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The COVID-19 Pandemic

March 16, 2020

Recent updates to this page:

Although our doctors and staff have always put an exceptional priority on maintaining a clean office, Rollette Chiropractic Center has further enhanced sanitation protocols within our office in order to ensure that they meet or exceed EPA guidelines for pandemic disease prevention. If you have questions about specific procedures or situations or would like more information, please call the office at (985) 345-9504.

If you are currently taking black elderberry syrup, please see our special section on elderberry and inflammatory response to respiratory viruses.


What’s happening?

The United States is in the midst of an unprecedented response to a global outbreak of COVID-19, a new kind of respiratory virus. These are strange days for most of us, and it’s hard to know where to turn for accurate knowledge and a sense of security. There are steps we can take to take charge of our own future even when so many things seem out of our control, however.

What makes this situation so unusual?

COVID-19 is what’s known as a novel virus, meaning that it is brand new to the human population. Coronaviruses themselves are not; it’s only this particular type of coronavirus that we’ve never seen before. The amount of uncertainty concerning its potential has led individuals, public health officials, and government agencies to implement some drastic measures to slow transmission rates.

For more information on what we know and don’t know about COVID-19, scroll down to the “Additional Resources” section of this page.

Can I keep myself and my family safe?

The good news is that, yes, there’s a lot you can do to stay healthy during this event—and most of it costs very little and is easy to do.

  • Eat well, stay active, and get adjusted. We probably all recognize that our lifestyle has a tremendous influence on our health, but the role our choices play could be especially critical right now. Cardiovascular health, hormonal function, immune function, and emotional regulation are all demonstrably improved by a healthy lifestyle. However, we probably don’t often think about how much more critical a role lifestyle can play during an outbreak of disease. A large retrospective study involving patients who received chiropractic care during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic offers some encouraging results for those who are maintaining beneficial habits, including regular adjustments. A new summary of 10 studies from Dr. Ben Lerner further demonstrates how chiropractic affects the ability to resist viruses in today’s environment.
  • Get plenty of vitamin D. The idea that vitamin D could help to prevent respiratory infection or protect against severe infections is not new, but the question of how it might affect individuals exposed to COVID-19 is. While the results of the latest research are still awaiting final approval, they suggest that keeping vitamin D levels at or above a certain threshold may have a significant impact on a person’s ability to prevent or manage similar respiratory infections, and possibly COVID-19 itself. Unfortunately, many Americans have low or insufficient levels of vitamin D. Getting some sunshine or eating foods rich in vitamin D are great ways to give your level a boost, but people with lower levels may also benefit from a high-quality supplement. Feel free to call Rollette Chiropractic Center at (985) 345-9504 for more information on vitamin D and other beneficial nutrients that can help support optimal functioning.
  • Use practices that promote mindfulness to help yourself focus and remain calm.  Choose whatever works best for you: prayer, meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, or certain cognitive behavioral techniques. All of these are safe, simple exercises that can be done quickly, but have been repeatedly shown to be effective at decreasing anxiety, improving mood, and benefiting your physical well-being.
  • Wash your hands. Hand sanitizer can be helpful when other options truly aren’t available, but washing vigorously with soap and water is still the superior method. Opt to wash your hands whenever possible rather than relying on hand sanitizer.  Hand sanitizer may seem convenient, but it’s meant as more of a last resort than a first line of defense. Basic hand washing is still less expensive and works better, which makes it one of the most effective safeguards we have against infection.
  • Stay informed, but don’t overload yourself. It’s vital to stay up-to-date on the latest recommendations and executive orders so that we can work toward the best possible outcome for everyone. But focusing all your attention on news coverage or spending a lot of time sorting through conflicting information can raise your levels of cortisol, a hormone your body produces in times of stress. Cortisol is helpful in the moment, but if your levels stay elevated for a long time, your physical and mental health can begin to suffer. Reducing the amount of stress you’re under can positively impact every system in your body, including your immune system. In addition to the mindfulness exercises listed above, consider limiting yourself to a brief, preset period each day to read articles or view news coverage. You won’t miss any critical updates, and you’ll likely feel better overall.

