturopathic college of medicine in Seattle known as Bastyr University.
This article is called “Evidence Supporting a Phased Immuno-Physiological Approach To COVID-19, From Prevention Through Recovery”. So they put this into four different phases. One is the prevention…what I’ve (already) talked about. Then is the first phase of an infection, in which case it’s very important to actually get your body to create inflammation early and get your T- cell response up.
>> Why would you want inflammation?
Because that’s what suppresses the virus early on. And if you get enough T cells going then you don’t hit this critical threshold. They have some very nice graphs in here, which make it easier to understand, where if your T cell response is week, and your inflammation response is week in the beginning, then you get overwhelmed with the virus. But if your T cell response is strong early on, then the virus doesn’t pass a critical threshold and you get much less damage and inflammation downstream later in the infection. So, early on they’re talking about all kinds of things to increase your immune response. If you’re a person who has an exuberant inflammatory response early on, or once you’re past the first five days of a symptomatic infection, then you want to decrease inflammatory response because it’s this cytokine storm that’s causing all the blood clots, and the lung damage, and cardiomyopathy, and strokes and things like that. So they talk about the different options for doing that.
And I’ll go through some of this, but I want to give them a credit for it. Then I’ve also been following Joseph Mercola. This gets into some of the politics…the FDA sending out letters of suppression to anybody, including putting out podcasts like this, talking about natural substances because none of these things are FDA approved for treating diseases. And they don’t want the doctors talking about them and educating the general public. They say, you can say whatever you want to in an office visit, but you’re not allowed to talk to the public about this stuff. So they they’re trying to shut him down. He runs a website, mercola.com. That’s M E R C O L A and then Dietrich Klinghardt….who is a German MD PhD. He also puts out good information. Definitely I would say with his information…it goes a bit more towards the radical side of things, but I always find that useful to keep my finger on that pulse.
Alright, that’s it for part one of this COVID update. We’ll see you all on the next podcast.