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List of Personal Things You Can Do to Stay Well in a Time of CoVID19:

Rupa Marya, MD
Mar 14 · 4 min read

These recommendations are a combination of common sense, evidence-based practice and traditional indigenous knowledge. I’m a physician working in the hospital on the frontline of CoVID19 response in San Francisco at UCSF, married to a regenerative organic farmer with two sons living in Ohlone Territory.

+ Get solid sleep each night (7–8 hours)

+ Gargle warm salt water twice a day. It makes the mucosa at the back of your mouth less hospitable to viral visitors

+ Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day

+ If you have a humidifier use it properly (clean every day). Viruses have a harder time when ambient air has 40% humidity.

+ Easy on the dehydrating things like too much coffee

+ Make foods with immune boosters — garlic, ginger, turmeric, parsley, thyme, sage, bone broth if omnivore

+Elderberry syrup (I read the study on the blood of 12 people and how elderberry syrup applied directly to monocytes induced pro-inflammatory cytokine production. I don’t see this as evidence to not take this powerfully protective medicine.)

+Unclear impact of ibuprofen. It may be wise to avoid NSAIDS (ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, naprosyn) and use acetaminophen/paracetamol (tylenol) instead during the pandemic.

+ Increase the ZINC in your diet: chickpeas, almonds, cashews, lentils, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, oatmeal

+ Eliminate all booze (it depresses the immune system)

+ Don’t smoke (it comprises your respiratory system’s defenses)

+ If you have underlying lung disease consider taking Ashwagandha for the next two months (not if pregnant, with thyroid issues or autoimmune disease)

+Get some good time outdoors each day, get the sun on your bare skin to activate Vitamin D

+Dig up your yard. Plant your own garden. Start some seeds. Check out Johnny’s for great veggie seeds. Local nurseries are selling starts as essential services. Get them in the ground. Our food system future is not certain.

+Take high dose Vitamin C during the course of the pandemic. If you are prone to kidney stones, consider adding fresh lemon juice from two lemons with copious water to your daily routine

+There is some early data that melatonin may mitigate widespread inflammation like we see in this illness. Consider adding daily 5mg melatonin at night, which can help you get that 8 hours of sleep.

+ Express appreciation out loud to the earth who supports you and your loved ones who love you

+ Sing outloud, expands lung capacity and the stimulation of the vagal nerve can calm your body’s overdrive from stress

+ Hold your kids close. They are awesome and won’t be small forever. Even as we are financially challenged, try to see this moment of them being close as a gift

+ Call your mom if you can and tell her you’re grateful for her

+ Check in on elders. Do their shopping for them so they don’t have to be in public. Drop off groceries for them. No visiting in person. Help them up for video chat to help them with isolation.

+ No gatherings. No sleepovers. No playdates. Stay within your germ biome (your household and those in it).

+ Namaste. No hugs or Hi5.

+ Wash Your Hands, Don’t Touch Your Face

+ Advocate for EMERGENCY MEDICARE FOR ALL now so that no one is left out and everyone is going to get what they need to be safe.

+ Advocate for taking over vacant housing and units for the purpose of sheltering and separating the unhoused. CoVID19 running through an encampment would be a nightmare for all of us.

Your healthcare workers are here for you. We are going to be OK. Please make sure the most vulnerable (folks over 60, unhoused folks, poor folks who cannot hoard and those with chronic illness) are covered with food, shelter and access to soap and water.

Here are some studies that inform my thinking, if you’d like to read more:

Besedovsky, Luciana, Tanja Lange, and Jan Born. “Sleep and immune function.” Pflügers Archiv-European Journal of Physiology 463.1 (2012): 121–137.

Bryant, Penelope A., John Trinder, and Nigel Curtis. “Sick and tired: does sleep have a vital role in the immune system?.” Nature Reviews Immunology 4.6 (2004): 457–467.

Ouyang, Yanli, et al. “Suppression of human IL-1β, IL-2, IFN-γ, and TNF-α production by cigarette smoke extracts.” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 106.2 (2000): 280–287.

MacGregor, Rob Roy. “Alcohol and immune defense.” Jama256.11 (1986): 1474–1479.

Ramalingam, Sandeep, et al. “A pilot, open labelled, randomised controlled trial of hypertonic saline nasal irrigation and gargling for the common cold.” Scientific reports 9.1 (2019): 1–11.

Emamian, Mohammad Hassan, Ali Mohammad Hassani, and Mansooreh Fateh. “Respiratory tract infections and its preventive measures among Hajj pilgrims, 2010: a nested case control study.” International journal of preventive medicine 4.9 (2013): 1030.

Alspach, Grif. “Extending the tradition of giving thanks recognizing the health benefits of gratitude.” (2009): 12–18.

Zakay-Rones, Z., et al. “Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections.” Journal of International Medical Research 32.2 (2004): 132–140.

Fancourt, Daisy, et al. “Singing modulates mood, stress, cortisol, cytokine and neuropeptide activity in cancer patients and carers.” ecancermedicalscience 10 (2016).

Tiwari, Ruchi, et al. “Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): Role in safeguarding health, immunomodulatory effects, combating infections and therapeutic applications: A review.” J Biol Sci14.2 (2014): 77–94.

Kudo, Eriko, et al. “Low ambient humidity impairs barrier function and innate resistance against influenza infection.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116.22 (2019): 10905–10910

Noti, John D., et al. “High humidity leads to loss of infectious influenza virus from simulated coughs.” PloS one 8.2 (2013).

Rupa Marya, MD

Written by

Physician, Artist, Activator for Health Equity

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