Category: Immune System

Long COVID Connection to Chronic Infections Including Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) & Lyme

Now that COVID 19 has been rocketing around the globe for over 18 months, we are starting to be able to study a new phenomenon of the virus: Long COVID aka Post-Acute COVID Syndrome (PACS). Long COVID is a constellation of symptoms that remain for more than 30 days after testing positive, oftentimes taking 4-5 months (or longer) to start to improve. These symptoms are commonly fatigue, brain fog, sleep difficulties, joint and muscle pains, sore throat, headache, fever, GI issues, and skin rashes. So far, PACS doesn’t appear to correspond to the severity of the COVID infection with even asymptomatic COVID patients diagnosed.

Reactivation of Other Infections – Epstein-Barr (EBV)

Scientists have begun to wonder if long covid isn’t unique, but actually reactivated EBV. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is the virus that causes mono and is estimated to have infected 95% of adults at least once in their life.

Epstein-Barr Virus has been long known to go dormant after initial infection and reactivate when the immune system is “distracted” with other stressors and illnesses. EBV has also been linked to Hashimoto’s thyroid disease, small intestine bacterial overgrowth, and even some cancers.  

Symptoms of reactivated EBV are just as vague, and almost identical to, long COVID:  fatigue, brain fog, sleep disturbances, joint and muscle pains, sore throat, headaches, fever, GI issues, and skin rashes.

Patients with EBV stay in ICU Longer

Various retrospective studies have shown that between 66-95% of COVID ICU patients (dependent on geographical location) tested positive for reactivated EBV as well with one French study showing that patients with reactivated EBV had an average 15-day ICU stay vs 8-day ICU stay without EBV co-infection.

COVID and Lyme

Symptoms of Long COVID and chronic Lyme can often overlap as well. The CDC reports a decrease in Lyme diagnoses; however, it may be artificially low due to telehealth appointments and missing tell-tale symptoms of Lyme such as the bullseye rash (though only 50% of patients get a rash), swelling of the joints, and heart rhythm abnormalities. There is concern that Lyme patients, since they are chronically inflamed, are at a higher risk of complications due to COVID as well as many Lyme patients also have reactivated EBV. The presence of the reactivated EBV and other immune system strain may translate into more Lyme patients developing Long COVID, though this has yet to be studied.

How Naturopathic Medicine Can Help

I have effectively helped patients with chronic infections such as EBV, Lyme, and even mold using natural and conventional therapies. Choices include antiviral, immune modulating, and anti-inflammatory herbs & medications, replacing various nutrients, and even using ozone therapies. Ozone historically is quite effective at treating viruses, and may have applications in long COVID as well, though this needs more study. Ultimately, recovering from chronic infections involves evaluating and balancing multiple body systems, including optimizing digestive, hormonal, and cellular health.

Resource:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8233978/

Catching Too Many Colds?

by Nicole Maxwell, NMD

Teachers, school-aged kids, frequent travelers, and those under chronic stress may be more susceptible to getting every cold that passes.  Here are some things to do to stop the trend.

First and foremost, it is important to maintain a Whole Foods Diet, which means to eat foods in their least-processed state.  Nutrient-rich foods include foods in their unrefined state, such as: apples instead of applesauce, eggs instead of Egg Beaters, oatmeal instead of a granola bar with oatmeal in it.

And let’s Review the Basics that you hopefully already know about and follow: get plenty of sleep, decrease or eliminate simple carbohydrates, drink plenty of fluids, and get your exercise.

Frequent illnesses can also be a sign of an underlying Food Intolerance.  We offer a variety of food intolerance testing at the office.  Here are some ways food negatively affects the immune system.  

  • The continuous intake of reactive substances causes local micro-inflammation in the intestinal tissue, which spreads insidiously and can manifest itself in other tissues, including reduced immune status against infections.
  • The gut contains an estimated 70-80% of the immune system.  With almost 400m ² (or 4,300sq feet – a very large house!) it is the largest contact area with the external world. There is extensive lymphoid tissue around the intestine and forms the largest immune organ in our body.

