There is only one thing we know that can really fight and win the battle with a virus: it is our own immune system. Vaccines can train the immune system how to recognize viruses, but the immune system must still win the fight. The following is a basic tutorial on how the immune system works on a cellular level to protect us and preserve our life.
How does the immune system work?
Our big heavily armed immune cells circulate mostly through our blood, rolling along inside blood vessels, looking for the signals of trouble from surrounding cells. When they receive these distress signals, they quickly mobilize, moving and squeezing through cells and tissues until they arrive at the place of distress. There are two types of communication systems that immune cells use so they know what to do.
(1) The innate immune system uses Redox Signals coming from damaged, oxidatively-stressed cells and the subsequently activated cytokines (the distress signals) to locate where the damaged cells are (we see this as tissues becoming inflamed and red).
(2) The adaptive immune system keeps a list that identifies the “bad guys”. When they identify a “bad guy” they call in the heavy artillery to fight and kill the bad guys and clean up the damaged cells. Often millions of cells must be damaged before a significant immune response happens and the bad guys are successfully identified.
How do the immune cells kill viruses?
The “big gun” that the immune cells use will kill almost anything is called the “oxidative burst”, made from a special combination of the same redox signaling molecules that are used to send the distress signal (isn’t life incredible). For those technically savvy, these redox signaling molecules include Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2), Hypochlorous Acid (HOCl), Superoxide (O2*-), and other hypochlorite ions and reactive oxygen species (ROS). In the right combination, these can be either anti-inflammatory (passing along signals) or fatal and inflammatory (killing cells and viruses). The chemical redox balance is what makes the difference. Hydroxychloroquine, announced by Trump to kill the Coronavirus, uses such oxidative methods. Chloroquine Phosphate was shown to be somewhat successful during the SARS-2 outbreak last decade. The immune cells, however, have the best weapons and are trained on how to use these “big guns”. If they get it wrong, they can start destroying the good cells and bacteria or start a cytokine storm (see below).
What does our immune system need to optimally destroy viruses?
Basic supplies needed by our immune cells to be effective are simply found in the micronutrients we eat found mostly in vegetables and fruits. These include magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, Vitamins A, B12, C, D3, and others. Also amino acids in proteins are needed to build and repair damaged cells. Folates (in veggies) are also needed to build DNA and nervous communications. We cannot understate the importance of these nutrients, nothing can substitute for them!!! To get them, go to your produce aisle and pick out everything that looks lush and colorful (greens, oranges, reds, purples). Learn how to prepare them into delicious raw salads or fixings (or make smoothies). Better yet, learn how to grow them! The perfect blend of micronutrients and pre- and pro-biotics are found in fresh raw garden vegetables (grown in good soil). Without them, your immune system army will not have the supplies they need to win. Lots of Vitamin C and bitter herbs is very helpful to battle viruses. Good home-made soups are wonderful and they even help wash the viruses out of our throats!
What weakens our immune system?
During a viral invasion, our immune system must be armed to kill literally trillions of viruses. Any weakness in our defenses can spell lots of pain and distress to our organs and tissues. In order to win, we should avoid things that would weaken our defenses. Besides lack of nutrient supplies, steroids, antihistamines, many pain killers, cold medicine, and some drugs can seriously weaken immune response and slow your recovery. It is very wise to avoid such unless absolutely necessary to reduce swelling. Overabundant carbohydrates and sugary foods raise blood sugar, though this provides energy, too much of it causes inflammation and distress to the blood vessels, that can confuse immune cell signaling, and/or can cause the immune system to overreact. It is dangerous to distract or overstimulate the immune system.
What is a cytokine storm?
The distress signals, cytokines, help the immune cells recognize where they should go. If the immune system gets overly stimulated, it can start to harm healthy cells, create excess distress signals (oxidative stress), these signals in turn create more cytokines, which call in stronger immune response, and the whole thing escalates into an unneeded and miserable full scale attack. Balanced redox signaling is required to clear things up. Sometimes immune suppressors may be employed by health professionals to slow down the escalation to quell the cytokine cascade. Serious allergic reactions often involve cytokine storms.
How does a virus work?
Viruses are little packets of genetic material (viral RNA) that can attach to cells and be injected into the cell, where they are converted to DNA and grafted into our DNA coding. When this viral DNA coding is executed (expressed) by the cell, it creates more of the viruses that can infect other cells. Virus packets have different shapes. The Coronavirus, for example, looks like a little ball with spikes coming out (like a crown). At the end of the spikes are the molecular machinery used to attach (fuse) to cell receptors and inject the genetic material into the cells. When a cell is infected and activated, it can produce many millions of copies of the same virus. These viruses fill and rupture the cell, sending millions of viruses out that can then infect other cells.
The immune system detects the distress signals from the cells and called in. If immune cells can identify the viruses, the adaptive immune system will then work to destroy them. There are safe nanoparticles of just the right shape and size that might be able to attach to the fusion points of some viruses, like the HIV-1 virus that can be used to block the injection machinery from fusing to cells. Nanoparticle solutions, however, are still in testing.
Can my immune system kill the Coronavirus?
YES. The immune system is really the only thing that will be able to kill the virus once it is inside us. We need to have a fully-functioning immune system to win! Older people have slower immune systems and thus are more susceptible to more serious consequences. If you are older or have had health problems, it would be very wise to take the advice from the post to heart, I wrote it so you know that we can win. Education about what we are dealing with is critical.
We can and will beat this virus, as we have done throughout all history. Having a strong immune system is the key!