The Natural Immune System Versus COVID-19Thu 4:31 pm +01:00, 13 Aug 2020
Part 4 of Dr. Palmer’s Series on the Power of the Immune System and the Lifestyle that Supports It
In the first three parts of this series (Part One, Part Two, Part Three), we have addressed:
• The germ and terrain theories of disease
• Why COVID-19 has hit some people harder than others
• The reasons that infectious disease becomes deadly
• The historical explanation for the decline in mortality from infectious disease
• The myopic drug-based agenda for COVID-19
• The shunning of nutritional science
• The miracle of the amazing human immune system
• The scientific basis for the effectiveness of nutritional compounds
Now let’s examine the components of the immune system and power of natural compounds and a healthy lifestyle in strengthening and maintaining an effective immune response.
A healthy immune response is layered
The immune system consists of 2-parts: The “innate” and the “adaptive” portions of the immune system. The innate immune system is the part that we as individuals can either fortify or destroy by our daily habits and lifestyle. It is the first part of the immune system to the fight when exposed to a pathogen. The innate immune system includes various types of white blood cells like phagocytes (macrophages, mast cells, etc.) and monocytes, the various neutrophils (like eosinophils, basophils, natural killer cells) that destroy infected host cells, as well as another kind of neutrophil called dendritic cells. Then there are various proteins released by these cells, that act as cell signaling messengers coordinating the attack on an invader. All of these players team up to destroy, engulf or digest the foreign or pathogenic invader. B cells and T (Thymus) cells, both lymphocytes, have several important roles within the innate immune system. Some of these cells are also involved in the activation of the second arm of the immune system, the adaptive immune system.
The adaptive immune system kicks in a few days after the infection begins producing antibodies to join the fight. It is truly remarkable how all of this is orchestrated! And, if the person is exposed to the same virus at a later date, it will recognize that virus and produce antibodies to help the innate immune system fend off the attacker. Although this part of the immune system is not as influenced by lifestyle, diet and supplementation to the same extent as the Innate immune system, those lifestyle components are still influential.
We know that just like with influenza, COVID-19 affects certain people with greater voracity. This is largely due to the fact that their innate immune system is compromised. This is true in the elderly, those on chemotherapy and in people with co-morbidities like obesity, diabetes and heart disease to name a few. In addition, co-morbidities of chronic disease cause high levels of systemic inflammation, which predisposes those individuals to a “cytokine storm,” causing the out of control inflammation and the clotting issues, which in some cases leads to death.
Will infection from COVID-19 impart a lasting immune response?
With COVID-19, we know that a large percentage of people get infected but display little or no symptoms. This is an example of a healthy immune response! The beauty of getting the infection and fighting it off is that once you fully recover, you will have natural antibodies to help protect you from the same virus should you be exposed again. Your memory T-cells, a part of the innate immune system have also memorized the virus and will be ready to respond.
One of the arguments from the nay-sayers is, “we really don’t know how long the antibody levels will last” or, “not everybody develops a strong antibody response.” While that may be true to some extent, the fact that the immune defense is not solely dependent on antibodies is never discussed. In light of this fact, new studies show great promise for a lasting immune response. Consider this study from May 27th 2020, titled Different pattern of pre-existing SARS-COV-2 specific T cell immunity in SARS-recovered and uninfected individuals:
(Note: NP = Nucleocapsid protein, a part of the coronavirus. SARS refers to SARS-CoV-1, the first SARS outbreak from 2003. Also, italicized words are mine).
Key points from this study:
• Memory T cells induced by previous infections can influence the course of new viral infections.
• The presence of CD4 and CD8 T cells recognizing multiple regions of the NP protein was demonstrated. We then show that SARS-recovered patients (n=23 people), 17 years after the 2003 outbreak, still possess long-lasting memory T cells reactive to SARS-NP, which displayed robust cross-reactivity to SARSCoV-2 NP. (that number of 23 people represented 100% of those in the study that previously had a SARS-CoV-1 infection in 2003).
• Thus, infection with betacoronaviruses induces strong and long-lasting T cell immunity to the structural protein NP.