Here Are Some Therapies That May Be Helpful:

Oscillococcinum (Boiron) is a homeopathic, can be used for prevention and treatment.  I recommend one dose per week starting now, and going through the flu season, for prevention.

Probiotics are in the news a lot these days and for good reason.  Here’s the conclusion of one study; “Daily dietary probiotic supplementation for 6 months was a safe effective way to reduce fever, rhinorrhea, and cough incidence and duration and antibiotic prescription incidence, as well as the number of missed school days attributable to illness, for children 3 to 5 years of age.” 1

We carry a variety of formulas and can find the best fit for you.  

Colostrum is the first form of milk rich in antibodies and has been shown in a study to be 4 times more effective than the flu vaccine.  Colostrum was 3 times more effective than no vaccine. The vaccine + colostrum group did equally well as colostrum alone. In this prevention study they took 1 capsule a day containing 400 mg of colostrum away from food. 2

Wet Socks Treatment is a time-tested treatment that acts reflexively to increase the circulation and decrease congestion in the upper respiratory passages, head, and throat. It has a sedating action, and many patients report that they sleep much better during the treatment. The treatment is effective for pain relief and increases the healing response during acute infections. https://boisenaturalhealth.com/warming-sock-treatment/

There are many tools in our toolbox to help you and your immune system be in tip top shape.  To make an appointment, contact us at www.boisenaturalhealth.com.

1. Probiotic effects on cold and influenza-like symptom incidence and duration in children. Leyer GJ, Li S, Mubasher ME, Reifer C, Ouwehand AC. Pediatrics. 2009 Aug; 124(2):e172-9. Epub 2009 Jul 27.

OBJECTIVE: Probiotic consumption effects on cold and influenza-like symptom incidence and duration were evaluated in healthy children during the winter season. METHODS: In this double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 326 eligible children (3-5 years of age) CONCLUSION: Daily dietary probiotic supplementation for 6 months was a safe effective way to reduce fever, rhinorrhea, and cough incidence and duration and antibiotic prescription incidence, as well as the number of missed school days attributable to illness, for children 3 to 5 years of age.

2. Prevention of influenza episodes with colostrum compared with vaccination in healthy and high-risk cardiovascular subjects: the epidemiologic study in San Valentino.  Cesarone MR, Belcaro G, Di Renzo A, Dugall M, Cacchio M, Ruffini I, Pellegrini L, Del Boccio G, Fano F, Ledda A, Bottari A, Ricci A, Stuard S, Vinciguerra G. Clin Appl Thromb Hemost. 2007 Apr;13(2):130-6.

When the Immune System Overreacts: Naturopathic Treatment of Autoimmune Disease

by Joan Haynes, NMD

One in twelve people and one in nine women will be diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in their lifetime.  Because of our whole-body approach, naturopathic physicians have a lot to offer patients with autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, lupus, and multiple sclerosis.  

Reducing the “Total Load”

In order to return to better health, we need to identify and correct the different stress factors that started and are keeping the disease process going.  Here are 4 areas I often start with in the first appointment:

Digestion

The first order of business is a well-functioning digestive system.  Recent research points to intestinal inflammation as a primary trigger for the dysregulation of our immune system in autoimmune disease.  

Pathogens, Toxins, Heavy Metals

Evaluation for microbial and environmental exposures for that are thought to trigger autoimmune disease.

Hormones

Evaluation of thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormones to identify imbalances that affect the quality of life and our healing capacity.  

Nutrition

Encourage overall anti-inflammatory effect with an organic, paleo, whole-food diet.  We also test for food sensitivities (a primary source of inflammation) and correct underlying nutritional deficiencies.  

Returning to good health takes time.  Naturopathic physicians offer our patients longer appointments and the integration of the best of medical science with a more natural approach to treatment.   Call for a free consult to see how we can help.

