The Whole View, Episode 458: Collective Trauma and Re-Entry Anxiety
In this episode of The Whole View Podcast, Sarah and Stacy look at the collective trauma experienced by society as a whole, and how it relates to re-entry anxiety after the Covid-19 pandemic. They look at trauma, PTSD, and mental health aspects. They also discuss what you can do to reduce symptoms and re-adjust to a more “normal” daily life.
Coronavirus Special: How To Manage Anxiety In The Face Of A Global Pandemic with Dr Judson Brewer
In this episode, Dr Chatterjee speaks to the behavioural neuroscientist and psychiatrist, Judson Brewer, and together they help us understand how to keep calm in these stressful times. They discuss what exactly fear and anxiety are, what happens in the brain when you start to feel anxious and how you can break the anxiety cycle with some simple, practical exercises. They discuss breathing, physical activity, creative pursuits and much more, as well as how calmness is a skill that you can get better at, if you take the time to practice it.
The Functional Medicine Approach to COVID-19: Virus-Specific Nutraceutical and Botanical Agents
This document published in December 2020 discusses the mechanisms of action of a number of different botanical and nutraceutical agents. These agents can be considered immunoadjuvants, defined as substances that act to accelerate, prolong, or enhance antigen-specific immune responses by potentiating or modulating the immune response. The aim of this paper is to provide resources for practitioners who are supporting patients going through Covid-19. This article is part one of a series and the link for part two can be found under the section “Background and Introduction”.
The impact of nutrition on COVID-19 susceptibility and long-term consequences.
Brain, behavior, and immunity. 2020
Plain language summary
The impacts of Covid-19 are being felt across the world, affecting health, healthcare and economies. Statistics from across the world are showing that the elderly, those with underlying medical conditions and under-represented minority groups are particularly vulnerable to severe complications and have a higher risk of dying of Covid-19. This opinion piece presents arguments for the importance of focusing on diet to support health resilience in general and the immune system in particular, to minimise the impact of this and future viruses. Research is presented on excessive intake of saturated fat leading to chronic activation of the innate immune system (first line, rapid defence against infection), resulting in inflammation, and associated heightened susceptibility to complications of viral infection. The standard western diet (high saturated fat, refined carbohydrates and sugars, low levels of fibre, unsaturated fat and antioxidants) has also been shown to affect the adaptive immune system (second line, delayed defence against infection), depressing its action against infection. The piece also discusses possible long-term, future impacts of those recovered from Covid-19 infection, particularly in relation to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The authors call for fresh, healthy wholefoods to be readily available and affordable to everyone in society.
While all groups are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the elderly, underrepresented minorities, and those with underlying medical conditions are at the greatest risk. The high rate of consumption of diets high in saturated fats, sugars, and refined carbohydrates (collectively called Western diet, WD) worldwide, contribute to the prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes, and could place these populations at an increased risk for severe COVID-19 pathology and mortality. WD consumption activates the innate immune system and impairs adaptive immunity, leading to chronic inflammation and impaired host defense against viruses. Furthermore, peripheral inflammation caused by COVID-19 may have long-term consequences in those that recover, leading to chronic medical conditions such as dementia and neurodegenerative disease, likely through neuroinflammatory mechanisms that can be compounded by an unhealthy diet. Thus, now more than ever, wider access to healthy foods should be a top priority and individuals should be mindful of healthy eating habits to reduce susceptibility to and long-term complications from COVID-19.
Nutraceuticals have potential for boosting the type 1 interferon response to RNA viruses including influenza and coronavirus.
