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COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019)

En Español

Mark Sandoval, M.D.
Emergency Medicine / Lifestyle Medicine

Basic Information

COVID-19 is the illness which is associated with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This illness was first identified in late 2019 in China and then quickly spread around the world. The numbers of cases and deaths associated with COVID-19 continues to increase, with waves of increasing case rates and then decreasing case rates in different areas.

A COVID “case” is counted any time a COVID test is positive, regardless of whether a person has symptoms or not. COVID-19 is the illness an individual experiences (fever, chills, body aches, sore throat, loss of smell or taste, lack of appetite, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, etc.) associated with the SARS-CoV virus. There are many individuals who develop positive antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus without developing COVID-19 (the illness), meaning that they were asymptomatic after exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Evaluating data from the CDC 20 months into this pandemic, the case fatality rate (the percentage of people who died within a certain period of having a positive COVID test compared to the total number of positive test results) is 2.2% overall. The trend is that the greater one’s age, the greater the likelihood one will die from the infection. For example, those in the 0-29-year-old category have a case fatality rate of 0.03%. Those in the 30-49-year-old category have a case fatality rate of 0.31%. And those in the 50+-year-old category have a case fatality rate of 6.25%.

Also, it is noted that individuals that are unhealthy in other areas of their life (diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity, etc.) have higher rates of hospitalization and death with COVID-19.

The good news is that over 97% of individuals who contract COVID-19 recover from the illness. And there are things that can be done to help to prevent and treat COVID-19 before it becomes severe.

So, what can you do to help in this crisis?

First of all, we recognize that health is a consequence of obedience to God’s laws (both moral and physical – Exodus 15:26), and disease/illness is a consequence of sin, which is disobedience to God’s laws (1 John 3:4). We also recognize that the power to truly heal from illness/disease comes from God. The following measures we will discuss are ways that we can cooperate with God (and His laws), and we do so, not trusting in the measures themselves, but in the God who alone can heal. It is of vital importance that we abide in the Vine (Christ) and remain in a prayerful, connected relationship with Him. That is our true protection and hope. These methods mentioned next are simply an expression of our trust in God to be our Protector and Healer by cooperating with Him. Read Psalm 91 for great encouragement in these difficult times.

Prevention

1. Maintain a good attitude – thoughts, whether positive or negative have direct effects on our immune system. Those who are happy, joyful, confident, loving, compassionate, etc. are better able to resist infection than those who are depressed, insecure, suffering from guilt, revengeful, and self-focused. Therefore, a strong relationship with God and trust in His love has a significant impact upon immune function and susceptibility to infection. For more information on this topic, check out The Law of Life.

2. Exercise regularly – the more physically fit that you are, the more likely you can prevent the development of an infection, and the better you can deal with the infection if you contract it. Begin your exercise routine right away so you can have the greatest fitness before you are exposed to the virus.

3. Eat an immune-promoting diet – this is a diet that promotes the best immune function, which includes foods with lots of antioxidants, and avoids excess sugars, fats, and highly-processed foods. More specifically, this diet promotes the consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts/seeds, and herbs, and would avoid the use of processed carbohydrates, sweeteners, artificial foods, fried foods, animal products and byproducts and other high-fat foods.

4. Take daily contrast showers – with your shower, alternate between hot and cold, beginning with hot and ending with cold. The hot cycle should be longer than the cold and should not be too vigorous for you or your health condition. You should feel invigorated and refreshed after the contrast shower. If you have heart disease, are elderly, or have balance issues, be very mild in the change in temperature between the hot and cold (limit it to what you can tolerate well) and consider using a shower chair during your contrast shower.

5. Maintain optimum vitamin D levels – through daily sunshine exposure and Vitamin D3 supplementation. This enhances immune function. Optimal blood levels of vitamin D are between 60-75, but the American average is closer to 20. Most of us are vitamin D deficient. The virus is very sensitive to ultraviolet rays from sunlight and heat, so let sufficient sunlight into every space you occupy.

6. Take the following anti-infectious herbs/supplements:
American Ginseng – 200-400mg twice daily. Avoid in pregnancy.
Siberian Ginseng – 400mg 3 times daily. Don’t take longer than 2 months. Insufficient evidence to recommend for children or pregnancy.
Panax Ginseng – (Asian Ginseng) 200mg daily. Don’t use longer than 6 months. Avoid in children and pregnancy.
Andrographis – (Indian Echinacea) 200mg daily. Avoid in pregnancy.
Thuja – (cedar leaf oil) 18-36mg 3 time daily, for 2 weeks. Avoid in pregnancy and lactation.
Echinacea – 800mg 3 times daily for prevention, up to 5 times daily with symptoms.
Elderberry – only use the ripe fruit, dosage not specified. *See note at end
Zinc (for prevention) – about 20-25mg/day; treatment – up to 75mg/day for less than 1 week.
Quercetin – 250-1,000mg daily for up to 12 weeks. It is found in onions, apples, berries, teas, etc. and is a zinc ionophore, assisting zinc into the cells, thus increasing intracellular zinc levels.
Vitamin C – 250-2,000mg daily.
Probiotics – at least 1 billion CFUs (colony forming units) daily. The higher the CFUs and the more bacterial species included, the better. Don’t take indefinitely.
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) – 600mg twice daily. Shown to decrease symptoms associated with influenza, promotes the production of glutathione (prominent antioxidant) in the body. Okay in pregnancy, lactation, and with children.