Homeopathic Acute Remedies for Coughs

By Nicole Maxwell, NMD

Homeopathy is a safe, gentle, and natural system of healing that works with your body to relieve symptoms, restore itself, and improve your overall health.  Homeopathic remedies are extremely safe to use, even with very small children and pets. They have none of the side effects of many traditional medications, are very affordable, are made from natural substances, and are FDA regulated.  Great for the home medicine kit! 

Generally speaking, coughing is perfectly normal. A cough can help to keep your throat clear from phlegm and other irritants. However, sustained coughing can also be symptomatic of a number of conditions, such as a viral or bacterial infection.  Homeopathic medicines are often effective in treating the acute symptoms of coughs, though professional care is usually necessary to achieve a deeper level of cure of chronic respiratory problems.  

Below are several remedy choices.  A person does not need to have all the symptoms in a remedy profile for it to be the right fit.  

Dosing:

Boise Natural Health Clinic and most health food stores carry 6c and 30c potencies.  If you have the option, start with 6c.  

Acutely ill patients need more frequent repetitions whether the remedy is high or low potency. Don’t be afraid to repeat or change remedies frequently in this situation.   “Frequently” means every few minutes in urgent situations and perhaps every 3 to 4 hours in less urgent situations. The frequency should taper off as the patient recovers.

Homeopathic remedies come in small pellets and can be taken in water as well as dry under the tongue. The most common way to take them in water is to simply put a dose into a drinking glass of water.  Acutely ill patients may sip or take a teaspoonful as frequently as needed, usually stirred before each dose.  The pellets do not need to be completely dissolved first. This is an effective way to give patients relief while also stretching the supply of the remedy.

ACONITUM: These patients wake from sleep with a dry, hoarse, croupy cough, which tends to be worse at night and after midnight. They are apt to develop a cold or cough during dry cold weather. Along with their dry cough, they will have a dry mouth and shortness of breath. They are usually very thirsty. The cough is worse from being cold, drinking cold water, from tobacco smoke, lying on either side, and at night, especially after midnight. This remedy is very commonly given for the initial stages of croup, bronchitis, pleurisy, and pneumonia. These patients are often restless and anxious.

BRYONIA: When a common cold starts with a nasal discharge and then moves down into the chest, Bryonia is often given, especially when the cough is dry and worse by motion or breathing in. It is painful to move and to inspire, so these patients tend to hold their chest as they breathe in order to limit the motion of the chest. The cough is also aggravated by warm rooms and during or after eating. These patients tend to be sensitive to drafts and are always catching cold. They may feel some tickling in the larynx which irritates the cough.

PHOSPHORUS: These patients have a dry hard cough, sometimes with a persistent tickle felt behind the sternum. The cough is aggravated by lying down, especially on the left side, and they are wakened at night and need to sit up to cough. They are also aggravated by talking, moving, going from a warm room to cold air, or from strong odors. To decrease pain from coughing, they usually hold their chest. The tightness in their chest is relieved by the warmth of a bed. They crave ice drinks. Their illness exhausts them, and they sometimes have an empty, all-gone feeling or burning in the chest. Their nasal discharge may have some blood streaked in it, and they may become hoarse. This medicine is commonly given in more serious respiratory conditions like pneumonia.

PULSATILLA: This remedy is related to some characteristic cough symptoms, but it is more commonly prescribed based on a patients’s general characteristics. The cough symptoms are aggravated in a warm room or warm weather, by lying down to sleep, and at night. Walking in the cool air provides some relief. Also, the patient must sit up in bed to breathe better. Typically, she has a dry cough during the day, and a productive cough with yellow or greenish expectoration at night and upon waking. The key general characteristics of Pulsatilla patients are that they are affectionate, moody, weepy, indecisive, and always seek to please others. They crave affection and sympathy and cannot get enough of it.

RUMEX: The most distinctive characteristic of patients who need this remedy is that their cough is extremely sensitive to cold air. They may even place a blanket or towel over their head to avoid breathing cold air. They experience a tickling in the throat and an irritation below the larynx that is aggravated by touching or pressing the pit of the throat. They have a dry cough and usually become hoarse. They are aggravated in the night and by motion and feel better in warmth.

