Paper summarizing antiviral evidence for botanical ingredients becomes global touchstone

Paper summarizing antiviral evidence for botanical ingredients becomes global touchstone

  • January 22, 2021

The review, titled Botanical drugs and supplements affecting the immune response in the time of COVID‐19: Implications for research and clinical practice,​ was published in the journal Phytotherapy Research ​at the end of December.  Since then, it has become a go-to resource for many around the world, one of the authors told NutraIngredients-USA.

“I was just informed by the editor that it is among the most accessed papers they’ve published,” ​said Thomas Brendler, PhD, who is the paper’s corresponding author.

Summary of evidence for broad array of ingredients

The paper summarizes what’s known about the many botanical ingredients that have some evidence for antiviral effects.  Those ingredients categories include echinacea, elderberry, curcumin, licorice, a suite of herbal adaptogens and a specific herbal finished product from longtime German herbal medicine manufacturer Schwabe Group.

The review also includes research done on fungal ingredients, whether those derive from the fruiting bodies or the mycelium.  While this is an important distinction, the paper notes ingredients that derive from these sources often fly the common flag of ‘medicinal mushrooms.’

The authors noted that the body’s immune system is a complicated feedback loop that does not admit to simple, one-stop-shop answers for ‘boosting immunity.’  There are multiple modes of action for the body to recognize invaders, and several ways the immune system can mobilize a response, they noted.

In each case, the authors noted both the strengths and weaknesses of information supporting antiviral effects for these substances.  It’s what makes the review such a valuable addition to the debate about how herbal ingredients ought to be promoted during this turbulent time, said consultant Steven Dentali, PhD, who is the former chief science officer of the American Herbal Products Association.

Get a Good Night's Sleep Before Your COVID Vaccine

Get a Good Night’s Sleep Before Your COVID Vaccine

  • January 20, 2021

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 20, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Want to get the most out of your COVID-19 vaccine? Make sure you get some good rest before you get your shot, sleep experts say.

That’s because adequate sleep is an important factor in a strong immune system.

“As COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed, it is of utmost importance that patients continue to prioritize their sleep to maintain optimal health,” American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) president Dr. Kannan Ramar said in an academy news release. “Getting sufficient, high-quality sleep on a regular basis strengthens your body’s immune system and optimizes your response to a vaccine.”

Several studies have found an association between sleep and vaccination response. For example, a 2020 study in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine found that flu vaccines appear to be more effective in people who get a sufficient amount of sleep during the two nights prior to receiving the shot. Other studies have reported similar findings about patients’ response to vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B.

Dr. Khurshid Khurshid is director of the UMMHC/UMMS Center for Neuromodulation at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, in Westborough, Mass. He said, “The role of sleep in boosting innate and acquired immune response is significant. All people, particularly health workers, should be aware of the immunity-boosting effects of sleep. Studies have shown that normal sleep after vaccination strengthens the immune response against an invading antigen, and this immunity-boosting effect of sleep is clinically significant.”

So, Khurshid added in the news release, “A good night’s sleep before and after vaccination could be very advantageous.”

Most adults should sleep at least seven hours a night, but the COVID-19 pandemic has harmed many Americans’ sleep, a recent AASM survey found.

One-third of respondents said their sleep quality has been affected, 30% have had changes in their ability to fall asleep, and 29% reported an impact on their nightly amount of sleep.

The AASM offered tips for getting a good night’s sleep:

  • Establish a bedtime and morning routine. Use the bedroom only for sleeping, not watching TV or reading. Keep your bedroom quiet, dark and a bit cool.
  • Restrict blue light exposure before bed by turning off your TV and other electronic devices 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime. Silence notifications and charge your devices away from your bed so you’re not tempted to look at social media or news alerts.
  • Limit alcohol, caffeine and large meals before bedtime. If you’re hungry after dinner, limit yourself to small, sugar-free and easily digestible snacks to avoid disrupting sleep.


More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19 vaccines.

SOURCE: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, news release

WebMD News from HealthDay

Copyright © 2013-2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Physical Activity for Improving the Immune System of Older Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Traditional foods with their constituent’s antiviral and immune system modulating properties

  • January 19, 2021

This article was originally published here

Heliyon. 2021 Jan;7(1):e05957. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2021.e05957. Epub 2021 Jan 14.


