We’re living in unusual times.
The COVID-19 health crisis is impacting every facet of our lives, shutting down many businesses, and stopping many of us from even leaving the house.
Here at Annex Naturopathic, our downtown Toronto naturopathic clinic is closed for in-person treatments, but we’re still available for consultations over the phone or through video conferencing for essential visits.
And in the meantime, we’re still here for you online.
Today, let’s take a look at the COVID-19 illness – what it is, where it comes from, and what you should do to protect yourself against it.
But First, Let’s Get Some Things Clear
Before we start, I want to make one thing very clear – at the time of this writing, there is no known treatment for COVID-19.
Not through naturopathy, and not through conventional medicine.
Naturopathic doctors are also not able to test for COVID-19.
It’s not our intent to talk about cures, treatments, or anything related in this article.
Rather, we’re going to look at some general facts about COVID-19, and the current understanding of it.
Speaking of which, it’s important to note that our understanding of this virus is only just beginning.
As a result, there may be updates in symptoms, effects, and other information as the scientific community further explores this condition.
What you read in this article is true as of the time of writing, but for more up-to-date information, it’s a good idea to monitor the updates posted on the World Health Organization’s website.
You’ll find links to other pages on our site in this article as well – these are general purpose pages designed to understand a general condition, and should not be taken as implication that naturopathic medicine in general, or any practitioner at Annex Naturopathic in particular, can offer treatment for COVID-19 or its symptoms.
Now, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at COVID-19.
What Is COVID-19?
You might have heard people talking about COVID-19, and people talking about coronavirus.
They’re often used interchangeably, but they’re not quite the same thing.
Coronavirus refers to a family of viruses that cause diseases in humans and other mammals, and birds.
SARS-CoV-2 is a specific strain of coronavirus, which causes the illness COVID-19 in humans.
Where Did The Name Coronavirus Come From?
A coronavirus cell has a corona – or crown – of proteins surrounding it.
The reason why you may hear people refer to this crisis as the “novel coronavirus” is because it’s a novel disease – as in, a new one.
And while we’re on the topic of names, COVID-19 is actually an abbreviation – it stands for COronaVIrus Disease of 2019, since it was first discovered in 2019.
What Are Other Examples Of Coronaviruses?
There are four different genuses of coronavirus – alpha, beta, gamma, and delta.
Alpha and beta only infect mammals – including humans, gamma mostly infects birds, and delta can infect both birds and mammals.
It’s the beta family that SARS-CoV-2 belongs to.
Some of the more famous examples of illnesses which can be caused by coronaviruses include:
• SARS – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
• MERS – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome
• The common cold
As you can see above, coronaviruses can cause illnesses which are generally considered minor in otherwise healthy people.
However, COVID-19 is a different story.
What’s Different About COVID-19?
SARS-CoV-2 is a new zoonotic virus which has not previously been found in humans.
Zoonotic viruses are a result of 2 or more viruses from different species mutating together and finding a new host to infect.
In the case of COVID-19, humans were the incubator for this new strain of virus.
But even if humans are the incubator, why is COVID-19 so particularly bad?
The reason has to do with its virulence.
A pathogen’s virulence refers to its ability to infect and harm its host.
Because COVID-19 has such a high virulence, it’s considered more dangerous.
What Are The Symptoms Of A COVID-19 Infection?
The typical symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to the common cold or flu and mainly present as a respiratory infection.
As the virus needs to incubate in the host for a number of days, you may not experience symptoms for up to 14 days after exposure.
This makes this virus very difficult to contain as unaware infected people are likely continue to walk around and travel during this time.
This is why you’ve seen many countries around the world, including Canada, adopt policies around social distancing and self-quarantining.
In China and Italy, the countries hit most heavily with infection in the earlier days of this pandemic, social distancing policies have led to a decrease in new cases.
As of this writing, the currently known symptoms are listed below:
• Dry cough
• Trouble breathing
• Aches and pains
• Nasal congestion
The biggest threat of COVID-19 is the development of pneumonia.
This makes COVID-19 particularly problematic to those who do not have strong immune systems (elderly, infants, pregnancy), those who are immunocompromised due to specific health conditions, or those on immunosuppressant drugs.
How Does Your Immune System Work?
Most of us understand the basic idea of our immune system – it’s the part of your body that fights off pathogens and keeps you from getting sick.
However, there’s more to it than that.
The immune system is dynamic, complex, and made up of many organs that keep us strong, healthy and able to efficiently fight off invading pathogens.
A common misconception about the immune system is that if it’s strong enough, it can stop us from getting infections altogether.
This is not true; if you encounter a strong enough pathogen, or if the pathogen is able to break through the protective barriers, your body will become infected and will still need to go through the necessary steps to get rid of the infection.
By building your immune system, you’re improving your ability to battle and recover from infection.
How Do You Protect Yourself Against COVID-19?
As we mentioned above, there is currently no known treatment or vaccine for COVID-19.
There are solutions to help you build your immune system in general, but at this time there’s no evidence that will help protect you against COVID-19.
The focus is geared towards improving our chances for recovering from COVID-19 if we were to contract it, and ensuring you’re following the appropriate measures to reduce the spread of the virus.
1. Washing your hands thoroughly and frequently
2. Practicing social distancing if not exposed and trying to prevent spread and exposure
3. Practicing self-quarantine practices if you believe you were exposed or have recently travelled
4. Wiping /disinfecting surfaces that are highly exposed to the public
The City of Toronto is maintaining its own page on COVID-19 and how life in the city is being affected as well.
Book An Appointment At Annex Naturopathic
There is no cure, supplement, herb or drug that is specific for COVID-19 at this point.
The treatments used from a naturopathic approach are all focused on improving immune health, as well as providing herbs/nutrients that have broad anti-viral activity.
By strengthening the immune system you are creating a strong environment for your body to recover and fight the virus efficiently, not just battle symptoms.
If you’d like to speak with one of our naturopathic doctors, reach out today to book an appointment.