7. Rest – those who are well-rested are better able to fight or resist infections. One of the complications of chronic sleep-deprivation is that it causes immune suppression, thus increasing the susceptibility to infections. So, get to bed early and rest at least 7-9 hours each night.

8. Keep Air Fresh – COVID-19 seems to be contracted in enclosed spaces. Keep windows open with a constant flow of fresh air through your home or workspace and spend much time outdoors.

Treatment Protocol (With an Assistant)

It is imperative that you begin to treat this illness as soon as possible. Intervention should begin shortly after noticing symptoms (sore throat, headache, body aches, fever, chills, runny nose, sinus congestion, etc.). The following is a recommended treatment regimen.

Prayer

Pray and trust God that He loves you and is with you and has the power to help you heal. Ask the Lord to reveal to you where you have violated His law (either moral or physical), and ask for His power to help you obey Him where you have not. And ask Him to show you what you should do to cooperate with Him in healing from this illness, and then follow His leading. Ask Him to bless these simple means that you will use, trusting that it is His power, not merely these treatments, that will bring about healing.

Supplements

Begin taking the following supplements/herbs: Vitamin C 2,000mg daily, Zinc 75mg daily (for only 5-6 days, then back to 25mg daily), Quercetin 500mg twice daily, Echinacea 800mg 4-5 times daily, and vitamin D. If your vitamin D levels are low or you have not been accustomed to taking vitamin D regularly and do not sunbathe regularly, we recommend 50,000IU of Vitamin D3 daily for 3 days, then 10,000IU daily for the rest of the illness. Vitamin D can become toxic if you take too much, and blood levels increase faster in those who are small, so be cautious. If your vitamin D levels are already in the 60+ range, just continue taking your usual dose of vitamin D.

Nature’s Penicillin

Take 1 whole grapefruit, 2 whole oranges, 1 whole lemon, 3 cloves garlic, ½ medium sized onion, and peppermint oil. Use a peeler to remove the colored part of the grapefruit, orange, and lemon skins, but leave the white pulp below it. Add the grapefruit, oranges, lemon, garlic and onion to a blender and blend. Add just enough water so that the ingredients can blend. Then add 3 drops of peppermint oil and blend fully (seed and all). Place in a pitcher and leave in the refrigerator. Pour some into a cup and drink 1 cup daily.

Hydrotherapy (If you have an assistant)

Fever Bath

Take a daily fever bath. The assistant fills a bathtub with hot water (approximately 104-110 degrees Fahrenheit) and the patient enters the water. The assistant places a towel over the patient’s knees and chest and uses a cup or pitcher to pour water over the knees and chest so that more body surface is in contact with the hot water. The assistant uses a washcloth or hand towel dipped in ice water to cool the face and head of the patient. The assistant also provides some room-temperature water in a cup with a straw for drinking periodically (but not within 2 minutes of measuring the patient’s temperature). Every 5 minutes, the assistant measures the patient’s oral temperature and heart rate.* It will take approximately 10-30 minutes for the temperature to elevate into the fever range. You are aiming for an oral temperature of 102-103.9F. Once the oral temperature reaches 102F, the temperature should be maintained within the 102-103.9F range for approximately 20-30 minutes. Add more hot water or cold water as needed, and make sure the patient’s head is cool. Once the time is up, drain the hot water and apply cold water via the shower or the remainder of the ice water that was used to keep the head cool. Apply the cold water for about 30-60 seconds, but to not chill the patient. Dry the patient off, assist them to bed, and have them rest for about an hour. Provide water that they can drink while in the bed. *The heart rate should not go above 140. If it does, stop the treatment, apply cold water briefly, dry the patient off, and assist them to bed to rest.

Fever baths increase your temperature into a fever range, providing a number of benefits. Fever temperatures (101.4F/38C or greater) activate heat shock proteins (HSPs) in your cells which activate receptors of the innate immune system. The higher temperatures also activate monocytes, which are responsible for “eating up” the bad guys. It increases Tumor Necrosis Factor – Alpha, which is a prominent part of the inflammatory and immune pathways. And the heat decreases viral replication by up to 90% with some viruses.