BACKGROUND: Viruses are responsible for several diseases, including severe acute respiratory syndrome, a condition caused by today’s pandemic coronavirus disease (COVID-19). A negotiated immune system is a common risk factor for all viral infections, including COVID-19. To date, no specific therapies or vaccines have been approved for coronavirus. In these circumstances, antiviral and immune boosting foods may ensure protection against viral infections, especially SARS-CoV-2 by reducing risk and ensuring fast healing of SARS-CoV-2 illness.

SCOPE AND APPROACH: In this review, we have conducted an online search using several search engines (Google Scholar, PubMed, Web of Science and Science Direct) to find out some traditional foods (plant, animal and fungi species), which have antiviral and immune-boosting properties against numerous viral infections, particularly coronaviruses (CoVs) and others RNA-virus infections. Our review indicated some foods to be considered as potential immune enhancers, which may help individuals to overcome viral infections like COVID-19 by modulating immune systems and reducing respiratory problems. Furthermore, this review will provide information regarding biological properties of conventional foods and their ingredients to uphold general health.

KEY FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS: We observed some foods with antiviral and immune-boosting properties, which possess bioactive compounds that showed significant antiviral properties against different viruses, particularly RNA viruses such as CoVs. Interestingly, some antiviral and immune-boosting mechanisms were very much similar to the antiviral drug of COVID-19 homologous SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus). The transient nature and the devastating spreading capability of COVID-19 lead to ineffectiveness of many curative therapies. Therefore, body shielding and immune-modulating foods, which have previous scientific recognition, have been discussed in this review to discern the efficacy of these foods against viral infections, especially SARS-CoV-2.

PMID:33462562 | PMC:PMC7806454 | DOI:10.1016/j.heliyon.2021.e05957

COVID-19 cross-protection? When vaccines provide 'bonus' protection against other diseases

COVID-19 cross-protection? When vaccines provide ‘bonus’ protection against other diseases

  • January 19, 2021

Those of us who avoided COVID-19 over the past year may be somewhat surprised to learn there’s a good chance we’ve already been infected by at least one coronavirus.

They’re thought to be behind up to a third of all common colds. And intriguingly, evidence emerged last year that suggested people who were previously exposed to a common cold coronavirus might have some protection against COVID-19.

So could this cross-protection go the other way? Might the COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out now also cause a dip in seasonal coronaviruses?

While it’s too early to tell, it’s possible. But perhaps not in the way you’d think.

How colds may boost COVID-19 immunity

First, it’s worth looking at how vaccines generate an immune response, and how they compare to real infections.

Vaccines use parts of viruses or bacteria to train what’s called our adaptive immune system.

This part of our immune system protects us against specific microbes. It primarily involves molecules, called antibodies, that neutralise an invading pathogen.

In the case of COVID-19 vaccines, antibodies are made against the virus’s spike protein, which the virus uses to worm its way into our cells.

Your body needs quite a lot of energy to manufacture antibodies, so — ideally — vaccines also establish a few pathogen-specific immune cells called memory T cells and B cells that hang around long after the initial burst of antibodies has waned.

If a pathogen shows up again, T and B cells spring into action, once again churning out antibodies and eliminating infected cells.

When it comes to contracting an actual coronavirus infection, your body produces an immune response to many parts of the virus — not just its spike proteins.

For instance, they might also produce antibodies against other proteins embedded in the coronavirus’s fatty protective layer.

This means that if another coronavirus — perhaps SARS-CoV-2 — shares these proteins, you might have some level of immunity against it as well.

Might COVID vaccines protect against other coronaviruses?

If they do, it’s unlikely that antibodies generated by jabs will play a role, says Kirsty Short, a virologist at the University of Queensland.

A non-COVID coronavirus would need spike proteins to be incredibly similar to those on SARS-CoV-2 for antibodies to recognise and destroy them.

Antibodies latch onto viruses like a lock and key. If the virus protein key is the wrong size or shape for the antibody lock, nothing happens.

But there is a chance that T cell immunity might step up against other coronaviruses. That’s because for them, the shape of a viral protein isn’t quite as important. They recognise smaller bits of viral proteins in the form of short chains of amino acids, or linear peptides.

“Some of those peptides are shared between seasonal coronaviruses and SARS-CoV-2,” Dr Short says.

And while measuring antibody levels from a blood test is relatively straightforward, it’s not as easy to find out what T cells get up to after a COVID-19 jab.

“In terms of T cell responses, they become a little bit more complex,” Dr Short says.

“The type of peptides that my T cells present to the immune system are going to be different to the type of peptides that your T cells will present.

“That just relates to individual genetic differences.”

Shoring up our first line of defence

There is another way vaccines can boost our immune response against other diseases.

