Autumn Armour

Time to fortify your immune system.

Sydney’s smokey summer has drawn to a close, fires finally out, in part due to exceptionally heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding. As basements dry out we find ourselves starting Autumn feeling rather soggy and low in vitamin sun. Not the best warm-up for our immune systems in the face of Covid-19.

Now really is the time to fortify your immune-system, and I don’t mean locking yourself in your house with hoarded toilet paper. Here are four things you can do today to scale-up your defences.

SLEEP
Go to bed earlier. It is during sleep that we “recharge”. Turn off your devices and plug yourself in instead.

STRENGTHEN YOUR LUNGS
Activities that promote slower, deeper breaths, such as swimming and Qi Gong, promote the strength and function of the Lungs specifically, and the body generally. This is important, because in Chinese medical theory, Lung function is a major component of Wei Qi production, which could be roughly translated as the immune system’s first line of defence.
Strong Lungs are always essential for resisting communicable diseases, however, SARS-CoV-2 is known to target and damage the Lungs, therefore taking steps to fortify the Lungs, now, is all the more prudent.

Please click on the link below to a tutorial of Qi Gong for the Lungs by renowned Chinese Medical Scholar Peter Deadman.

Qi Gong for the Lungs instructed by Peter Deadman

BATHE IN SUNSHINE
Vitamin D is known to modulate both innate and adaptive immune responses. This is in part due to the associated receptors for Vitamin D being found in various white blood cells [1].

While it is possible to take oral Vitamin D supplements, the primary source of vitamin D is not a nutritional one, rather it synthesised in the skin cells when the skin is exposed to UVB rays in sunlight. Owing to the diminished ozone layer over the sunburnt country, the best time to do this is before 10 am. The more skin you can expose the better, keeping in mind the modesty of your neighbours.

HAVE A ZINC ‘n TONIC
Allow me to get nerdy for a moment. SARS-CoV-2 has been identified as a positive stranded RNA virus. Studies of other corona viruses have demonstrated that “Increased intracellular Zn2+ concentrations are known to efficiently impair replication of a number of RNA viruses, e.g. by interfering with correct proteolytic processing of viral polyproteins.” [2]. In other words, in laboratory experiments, the mechanism that such viruses need to replicate is impaired when cells have abundant zinc.

While it is not reasonable to say that what happens in a petri dish is equivalent to what happens in humans, it may again be prudent to ensure you are getting upwards of your minimum recommended daily intake of zinc. 40mg per day of zinc is seen to be the upper tolerable limit for short-term zinc supplementation [3].

Seafoods, especially oysters, are high in zinc. The next best sources are protein rich foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and nuts [3]. Fortified breakfast cereals and zinc supplements are also widely available.

At the time of writing, it is not clear to me which form of zinc supplement is most effective, however, a 2014 study found that chloroquine (an antimalarial medicine related to quinine) markedly enhanced zinc uptake by cells [4]. In recent weeks, chloroquine has been used in China and Korea to treat cases of Covid-19. The results, while not yet properly clinically tested, are positive [5].

There is a modicum of quinine in genuine tonic water, so I can’t say that your Z’nT will keep Covid-19 at bay, but if you drank a couple of litres of tonic water per day, maybe more zinc will get into your cells (where it is needed)- otherwise you will need a script for chloroquine.

If performing Qi Gong naked in the morning sun is not for you, you can always book in for an acupuncture treatment.

  1. Drake, V.J., Immunity In Depth, Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University. August 2010. (Reviewed July 2016 by Gombart, A.F.) [cited March 12, 2020] Available at: https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/immunity#micronutrients
  2. te Velthuis, A.J.W., van den Worm, S.H.E., Sims, A.C., Baric, R.S., Snijder, E.J., van Hemert, M.J., Zn2+ Inhibits Coronavirus and Arterivirus RNA Polymerase Activity In Vitro and Zinc Ionophores Block the Replication of These Viruses in Cell Culture, PLOS Pathogens, 2010 Nov; 6(11): e1001176. San Francisco, California, USA. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2973827/  
  3. Higdon, J., Zinc, Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University. 2001. Updated February 2019 by Delage, B. [cited March 12, 2020] Available at: https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/zinc
  4. Wue, J., Moyer, A., Peng, B., Wu, J., Hannafon, B.N., Ding, W-Q., Chloroquine Is a Zinc Ionophore, PLOS Pathogens, 2014; 9(10): e109180. San Francisco, California, USA. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4182877/
  5. Gao, J., Tian, Z., Yang, X., Breakthrough: Chloroquine phosphate has shown apparent efficacy in treatment of COVID-19 associated pneumonia in clinical studies, March 2020 [cited March 12, 2020], International Research and Cooperation Association for Bio & Socio-Sciences Advancement, Japan Science and Technology Agency. Available at: https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/bst/advpub/0/advpub_2020.01047/_article/-char/ja/

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