Today, for people in their 70’s and more, this new reality can be a bit scary. They are definitely an “at-risk” population, and that’s because the older we get, the more dysfunctional our immune systems become.
The more likely we are to catch the coronavirus, and the more likely we are to have a fatal outcome.
So we are going to help you lower that risk by showing you how not only to give your immune system a big boost but also to provide you with some specific strategies to help you resist Covid-19.
We are going to tackle this subject from 2 different angles – first, things you can do as an aging adult to boost your immune system in general. And then specific things you can do to block the coronavirus.
The problem is that as we age, we develop something called “immunosenescence” – a decline in our immune system that leads to things like a lower vaccine response and an increased risk of catching whatever new virus is floating around. Like SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
As we age, macrophages don’t work as quickly as they once did, there are fewer white blood cells, fewer naive T-cells and natural killer cells, also known a NK cells, and too many memory T & NK cells, which are naive cells that have already learned how to fight specific antigens.
Naive T & some NK cells are created in the thymus, and one of the main reasons our immune systems start to fail is because of “thymic involution.” Once we hit adolescence, the thymus starts to shrink and is replaced by adipose tissue.
By the time we’re middle-aged, the thymus is only about 15% of it’s former mass. Less functional thymic tissue means lower levels of T-cells & NK cells. And our immune systems suffer as a result.
OK, so, what can you do to turn that around? To give your immune system a boost?
You’ve probably heard that eating healthy food, lowering your amount of stress, getting plenty of high-quality sleep, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and staying active are great ways to promote better immunity.
And you should absolutely be doing all those things. But if you really want to revitalize your immune system, there’s one thing that you should be doing that will have a more impact, in my opinion, that just about anything else. And that’s exercise.
Study after study, paper after paper, article after article all suggest that even a moderate level of exercise can reverse the adverse effects of aging on the immune system. You can actually REVERSE the effects of aging on your immune system, and you don’t have to work out like an elite athlete to do it – all it takes is moderate exercise.
Although there’s a lot of studies, we could refer to, so we’d just like to quote a couple of them.
A study published in the July 2012 edition of Aging Research Review associated exercise with “enhanced vaccination responses, lower numbers of exhausted/senescent T-cells, increased T-cell proliferative capacity, lower levels of inflammatory cytokines (“inflamm-aging”).
All of which indicate that habitual exercise is capable of regulating the immune system and delaying the onset of immunosenescence.” Even better, a study that was published in the March 2018 edition of Aging Cell took a look at a group of cyclist aged 55-79 that had been cycling for a number of years.
And they found that these cyclists had no loss of thymic tissue and had the same amount of new immune cells as a 20-year old. And it found that there was no correlation between life-long cyclists and those who had started later in life. Everyone had youthful thymic glands and the same levels of new immune cells.
It just goes to show, it’s never too late to start exercising. Now, in addition to exercise, there are some supplements that you can take that’ll give your immune system a shot in the arm. DHEA restores thymic function and suppresses interleukin-6, a pro-inflammatory cytokine. Zinc also restores thymic function, and fish oil also suppresses interleukin-6.
Cistanche, a parasitic plant that grows in the desert and is an herbal drug in traditional Chinese medicine, can increase both naive T-cell & NK cell populations, it can remove senescent memory T-cells and decrease interleukin-6 levels. Reishi mushrooms promote maturation and activation of T, NK, & dendritic cells and macrophages.
And finally, extract from Pu-erh tea, which is a type of fermented tea from China, can increase levels of NK and T cells.
OK, that takes care of things that you can do, which will boost your immune system. Now, let’s talk about specific things that you can do to block the coronavirus. We are not talking about washing your hands, wearing masks in public and social distancing, although you should be doing all those things.
Based on the information given by Dr. Sanda Kaufmann, the author of the Kaufmann Protocol, we can understand that the coronavirus is a positive RNA virus. It is enveloped in a lipid bilayer, that’s pretty easily interrupted. And it has a large amount of genetic material, which means that it’s fairly complex and that there are a lot of pathways that can disrupt it.
