Although statistics show that people over the age of 65 have an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and dying from complications due to underlying conditions, it appears that it has more to do with nutritional status than age alone. It’s true that the older we get, the more nutritional deficiencies we may have, primarily because of poor dietary choices throughout life.

Unfortunately, nutrition is often overlooked in favor of pharmaceuticals and other medical interventions. But diet plays a critical role in fortifying the immune system and in helping the body fight off and overcome infections such as COVID-19.


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Viruses are one of the oldest organisms on Earth. They consist simply of a protein envelope and nucleic acids, which renders them unable to replicate outside of a host.  Some viruses, such as influenza, can both rearrange compatible genes and mutate on a regular basis in order to remain invisible.[1] 

Interestingly, the main benefit of herbs is their working relationship with our own innate ability to ward off pathogens, such as viruses. This in part is what makes herbal medicine so unique. Although herbs provide some direct anti-viral activity, they primarily act in a non-specific, adaptive manner.


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In the attempt to tame the COVID-19 virus, scientists around the world are working to understand how the disease is spread and how best to approach prevention and treatment. But with the avalanche of information we’re presented with every day, it’s easy to come away with more questions than answers. 

There are a couple of recent findings that stand out as particularly important. One relates to the method of transmission, and the other to individual susceptibility to the disease.


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The distribution of community outbreaks of the current global pandemic shows seasonal patterns associated with latitude, temperature, and humidity, which is similar to the behavior of seasonal viral respiratory tract infections.[1]

The seasonality of many viral infections is associated with a lack of sunlight, which results in low 25(OH)D concentrations and an uptick in diseases such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection.[2],[3],[4] While it’s obvious that winter in temperate climates interferes with sufficient exposure to ultra violet rays, the rainy season in tropical climates also results in low UVB exposure.


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“The greater the suffering, the greater God’s love is bestowed onto you.” Padre Pio

People have been increasingly distancing themselves from each other, even before this horrific pandemic hit. Years ago, in an interview with Self magazine, I was asked what I thought the number one contributor was to our poor health. My answer then was the same as it is now—a lack of intimacy. We’re losing the quality and ability to relate, not just to each other, but to our environment and Nature. For example, people go for walks, but instead of quietly connecting with nature, many are focused on their phones. People at my gym walk around with earbuds in and don’t make eye contact with each other. We are lonely, and most of us don’t even know it. With the sudden onset of COVID-19, we’ve isolated even more. Meanwhile, the opportunity to be present and in tune with our surroundings and each other exists every day. Even if we are physically distant, our deep presence can make even the briefest or seemingly small encounters more lasting and meaningful.


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Health Optimization and Adaptogens – An Effective Strategy Against Pathogens

In general, I am astonished by how little attention is placed on the value and importance of good health in our society. In the face of the current pandemic, with underlying co-morbidities present in an estimated 60% of the population, increasing the risk of death from complications, there is an even greater urgency to educate our communities and urge our citizens to adopt the key components to optimal health. For example, there is now a clear association between diabetes and increased mortality and severity in COVID-19 pneumonia, and ocular symptoms of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‐CoV‐2).[1] These and many other underlying conditions can be successfully managed by applying the fundamental building blocks to optimal health and wellness, which include nutrition, botanical medicine, lifestyle, and diet. The more robust our health at the molecular, cellular, and organ system levels, the better equipped we are to resist and recover from disease.


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