The adaptive immune system is just one part of our immune system. We also have our innate immune system.

It’s our first line of immune defence and responds faster than the adaptive immune system, but it doesn’t target specific pathogens. It goes for all of them.

So if you scrape your knee, your innate immune system quickly produces molecules and recruits and activates immune cells to the area to destroy any bacteria or viruses in the wound.

And for a long time, researchers thought immune system memory, involving B and T cells, was solely part of the adaptive immune system.

But in recent years, scientists have found our innate immune system also has an element of memory.

This is called “trained immunity“, and some vaccines trigger this memory response, Dr Short says.

“Mostly, it’s live vaccines that seem to do it, like the MMR vaccine and live polio vaccine.”

It’s a concept being explored by Nigel Curtis, paediatric infectious diseases physician and scientist at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

He and his team are running an international clinical trial to determine if the tuberculosis vaccine — called Bacillus Calmette-Guérin or BCG — can help protect against severe COVID-19 in healthcare workers.

The BCG vaccine contains live but weakened bacteria that stimulate the immune system, but without causing disease.

A hand in a blue glove holding a small brown vial
The BCG vaccine was developed from a bacterium called Mycobacterium bovis, which is similar to the bug that causes tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis.(ABC News)

While it helps prevent tuberculosis, it also protects against a wide range of other diseases.

And it’s only in the past decade that immunologists have unpicked some of the mechanisms behind it.

Very simply, the BCG vaccine induces metabolic changes in some of the cells involved in the innate immune system, and this affects how they express certain genes.

Overall, it means your innate immune response better deals with any subsequent infections, Professor Curtis says.

“The idea is that you have BCG, and you induce these changes, then when you get infected with SARS-CoV-2, your response to that virus or any virus — because it’s completely agnostic to pathogen — is stronger than it would be in someone who hadn’t previously had BCG.”

Because it’s a general enhancement, it’s not technically cross-protection, and the BCG vaccine should not considered a replacement for COVID-19 vaccines, he adds.

Instead, it’s something that may stop you from becoming severely ill, should you be infected.

The goal of the work is to pinpoint the specific compounds that induce trained immunity.

“What we want to do is find out exactly what those key components are and, once we do that, we can make something that’s perhaps better than BCG — something you’d give to everybody to induce a better immune response early or even later on in life,” Professor Curtis says.

Cross-protection and HPV

One vaccine that granted some cross-protection was the human papillomavirus or HPV jab.

Of the more-than-200 HPV strains, around 40 are sexually transmitted. Two of those strains, 16 and 18, cause more than 70 per cent of cervical cancers worldwide.

Australia kicked off its HPV vaccination program in 2007 with the Gardasil vaccine, which vaccinated against types 16 and 18, as well as 6 and 11 — strains that don’t cause cancer, but are responsible for around 90 per cent of genital warts.

Suzanne Garland, a clinical microbiologist, sexual health physician and director of the Women’s Centre for Infectious Diseases in Melbourne, led a team that assessed HPV prevalence in Australian women eight years after the rollout started.

As well as finding Gardasil prevented HPV 16 and 18 infection, they also found vaccinated women were far less likely to be infected by a further three cancer-causing HPV strains when compared to unvaccinated counterparts.

Those additional strains were genetically similar to those targeted by the vaccine. Types 31 and 33 were much like 16, while 45 was close to 18.

Professor Garland calls this cross-protection a “bonus”, but why it happened in some women and not others isn’t clear.

The latest generation HPV vaccine, Gardasil 9, covers nine high-risk strains — including 16, 18, 31, 33 and 45 — which are responsible for 93 per cent of cervical cancers.

It was only introduced to the National Immunisation Program in 2018, “so it’s important that women who were vaccinated as schoolgirls have regular cervical screenings, because … you’re still at risk of infection and disease for the types not covered by the vaccine”, Professor Garland says.

The Best Wellness Drinks For Every Type Of Health Concern

The Best Wellness Drinks For Every Type Of Health Concern

  • January 19, 2021

Gone are the days when functional beverages looked like caffeinated energy shots or sports performance drinks laden with sugar. From aphrodisiac elixirs to calming CBD-infused spritzers; bubbly water with immune-boosting adaptogens to non-carbonated water designed to encourage sleep—now seemingly every health condition has a solution in drink form. They’re known as functional beverages—drinks that include an added boost nutrition—and they’re seriously buzzing.

