This week, I was able to attend a webinar hosted by the American Herbalists Guild called “Evolving Therapeutic Strategies in the Stages of COVID-19” with Registered Herbalist, Paul Bergner. Paul is known for his decades of herbal medical experience and his expertise as a researcher and his teaching through his school, the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism.

Paul has been gathering information regarding coronavirus since its appearance this winter, including his own experience with the virus. The webinar was to inform us of the research being conducted and effective treatments herbalists are using to reduce duration of symptoms and decrease the likelihood of death from contracting the virus. Thanks to Paul, I am able to share some of this information with you.

Paul introduced us to 5 stages of the virus presentation. Stages 2-4 were what you would expect: mild symptoms moving to more severe symptoms. Stage 1 surprised me and changed my thinking about this situation.

This is how he describes Stage 1:
“Stage 1: Uninfected but vulnerable or at-risk from nutritional status, disease status, lifestyle factors, and nutritional deficiencies.”

Unfortunately, this is most of the United States. This means that a very large percentage of us are already in Stage 1 of coronavirus because of our current health statuses, and we are all at risk for exposure because the numbers of positive tests continue to grow in most places.

Paul went on to describe the basics of preventing Stage 1 with the following prevention strategies:
~Adjusting lifestyle, sleep, and activity levels
~Managing or improving comobidities (chronic diseases that increase risk), such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and chronic breathing issues.
~Correcting deficiencies of Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, zinc, and selenium
~Normalizing omega-3 fatty acid status

If you’ve been following my blog, this should all sound very familiar as I’ve been talking about all of these from the beginning, and this list of preventions are the main focuses of all my work as an Integrative Medicine Nurse Practitioner.

In New York, high blood pressure was the greatest comorbidity with diabetes and obesity coming in 2nd and 3rd. In the UK, chronic heart disease was the highest comorbidity with diabetes and chronic lung disease following close behind.

I’ve also heard the argument that this is an old person’s virus, but interestingly, 25% of the hospitalizations in New York were under 52 years old. With myself coming in at 47, this gives me pause.

Paul also gave us the recent data on the correlation between COVID-19 and Vitamin D status. In the integrative world, we have been following the data on Vitamin D for a long time. We have seen it’s effectiveness in the prevention of respiratory illness. It seems that Vitamin D might actually help the body recognize invaders like the coronavirus more effectively so that the immune system can put up a defensive front more quickly and efficiently.

There are currently 11 formal trials looking at COVID-19 and Vitamin D. While we’re not yet sure if Vitamin D is effective in the cure of COVID-19, we are becoming more sure that having an optimal Vitamin D level lessens the severity of the symptoms related to COVID-19. It seems really strange to me that the powers that be are not promoting this simple and cost-effective prevention strategy.

The webinar went on to describe herbal and nutritional treatment strategies for treating COVID-19 symptoms. I’m very grateful for all this information and I’m stocking my apothecary with further remedies should the need arise for my patients.

The takeaway from all of this is that we need to be thinking of our current health status as an actual stage of coronavirus. If you are at risk because of nutritional deficiencies, comorbidities, or the lifestyle factors you’re currently choosing, now is the time to act!

Comorbidities such as high blood pressure and diabetes often go unnoticed until the symptoms because obvious.
When is the last time you had blood work done?
Do you know your Vitamin D status?
Are you continuing with lifestyle choices that are reducing your chance of fighting this virus should you become infected?

I highly recommend seeing an integrative/holistic/functional medicine practitioner near you. In our work, we look at the whole person (all the risk factors for coronavirus) and help you create a sustainable plan for optimal function of your systems, including your immune system. If you are in Portland, I can help.

It’s not too late to begin moving yourself out of Stage 1. You could still contract the virus and get symptoms, but the data is showing that those who don’t start out in any stage at all are having the greatest chance of less severe symptoms and reduced chance of dying from this novel virus.

To request a new patient appointment with me here at FLOURISH, please submit this form. If you don’t live near me, please reach out to someone in your area soon. And, of course, share this post with friends who need this information too!

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