Progress in cardiovascular diseases. 2020
Endocrine and metabolic aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Plain language summary
This highly technical review paper summarises some known actions and mechanisms by which certain nutraceuticals can boost the type 1 interferon response, a specific immune response to viruses, including influenza and coronavirus. These include: Ferulate (ferulic acid) has been shown to stimulate type 1 interferon production, and enhanced survival in influenza A-infected mice. Sulforaphane (phytochemical found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli) and lipoic acid have similar actions. Spirulina extract has been found to decrease mortality in influenza-infected mice. Clinical and preclinical evidence for the potential benefits of N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a precursor for the important antioxidant glutathione, and selenium are also discussed. A glucosamine-enriched diet increased survival of mice infected with influenza virus. The authors present a table with suggested dosages for the above nutrients, as well as yeast beta-glucans, zinc and elderberry extracts, for viral control, whilst calling for more research into these compounds.
Reviews in endocrine & metabolic disorders. 2020;21(4):495-507
Plain language summary
Endocrine and metabolic related diseases such as diabetes and obesity may increase the risk of developing severe Covid-19 and as a result these diseases could be severely affected by Covid-19 infection. This very large review paper looked at over 100 studies and outlined the interrelationship between Covid-19 infection and several endocrine diseases. Diabetes, obesity, pituitary-hypothalamic function, thyroid function, Cushing's syndrome and adrenal function were all reviewed. No aim was stated. Data on individuals with obesity and diabetes indicated an increased risk for severe Covid-19 infection, hospitalisation and mortality. Data surrounding pituitary-hypothalamic function, thyroid function, Cushing's syndrome and adrenal function was less abundant, however neurological issues in Covid-19 patients suggested an involvement of the pituitary and hypothalamus. In lieu of sufficient data the author commented on the possible similarities between severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus with the Covid-19 virus. A number of management strategies were discussed such as the use of vitamin D, oxytocin and melatonin, however the authors commented on the lack of data regarding oxytocin and melatonin in Covid-19 patients, but mechanistic data suggested they might be of use. No overall conclusions were drawn on the findings. Clinicians could use this paper to understand how patients with pre-existing endocrine and metabolic conditions may be at a higher risk of more severe Covid-19 and if contracted could exacerbate their pre-existing condition. These patients could require constant monitoring and additional measures to avoid contracting Covid-19. Supplements such as vitamin D, oxytocin or melatonin could be therapeutic, however more data needs to be reviewed.
COVID-19 infection has tremendously impacted our daily clinical practice as well as our social living organization. Virtually all organs and biological systems suffer from this new coronavirus infection, either because the virus targets directly specific tissues or because of indirect effects. Endocrine diseases are not an exception and some of endocrine organs are at risk of direct or indirect lesion by COVID-19. Although there is still no evidence of higher predisposition to contract the infection in patients with diabetes and/or obesity, the coexistence of these conditions contributes to a worse prognosis because both conditions confer an impaired immunologic system. Cytokines storm can be amplified by these two latter conditions thereby leading to multisystemic failure and death. Glycaemic control has been demonstrated to be crucial to avoiding long hospital stays, ICU requirement and also prevention of excessive mortality. Endocrine treatment modifications as a consequence of COVID-19 infection are required in a proactive manner, in order to avoid decompensation and eventual hospital admission. This is the case of diabetes and adrenal insufficiency in which prompt increase of insulin dosage and substitutive adrenal steroids through adoption of the sick day's rules should be warranted, as well as easy contact with the health care provider through telematic different modalities. New possible endocrinological targets of COVID-19 have been recently described and warrant a full study in the next future.
Could Vitamins Help in the Fight Against COVID-19?
Plain language summary
Immunonutrition is the role of nutrient supplementation in modulating the immune system. While there are limited approaches to the prevention and treatment of Covid-19, the aim of this review was to critically assess the current evidence to identify vitamins in the context of respiratory disease and extrapolate the evidence to evaluate the role of immunonutrition in Covid-19. Over 200 studies were included in this review to assess the physiological role, therapeutic application in respiratory disease and relevance to Covid-19 of each vitamin. Based on the existing literature, the authors conclude the there is a potential preventative and supportive role for vitamin supplementation in fighting Covid-19, specifically vitamin A, E and D.