With greater awareness of the negative health outcomes of COVID-19 for people with compromised immune systems and weight-related conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes, 43% of Americans are resolving to adopt healthier diets this year, according to a YouGov survey. Liquids are an obvious place to start—Alcohol Change UK estimates over 6.5 million people are abstaining from drinking alcohol for Dry January. Even before the pandemic, interest in sugary juices and pop soda drinks has been gradually declining, while water consumption is up.

But abstinence isn’t enough to satisfy our thirst for both flavorful drinks and better health. In the wake of the pandemic, consumers are drinking up the functional beverage trend—over half of adults surveyed by The Hartman Group last year reported using beverages to treat or prevent a specific condition and maintain overall health.

With their physical convenience, shelf-stability and ease of consumption, it’s no surprise the functional beverage industry is the fastest growing market in the food sector, according to ScienceDirect. Given that the plant-based beverage market is expected to exceed a value of $33 billion by 2026, it looks like functional drinks are a trend that’s here to stay.

Whether you’re seeking a non-alcoholic happy hour replacement, a remedy for an ongoing health issue or simply craving a drink that offers more than hydration, here are 11 functional beverages you’ll want to sip on well beyond Dry January.

For Relaxation:

Sweet Reason Evening Blend

The CBD beverage brand known for their relaxing alcohol alternatives launched the Evening Blend collection late last year to offer some calm amidst the stress of 2020. The bubbly drink—available in Peach Jasmine, Plum Blush and Citrus Spice—is packed with adaptogens and botanicals known to relieve stress, like Ashwagandha, ginseng, L-Theanine and chamomile. But what really sets the Evening Blend apart is its 30mg dose of broad spectrum hemp CBD, making it one of the highest dosed CBD drinks on the market.

For Immunity Protection:

Wild Wonder Guava Rose

Wild Wonder founder Rosa Li was inspired to make a functional drink that prioritizes the gut from watching her grandmother in China brew stomach-soothing tonics to boost immunity. The Guava Rose contains both probiotics and prebiotic plant fiber—the two crucial components to balancing the gut microbiome—plus elderberry and chicory root for extra immune support. Made with maple syrup instead of sugar, California lemons and pink guava puree sourced from organic and sustainable farms, this bestseller is refreshing without being too sweet.

For Sleep:

Drift Well

This non-carbonated, zero-calorie, sugar-free drink contains 200mg of L-theanine and 10% of the recommended daily dose of magnesium, two ingredients known to relax the body. The idea for the enhanced water came from an internal competition among Pepsi employees. But with the pandemic increasing insomnia cases across the United States, it was an idea that PepsiCo took seriously. The fastest new product to ever come out of the company has a subtle blackberry lavender flavor and is strategically designed in small 7.5-ounce cans to prevent bathroom trips mid-sleep.

For Skin Support:

Flow Collagen-Infused Water

This award-winning water brand’s newest collagen-infused water combines the natural alkaline spring water they’re known for with 10 grams of grass-fed bovine collagen protein to support skin, hair, nail and joint health. The 100% recyclable carton made with over 75% renewable materials keeps this nourishing drink fresh for up to 13-months. Blood Orange, Pomegranate and Meyer Lemon recently joined the existing flavor selection of Watermelon, Pink Grapefruit and Cucumber.

For Digestion:


The functional drink market offers countless probiotic-infused drinks to choose from, but few beverage brands have picked up on the importance of prebiotics—a type of fiber that serves as food for probiotics but the body is unable to produce itself. Enter Poppi: a functional soda that contains one tablespoon of prebiotic-rich apple cider vinegar. Here, fermented apples give the gut a boost by promoting pH balance, killing harmful bacteria, improving insulin sensitivity and lowering blood sugar post-meals. The low-sugar, low-calorie soda comes in seven fruity flavors, but the Strawberry Lemon and Raspberry Rose are fan favorites. 

For A Dry Happy Hour:

Curious Elixirs

This booze- and sugar-free beverage line relies on organic ingredients and adaptogens to deliver satisfying mocktails that offer more benefits than just the hangover-free morning. From a margarita-meets-Dark ‘n Stormy made with Mayan aphrodisiac damiana to a floral Cucumber Collins remake containing 125mg of Ashwagandha, an Ayurvedic herb known to reduce stress—their selection is small but diverse. The standout is this zero-proof spin on an Aperol Spritz made with stress-reducing holy basil and anti-inflammatory turmeric.