SPONGIA: This remedy is one of the primary medicines for a dry, barking, croupy cough. The air passages are dry, the sputum is absent, and the voice is hoarse. The coughing can be exacerbated by cold air, warm rooms, tobacco smoke, talking, lying with the head low, drinking cold fluids, or eating sweets. Warm food or drinks, even in small doses, provide some relief, as does sitting up and leaning forward. This remedy is considered a second stage croup remedy, after Aconitum and before Hepar and Kali bic.

To get help with selecting the correct remedy for you and additional supportive therapies call Boise Natural Health Clinic to schedule an appointment at 208-338-0405.

Sources:

Mullein Cold Infusion – Herbal Remedy for Chronic Coughs and Irritated Lungs

By Emily Dickerson, NMD

The respiratory infections that spread and persisted across the Treasure Valley this past winter and spring were brutal. Sinus congestion and coughs lasted for  weeks, and often for months. Following respiratory infections came seasonal allergies, which caused bronchial irritation and respiratory symptoms to linger for even longer. Many of my patients have had difficulty differentiating between infection and allergies. Their lungs continued to be irritated and inflamed, and they have had difficulty getting their coughs to go away. Soon we will transition into the heat of the summer months, with potential for forest fire air pollution to irritate our airways. A mullein cold infusion may be just what the doctor ordered.

My favorite remedy for chronic lung irritation is a mullein (Verbascum thapsus) cold infusion. Mullein is a soothing lung tonic and is safe for all ages. It helps to resolve chronic coughs and lung irritations and promotes restoration of lung health.

Why cold infusion instead of hot infusion?

A cold infusion extracts the components of mullein that are beneficial to the respiratory tract. A hot infusion extracts different properties, so it is important to focus on herbal extraction via cold infusion for respiratory benefit. A mullein cold infusion is indicated for dry, harsh, hacking coughs, weak lungs, kidneys, and as a nervous system support. It is a great herb for hoarseness, bronchitis, whooping cough, asthma, hay fever, and respiratory conditions in general. A mullein hot infusion may be used for colic, constipation, facial neuralgia, and urinary tract irritation. You will also find it in a garlic-mullein combination for external ear drops used for earaches.

I recommended a mullein cold infusion to many of my patients this year. I would like to continue to share it in hopes that it might help any of you that are still suffering or will suffer from chronic lung irritation.

Parts used: The leaves are used for lung support, so that is what I am focusing on in this article. Mullein is a biennial plant, meaning that it lives for 2 years and changes from its 1st year to its 2nd year. The leaves that are best for a cold infusion are those in the 1st year, which is before it grows a stalk. If wildcrafting, make sure that you harvest mullein that is not polluted. Focus on areas away from heavy car or foot traffic.

Simple instructions for how to make a mullein cold infusion:

Infuse 1 teaspoon of dried or fresh mullein leaves (chopped or crushed) per cup of water; or 1 handful of mullein leaves per gallon of water. A cold infusion is very simple to do! You simply place the herb in cold water, let it soak overnight, remove the herb, then store in your refrigerator. Using cold water instead of hot water optimizes the lung-benefiting, demulcent properties of mullein.

Dosage:

  • Adult, acute: Drink 1 cup every 2-3 hours.
  • Adult, chronic: Drink 1 cup three times per day.
  • For kids, the strength of the infusion should be decreased, but dosing intervals are the same.

Tips on Maintaining Health During the Fall and Winter

By Emily Yuen, ABT

Learn to recognize your body’s signs of being worn down.