It enters the human body, and it attaches itself to a very specific site in the human cell called the ACE2 receptor. It gets into the cell, and it replicates using the cellular machinery. It then releases viral copies of itself, which then precipitates a cytokine response.
OK, let’s talk about specific pathways to block the coronavirus, and there are 6 of them. First, block the virus from getting to cells, and this is done through mucosal immunity. Mucous membrane secretes immunoglobulin A, or IgA, and there are things you can do to increase the amount of IgA secreted.
Next, block viral entry into the cell. The coronavirus enters the cell through a receptor called ACE2, and these receptors are located in the airway and intestinal cells. Anything that’ll bind to the ACE2 receptor will block the coronavirus from binding to it.
Blocking the virus’s ability to use cellular machinery to replicate itself, and then blocking the release of that replicated virus from the cell are two more pathways to block the virus.
OK, let’s talk for a minute about what happens once the virus has replicated itself and been released from the cell. There’s a type of cell called mast cells, which are immune cells in our mucosa, can envelop the virus to attempt to kill them.
Unfortunately, the virus is smarter than the mast cell, and it tricks the mast cell into releasing a host of inflammatory factors. Also, the virus itself has proteins on the envelope, which cause a cytokine storm, and this is the real problem. This is what causes fluids, or edema, to develop in the lungs. Oxygen can’t get through, saturation levels drop, and ultimately, this is what causes people to end up on ventilators.
And Covid-19 victims on ventilators have an 80% mortality rate. The final two pathways to block the coronavirus are to block the mast cells from releasing cytokines and to block the cytokine response.
So, how do we do that? Well, there’s a bunch of supplements that have been shown to help with that. These supplements have been shown to help with “corona-like viruses,” not specifically the SARS-CoV-2 virus. There’s a number of viruses that belong to the “human coronavirus” family, and they all have a lot of things in common. They all are positive RNA viruses, they all are enveloped by a lipid bilayer, and they all are genetically complex.
While most of these supplements have not yet been tested yet against SARS-CoV-2, there’s every reason to believe that they should have a similar effect. Just take all of this with a grain of salt.
First is astaxanthin. It’s a carotenoid pigment found in salmon, shrimp, yeast, and it’s what gives them a pink color. It’s used in the prevention of macular degeneration, but it’s also helpful in blocking coronavirus. As is vitamin C and an extract made from pelargonium sidoides, also known as African geranium.
Then there’s emodin, which comes from Japanese knot wood. Now, this is not the same emodin that comes from aloe. There’s Isatis indigotica, also not to be confused with isatis tinctoria. Like cistanche, it’s another herbal drug that’s used in traditional Chinese medicine.
There are quercitin and curcumin, both of which you should be familiar with. There’s EGCG, or epigallocatechin, which comes from green tea, and finally, there’s glycyrrhizin, which is the active ingredient in black licorice.
OK, so astaxanthin, vitamin C, and pelargonium sidoides have all been shown to increase the production and secretion of immunoglobulin A, or IgA, which is the first pathway and part of mucosal immunity.
The second pathway is to block viral entry into the cell by blocking the ACE2 receptor, and emodin, isatis indigotica, quercetin, curcumin, and glycyrrhizin have all been shown to help with this. The third pathway is to block viral replication within the cell.
Isatis indigotica, quercetin, curcumin, EGCG and glycyrrhizen can all help with that, and emodin and curcumin have been shown to help block the release of the virus from the cell.
When it comes to blocking the mast cells from releasing cytokines, emodin and quercetin have been shown to help, and isatis indigotica and curcumin have been shown to help with blocking the cytokine response and preventing the cytokine storm.
As far doses of these supplements go, Dr. Kaufmann didn’t address that, so we would just say go with the recommended daily dose. Be sure to exercise to boost your general immune system, wash your hand, wear masks, and practice social distancing.