For Detox:

Sunwink Detox Ginger

This sparkling tonic is made with ginger, burdock and dandelion, three herbs known to stimulate digestion. All their recipes are vetted by a clinical herbalist and each bottle contains four times the equivalent amount of herbs found in a standard tea bag. Unlike kombucha, which detoxifies by adding probiotics to the system, Sunwink’s Detox Ginger encourages the body to do the work itself by stimulating the digestive enzymes in the gut. The cleansing drink is lightly sweetened with maple syrup, so you get all the benefits without the added sugar.

For Energy:

Sway Energy + Immunity

This carbonated drink is the first of its kind to serve the dual function of boosting energy and immunity. Each bottle delivers a hit of energy with its high dose, 160mg, of organic green tea caffeine, while protecting the immune system with 100% of the daily value of vitamins A, B6, B12, C and D. The zero-sugar drink relieves stress with relaxing herbs like bacopa monnieri and Ashwagandha, and promotes energy and protein formation with magnesium, D-Ribose and BCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids). Available in six fruity flavors, Sway officially launches at the end of the month (currently available for pre-order online). 

For A Post-Workout Treat:

Alani Nu Fit Shake

Alani Nu is known for their yummy workout supplements, like their sour peach ring-flavored BCAA powder (Branch Chain Amino Acids) and confetti cake whey protein powder. Now they’ve packaged their protein in a ready-to-drink bottle, making recovery on-the-go easy. The gluten and lactose-free drink contains 20 grams of lean whey protein, and with indulgent flavors like munchies and fruity cereal, it’s hard to believe each bottle contains only 6 grams of sugar.

For Inflammation:

ZYN Curcumin From Turmeric

Brothers and co-founders Asim and Qasim Khan were inspired to create ZYN after witnessing turmeric cure their father’s nerve pain in Pakistan. Understanding that the powerful anti-inflammatory needs to be activated to be absorbed—ZYN includes piperine from black pepper to ensure you benefit from the 200mg of turmeric in each bottle. Available in four fruity flavors, the refreshing drink is also fortified with vitamins C and D for added immune support.

For Brain Function:

Vega Hello Wellness It’s A No Brainer

Vega’s new Hello Wellness line of functional drinks offers all the benefits of a protein supplement in an easy on-the-go form—all you need is water to make a smooth shake. This raspberry blackberry-flavored formula stands out for brain support—each serving contains 32mg of Omega-3 DHA, a fatty acid essential to maintaining brain function. Keeping in line with the company’s plant-based, sustainable ethos, the DHA is sourced from marine algae rather than fish oil and the 15 grams of protein in each scoop comes from pea and pumpkin seeds.

Gritstone adds COVID-19 to the pipeline with NIAID-supported vaccine

Gritstone adds COVID-19 to the pipeline with NIAID-supported vaccine

  • January 19, 2021

Gritstone Oncology, the biotech working on cancer vaccines based on traditional infectious disease immunology, is bringing that approach back to its roots. It’s working on a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, that could also work against other viruses in this family in the case of a future pandemic.

The company is developing the vaccine alongside the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which provided a grant to bankroll preclinical work, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which will carry out a phase 1 study through the Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Consortium.

RELATED: Looking beyond COVID-19’s spike protein for the next wave of vaccines

The vaccine is based on Gritstone’s EDGE technology—which uses machine learning to predict antigens presented by tumor cells or cells infected by a virus that the immune system can see—and work out of the La Jolla Institute of Immunology, which has studied hundreds of patients recovering from COVID-19. Under a license agreement with La Jolla, Gritstone has access to epitopes of the SARS-CoV-2 virus—a part of the virus to which antibodies bind—identified in its studies.

Like the first generation of COVID-19 vaccines, Gritstone’s candidate targets the spike protein of the new coronavirus, but it also contains other targets that could help boost T-cell immunity.

“Gritstone’s vaccine may provide more comprehensive viral protection by inducing a better combination of T cell responses and neutralizing antibodies as compared to the currently available vaccines,” said Daniel Hoft, M.D., Ph.D., director of Saint Louis University’s Center for Vaccine Development and Division of Infectious Diseases, Allergy and Immunology, National Vaccine Advisory Committee member, and protocol chair and lead principal investigator of Gritstone’s COVID-19 study, in a statement.

“It is important that we move forward with developing these next generation vaccines because we do not yet know whether the existing vaccines that have been granted emergency use authorization will provide long-term immunity or prevent transmission. Improved vaccines that can accomplish these additional benefits may be needed to continue mitigating the ongoing pandemic,” Hoft added.