What about black elderberry syrup?

Sales of black elderberry syrup, a natural antiviral, have exploded in our area recently. Even here at Rollette Chiropractic Center, our supplies have practically flown off the shelves. However, some people taking it may feel concerned about information that has begun circulating online and through social media that reportedly links elderberry syrup to cytokine storm, a severe and potentially deadly inflammatory response.

Here is the most fact-based information that we have right now:

  • Black elderberry syrup is not “snake oil” or fringe medicine. While it took some time for elderberry to become the subject of formal study, it has been evaluated in dozens of mainstream medical journals recently and its antiviral properties are well accepted. Numerous trials and systematic reviews indicate that black elderberry extracts are effective at limiting the symptoms and duration of the common cold, are accepted as a safe and effective method of treating influenza infection, and show promise in the management of other, non-respiratory viral illnesses.
  • COVID-19, while similar to other respiratory viruses in many respects, is a novel strain. This means that we do not yet have research specific to this exact type of coronavirus, even though we know a fair amount about how respiratory viruses (including other coronaviruses) react to black elderberry. Unfortunately, just about any medical intervention you could think of is subject to the same lack of formal research specific to COVID-19 because the virus is just too new.
  • Black elderberry does stimulate a pro-inflammatory response in healthy individuals by increasing the production of chemicals known as cytokines. However, this is normally a beneficial process, since temporary inflammation indicates that the immune system is recognizing and attacking the source of the infection. It only becomes a problem when the response is abnormally excessive, which can lead to a dangerous condition commonly referred to as cytokine storm.
  • Fortunately, cytokine storm is rare and appears to be a result of many complex factors. After extensively reviewing research and case studies, we have not found any reports of an actual patient experiencing cytokine storm due to use of black elderberry extracts. Additional research on sepsis associated with cytokine storm has indicated that the particular cytokine (TNF-alpha) that on average undergoes the greatest increase in production following use of elderberry extracts has not been associated with increased symptom severity or poor survival.

The bottom line is that it’s impossible to say for certain what kind of effect black elderberry syrup might have on COVID-19, and we can only make an educated guess based on the information we have. There may be some people—like those on immunosuppressive drugs or chemotherapy—who should consult their treating physician and/or abstain from using elderberry products. There is also nothing wrong with decreasing or pausing your intake of elderberry if you become symptomatic and would prefer to exercise caution. However, if you don’t have certain risk factors and choose to continue using elderberry syrup,  it seems reasonable to conclude that the available research appears to be more favorable than unfavorable at this point in time. If that changes, we will update this section accordingly.

Again, this is not meant to be taken as personal medical advice, and we emphasize that the decision is yours. Our mission is simply to help you make as informed a choice as is possible.

Additional resources

COVID-19 is an organism belonging to a family of viruses known as coronaviruses. We already knew of several types of coronaviruses before this outbreak; these are common and associated with mostly mild respiratory illnesses, including colds. COVID-19 is different from these other recognized coronaviruses, though. It’s a type of coronavirus that’s never been seen before late 2019 and isn’t yet well understood. It also appears to be easier to transmit than many other coronaviruses, as well as associated with potentially serious infections in a minority of the population. COVID-19 was first identified in China several months ago, where it resulted in widespread infection and large economic impacts. Sometime in January 2020, the virus apparently found its way to the US and other countries and began to spread within them.

Unfortunately, that’s about all we know about COVID-19 at this point in time, which makes it difficult to predict how it will behave here. The best defense may be to practice good hygiene and draw on the information we do have, including statistics from past disease outbreaks. See the videos and articles below for more on how we can use that knowledge to minimize the impacts of this pandemic and plan for a healthier future.

The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic

Click the photo to read about how chiropractic care saved lives

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