It was 1949 and I was making rounds at the Massachusetts General Hospital with Professor Edward D. Churchill, an original thinker who taught medical school students and residents the importance of science in surgical practice. The X-ray showed a small mass in one lung in a very frail elderly lady. If it was a benign lesion, an operation might kill her. If it was malignancy and we did not operate, it might end her life. After much discussion, Professor Churchill asked a question I’ve never forgotten, “How would you treat your own mother?”
I told this story to Diana while discussing the number of people dying in seniors’ homes due to COVID. What treatment would we want for our family members?
It’s reasonable to expect more infections in seniors’ homes this winter. Vaccines are on the way and, hopefully, they will help end this nightmare. But, in the meantime, loved ones will die.
So, prevention must be practiced, including refraining from gatherings, wearing face masks, and complying with social distancing rules. There’s no guarantee to evade the virus, but these steps will decrease risk.
Yet, for loved ones in these group residences, this is not enough. In addition to these structural defences, we should help them ensure that their natural biological defences are as robust as possible. Unfortunately, this first line of defence has not received due attention.
There’s an avalanche of information about fighting the virus from pharmaceutical companies, institutes of health, university-based labs, and expert researchers around the world. We are counting on these groups to make breakthroughs in medicine that will cure diseases and protect us from future pandemics. But where are the common-sense messages about good old-fashioned prevention and protection that come naturally from our immune systems?
In fact, you can find the ingredients for a strong immune system if you go looking. But there are no mega-million-dollar budgets to push this information to you on the nightly news or in commercial advertising.
COVID-19 is caused by a viral infection. So, look at the research on the prevention of viral infections for guidance on how to care for your loved ones.
Doctors of orthomolecular medicine specialize in nutritional supplementation to maintain health. They deserve attention for two reasons. One, natural remedies don’t kill people, and if these approaches show results, then they should be a priority in treatment. Two, research by these scientists, including published clinical trials, continues to prove the efficacy of natural supplements for both the prevention and treatment of disease.
So, how do we protect our loved ones? Dr. Damien Downing, a British allergist, has written on vitamin D deficiency in relation to viral infections. He recommends 4,000 international units (IU) daily for three months, and then 3,000 IU daily, in order to reduce risks of contracting viral infections and to prevent disease from becoming severe, leading to death. This is because vitamin D enhances immunity, decreases inflammatory responses, and acts as an antioxidant.
Other research shows that the addition of zinc 30 milligrams (mg) daily also beefs up immunity and eases inflammation. Magnesium at 400 mg daily eases the constriction of arteries caused by viral infections.
Finally, don’t forget vitamin C, 1,000 mg three times a day. Split the dose, because vitamin C is water soluble and some is lost in the urine. It has been shown for decades to be a potent antiviral agent.
So, for our loved ones, we would insist that these four safe, inexpensive vitamins and minerals be given. After all, you can’t replace your mother.