RELATED: Fierce JPM Week: Vaccines aren’t enough. We need more COVID-19 treatments, too

Besides potentially provoking a stronger immune response than the first generation of COVID-19 vaccines does, a new vaccine aimed at targets beyond the spike protein could come in handy in the face of new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

What’s more, Gritstone hopes this approach could make the vaccine useful against other coronaviruses as well as the one that causes COVID-19.

“As well as a potential role in protection against SARS-CoV-2, the notion of using evolutionarily conserved viral antigens (in addition to Spike) as the basis for a vaccine that induces antibody and T-cell responses to provide protection against future coronavirus pandemics is an exciting concept that springs from our current work. We plan to pursue this in 2021,” said Karin Jooss, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of Gritstone.

Treating COVID-19 symptoms at home: SoCal doctor explains what you need to know

Treating COVID-19 symptoms at home: SoCal doctor explains what you need to know

  • January 19, 2021
LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Once you test positive for COVID-19, what should you do next? Doctors say staying on top of any changes in your symptoms and taking the proper precautions is a good start, but doctors who have been treating patients’ recovery at home say there are other things you can do to boost your immune system.

Shortly before Christmas, 43-year-old Juliana Shain of Simi Valley tested positive for COVID-19. Five days later, the same would happen to her fiancé.

“I felt like I had been beaten up. I felt really hungover,” she said. “We had aches and pains then a cough and then sneezing. Really at the end of it, we had difficulty breathing.”

Fear of being hospitalized soon set in. Internal medicine specialist Dr. Aamir Iqbal with Agoura Family Practice says he’s been getting several calls a day from frantic patients.

“When you’ve tested positive it’s a big moment. A lot of people get very scared and nervous about what’s going to happen,” he said. “What do I do? Or my husband tested positive or my spouse tested positive or my kid tested positive and now I live with them.”

Iqbal’s first suggestion is to buy an over the counter pulse oximeter.

“It’s a little device that attaches to your finger and right on top of the screen it has a percentage,” he said. “When you get below 94% that starts throwing up some flags. And any number under 90% is a big red flag.”

He suggests hydrating with beverages such as Pedialyte or Gatorade. Shain’s doctor told her to take a cocktail of supplements.

“The doctor gave us a bunch of vitamins,” she said. Shain started taking Vitamin C, B12, D3 and zinc.

“Some of these home remedies can actually help. We know they can’t hurt you,” Iqbal said.

He also suggested over the counter medicines such as acetaminophen, mucus thinners and a baby aspirin to prevent blood clots.

“While the baby aspirin doesn’t equivalent to a full blood thinner medication, it can give you some protection,” Iqbal said.

Studies show sleeping on your stomach helps get more oxygen to your lungs. Iqbal said if its comfortable try it, but he tells his patients it’s not a requirement.

Some advice online includes waking up every two hours to get your blood circulating. To that Iqbal said quality sleep is much more important As for eating more bananas, avocados or asparagus, he said good nutrition is important but food alone can’t stop worsening symptoms.

A month after her infection, Shain is back at work

“I feel exhausted, and I still have some brain fog,” she said.

She hasn’t mustered enough energy to take down her Christmas decorations and Shain had to postpone her wedding day. But, she’s grateful to be on the mend.

“Just be kind to yourself. Take it one day at a time and you’ll get through it,” she said.

Copyright © 2021 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Immunity Boosters to Help Keep Your Family Healthy

Immunity Boosters to Help Keep Your Family Healthy

  • January 15, 2021

Ensure your family’s nutrient intake is optimized to support immunity, starting with these three key nutrients and (mostly) kid-friendly foods in which they’re found. We also included some easy recipes to help boost your immune system. 

Vitamin C

Widely found in citrus (think oranges, clementines, grapefruit, lemons and limes), vitamin C protects from infection by stimulating the formation of antibodies. You can also find this water-soluble nutrient — you need it pretty much every day — in bell pepper, broccoli, mango, berries, cantaloupe and even baked potatoes. One medium red bell pepper contains more than twice the amount of vitamin C found in an orange.

Recipe to Try: Double Orange Smoothie

A double dose of orange means a double dose of powerful nutrients, including vitamin C. Each serving of this tangy-sweet smoothie contains 57mg of vitamin C. Kids 9-13 need 45mg per day and kids 4-8 require 25mg. Makes 2 servings. 


  • 1 navel orange, peeled
  • 1 cup vanilla low-fat yogurt
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tsp honey, optional


  1. Section orange; transfer sections to a small freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until sections are very cold, about 20 minutes. 
  2. In a blender, combine yogurt, ice, OJ, honey and frozen orange sections and blend until smooth. Serve in two glasses.