There are limited proven therapeutic options for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. The role of vitamin and mineral supplementation or "immunonutrition" has previously been explored in a number of clinical trials in intensive care settings, and there are several hypotheses to support their routine use. The aim of this narrative review was to investigate whether vitamin supplementation is beneficial in COVID-19. A systematic search strategy with a narrative literature summary was designed, using the Medline, EMBASE, Cochrane Trials Register, WHO International Clinical Trial Registry, and Nexis media databases. The immune-mediating, antioxidant and antimicrobial roles of vitamins A to E were explored and their potential role in the fight against COVID-19 was evaluated. The major topics extracted for narrative synthesis were physiological and immunological roles of each vitamin, their role in respiratory infections, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and COVID-19. Vitamins A to E highlighted potentially beneficial roles in the fight against COVID-19 via antioxidant effects, immunomodulation, enhancing natural barriers, and local paracrine signaling. Level 1 and 2 evidence supports the use of thiamine, vitamin C, and vitamin D in COVID-like respiratory diseases, ARDS, and sepsis. Although there are currently no published clinical trials due to the novelty of SARS-CoV-2 infection, there is pathophysiologic rationale for exploring the use of vitamins in this global pandemic, supported by early anecdotal reports from international groups. The final outcomes of ongoing trials of vitamin supplementation are awaited with interest.
A pilot, open labelled, randomised controlled trial of hypertonic saline nasal irrigation and gargling for the common cold.
Scientific reports. 2019;9(1):1015
Plain language summary
The common cold is a viral upper respiratory tract infection which affects adults and children worldwide, often multiple times a year. A large number of viruses cause these infections, making targeted antiviral treatment impractical. This small, randomised, controlled pilot trial (not blinded) of 68 adults aimed to assess the impact of salt-water nasal washing and throat gargling as many times as required (on average 3 times a day for 5 days) within 48 hours of symptom on-set on study recruitment and retention, as well as acceptability, symptom duration and viral shedding. The researchers found that nasal irrigation and gargling with a saline solution was acceptable to study participants. Illness duration was shortened by 1.9 days in the intervention arm, with significant reductions in the duration of runny nose, blocked nose, sneezing, cough and hoarseness of voice. The average quality of life score was also higher in the intervention arm, although this failed to reach significance. Viral shedding was higher in the intervention arm, with over the counter medication use 36% lower. There was also a lower rate of infection spread within households for the intervention arm. The authors call for a larger, placebo controlled trial to confirm these findings. Nutrition Practitioners supporting immunity in relation to the common cold virus may want to discuss the use of saline nasal irrigation with their clients as a simple measure to reduce symptoms and spread.
undefined: There are no antivirals to treat viral upper respiratory tract infection (URTI). Since numerous viruses cause URTI, antiviral therapy is impractical. As we have evidence of chloride-ion dependent innate antiviral response in epithelial cells, we conducted a pilot, non-blinded, randomised controlled trial of hypertonic saline nasal irrigation and gargling (HSNIG) vs standard care on healthy adults within 48 hours of URTI onset to assess recruitment (primary outcome). Acceptability, symptom duration and viral shedding were secondary outcomes. Participants maintained a symptom diary until well for two days or a maximum of 14 days and collected 5 sequential mid-turbinate swabs to measure viral shedding. The intervention arm prepared hypertonic saline and performed HSNIG. We recruited 68 participants (2.6 participants/week; November 2014-March 2015). A participant declined after randomisation. Another was on antibiotics and hence removed (Intervention:32, Control:34). Follow up data was available from 61 (Intervention:30, Control:31). 87% found HSNIG acceptable, 93% thought HSNIG made a difference to their symptoms. In the intervention arm, duration of illness was lower by 1.9 days (p = 0.01), over-the-counter medications (OTCM) use by 36% (p = 0.004), transmission within household contacts by 35% (p = 0.006) and viral shedding by ≥0.5 log /day (p = 0.04). We hence need a larger trial to confirm our findings.