Coronavirus & COVID-19 – Testing, Treatment and Natural Medicine’s Role

Exciting Developments with Dr. David Brady

Today we speak with Dr. David Brady on what was supposed to be emerging testing in GI, but instead we spent the entire time discussing SARS-CoV-2, and some exciting developments with the lab he works with, DSL or Diagnostic Solutions Laboratory and how they are working on antibody testing as well as testing to identify cases. We discuss how and when integrative providers can step in and try to assist in this effort which is currently being handled through our major hospital systems. This conversation was insightful and very interesting. In addition to that, Dr. Brady really has been looking deep into the mechanisms through which SARS-CoV-2 infects and makes people ill. Namely through the acute respiratory distress syndrome that it causes, and the cytokine storm or the inflammatory cascade that underlies that may be initiated by this and Inflammasome NLPR3.

There are actually some natural agents that have been shown to suppress this Inflammasome, including melatonin, which was completely new to me. Also vitamin C and quercetin have been shown to be able to inhibit this specific Inflammasome. Now we don’t have the luxury of having the data that I always harp on having, which would be a clinical trial. There has not been nearly enough time, although there is some research being actively performed, and these anecdotes are being used to make the best inference that we can. So this would be an example of being evidence based, but not evidence limited of course. So this episode is all about SARS and COVID-19, testing and treatment options in this rapidly evolving landscape with Dr. David Brady. I hope you’ll tune in and get some updates on this obviously very prevalent topic for which we are all trying to do the best job that we can.

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In This Episode

Episode Intro … 00:00:39
Coronavirus Antibody and Stool Testing … 00:05:11
How Should Integrative Practitioners Help? … 00:10:47
How to Access Testing with DSL … 00:28:17
How SARS-COV-2 Infects You … 00:32:35
Antiviral Agents … 00:36:33
Melatonin … 00:37:09
Vitamin C … 00:39:36
Quercetin and Tocotrienols … 00:40:40
Plant Polyphenols … 00:42:38
Artemesinin … 00:45:01
Zinc and Copper … 00:47:37
Should You Use Immune Supports? … 00:50:18
Episode Wrap Up …00:54:24

Coronavirus Testing and Natural Antiviral Strategies

A big question on everyone’s mind right now is whether or not we have been exposed to SARS-COV2, the novel coronavirus, and whether we can get a test if we need one. Most of us are also wondering how to avoid getting sick, or how to support our body in case we do get sick. Dr. David Brady, Naturopathic Doctor, Functional Medicine Doctor, and Chief Medical Officer of Diagnostic Solutions Laboratory says there’s good news about both.

Coronavirus Antibody Testing and Stool Testing

DSL is soon to be offering access to coronavirus antibody testing to health care providers and their patients, and stool-based coronavirus testing to consumers. Click To Tweet

Diagnostic Solutions Laboratory is well-known for their popular GI-MAP stool test, which helps practitioners and patients understand what’s happening in their gut. But DSL has put its technology to work testing for SARS-CoV-2 infection, the virus that causes the COVID-19 illness.

Currently, access to coronavirus testing is limited and test turnaround time from public health laboratories and private labs is slow. Dr. Brady says other quick-turnaround tests, like finger-prick tests and self-administered nasal swabs haven’t shown good accuracy. Better testing methods are going to be very important moving forward. 

As we continue to work to flatten the curve, health officials agree that widespread, accurate antibody testing is going to be important to determine who can go to work or school versus who should continue to practice social distancing.

Dr. Brady says DSL is working on quantitative and qualitative serum (blood) antibody testing to help with this effort. Serum coronavirus antibody test kits will be available to healthcare providers from DSL.  Because it’s been shown that the virus can be present in stool up to six weeks after a person is asymptomatic, DSL is now also offering stool testing for coronavirus diagnosis as well.

Dr. Brady agreed that antibody testing or stool testing is probably the best way for integrative health care practitioners to support their patients during the coronavirus outbreak.