Per serving: 188 calories, 2g fat, 7g protein, 82 mg sodium, 37g carbohydrates, 34g sugars (14g added), 2g fiber. Reprinted with permission from Smoothies & Juices: Prevention Healing Kitchen, Frances Largeman-Roth, MS, RDN.

Vitamin D

Healthy blood levels of this nutrient are linked to a healthy immune system. Deficiencies may increase your risk of developing a severe COVID-19 infection. While there are very few natural sources (salmon and eggs), vitamin D is added to dairy milk as well as select brands of non-dairy milk, yogurt, orange juice and breakfast cereal. It is also found in specially labeled mushrooms; check the Nutrition Facts label to verify.

Recipe to Try: Veggie Egg Bites

Looking for a quick make-ahead breakfast that’s healthy and will boost your immune system? Pull out the muffin tin to whip up these egg bites packed with yummy veggies. Contains 6 servings (Two egg bites per serving). 


  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (about 2 sprigs)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Black pepper, freshly ground (to taste)
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves, loosely packed


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
  2. Lightly oil a 12-cup muffin pan
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, cheese, salt, pepper and thyme
  4. Divide the spinach, tomatoes and shallots evenly throughout each muffin cup
  5. Pour the egg mixture evenly into each muffin cup, shifting around the vegetables as needed to allow the egg mixture to reach the bottom of each muffin cup
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the egg mixture is set and the tops of each Veggie Egg Bite are lightly browned
  7. Serve hot, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days
  8. May be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Reprinted with permission from Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Malina Malkani, MS, RDN, creator of Solve Picky Eating and author of Simple & Safe Baby-Led Weaning.


This essential nutrient is a key factor in the development and function of immune cells. The term “essential” means your body can’t produce it so it must be consumed daily. It’s found in animal sources — where it’s better absorbed — such as red meat, shellfish (shrimp, crab and oysters) and dairy products. Vegetarian sources include wheat germ, beans, lentils, seeds, nuts, fortified breakfast cereals and tofu.

Recipe to Try: Beef Brisket Nachos

Make your next beef brisket a little more interesting by transforming them into nachos! Craving tacos instead? Find out what ingredients to use over at Contains 12 3-ounce servings. 


  • Pressure cooker (or Instant Pot)


For the brisket:

  • 2.5 pounds beef Brisket Flat Half
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 each jalapeño
  • 2 cups beef broth

For the nachos: 

  • 12 oz tortilla chips
  • 1 cup shredded reduced fat cheese
  • 1 cup salsa 
  • 1 medium avocado, chopped
  • 1-pound cooked beef Brisket, cut into 1/4-inch pieces 
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro 
  • 1/3 cup BBQ sauce 


To prepare the marinade

  1. Liberally rub the black pepper and salt into the brisket. Place inside a zip tight bag and pour the olive oil, garlic and jalapeño inside. Note, if you prefer less of a kick, omit the seeds from the jalapeño.
  2. Massage the beef with the olive and garlic then place the bag in a bowl in the refrigerator for 8 hours.

To cook the brisket

  1. Remove the brisket from the marinade. Discard marinade. Turn the pressure cook to SAUTE mode and brown each side of the brisket for 3 minutes. Press CANCEL and remove the brisket.
  2. Add the beef broth to the metal pot of the pressure cooker, then place the metal trivet inside. Place the brisket on top of the trivet and secure the lid. Press PRESSURE COOK and set the time for 30 minutes.
  3. When cooking completes, allow pressure to naturally release for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and check the internal temperature of the brisket, it should be 145 degrees or above. Remove the brisket from the pressure cooker and let rest another 15 minutes before slicing.
  4. Serve up the brisket as nachos, in tacos, or a salad; the options are limitless!
  5. To store brisket, place inside an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. You can also store it in the beef broth to keep it a bit moister as well.

To make as nachos

  1. Place chips on a baking sheet. Cover with cheese and broil for 3 to 5 minutes in the oven, or until cheese is melted.
  2. Remove and top with salsa, avocado, brisket, and cilantro. Drizzle BBQ sauce over the top. Serve immediately.

Reprinted with permission from Elizabeth Shaw, MS RDN CPT, nutrition expert at and author of Instant Pot Cookbook For Dummies 2020 and Air Fryer Cookbook For Dummies 2020.

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This article also appeared in Chicago Parent’s January/February 2021 issue

How effective is a single vaccine dose against Covid-19?

How effective is a single vaccine dose against Covid-19?

  • January 15, 2021

The cases are already beginning to emerge.

