Ebola - don't feed the fear!
The Ebola virus (or more correctly, viruses - there are more than one) is on everyone’s mind lately, and sensationalised reporting in the media is largely responsible for this. Add to this the recent stories of zombie-looking African men rising from supposed Ebola death, which ties in nicely to the ongoing zombie apocalypse theme, and it’s easy to see why the collective mind is largely consumed with fear. Ebola, the zombie thriller-killer, cue Michael Jackson’s apocalyptic dance routine. But what can we do to beat it?
I will talk later about natural remedies and prophylactics for Ebola infection, but first, we need to relax. We should all be taking steps to relax for the good of our general health, but here, we need to look at the situation rationally, free from the hype of fear. Ebola outbreaks occur in places that differ vastly from our relatively safe Western environments. These places have poor sanitation by our standards, and often crushing poverty that prevents optimal nutrition. On top of poor sanitation and diet, these are regions that have known long standing political turmoil, so many people there live lives of constant stress and trauma. These are the conditions in which a pathogen may become firmly established within the host. While it is true that Ebola is a unique and virulent pathogen, and the human body has had as of yet no time to adjust to it, the chances of a massive outbreak in a Western nation are fairly small given our relatively better hygiene, diet, and stress levels. Primarily, we should not give in to fear, because a state of fear seriously disables our immune system.
So we see that our first line of defence is a good, strong immune system within a sound and well nourished body. To this end, a diet free of processed and refined foods is essential. Reducing known allergens is important, as is maintaining a healthy balanced within our internal ecosystem of microorganisms. This means fermented foods, taken regularly as a condiment to the main protein meal of the day. Fermented tonic beverages may also be consumed in moderation. We want to be eating a lot of fresh green vegetables, and carefully chosen fruits (in moderation, to limit our total sugar intake, which will work against what we are trying to achieve). Basically, any of the diets around that emphasise natural food and fermented foods, such as Paleo, GAPS, WAPF or vegan, to name the a few of the better known ones.
So, what are the natural ways we can protect ourselves? Scientific research and my own understanding of plant and food medicines indicate that the following are of benefit against Ebola: High intake of bioavailable vitamin C; the phytoestrogen genistein, found in fermented soy foods, fava beans, kudzu, coffee, lupins of all kinds, the Ayurvedic and Chinese medicinal plant Psoralea corylifolia, the Southeast Asian medicinal plants Flemingia vestita and F. Macrophylla, and red clover; lemon myrtle leaf as both a tea and a body wash; bracken fern beer; the primary estrogenic hormone 17β-estradiol (estradiol); the bitter cola nut (Garcinia kola); and the homeopathic remedies Sicarius and Ledum.
Genistein is clinically proven to work through two mechanisms: it interferes with the mechanism by which a cell takes in a virus, and with the virus’ ability to alter cell membrane proteins to gain entry. Genistein is structurally similar to estrogen (estradiol), which also has been found effective against Ebola, so it stands to reason that women of childbearing age with a healthy hormonal system are to some extent naturally protect. This would most likely hold true of natural or pharmaceutical hormone replacement therapies as well. The benefit of genistein is that it appears to interfere with the male hormonal system much less than estrogen does. In general, everyone, but males especially need to be mindful about introducing female sex hormones or their analogues into the system. Consumption of genistein containing foods then should be regular, but not overdone. Use it in concert with the other measures discussed here.
Symptoms of Ebola sickness resemble in many ways the course of acute scurvy. Dr Robert Cathcart, a specialist in treating virulent infections with high doses of vitamin C was of the opinion that Ebola kills via free radicals. So as well as copious vitamin C, any dietary measure that deals with free radicals may well act as a prophylactic against Ebola. Bear in mind that vitamin C from food sources is much more bioavailable that in supplement form. Also worth noting is that fermentation of vitamin C containing vegetables preserves the vitamin content, and improves its bioavailability. Fermented foods also contain valuable pro-biotic organisms, and pre-biotic compounds (compounds that give a competitive advantage to pro-biotics). The best fermented food in relation to this discussion would in my opinion be sauerkraut. For the phytoestrogen genistein, tempeh and natto would be my preferred ferments.
In closing, the best defence against any infection is our own body. Eat well, reduce exposure to electro-magnetic radiation of all kinds as much as possible, engage in practices that promote relaxation, and do not give in to fear. If we live in constant fear that we will die from Ebola, then we are half dead already.