Do not use a fever treatment if the patient is feeble, already has a temperature above 102, has coronary heart disease with chest pain upon exertion, has heart failure, or has open wounds that should remain dry. Stop the treatment immediately and apply cold if there are adverse symptoms (fainting, muscle spasms, rapid heart rates, chest pain, etc.) or if the patient requests. Just make sure to not apply cold to the point of chilling the patient.

The patient can usually tolerate daily fever treatments for the first 2-4 days of the illness. But if the illness progresses, and they become more fatigued, you will need to change to contrast showers.

Contrast Shower

Conduct contrast showers on a daily basis. For a contrast shower, the assistant can help the patient with keeping track of time and checking to see if the patient is tolerating the treatment well. The patient will stand in the shower, turning around so that water sequentially hits all of the different parts of their body. Initially, the patient should have the hot water on as hot as they can reasonably tolerate it. The assistant will use a timer or stopwatch to time 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, have the patient turn the water to cold or assist them in doing so. The cold water should remain for 30 seconds. Then turn the water back to hot (a temperature they can reasonably tolerate) for another 3 minutes. The temperature will alternate between hot (3 minutes) and cold (30 seconds) for 5-7 exchanges, ending on the cold cycle. Help the patient out of the shower. Dry them off. And assist them to bed to rest under the covers for an hour. Give them water to drink while they are resting.

Do not use a contrast shower if the patient is very frail, is prone to fainting, is a fall risk, has advanced heart failure, or has open wounds that should remain dry (unless they are covered sufficiently with a waterproof covering). If needed, a shower chair can be used during the treatment.

Sometimes, the illness progresses to the point where the patient cannot tolerate contrast showers, this is when you switch to fomentations or a general revulsive.

General Revulsive

A general revulsive is a treatment that can be given while the patient is in bed. For this, the assistant will put a waterproof barrier on the bed and then cover with sheets. Have an additional sheet and blanket for the patient to be under. Place a heating pad (on medium heat) on the bed where the back will be, and cover with a dry towel. Have the patient lie on the bed with the shoulder blades and posterior chest on top of the heating pad and put the patient's feet in a basin big enough for both feet and deeper than the ankles. Add hot water to the basin to ankle level, but not too hot. (Constantly check to be sure it is not too hot.) Cover the patient with the upper sheet and blanket then begin fomentations to the chest.

You can prepare fomentation pads several ways (as described here). We will describe the procedure using a Thermophore heating pad. Plug in the Thermophore, and secure the trigger so that it heats up. Wrap it in a single layer of towel, and moisten the towel as you would for ironing clothes. Apply the Thermophore/towel to the bare chest of the patient and then cover the patient with the bed sheet and blanket to around their neck. Keep the patient’s head and face cool with ice water and a washcloth or hand towel, and allow periodic drinking of water through a straw. Leave the Thermophore on the chest for 3-5 minutes.

Remove the Thermophore. Take a hand towel dipped in ice water, and wring it out. Use it to rub the entire front of the chest, rotating the towel to apply its coldest areas. Continue this for about 30 seconds. Then place the Thermophore back on the patient’s chest for another 3-5 minutes. Check to be sure that it isn’t too hot and that the patient is not uncomfortable.

Repeat the hot (3-5 minutes) and cold (30 seconds) for 5-7 exchanges. After the final cold to the chest, pull the patient's feet out of the basin of hot water, run ice water over the feet, dry them off, and move the basin out of the way. Then use the hand towel dipped in ice water and rub the arms, legs, and back with it for about 1 minute. Remove the heating pad, cover the patient back up with the sheet and blanket, and let him/her rest for about an hour.

Do not use hot water on feet if the patient has open wounds there, if they are a brittle diabetic, if they have very poor foot circulation, or if they have recent blood clots in their legs.

Continue this treatment daily during the remainder of the illness. If the patient is too fatigued to tolerate a full revulsive treatment, you can omit the basin of water for the feet and simply concentrate on the hot/cold fomentations to the chest.

Onion Poultice

If the patient is starting to develop lower respiratory symptoms (cough, productive cough, sharp chest pain, etc.), you can use an onion poultice. Take a whole onion, cut it into 8ths, and put in a blender. Add just enough water so that it will blend. Place plastic wrap (food wrap) on the counter (large enough to generously cover the patient’s chest). Then place a paper towel on the plastic wrap (large enough to cover the patient’s chest). Put the blended onion on the paper towel and spread out evenly over the paper towel. Place an additional paper towel over the top of the onion.

