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Preventing Illness While Traveling

By Jessica Needle, ND
Supplements can give your immune system a boost if you plan to travel at this time.

With the coronavirus pandemic continuing unabated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises people to postpone travel and stay home to protect themselves and others against COVID-19. If it is impossible to avoid travel, here are some suggestions regarding supplements that increase immunity and can be used to help prevent illness. 

Melatonin is not just good for sleep. Most people know melatonin as the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and often take it when traveling to help synchronize their body clocks to a new time zone. Besides helping you fall asleep, melatonin is protective against lung injury occurring in acute respiratory distress syndrome and pneumonia, and transforms life-threatening illnesses into milder ones.1 Take 15 mg of time-release melatonin before bed.

N-acetyl cysteine helps lung function. N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is an amino acid that helps the body make nitric oxide, an antioxidant gas that stops cellular damage and inhibits viral replication. The ratio of nitric oxide to reactive oxygen species (free radicals) is crucial for proper cardiovascular function. NAC may directly inhibit SARS-CoV-2,2 the virus that causes COVID-19, while also breaking up mucus in the lungs. Take 500 mg of NAC twice per day. 

The power of beet powder. Sold at health food stores, beet powder will increase your blood level of nitric oxide.

Vitamin D increases immunity. Low levels of vitamin D are common during winter and are correlated with susceptibility to influenza and coronaviruses. Supplementing vitamin D increases immunity, reduces lung damage, and decreases mortality in resuscitation patients. It is safe to take oral vitamin D at doses up to 10,000 IU per day for short periods, particularly in older adults, the population that is most affected by low vitamin D.3

Vitamin C boosts health and shortens illness. Vitamin C has long been used to prevent viral infection. It preserves the epithelial lining of the lungs, where SARS-CoV-2 binds to the angiotensin-converting enzyme and enters the cell. Vitamin C concentrations drop markedly in seriously ill patients. Try taking a 1,000 mg tablet 3-4 times per day but lower your dose if you experience diarrhea. If you become ill, higher doses of vitamin C can be administered intravenously to shorten ICU stays.4 

Geranium helps lower blood pressure. Geranium and lemon essential oils inhibit the activity of the angiotensin-converting enzyme,5 so you can dilute the oil and spray it on your mask for a good smelling adjunct to your prevention strategies.

Dr. Jessica Needle is a licensed naturopathic doctor with Optimal Health Center in Palm Desert and can be reached at (760) 568.2598. 

References:
1) Zhang R, Wang X, Ni L, et al. COVID-19: Melatonin as a potential adjuvant treatment. Life Sci. 2020;250:117583. doi:10.1016/j.lfs.2020.117583;
2) Shi Z, Puyo CA. N-Acetylcysteine to Combat COVID-19: An Evidence Review. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2020;16:1047-1055. Published 2020 Nov 2. doi:10.2147/TCRM.S273700;
3) COVID-19 and Vitamin D Supplementation: A Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial of High Dose Versus Standard Dose Vitamin D3 in High-Risk COVID-19 Patients (CoVitTrial). ClinicalTrials.gov. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04344041;
4) Allegra, A et al. “Vitamin deficiency as risk factor for SARS-CoV-2 infection: correlation with susceptibility and prognosis.” European review for medical and pharmacological sciences vol. 24,18 (2020): 9721-9738. doi:10.26355/eurrev_202009_23064;
5) Senthil Kumar KJ, Gokila Vani M, Wang CS, et al. Geranium and Lemon Essential Oils and Their Active Compounds Downregulate Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2), a SARS-CoV-2 Spike Receptor-Binding Domain, in Epithelial Cells. Plants (Basel). 2020;9(6):770. Published 2020 Jun 19. doi:10.3390/plants9060770

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