A few weeks after I wrote this, renowned herbalist Stephen Guhner published his take on Ebola on his facebook page …
“A BRIEF LOOK AT EBOLA – STEPHEN BUHNER
In the fall of 2014, for the first time, ebola broke out of the African nations and reached (via airplane, as epidemiologists had long predicted it would) the United States, I began receiving scores of emails asking for some deeper information regarding herbal approaches to help prevent and treat the condition. This is a brief exploration to address those concerns.
The virus and its effects really does need an in-depth treatment, especially going into its nature and function as I do in the coinfection books. I would like to, as well, to cite all the journal articles I used, as I did in those books, but so many people are asking (and I have so little time and certainly none to do an entire book on the virus) that I am just posting the pertinent information here. Much of this will go into the Herbal Antiviral book during an upcoming reprint but due to space limitations I am not sure how much. This protocol should do a lot to help prevent or reduce infection and, if necessary, help combat the septic shock that occurs in the later stages of the disease.
There are four species of ebola that can cause human disease; the virus responsible for the 2014 outbreak is (Zaire ebolavirus species) which causes anywhere from a 40% to a 90% mortality rate. The virus is highly virulent and actively subverts both the innate and adaptive immune responses. Although up to half of those infected are able to mount an immune defense, in the rest the virus so subverts the immune response it progresses to an acute hemorrhagic fever which is often fatal. This group of viruses is relatively new to human science, the first identification occurring in 1976 during an outbreak in Zaire.
Infection generally occurs from direct contact with infected bodily fluids such as blood or the vomit and diarrhea that often occur with the disease. Infection through direct skin contact with an infected person or through contact with blankets the infected have used has also been documented but is much less common. There is some concern among virologists that the disease could mutate to an infectious airborne type; it has not been documented so far.
As with most viruses, onset is flu-like with the usual fever, chills, and so on, generally after a 4-10 day incubation period. A rash often appears around day five which is the only way to differentiate it, in its early stages, from the flu. Generally, the liver, spleen, kidneys, adrenals, and endothelial structures are heavily infected, often leading to organ necrosis and failure. During fatal infections the endothelial structures of the vascular system fail with accompanying blood loss. The virus inhibits and modulates the immune response, ultimately producing a powerful cytokine storm, leading to septic shock. The latter stages of the infection are, in fact, nearly identical to the 1918 flu (see The Herbal Antiviral book for more on this).
The primary cytokines that increase during severe and fatal infections are IL-1b, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-15 and 16, and MIP-1beta; interferon-a levels are severely reduced as is IL-2 through 5, IL-9, IL-13 and a severe drop of both CD+3CD4+ and CD3+Cd8+ peripheral cells. Those who successfully recover show the opposite profile, hence decreasing those cytokines and increasing IFN-a and other reduced cytokines is crucial.
Protecting the affected organs, reducing the cytokine cascade, and enhancing immune function are essential. A number of substances has been found useful for interfering with viral penetration and replication as well as protecting the affected organs and modulating the ebola effects on the immune system.
(Please note the following dosage guidelines are, at the lower end, protective, at the higher end, for use during early infection. Long term use of these amounts is contraindicated.)The suggested protocol is:
* General antiviral formulation: Isatis, Baikal skullcap root, licorice, equal parts of the tinctures, 1 tablespoon 3-6x daily. Broad spectrum antiviral combination, skullcap and licorice are synergists, licorice enhances IFN-a production, all acts in various ways to reduce ebola cytokines.
* Elder tincture: Needs to be produced from stem, leaf, and berries as outlined in this book. Dose to bowel tolerance, from ¼ tsp to 1 tbl 3-6x daily.
* Genistein powder, 1 teaspoon 3-6x daily. Inhibits both infection with the virus and transduction in infected cells.
* Milk Thistle Seed, standardized capsules, 2500 mg 3-6x daily. Protects the liver and contains compounds that reduce viral replication and penetration of cells.
* Salvia miltiorrhizae (red sage) tincture, 1 tablespoon tincture 3-6x daily. Protects the spleen, enhances immune function, reduces cytokine cascade.
* Japanese knotweed root (Polygonum cuspidatum), 1 tablespoon of powder or tincture 3-6x daily. Protects endothelial cell integrity, reduces cytokine cascade.
TO REDUCE CYTOKINE STORM/SEPTIC SHOCK (all tinctures)
1) Angelica sinensis/Astragalus spp, equal parts, 1 tbl each hour
2) Salvia miltiorrhiza, 1 tbl each hour
3) Pueria lobata/Cordyceps, equal parts, 1 tbl each hour
4) Glycyrrhiza (licorice)/Bailak skullcap, equal parts, 1 tbl each hour
Note: this has been found in vivo to stop exactly this kind of septic shock.”
For information on diet and especially fermented foods, go to my page below.