by Dr. Gena Wilson (with Ben Fleisher, LAc)

Many of my patients, family members and friends have asked me about the coronavirus and how to stay healthy. Below are my responses to many of your questions and my thoughts on this new challenge.

Although the Coronavirus is new and can, in rare cases, cause serious complications, it is still just a virus. We have evolved with viruses and they are literally part of us. Our bodies are designed to meet this challenge but there are some helpful steps we can take to optimize our health and support our immune systems. So review my recommendations below, take precautions like social distancing, follow public health measures and help to slow down the spread of this bug. These measures are designed to avoid overwhelming the capacity of our healthcare system so we can take the best care possible of those who do get complications.

1) Keep the immune system healthy, inflammation low and give your lungs some love. This can reduce the risk for complications:

  • Drink 8-10 glasses of high-quality filtered or mineral water in glass bottles daily.
  • Avoid processed foods and sugar. Eat a nutrient dense diet including mostly vegetables, organic/ grass-fed meats, wild caught fish and fruit.
  • Try to eat all the colors of the rainbow daily with vegetables and fruit and especially go for the deep purple ones. Try new vegetables regularly and rotate them (don’t eat the same ones every day).
  • Make and regularly consume bone broth, chicken soup and vegetable broth and also have some extra in your freezer.
  • Keep all detox pathways (stooling, urinating, sweating, lymphatic flow) going.
  • Keep mucus membranes moist:
  • Stay well hydrated
  • Use a clean humidifier at night and during the day too if you have cold symptoms
  • Keep nasal passages clean and moist with either nasal saline spray 4-6 times per day, xylitol nasal spray 2-3 times per day or neti-pot with sterile water twice a day
  • Do a steam inhalation twice a day (boil water, let cool for a minute then pour into a bowl and put your face over the bowl with a towel over your head, inhale steam for several minutes)
  • Take a hot Epsom salt bath daily
  • If you vape, smoke cigarettes, cigars or marijuana, now is the time to find a healthier habit. For marijuana users, I recommend oral ingestion rather than smoking.

2) Vitamins and supplements to consider:

  • High-quality fish oils/Omega 3’s to decrease inflammation. I recommend:
    • Nordic Naturals Pro Omega 2,000 D – 2 caps twice a day
    • Nordic Naturals Omega 3 with Phospholipids
    • Nature Sage Omega 3’s (INSERT LINK)
    • Rosita raw cod liver oil
  • Other natural anti-inflammatories and anti-virals:
  • Resveratrol significantly inhibited MERS-CoV infection and prolonged cellular survival after virus infection. 1 ” I recommend
    resveratrol as part of your anti-viral supplements
    – Turmeric
    – SPM (Pro-resolving mediators)
    – Bioflavonoids like quercetin have anti-viral effects 2 and also boost Vitamin C absorption
    Immune helpers:
    Vitamin C
    – Echinacea
    Vitamin D3 with K2

3) Stress increases cortisol which suppresses the immune system 3 . Ways to de-stress:

  • Meditate – walking, guided or silent meditation
  • Exercise daily, even if it is only for 5-10 minutes – I recommend both cardio and muscle strengthening exercises, especially core
    strengthening. Some programs and apps I use to stay fit at home:
    • DoYogaWithMe:
    • SworkIt:
  • Sleep MORE (try low dose melatonin .3 – .5mg at night, this may work even if you’ve tried higher doses of melatonin in the past OR CBD oil at night)
  • Laugh! Laughter improves immune function so pull out the joke book, play with your kids or pets, try karaoke at home, be a goof
    ball and watch some stand-up comedy. 4
  • Make love or go solo: Orgasms boost the immune system 5 and reduce stress.
  • Practice gratitude, compassion and giving to your community (if you have stock piled supplies, think about sharing some with a neighbor in need).
  • Turn to the musicians, authors and artists for perspective and soul food: Listen to music, draw, read a great book or poetry, do
    anything that uses the right side of your brain. As one of my favorite authors Douglas Adams says (and this is now a daily mantra for
    me) “Don’t Panic!”.

4) What to do if you get sick:

  • Keep your mucus membranes moist (see above) and avoid all traditional over the counter cough and cold remedies which can dry
    mucus membranes
  • Call your primary care doctor
  • If you think you may have coronavirus or that you need to be tested, please contact the NY State Department of Health 888-364-
  • If you develop shortness of breath, you should be evaluated by a healthcare provider. Unless it is an absolute emergency, call ahead to the doctor “on call” or to the hospital where you are headed.
  • Most hospitals have Coronavirus specific hotlines:
  1. Health Alliance Hospital, Kingston: 845-331-3131 x 2411
  2. Columbia Memorial Hospital, Hudson: 518-828-824
  3. Northern Dutchess, Rhinebeck: 888-667-9262
  4. Vassar Brothers, Poughkeepsie: 888-667-9262

5) If you are on blood pressure medication:

  • If you are taking the blood pressures medicines ACE-inhibitors or ARBs (common names include ramipril, lisinopril or losartan) DO NOT discontinue them without consulting your physician, but do speak with them immediately about alternatives. There is some evidence that these types of blood pressure medication may increase the severity of COVID-19 symptoms should they occur.

1 Shih-Chao Lin, Chi-Tang Ho, Wen-Ho Chuo, Shiming Li, Tony T. Wang & Chi-Chen Lin; Effective Inhibition of MERS-CoV infection by Resveratrol. BMC Infectious Diseases volume 17, Article number: 144 (2017) 
2 Kaul TN, Middleton E Jr, Ogra PL. Anti-viral effect of flavonoids on human viruses. J Med Virol. 1985 Jan;15(1):71-9.
3 Segerstrom, SC & Miller, GE. Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry. Psychol Bull. 2004 July ; 130(4): 601–630.

Ben Fleisher