6 simple ways to help your immune system before you are exposed to the coronavirus (COVID-19)

(updated March 23., 2020)

Not everyone who comes in contact with this virus gets sick or becomes gravely ill. There are things that you can do that may make it less likely to be a serious health problem, so that even if you are exposed to the virus that you may remain symptom-free or experience a milder illness. It is especially true if you are now confined to your home. This is a great excuse to right now focus on taking better care of your health. 

  1. Get enough rest. Go to bed a little earlier if you need to arise early, and avoid overly long hours of work. avoid those all-nighters. Each person’s sleep needs may vary, but often 7-8 hours nightly is the minimum one should get.

  2. Eat well. Minimize fatty food, refined sugar, excessive wheat and dairy. Eat a balance of foods, including fresh fruit, cooked vegetables, soups. try not to over-indulge on alcohol or caffeine. Try to eat without watching the news to focus on the nourishment before. Supplementing with plenty of vitamin C and some vitamin D can be helpful too.

  3. Drink plenty of water. Water is a natural detoxing agent, and is needed throughout our body. Drink 2-3 liters per day of fresh water, preferably filtered or spring water if that’s practical. Our bodies are composed mostly of water.

  4. Breathe fresh air. Most people I know are now confined to their homes. Though this may be a challenge, this is important. The novel coronavirus has its strongest effects on the respiratory system. Get those lungs working well and flushed out with fresh air, and the virus will less likely find a home in your body. If possible, get outside once a day (maintaining your social distancing) and breathe fully, as if you are feasting on the air. If you can’t get outside, open a window. Take big, full, and relaxed breaths using your abdomen.
    Exposing yourself to sunshine is also important as it also boosts healthy immune function.

  5. Move your body. Get exercise or at least take vigorous walks, to get the entire body circulating, to allow the blood vessels and lymphatic system in your body work best to defend itself against invaders. Movement and exercise are also good for the heart and lungs, and can help you sleep better.

  6. Manage stress. When we have prolonged stress diminishes our body’s ability to fight when it’s really necessary. Like is full of stressors, but try to reduce our exposure to unnecessary stress. Other strategies mentioned here are important to manage stress, such as good sleep and exercise. Practicing meditation, yoga, or qigong can help. 
    The worry about getting sick from this coronavirus can add to stress, so taking care of yourself in these ways could help to reduce that added stress.

  7. Be good to yourself (and to those around you). I had to add one more. Although there is a lot to pay attention to these days, avoid watching or reading the news obsessively.. Give yourself a chance to forget the coronavirus if even for a minute. Do something that makes you laugh and smile at least once a day. Give yourself a break if you made a mistake in protecting yourself and loved ones, as we all do.

To reduce exposure to the coronavirus, there are several things one can do. A very effective prevention against contact with any bug is one of the simplest: frequently wash your hands with soap and running water. Do this when arriving at home or the office, or when otherwise they get dirty. When that’s not practical, hand sanitizer is ok, although less effective. Also avoid touching eyes, mouth, and nose with unwashed hands.

Also, minimize close contact with people who are sick, sneeze into a tissue that you immediately discard, and stay home if you are feeling ill.

Some people have asked me what is a good herbal formula to have on hand if one gets ill. That is a difficult question because there is not a single answer. There are several that have been used in China with some success, but which one depends on the seriousness of one’s reaction. Sickness affects us all differently, and with this virus symptoms range from mild to life-threatening. Thus, if you do get ill, (I hope not!) a medical professional would need to assess your case individually. If I am treating such an illness I would tend to choose a formula specific to that person and the stage of their condition.