By the team at Blum Center for Health: Susan S. Blum, MD, MPH; Pamela Yee, MD; Elizabeth Greig MSN, FNP
As the pandemic wears on and the seasons change, we find ourselves preparing for winter, a time when we will be back inside with less opportunity to see people, connect and socialize, as we might have been doing in warmer weather. I can say that for me, I am not looking forward to this and am trying to stay focused on and appreciate this moment, when we have beautiful fall weather in the Northeast. I encourage you all to spend as much time outdoors as possible while you still can! Of course I am also making a commitment to myself to bundle up and still make myself go outside this winter…we will see!
Since the pandemic began, I have been updating my recommendations for using supplements to support your immune system. As time keeps marching on, and we prepare for month #8, and the likelihood of a surge in COVID during the winter months, I thought I would go back and update my supplement recommendations. It’s really important that we step up our game and renew our vigilance for protecting ourselves from getting sick, and if we do get COVID, to have a mild course of illness and recover quickly. From a Functional/Integrative medicine perspective, we continue to focus on nutrients and herbs that have been well studied, for their ability to support, modify or boost the immune system, or to fight viruses.
**Please note that these recommendations are NOT medical advice. Most are not safe for pregnant women, and if you are taking medication or have any serious health condition, please check with your doctor.
Immune Boosting Supplements
These are generally safe for those with Autoimmune Conditions. For pregnancy check dosing with your doctor. We recommend that you take Vitamins D and C now at a minimum, and add Vitamin A and NAC if you are exposed or get sick.
- Vitamin D: 5000 IU daily in absence of serum levels from blood test
- Vitamin C: 1-3 grams daily
- N-Acetylcysteine (NAC): 600 – 900 mg twice/day (precursor for Glutathione (GSH), or can take GSH
- Vitamin A: up to 10,000 – 25,000 IU/day (not safe for pregnancy)
We do not recommend the following supplements for those with Autoimmune Conditions or pregnancy.We recommend that you take 1 of the following at the recommended dose, or a blend that includes several of these, in which a lower dose of each are typically used:
- Elderberry: 500 mg daily (of USP standard of 17% anthocyanosides)
- Beta Glucans: 250 – 500 mg daily
- Mushrooms: Shiitake, Lion’s mane, Maitake, Reishi. D Mushrooms: Shiitake, Lion’s mane, Maitake, Reishi. Dose depends on preparation
- Astragalus: Dose depends on preparation
- Echinacea: Dose depends on preparation
- Andrographis: 200 mg/day
To make this easy for you, we added our favorite herbal blend to our store, called Immune Support. You can read more about it HERE.
These are generally safe for those with Autoimmune Conditions. For pregnancy, check dosing with your doctor.
We recommend that you take Zinc and add Quercetin if you are exposed or get sick:
- Zinc: 30 – 60 mg daily in divided doses
- Quercetin: 1 gram twice/day. Phytosome: 500 mg twice/day
Reduce Cytokine Storm
The illness caused by coronavirus, COVID-19, can cause a “runaway train” of inflammation in some people, causing terrible tissue and organ damage that can lead to the worst outcomes. This group of herbs and supplements appear effective in turning off this overactive immune response and helping bring the immune system back into balance.
These are generally safe to use for those with Autoimmune Conditions. For pregnancy check dosing with your doctor.
We recommend that you choose a minimum of 1 of the following and add more if you get sick:
- Curcumin: 500 – 1000 mg twice/day. Choose absorption enhanced.
- EGCG: 4 cups daily or 225 mg daily.
- Resveratrol: 100 – 150 mg/day
- Melatonin: 5-20 mg/day
Remember, you should also be focused on improving the functioning of your immune foundations. Here are the things you should continue to do for risk reduction:
- Good gut health: which means lots of beneficial bacteria. Take a probiotic every day with at least 20 billion cfu of mixed strains lactobacillus and bifidus species.
- Balanced stress hormones: Get a good night’s sleep and don’t overwork yourself during flu season. Stress harms your ability to fight viruses. Practice some form of mediation daily. Melissa, Blum Center’s Health Coach, wrote a great blog with tips for managing stress during this time.
- Eat foods that are good for your immune system: Avoid processed foods and focus on fruits and veggies that are rich in antioxidants and vitamins. Support the removal of toxins by eating lots of cruciferous veggies, which boost the detox system in your liver.
Sending prayers and good wishes for you and all of us to stay safe and well during this challenging time!