Before you become sick take these preventative measures:

  • Remember that receiving bodywork or acupuncture regularly boosts your body’s immune system.
  • Get plenty of sleep, at least 8 solid hours. Avoid graveyard work shifts. Be aware of the body’s natural clock.
  • Wash your hands frequently.  Avoid anti-viral hand soaps, as they also kill the good bugs that help you build your immune system.  Anti-viral soaps and the overuse of antibiotics are creating restraint strains or “super-bugs.”
  • Eat a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables.
  • Drink plenty of purified water.
  • Schedule an appointment if you are feeling ill. Bodywork or acupuncture can be received at first onset, during illness and to help with recovery.
  • Do your home treatment with your own germs after exposure using techniques taught in today’s class.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather – wear a scarf to cover the upper back and neck. This area is called the “wind gate” in Chinese medicine and is susceptible to pathogens.
  • Start taking immune boosting supplements prior to cold and flu season. To avoid colds/flu, support the spleen with Astragalus (Huang Qi) and/or Jade Wind Screen Formula. These can be taken long term. To build immunity your practitioner may recommend that you take these year round if you are weak or susceptible to illness.
  • For cold and flu symptoms, here are some other vitamins/supplements to consider: Echinacea, Vitamin C, Wellness Formula Herbal Liquid Resistance, Elderberry syrup, or Elderberry lozenges or homeopathy. Ask your practitioner for dosage and what type to take when you are starting to feel ill.
  • Keep an arsenal of herbs on hand during cold and flu season, so you can start taking them at first onset of symptoms. Take note of what the first signs and symptoms are so you can select the appropriate herbs (wind heat or wind cold).  Call your practitioner if you are unsure.  Selecting the wrong Chinese formula could make symptoms worse.
  • If you tend toward sinusitis, use a Neti Pot on a regular basis, especially if you are getting sick. Ask your practitioner for more details on how to do this.
  • If you do get sick, stop taking all tonifying herbs—you want to expel the illness rather than tonify or strengthen the invading pathogen.
  • Don’t rush into taking antibiotics (try Chinese remedies suggested by a qualified practitioner first) – In the long run antibiotics cause you to be more likely to get sick again because they kill the good bacteria not just the bacteria causing the imbalance.  Some Doctors prescribe antibiotics in cases when the illness is a virus not a bacteria such as the common cold.  In such cases antibiotics are useless and will not help you recover sooner.
  • When it is necessary to take antibiotics, replenish your body’s flora with a good-quality probiotic that has multiple types of helpful bacteria—ask practitioner for details.
  • If you are experiencing a lot of mucus, don’t eat foods that make it worse such as: dairy products, cold foods, sugary foods, orange juice or any other juices, bananas and oatmeal.
  • To clear sinus congestion and to help expel pathogens try eating fresh green onions or onion soup with lots of onions.  To help clear nasal congestion you can also boil a turnip, mash it and eat it with chives and parsley.
  • In early stages of the cold and flu, eat chicken broth, beef  broth or vegetable broth, avoiding hard digesting foods. As you are getting over the illness it’s OK to add meats.

More tips for preventing the flu.  Make sure to sign up for each years flu prevention treatment in September.

Recommendations for Preventing and Treating the Flu

Joan Haynes, NMD

Prevention

  1. Read the “8 Natural Tips to Prevent a Cold” on WebMD for the basics.
  2. Boost your immune system
    • Eliminate or reduce sugar. Sugar decreases the activity of white blood cells, your primary immune defense system.
    • A quality multivitamin, fish oil and probiotics will go a long way to ensure your immune system has what it needs.
    • Eat nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables daily. Alternatively, a green drink such as Nanogreens can help supplement the nutrients found in fruits and vegetables.
    • Eat garlic – try to get a clove in every day.
    • Correct a Vitamin D deficiency if you have one.  If you don’t know your vitamin D status, take 2,000 iu a day.  Testing is available through our office.
    • Rotate immune supporting herbs such as astragulus, mushrooms extracts, and echinacea.
    • Alterative Tea is an herbal preparation designed to help immune support while gently detoxifying the body.  1-3 cups daily is used for immune support.  Available at Boise Natural Health.
    • Exercise daily and reduce your stress!
    • Use essential oils regularly – in the air, on your skin orally.
  3. Take something to prevent the flu.  If you aren’t getting a flu vaccine, consider an alternative.  Homeopathic flu prevention preparations such as Muccococcinum are available to the public at our clinic.  Similar preparations are available at better vitamin shops and natural food stores.

