Republished with permission from Loudoun County Magazine, original article by Sarah Giardenelli, ND, MSOM, LAc with edits and additions by Marie Rodriguez, ND


COVID-19, the pandemic the world has been waiting for over 50 years now, is creating very valid fear surrounding the repercussions to the population and the global economy. While our world seems to be in such chaos, one of the best things we can do is to focus on what we can control.  From a health perspective, there is a lot we can do to protect ourselves and our neighbors. Here are some strategies to help stay calm and carry on:

Social Distancing

Due to the easy and rapid transmission of COVID-19, social distancing has been encouraged in VA. It involves avoiding large gatherings and keeping your distance 6 feet (2 meters) from individuals outside of your household. It is a commonsense measure to help contain the spread of the virus so that our hospitals do not become overwhelmed and to ensure that the space, supplies and health care providers will be available for patients needing care during this pandemic. There is no official definition of large gatherings, although the government is currently discouraging groups of 10 or more.

Cleanliness prevails. The Center for Disease Control advises

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Stress less. We know stress suppresses the immune system and makes us more susceptible to succumbing to viral related illnesses. While being informed about current events is prudent, obsessing over these is not supportive to health. Research also informs us that stress makes our immune response to vaccinations less effective. 

A wonderful suggestion for de-stressing also serves to boost our lung capacity and strength.  It is ‘5 for 5 breathing’:

Inhale for a count of 5

Hold for a count of 5

Exhale for a count of 5

Hold again for a count of 5

Then repeat this cycle at least 5 times.

Get adequate sleep. More than 1/3 of all Americans are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. Sleep deprivation directly contributes to immune suppression and increases our risk of acquiring pneumonia, one the most serious consequences of COVID-19. Sleep is essential for immune, hormone, cardiovascular, mental and overall health. 

In addition, the more quality sleep we get the better our production of melatonin is.  This podcast about COVID-19 updates mentions the critical role melatonin plays in shutting down the dangerous inflammatory response characteristic of COVID-19 infection

Face Mask or No Face Mask? Face masks are not recommended for general use by those who have not been exposed to or who are not infected with COVID-19 as they could possibly increase the risk of infection from hand to mouth from fiddling around with the mask. It is best to avoid touching the face and to wash your hands regularly per above. However, if going to the hospital or doctor’s office due to concern of cough or fever masks are recommended to be used. N95 respirator masks for prevention are only recommended for healthcare providers at this time and in such times of shortage, these might be only recommended for those health care providers who are most at risk.

Consider additional immune support. While there is no current research to prove efficacy of natural supplements for COVID-19 – there are certain options for immune support that can be potentially helpful – be sure to check with your health care provider first. Here are a few considerations:

  • Vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid is shown to be helpful in balancing the inflammatory cascade involved with COVID-19.
  • Recent evidence indicates that adequate serum vitamin D levels is important in protecting pulmonary function in those infected with influenza. Vitamin D has been shown to lower the viral load and decrease symptoms in infants with influenza. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so there are risks for toxicity in high doses, especially to infants and young children. Dosing recommendations should be provided by your health care provider. Low levels of serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D have been independently associated with the serious adverse respiratory effects from influenza, whereas higher levels are associated with higher lung function. If you are wanting to increase your deficient levels to normal levels within 10 days for prevention, discuss if a short 10-day loading course with vitamin D3 is appropriate with your health care.
  • Vitamin A supplementation has long been known to help balance and bolster immune health, decrease inflammation, and optimize immune response to vaccination. Worldwide both zinc and vitamin A deficiency are common causes for a variety of severe health conditions, low to middle income children are most vulnerable. 
  • Black elderberry, known as Sambucus nigra, is an immune tonic that has been used in traditional medicine circles for centuries for immune support. Research has demonstrated that elderberry protects against the flu and helps to decrease inflammation. Black elderberry is available in a variety of forms including tea, syrup, and gummies. There is some evidencet hat elderberry can inhibit development of bronchitis from another form of coronavirus, effectively inactivating the virus.
  • Zinc supplementation has been positively correlated to prevention of pneumonia in children and normal serum zinc levels have been shown to decrease incidence and duration of pneumonia in the elderly
  • Vitamin A supplementation has long been known to help balance and bolster immune health, decrease inflammation, and optimize immune response to vaccination. Worldwide both zinc and vitamin A deficiency are common causes for a variety of severe health conditions, low to middle income children are most vulnerable. 

COVID-19 presents an opportunity for us to be good stewards – of our bodies and to our communities.  We are currently living in a global health crisis that requires us to not only manage our hygiene to the extreme but to also take careful consideration of our neighbors – especially the most vulnerable – those who are immune compromised, as well as our seniors. We may be at this for months longer and it just may make our nation kinder and gentler as a result.

Find more information on the coronavirus here.


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