• These findings demonstrate that virus-specific memory T cells induced by betacoronanvirus infection are long-lasting, which supports the notion that COVID-19 patients would develop long-term T cell immunity.
• Furthermore, our findings also raise the intriguing possibility that infection with related viruses can also protect from or modify the pathology caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection.
If you absorb those bulleted excerpts, you can see that this is very significant in the COVID-19 discussion regarding immunity to the infection. And, even though enough time hasn’t elapsed for us to know how long CoV-2 antibodies will remain, this study provides a good rebuttal to the idea that a vaccine is necessary for us to move on from COVID-19. It also proves that when we consider herd immunity and the contribution to that goal by the percentage of people that have had COVID-19, we must also calculate the numbers of people that have Innate Immune Protection from COVID-19 in addition to those that have a strong antibody response as part of the overall group. And it appears that number is very significant indeed! This is why only looking at antibody testing is such an incomplete picture. As we learn more about how the immune system is reacting to SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19), we are realizing that there are ways to gain protection other than only by the adaptive immune system that produces antibodies, to which the COVID-19 antibody tests are limited.
Underlying co-morbidities prime immune vulnerability
For those individuals who are elderly or living with co-morbidities like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, immune deficiency disorders, cancer, respiratory diseases, autoimmune disease, those taking certain medications, the poorly nourished consuming low nutrient dense foods deficient in vitamins and minerals and not supplementing to offset those deficiencies, supporting a healthy immune and anti-inflammatory response is vitally important. But it is also essential that you work on your personal health challenges. A nutritional approach will help reduce your chances of severe adverse consequences from an infection like COVID-19, but until you achieve corrective changes to your underlying co-morbidities, you will still have a level of higher risk.
As just one example, people who carry a disproportionate amount of body fat (adipose tissue) are already primed for trouble because adipose tissue causes a large amount of systemic inflammation, even contributing to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. And visceral fat, which is the internal fat around the organs is particularly pro-inflammatory and highly predictive of Metabolic Syndrome, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Those individuals are “primed” for a superinfection and cytokine storm because the body is already on fire, so to speak.
Research abounds on the power of natural compounds
In addition to emphasizing a healthy diet and daily exercise, mountains of evidence from scientific journals about dozens of nutritional compounds that have protective benefits, such as vitamin C, zinc, and probiotics, support the efficacy of nutritional supplementation. To detail them is beyond the scope of this article, however, perhaps the most important is Vitamin D. A contemporary report about COVID-19 titled, The Role of Vitamin D in Suppressing Cytokine Storm in COVID-19 Patients and Associated Mortality, released on April 30, 2020 by a team of researchers from Northwestern University and Boston Medical Center compared vitamin D status of people from countries all over the world and cross referenced it with death rates from COVID-19. One of the key take-aways was summarized by study author, Dr. Vadim Backman: “Our analysis shows that it might be as high as cutting the mortality rate in half . . . It will not prevent a patient from contracting the virus, but it may reduce complications and prevent death in those who are infected.”
Over 30 research papers suggest people with adequate vitamin D levels are significantly protected from severe complications due to influenza, various respiratory viruses and even from Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) as compared to those with vitamin D deficiency. This bodes well for protection against COVID-19 as well. Tens of thousands of scientific articles on the efficacy of natural compounds on immune health can be found on PubMed, yet, they are seemingly non-existent in this current debate. That needs to change. Does taking these compounds guarantee that you won’t get sick? No, but it may reduce the chances and if you do get infected and develop symptoms, it gives your body the best possible fighting chance to mount the most effective response possible, without over reacting leading to the dangerous cytokine storm. That way you have a much greater chance of a course of illness that is milder and of shorter duration. Your natural immune system is a powerful force when cared for well.
Dr. Palmer’s free eBook 1200 Studies – Truth Will Prevail, now 730 pages long, includes over 1400 published studies – authored by thousands of scientists and researchers – that contradict what officials are telling the public about vaccine safety and efficacy. It has easy search and navigation features including links to article abstracts and studies on PubMed or the source journal that make it an invaluable research and reference tool. Download it free at www.1200studies.com