Prepare the bed by placing a waterproof covering over the bed and covering it with sheets. Have the patient lie on the bed with chest uncovered. Place the onion poultice on the patient’s chest with the paper towel side against the chest and the plastic wrap over it. Use additional plastic wrap to wrap entirely around the chest/back and secure the onion poultice in place. Then cover with a tight-fitting under shirt and a thicker shirt. Leave in place for 4+ hours, or leave on overnight. Remove and discard. Replace with a new poultice after letting the chest be free to dry out for a few hours. This can be repeated as often as needed.

4-7-9 Breathing

Instruct the patient to breathe in through the nose slowly for a count of 4, hold the breath for a count of 7, and breathe out slowly through pursed lips for a count of 9. Repeat this about 10 times in a row for a single deep-breathing exercise. This 4-7-9 deep-breathing exercise should be repeated every hour that the patient is awake.

Natural Anticoagulants

If the patient begins to have shortness of breath and their oxygen saturation begins to drop (not yet to the point of needing to go to the hospital and having supplemental oxygen), but they don’t have a productive cough, this could be because of blood clotting (which is known to happen with COVID-19). If that is the case, they may need to start natural anticoagulants. The following is a regimen that we have used:

  • Nattokinase (200mg daily)
  • Garlic Oil (2 capsules, 3 times daily)
  • Ginger Powder (¼ teaspoon, 3 times daily)
  • Welch’s Grape Juice (1 cup, 3 times daily)
  • Evening Primrose Oil (1,000mg, 3 times daily)

Watch out for excessive anticoagulation. One patient here developed petechia (small purple spots under the skin which indicate small areas of bleeding). If anything of this nature develops, stop the Evening Primrose Oil and Nattokinase, cut back on the garlic oil to 1 capsule 3 times daily, but continue with the ginger and grape juice.

Recovery Phase

When you begin to improve (no more fevers, symptoms are going away, etc.), make sure that you do not become active too quickly. We recommend that you:

  • Rest. Continue with rest and limited activities for 2-3 days after your last symptoms resolve. Many people relapse when they feel better after COVID-19 and then start getting back to work too soon. Then all the symptoms hit them again, and they are down for several more days with fevers, fatigue, etc. Remain away from work and responsibilities for longer than you usually do with an infection. Get to bed by 9pm each evening, and sleep in until you wake up naturally in the morning. Take naps as needed, but not within 4-5 hours of bedtime.
  • Continue with contrast showers (3-5 exchanges each treatment) on a daily basis.
  • Limit the amount of work that you do if you are tired, weak, or fatigued. Again, you want to avoid a relapse.
  • Spend a lot of time outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine, but with appropriate clothing for the climate (covering your trunk, shoulders, arms, and legs evenly and sufficiently to avoid chilling).
  • Keep in a cheerful state of mind. The impact of your thoughts and attitudes on illness is great, so maintain cheerfulness.
  • Continue the recommended herbs or supplements until you are completely well.

Treatment Protocol (Without an Assistant)

Follow as many instructions from the Treatment Protocol (With an Assistant) that you can. Do not attempt fever baths on your own. Instead, start with contrast showers and hot footbaths.

For a hot footbath, simply leave your legs and feet bare from the knees down, sit on the edge of the bathtub, and fill the tub with hot water. Adjust the temperature so that it is hot (but not too hot). Fill the tub until the water is over your ankles. Wrap your body in a sheet and blanket, and sit in that position for about 30-45 minutes. Have some water nearby to drink while you are sitting there. When you are done, turn the water on as cold as it will go, and run the water over your feet for about 30 seconds. Dry off then get in bed and rest for about an hour.

Don’t do this treatment if you have poor circulation in your legs, are diabetic, have recent blood clots in your legs, or have open wounds on your feet.

Instead of doing a general revulsive, you can give yourself chest fomentations by using a heating pad to the back of your chest, a Thermophore heating pad to the front of your chest, and following the rest of the chest instructions in the General Revulsive section above.

Everything else you should be able to do yourself. It may be difficult to get the onion poultice to remain in place. If so, you can use paper tape or skin tape to secure the poultice in place, and then put the undershirt and shirt on over it while lying in bed (so that it doesn’t slide off).

Summary

It is our prayer that you fare well in this pandemic and reveal to the world that the health message we have had since the 1800s is effective even in pandemic situations. Keep in good faith, trusting in your heavenly Father and His great mercy, while at the same time cooperating with Him in keeping yourself in the best health possible. Be a source of help and encouragement to your neighbors and community. Let us pull together as a people, under Christ, to meet this emergency in the faith and strength of Jesus.

Helpful links

Videos

COVID-19 Prevention from Gulf States Conference on Vimeo

COVID-19 Treatment from Gulf States Conference on Vimeo

COVID-19 and Your Mind from Gulf States Conference on Vimeo