How Coronavirus Overwhelms the Body

Coronavirus proteins can activate an inflammasome called NLRP-3, which is the initial domino that can lead to a cytokine storm. Click To Tweet

All viruses have special proteins called “viroporins”. These viroporins are the proteins that enable viruses to enter their host’s cell membranes, so they can begin replicating. According to Dr. Brady, this coronavirus has two novel viroporins, called ORF-3A and E Protein, that activate an inflammasome called NLRP-3. Brady says that NLRP-3 is the initial domino that can lead to a cytokine storm.

“NLRP-3 is the key inducer of large amounts of inflammatory cytokines, mainly IL-1beta, IL-10, and others. And the production of IL-1beta in particular is very tightly controlled and dependent upon NLRP-3.”

  It’s unclear why this happens to some people and not others, but Dr. Brady says there is some preliminary data to suggest certain genetic SNPs may be partly responsible.

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Coronavirus Antiviral Natural Therapeutics

There is anecdotal evidence that some natural therapeutics can prevent, and reduce the severity and duration of coronavirus. Click To Tweet

While there have not been any direct research studies, there is anecdotal evidence that some natural therapeutics and herbal medicines can support the immune system and reduce the severity and duration of coronavirus symptoms.

Some sources have recommended against using immune stimulators such as elderberry, medicinal mushrooms, or vitamin D. Dr. Brady disagrees with this recommendation, saying:

“…if you’re really progressing with your respiratory situation in a negative way…I probably would not use any of these immune upregulators. But the vast majority of us, if we confront this virus…want a good, robust immune response. If you can reduce the progression of the infection to the point [of] tipping over this edge into the cytokine storm, it would seem that these preventative agents would actually be more helpful.”

Here’s a summary of the antiviral natural therapeutics we discussed:

Melatonin

According to Dr. Brady, melatonin tightly suppresses the NLRP-3 inflammasome. He suggests that this may be a reason why younger people seem to be more resilient to the virus than older people. Melatonin production tapers off as we age.

He says that in animal models of sepsis, using melatonin has shown promise as a down-regulator of the cytokine storm.

Vitamin C

According to Dr. Brady, vitamin C downregulates NLRP-3. He says, “Vitamin C acts on a multitude of levels, reducing oxidative stress, regulating hypoxia signaling, helping mitochondrial membrane potential…all these things preclude a cytokine storm.” He says this is why we’re seeing hospitals use IV vitamin C.

Quercetin, Vitamin C, and Tocotrienols

Quercetin is a plant polyphenol that has a special affinity for the lungs. Dr. Brady says that quercetin, when given with vitamin C as well as vitamin E in the form of tocotrienols, is a powerful and effective antiviral agent.

Artemisinin

Artemisinin generally has a similar action to the antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and Palenquil, which are sometimes used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and other autoimmune diseases. These drugs are anti-inflammatory in these conditions, though with an unknown mechanism. They are currently being used in clinical trials against coronavirus infection. Dr. Brady says it’s unclear how the antimalarial drugs or artemisinin work for coronavirus, but they have promise. 

Plant Polyphenols

Dr. Brady also says that many plant polyphenols are antiviral, by preventing viruses from entering our cell membranes. These include:

  • Resveratrol
  • EGCG from green tea (he says to use with caution, as this can elevate liver enzymes)
  • Allicin from garlic
  • Capsaicin from cayenne pepper
  • Geraniol Geraniol (GG, which is an antiviral agent used in Japan)

Zinc & Copper

Dr. Brady says zinc with a small amount of copper offers mucosal protection by preventing viruses from docking and entering cells in the respiratory tract.

Probiotics

Some research has shown that probiotics reduce the severity of and duration of influenza and upper respiratory infections. And while these data don’t deal specifically with coronavirus, we can infer probiotics may provide some amount of protection against the effects of SARS-CoV-2.

The Bottom Line

Coronavirus antibody testing and stool testing from DSL is set to help us understand our coronavirus status. Integrative medicine practitioners can best support their patients by helping them access this testing, as long as they are not drastically ill. And a wide range of natural or herbal therapeutics can help support the immune system before, during, and after coronavirus infection.

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Discussion

I care about answering your questions and sharing my knowledge with you. Leave a comment or connect with me on social media asking any health question you may have and I just might incorporate it into our next listener questions podcast episode just for you!