18th March 2020
I thought I should say something about the coronavirus for readers of this blog. I need to state that the situation is fast moving, facts are changing, and I am not asking anyone to go against any current medical advice.
Here, I am simply providing advice that I believe, currently, may be of benefit to people out there. I am acutely aware that there is controversy swirling about, but I will not promote anything that can cause any significant harm – but may cause significant good.
I have tended to look back a few years in time for some evidence, because current, emerging evidence is subject to massive bias and controversy, with various vested interests getting involved. The ‘older’ evidence has not been done in a rush and is therefore more measured.
1: Anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)
COVID-19 appears to impact the lungs more than any other organ and COVID-19 can be thought of as a ‘viral’ community acquired pneumonia. There has been evidence for several years that anti-inflammatory agents e.g. ibuprofen, naproxen (NSAIDs) may worsen community acquired pneumonia. As highlighted in this 2017 paper:
‘Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs may Worsen the Course of Community-Acquired Pneumonia: A Cohort Study:
Our findings suggest that NSAIDs, often taken by young and healthy patients, may worsen the course of CAP with delayed therapy and a higher rate of pleuropulmonary complications.’ 1
There is now anecdotal evidence, particularly from France, that patients who take NSAIDs do considerably worse. It has been suggested they may lead to an increased death rate.
ADVICE: Avoid NSAIDs if possible
2: Vitamin C
Vitamins always cause massive controversy, and the mainstream medical community tends to be highly critical of the use of vitamins. However, vitamin C has been found to have many, many, positive impacts on the immune system. It also protects the endothelium lining blood vessels – thus preventing/delaying passage of pathogens from the bloodstream.
I include the full abstract from the 2017 paper ‘Vitamin C and Immune Function.’ It contains a great deal of medical jargon, but I have highlighted the most important parts.
‘Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system. Vitamin C supports epithelial barrier function against pathogens and promotes the oxidant scavenging activity of the skin, thereby potentially protecting against environmental oxidative stress.
Vitamin C accumulates in phagocytic cells, such as neutrophils, and can enhance chemotaxis, phagocytosis, generation of reactive oxygen species, and ultimately microbial killing. It is also needed for apoptosis and clearance of the spent neutrophils from sites of infection by macrophages, thereby decreasing necrosis/NETosis and potential tissue damage.
The role of vitamin C in lymphocytes is less clear, but it has been shown to enhance differentiation and proliferation of B- and T-cells, likely due to its gene regulating effects. Vitamin C deficiency results in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections. In turn, infections significantly impact on vitamin C levels due to enhanced inflammation and metabolic requirements.
Furthermore, supplementation with vitamin C appears to be able to both prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections. Prophylactic prevention of infection requires dietary vitamin C intakes that provide at least adequate, if not saturating plasma levels (i.e., 100–200 mg/day), which optimize cell and tissue levels. In contrast, treatment of established infections requires significantly higher (gram) doses of the vitamin to compensate for the increased inflammatory response and metabolic demand.’ 2
In short, Vitamin C can help prevent respiratory infections. It can also help to treat established infections, although much higher doses are required. This seems to fit with emerging Chinese data which appears to be showing considerable success with high dose intravenous Vitamin C in treating coronavirus.
It is unlikely that anyone working in the medical system in the West will agree to using high dose Vitamin C as part of any management plan. However, if your loved one is extremely ill in hospital I would recommend speaking to the doctors and asking if this can be added.
Whilst it is possible that vitamin C may prove ineffective, it also does no harm. Those who are currently attacking the use of Vitamin C and attacking those who believe vitamin C may be beneficial are, I believe, mainly concerned with their personal reputations.
ADVICE: Take at least 2g of Vitamin daily C to ‘prevent’ infection, probably more like 5g. Increase the dose to at least 10g if you are suffering symptoms.
COVID-19 appears to enter the body using the ACE2 receptor (found on the surface of many cells, particularly in the lungs. Also found in high concentrations in the heart and kidneys.
Because of its affinity to ACE2 receptors (and the more widespread Renin Aldosterone Angiotensin System or “RAAS”) COVID-19 is causing upset with the whole system – in complex ways. The system itself is complex.
To remind those of a more technical bent, here is the system:
I wished to make it clear that if COVID-19 impact on the RAAS system, trying to work out the resultant abnormalities, is not easy.
There are two main drugs that are designed to lower blood pressure by ‘interfering’ with the RAAS system. ACE-inhibitors (angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors), and ARBs (angiotensin II receptor blockers). They are very widely prescribed.
Some people have suggested that these drugs should be stopped. Others have suggested that they should be continued. You may be able to see why the advice is contradictory, given all the possible interactions.
However, it does seem the COVID-19 creates hypokalaemia (a low blood potassium level). A rising potassium level indicates recovery from the virus. This is probably due to interference with the hormone Aldosterone due to degradation of many ACE-receptors in the body.
ADVICE – currently not enough information to provide any advice on ACE-inhibitors and ARBs. However, increased consumption of potassium, if symptomatic, can be advised. Dose?
‘People who eat large amounts of fruits and vegetables tend to have a high potassium intake of approximately 8000 to 11,000 mg/d,’ 3
So, up to Ig a day appears perfectly safe, and if more is being lost through the kidneys with COVD-19, there appears to be little danger of overdosage.
4: Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine
These drugs normally used to treat/prevent malaria (and are also used to treat various ‘immune’ disease). However, they have been found to be effective in treating other viruses and seem to have been highly effective against COVID-19 4. These drugs will only be available as part of medical management. They cannot be bought over the counter (in any country, as far as I know).
If you, or a loved one, is seriously ill, I would urge you to ask for – one or the other – to be used. Hydroxychloroquine has fewer side effects (drug related adverse effects)
ADVICE – Ask for one of these drugs if you, or a loved one, is seriously ill with COVID-19.
5: Vitamin D
This one is simple. Vitamin D has important effects on the immune system 5. A low vitamin D level in the winter is almost certainly why flu epidemics occur in the winter months. [Vitamin D is synthesized in the sun by the action of sunlight].
ADVICE – take at least 2000iu vitamin (preferably D3) daily.
I hope some people have found this useful. If anything I have written here proves to be wrong, or dangerous, I will change it. However, I am working on the basis here of ‘first, do no harm.’ The worse thing that any of this advice can do, I believe, is to NOT work.