by Jay Hartenbach
April 9, 2020
Taking care of your body’s immune system has never been more important. That’s why we’re pleased to introduce you to our head of Research and Development here at Medterra–Dr. Matthew Halpert, Ph.D.
A respected expert in immunology and pathology, Dr. Halpert holds a faculty position at Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, TX), and has over a decade’s worth of experience in relevant immunity processes and CBD research. We reached out to him to gauge his take on the current global Covid-19 issue, as well as what steps he suggests we all take during this period.
What you can do today to boost your immune system in the age of Covid-19
A Letter to our Community from Dr. Matthew Halpert, Ph.D, Baylor College of Medicine
I’m writing to you today to share some indispensable tools you can use in the fight against Covid-19. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. But don’t worry—there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
It should be obvious by now that the virus is a very serious issue. Granted, a majority of people who catch this virus will recover just fine, and some may have mild-to-no symptoms.
The sky is indeed, not falling.
But compared to the ‘seasonal flu,’ the infection rate and the severity are much worse. If we continue the current trajectory without shifting the curve—and estimates vary greatly here—we could lose hundreds of thousands from this virus before it’s done.
We also know the risk this poses to overrunning current health care systems.
I don’t say any of this to scare anyone beyond reason. Treatments are being worked on (and will be found), and eventually herd immunity may squash this thing quite a bit. We will get through this.
BUT…we do need to take it seriously and work together to get a handle on this situation.
What are some things people can do to help improve their odds of not being infected or of minimizing it if they do catch COVID-19?
Depending on whether you’re working from home and following shelter-in-place guidelines, or still going to work everyday to provide an essential service, we are all facing different challenges.
But whatever category you fall in, almost all of us still have to go into the world for essential needs like groceries, medicine and exercise.
You could try to only go out in a bubble by always wearing n95 (or better) masks, gloves and gowns. But honestly, those will only go so far. Since living in a bubble is unrealistic, there is a decent chance that at some point your body will come in contact with a Covid-19 viral particle—what happens next will be up to how well your body’s immune system is functioning.
Here are a few suggestions that I am practicing myself to make sure I’m minimizing exposure and ensuring my body’s defense systems are working as well as possible:
Three Pillars for a Strong Immune System
Quality Sleep. This may seem cliché, but good quality sleep is critical. It is during this time that your body truly can assess much of what is going on, recover, and gear up for the next day.
A lot of immune cells follow the circadian rhythm, meaning without letting your body sleep, they simply will not function correctly the next day.
As often as you can, get 7-8hrs of quality sleep–at night if possible–so that your protections are recharged. Avoiding heavy meals right before bedtime, and reducing screen time in the evening will help ensure you get quality sleep that is as rejuvenating and effective as possible.
Movement and exercise. These are more important than people realize, especially now with so many of us stuck at home.
The circulatory (blood) system has a pump (the heart) and can move things around and function well even while you are lying in bed. The immune (lymphatic) system has no such pump. The only way it cycles and filters correctly is when you literally move around. The movement of your muscles is what makes this system circulate.
So if you take this time to mostly sit on the couch and binge watch Netflix (and granted, there is a lot to watch), you are actually making yourself more susceptible to infection…even while just sitting in your own house! The more you exercise, the better your odds are of defeating any invading pathogen.
The gym being closed is not an excuse. Find a way to get that heart rate up and exercise at least three times a week. Try to commit to balancing those workouts with a yoga or meditation routine–there have never been more options of online classes to fit all tastes and styles. Whether you prefer deep breathing in shavasana for an hour, or a high-output HIIT-style discipline, there is a class out there for you.
As you can see, the benefits of activity compound themselves in positive, exponential ways. Plus it will also help with not going crazy during all of this. But remember not to overdo it—if you’re already sick, then at this point you need to take care of yourself in ‘normal’ ways such as rest, fluids, and medical oversight.
Cleanliness can’t be overstated. Frequently and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. Pay attention to where your hands are and always avoid touching your face. If you’re out in public, always keep hand sanitizer in your pocket (good thing Medterra is providing free hand sanitizer with every order right now until the end of the month).
Do this especially if you’ve gone out and about. Keep surfaces in the house clean, and also make an effort to clean the stuff you get delivered to your house—who knows where that Amazon box has been!
So if you can, spray or wipe down those delivered goods with antiseptic wipes before tearing into them.
So: sleep, exercise and cleanliness. A few simple steps, but I feel better already!
These are all things we can do starting today: actions with great benefit to our immune systems, and in-turn, the community around us.
I get a lot of questions about what over-the-counter (OTC) natural supplements we can put in our bodies with the same goal in mind.
First, a word of caution—I would be careful to just take something just because it’s called an “immune booster.” Many such supplements are not regulated at all, have limited-to-no science behind them, and merely feed on mass hysteria and consumer ignorance. I don’t want to get up on my pedestal right now…but as a scientist stuff like that really gets to me.
But with that in mind, yes, there are several natural remedies that have been shown to strengthen the immune system and may definitely be beneficial during a time like this.
A few of my favorites are Elderberry, Echinacea, and vitamins C and D. And though I can’t tell you too much yet, Medterra is very close to offering their own special blend of these proven ingredients plus their natural, high-quality CBD, so keep an eye out for that.
Speaking of CBD, I’ve been fielding a lot of questions about its relationship with immunity lately. Companies out there claiming that CBD alone can help your immune system right now are not being scientifically accurate.
I do believe in the many benefits of CBD and have ever since I began studying it in my lab a few years ago. CBD is definitely good for achieving calmness, relief, and the like. No doubt. Is it great at fighting a virus? No, not that I’ve seen.
Speaking personally, I have been taking my CBD every day, but also supplementing with some of the things I mentioned above. I believe that by boosting and optimizing my immune system, I will still be quite protected while also still benefiting from the many CBD effects.
I know that none of this is a guarantee that I’m protected. It’s all about odds and stats. And though I can’t eliminate risk completely, I do think these steps I’ve outlined here will reduce the odds that I fall ill, or stay ill for long if I do become sick.
For ourselves and our communities, it’s more important now than ever to be proactive about our immune health.