Symptoms of the Flu

  • Common symptoms of the flu include:
  • Fever
  • Runny Nose
  • Cough
  • Body aches
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue

Treating the Flu

Below is a list of treatment options you can choose from. Because some products are contraindicated in children or pregnant women, it is suggested that you consult your physician regarding what would be best for you.  Early treatment is best.

  1. Stay at home from work or school until all fevers subside for 24 continuous hours.
  2. General immune support with herbs and nutrients in combination products such as Biovegetarian or Wellness Formula.
  3. Elderberry has been shown in studies to reduce the duration and severity of the flu.  Boise Natural Health carries a high quality elderberry extract that tastes good.
  4. Specific herbs for cough.  We can create a tincture for you.
  5. Homeopathy.  Specific remedies can be useful to lessen symptoms and shorten duration.
  6. Warming Socks Treatment. Please ask for a copy of instructions for this very simple and effective treatment.

When to See your Physician

  1. Most people with the flu will recover without medical help. However, if you or your child have any of the following severe symptoms, please seek medical care:  prolonged illness longer than 5-7 days, shortness of breath, chest pain, intractable vomiting, confusion, sudden dizziness, dehydration, any progressively worsening symptoms, or in a child, non responsiveness, bluish skin color, or fever with rash.
  2. If you need help creating a treatment plan, call our office and set up an appointment.

 

Warming Sock Treatment

Warming Sock Treatment

A natural method of stimulating the immune system and helping to zap a cold or flu is called the “wet sock” or “warming sock” treatment. This hydrotherapy treatment, which is commonly prescribed by Naturopathic Physicians, involves putting on ice-cold socks and … are you ready for this? … sleeping in them! It may sound strange, but it works because it rallies the body’s defenses, and the best part about it is that it uses the healing power of nature and doesn’t cost anything. The treatment is known as a “heating compress,” meaning that it’s up to the body to heat the cold, wet socks. The body reacts to the cold socks by increasing blood circulation, which also stimulates the immune system, which is then ready for battle against the affliction or condition.

This non-invasive treatment acts to reflexively increase the circulation and decrease congestion in the upper respiratory passages, head and throat. It also has a sedating action, and many patients report that they sleep much better during the treatment. Warming socks are also effective for pain relief and increases the healing response during acute infections. It’s best to start the wet sock treatment on first day of an illness, ideally repeating it for three nights in a row. People with chronic conditions or a compromised immunity should consult with a doctor before starting the wet sock treatment.

The wet sock treatment is used in conjunction with other modalities to treat acute inflammation and infection and is only one component of an integrated treatment plan that includes hydration, proper nutrition and immunity-boosting supplements. Boise Natural Health practitioners can work with you to formulate a comprehensive immunity-boosting plan.

Indications

Sore throat or any inflammation or infection of the throat, neck pain, ear infections, headaches, migraines, nasal congestion, upper respiratory infections, coughs, bronchitis, and sinus infections.

Contraindications

Use with caution in diabetes, Raynaud’s phenomenon or syndrome, arterial insufficiency or advanced intermittent claudication.

Supplies

1 pair white cotton socks

1 pair thick wool socks

Towel

Warm bath or warm foot bath

Directions

  1. Take a pair of thin cotton socks and soak them completely with cold water.  After wetting the socks, wring them out thoroughly so they do not drip. You may consider placing them in the freezer for 10-20 minutes (during the duration of step 2) to enhance the cooling effect.
  2. While the socks are cooling, warm your feet in a warm bath for 5-10 minutes.  This is very important as the treatment will not be as effective and could be harmful if your feet are not warmed first.
  3. Dry off feet and body with a dry towel.
  4. If needed, remove the cotton socks from the freezer, and bend or thaw them to the point where they can be worn. Place socks on the feet and cover the cold socks with a second pair of thick, dry wool socks.  Go directly to bed.  Avoid getting chilled.
  5. Keep the socks on overnight. You will find that the wet cotton socks will be dry by the morning.