When 85-year-old Colin Horseman was admitted to Doncaster Royal Infirmary in late December, it was for a suspected kidney infection. But not long afterwards he caught Covid-19 – at the time, roughly one in four people in hospital with the virus had acquired it there. He developed severe symptoms and was eventually put on a ventilator. A few days later, he died.

At first glance, Horseman’s situation may seem fairly typical, though no less tragic for it. After all, at least 84,767 people have now succumbed to the disease in the UK alone at the time of writing. But, as his son recently explained in a local newspaper, less than three weeks earlier he had been among the first people in the world to receive the initial dose of a Covid-19 vaccine – the Pfizer-BioNTech version. He was due to receive the second dose two days prior to his death.

In fact, most vaccines require booster doses to work.

Take the MMR – measles, mumps and rubella – vaccine, which is given to babies around the world to prevent these deadly childhood infections. Around 40% of people who have received just one dose are not protected from all three viruses, compared to 4% of those who have had their second. People in the former group are four times more likely to catch measles than those in the latter – and there have been outbreaks in places where a high proportion of people have not completed the full MMR vaccination schedule.  

“The reason that people are so keen on boosters and consider them so vital is that they kind of send you into this whole other kind of fine-tuning mode of your immune response,” says Danny Altmann, professor of immunology at Imperial College London.

How booster vaccines work

When the immune system first encounters a vaccine, it activates two important types of white blood cell. First up are the plasma B cells, which primarily focus on making antibodies. Unfortunately, this cell type is short-lived, so although your body might be swimming in antibodies within just a few weeks, without the second shot this is often followed by a rapid decline.

Then there are the T cells, each of which is specifically tailored to identify a particular pathogen and kill it. Some of these, memory T cells, are able to linger in the body for decades until they stumble upon their target – meaning immunity from vaccines or infections can sometimes last a lifetime. But crucially, you usually won’t have many of this cell type until the second meeting. 

The booster dose is a way of re-exposing the body to the antigens – the molecules on pathogens that trigger the immune system – to initiate part two of the response. “You’ve kicked in all this fancy stuff,” says Altmann. “So, once you’ve had your boost you’ll have a higher frequency of memory T cells and ditto to some extent for the size of the pool of memory B cells you’ll have. They’ll also be making higher quality antibodies.”

On second exposure to the same vaccine or pathogen, the B cells that remain from before are able to rapidly divide and create a menacing throng of descendants, leading to a second spike in the amount of antibodies circulating.

'Microbiomes' Might Influence COVID-19 Severity

‘Microbiomes’ Might Influence COVID-19 Severity

  • January 13, 2021

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 13, 2021 (HealthDay News) — The bacteria in your gut may play a role in the severity of COVID-19 infection and the strength of your immune system response, a new study suggests.

Not only that, imbalances in the microbiome may cause continued inflammatory symptoms, often called “long-haul” COVID, the researchers added.

“Imbalance in the microbiome contributes to the severity of COVID-19, and if it persists after viral clearance, could contribute to persistent symptoms and multi-system inflammation syndromes like long COVID syndrome,” said lead researcher Dr. Siew Ng, a professor from the Institute of Digestive Disease at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

“Restoration of the missing beneficial bacteria might boost our immunity against SARS-CoV2 virus and hasten recovery from the disease,” she said. “Managing COVID-19 should not only aim at clearing the virus, but also restoring the gut microbiota.”

The study, however, can’t prove that imbalances in the microbiome cause COVID-19 to be more severe, only that there appears to be an association between the virus and bacteria in the gut, Ng said.

But evidence is growing that gut bacteria are linked to inflammatory diseases, she noted.

For the study, the researchers studied blood and stool samples from 100 patients with COVID-19 and from 78 people without the infection who were part of a microbiome study before the pandemic began.

They found that in 274 stool samples the gut microbiome differed significantly between patients with and without COVID-19, regardless if they had been given drugs, including antibiotics.

For example, those with COVID-19 had fewer types of bacteria that can affect the immune system response than those without the infection. The reduced number of these bacteria was linked to the severity of the infection.

Moreover, the number of these bacteria remained low up to 30 days after infected patients had cleared the virus, the researchers found.

COVID-19 triggers the immune system to make inflammatory cytokines, and in some cases, this response can be excessive, causing widespread tissue damage, septic shock and organ failure.

Analysis of the blood samples found that the microbial imbalance in the COVID-19 patients was linked with high levels of inflammatory cytokines and blood markers of tissue damage, such as C-reactive protein.

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