(Jamaica Gleaner) Tuesday, 28 January 2016
“It serves little purpose merely to be scared by viruses, but it serves a good deal of purpose to understand them.”
– Frank Ryan, MD
After dengue came chikV and now we have the Zika virus (ZIKV). Question: When will this trend end? Answer: never!
Viruses are very interesting and intelligent agents. Scientists are still debating whether they are living things. We need new ways of thinking about viruses and how we treat them. We underestimated chikV and hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans suffered, and we have only now begun to take ZIKV seriously when we discovered that it could cause babies of infected mothers to be born with abnormally small brains.
Consider this: Viruses can enter cells, break off sections of DNA or RNA, and blend them into their own genetic structure. They can then weave this new genetic material into other living organisms. Viruses are really vehicles for genetic exchange between the various species that make up life on Earth. Mankind’s interference with the environment has encouraged the transfer of viruses from animals to man, and even worse, some emerging viruses are actually man-made.
Because they can rapidly alter their structure, changing at will, vaccines against viruses take a long time to be developed and often quickly become ineffective. Viruses are not stupid, but we certainly are when we think them so. We must recognise that viruses are not what we first thought and must now learn to see them differently.
But we are not helpless against viruses as our bodies are equipped with a sophisticated organ, the immune system. When functioning effectively, this system can protect us from and deactivate harmful viruses.
Our first and foremost response to a viral threat should be to strengthen our immune system. I have written on many occasions on the many lifestyle changes that make the immune system stronger. And there are also specific agents that help the immune system and that can actually kill viruses.
The chemical name for vitamin C is ascorbic acid, a natural substance made by most animals that is essential to life and optimal health. A few species, including man, have lost their ability to make this vitamin and totally depend on vitamin C from their diet. Many people are going around with chronic vitamin C insufficiency, which weakens their immune system and makes them prone to infections.
VITAMIN C KILLS VIRUSES
Several researchers have stated that there has not been a single virus tested that is not destroyed when exposed to adequate concentrations of vitamin C. “I have not found any virus for which vitamin C does not exert a viridical effect as long as enough vitamin C reaches the virus,” says Dr Thomas Levy, author of Curing the Incurable: Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins.
Viruses already known to respond to vitamin C include polio, influenza, small pox, chikungunya, ebola, marburg, West Nile, bird flu, HIV, and herpes. I strongly believe that ZIKV will also respond.
Vitamin C has many ways to help the body overcome viruses. At a high enough concentration in the blood, vitamin C will directly inactivate viruses. During a viral infection, the immune system’s white blood cells quickly use up all the available vitamin C to make an important cellular antioxidant called glutathione. It also increases the production of the body’s antiviral medicine, interferon, and virus-killing hydrogen peroxide. Vitamin C also has its own anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, and antihistamine-like effects. It powerfully improves symptoms like pain, swelling, weakness, rash, and fever.
USING VITAMIN C
The trick is to get enough vitamin C into the body. Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables is very important as it contains many co-factors that help vitamin C work better. But food alone will not provide enough of the vitamin.
To prevent or treat viral infections like ZIKV, large doses of vitamin C are needed. This is most effectively done using vitamin C as a powder as each teaspoonful contains four or five gms. Start with half of a teaspoonful dissolved in juice every four hours at the first sign of an infection or even before if you feel at risk. You can slowly increase the amount and frequency of the amount of vitamin C or until you start having loose bowel movements. If that happens, cut back to a lower dose. Doctors call this technique “titrating to bowel tolerance”. By the way, vitamin C is very good for the unborn baby.
Intravenous vitamin C: More severe or complicated cases will benefit from vitamin C given by drip directly into the vein. This is a powerful treatment, administered by a doctor in the office or hospital. Professor Michael J. Gonzalez of the University of Puerto Rico, declares, “In our experience, IV vitamin C benefits all viral-suffering patients. We have used it successfully against dengue, chikungunya, and influenza.”
Plants who have inhabited planet Earth long before humans, had to learn how to live with viruses and not be destroyed by them. Just as there are natural antibiotics in the plant world, there are also effective anti-viral substances to be found there.
Many unique antiviral compounds have been identified from medicinal plants (herbs). Antiviral drugs are few and expensive, while natural compounds have minor side effects and are cheaper. Some top antiviral herbs include ginger, garlic, echinacea, astragalus, goldenseal, rosemary, green tea, sage, cat’s claw, black seed (black cumin), blood root, isatis, licorice, boneset, elderberry, olive leaf, medicinal mushrooms, ashwaganda, Pau D’arco, and St John’s Wort.
Other natural antiviral agents include ozone, colloidal silver, zinc, vitamin D, and selenium.