Last week, as worldwide counters for coronavirus quadrupled, President Trump declared an anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine along with the antibiotic, azithromycin as “game changers” in the treatment of what is known as the coronavirus COVID-19.
However, President Trump must remember that this was a limited study based on 6 patients with no long-term follow up and that many lobbyists in the healthcare sector are most likely keen to profit from the sales of malaria drugs. Certainly we’ve heard that phrase, throwing out the baby with the bathwater, and we must consider earlier cases in history when doctors often treated diseases with substances that ended up poisoning the patients. In the 18th and 19th centuries, doctors treated tuberculosis with mercury, often leading to mercury poisoning in which hundreds of thousands of patients died from what was called “consumption”. Consumption began as the common flu but which later turned into tuberculosis and took the lives of many well known writers and artists of the time including D.H. Lawrence, Emily and Anne Bronte, Jane Austen, Honoré de Balzac, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Anton Chekov, Stephen Crane, John Keats, Katharine Mansfield, George Orwell, John Ruskin, Henry David Thoreau and other leading thinkers of their time.
Jane Austen (1775-1817). Many literary greats in the 19th and 20th centuries died from “consumption” or tuberculosis and the side effects from mercury poisoning which was the preferred treatment by doctors at the time.
During the Industrial Revolution, over pollution of streets acted as a constant source for outbreak and disease. A significant number of tuberculosis cases, in addition to other epidemics such as typhoid and cholera were eradicated after the introduction of water sanitisation in Europe and the United States in the 20th century. It has been widely studied that tuberculosis and intestinal parasites have a close relationship and helminths could also be a major contributor of tuberculosis. The intracellular parasite mycobacterium has been the most commonly implicated in tuberculosis and leprosy infections.
However, although tuberculosis had disappeared in the 21st century, according to the World Health Organisation, it is making a comeback and approximately 1.5 million people died from tuberculosis in 2018 alone.
One of these is not like the other. If you noticed that the "ebola virus" is radically different from the structure of viruses, you are most like correct. Ebola most resembles a parasite, something in between a helminth and a protozoa. It is unclear why scientists and researchers have labelled ebola a "virus" when it clearly resembles the structure of an intracellular parasite. Bacteriophages also are anatomically different from viruses, and feeds solely on bacteria and may be in a class of their own.
The use of anti-malarial drugs such as chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine and antibiotics such as azithromycin were limited in use until previously due to documentation of its serious and toxic side effects, one of which is irreversible hearing loss and multi-organ damage.
Instead of promoting drugs with serious side effects as potentially “gamechanging” we must ask if there might be better and safer alternatives?
Malaria is caused by plasmodium parasites, and patients get them through bites from infected mosquitoes. However, despite the toxic side effects, if an anti-malarial drug was nominally effective in its treatment against COVID-19, then the question arises:
Could the cause of COVID-19 actually be an intracellular parasite?
If we examine all pandemics and epidemics that have occurred in history: cholera, typhoid, polio - all were attributed to a lack of clean water sources and infection occurred through water-borne intracellular parasites.
Black plague, which killed more than an estimated 25 million people from the 14th-17th centuries was particularly devastating in its scope and although historians often attributed the spread of the plague through rats, an investigation into the history of bioterrorism reveals that the Black Plague was most likely caused by amoeba present in drinking water and soil.
“The use of biological weapons has been reported as early as the sixth century B.C. when contamination of water supply with the fungus Claviceps purpurea (rye ergot) by the Assyrians had been reported. The hurling of the dead bodies of plague victims over the walls of the city of Kaffa by the Tartar army in 1346 and the spreading of smallpox via contaminated blankets by the British to the Native American population loyal to the French in 1767 are the most frequently cited episodes of poisoning . In the recent past, mycotoxins (fungal toxins) were reported to have been used in Afghanistan in the form of what is popularly known as ‘yellow rain’. The growth of religious cults and extremist political groups also increases the threat of bioterrorism today. The most significant biological attack in the United States (US) was the intentional contamination of restaurant salad bars with Salmonella by a religious cult in Oregon in 1984 .”
The use of mycotoxins in biological warfare is particularly alarming because currently toxic fungi is not monitored in our municipal drinking water. In the UK, fungi or mycotic toxins are not required to be monitored nor controlled in drinking water.
What is also interesting is that a study in 2018 revealed that mycobacterium to be present in the drinking water of residents in New York City. NYC’s drinking water is derived from reservoirs upstate that are part of the Catskill/Delaware Watersheds area, west of the Hudson River, and the Croton Watershed area east of the Hudson.
Let’s remember that mycobacterium is the intracellular parasite that causes tuberculosis and leprosy and which caused the deaths of millions of people (1 out of 7) in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Recently, US scientists have linked nations that have vaccinated against tuberculosis to have significantly less COVID-19 cases than nations that have not pursued TB vaccinations.
It makes you wonder: Are Tuberculosis and COVID-19 the same disease with a different name?
As I have written previously in the role of viruses in the immune system, if viruses are a reactive element in immune system defense, does the presence of the intracellular parasite mycobacterium eventually lead to viruses being produced by the body to grapple with the infectious state?
Another prominent feature of the current treatment of COVID-19 is the use of ventilators. This was documented in early cases in China, and also in Italy and the United States. Mechanical ventilators are utilised to help patients breathe whose lungs are impacted from the current disease state, but they also have a significant side effect. The use of ventilators can often cause a condition called hypercapnia, in which there is too much carbon dioxide that develops in the bloodstream. This is problematic because this condition makes blood acidic - therefore, more susceptible to disease and leads to poor outcomes in treatment. Hypercapnia also causes headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and also complications such as seizures and loss of consciousness. Because COVID-19 patients suffer from lung disease, and advanced stages of pneumonia, the condition itself could potentially interfere with C02 diffusion, which prevents the flow of blood or air into lungs, and causes carbon dioxide (C02) to build up in the body. In fact, in early documented mortalities of COVID-19 cases in China, patients were put on ventilators, but due to the C02 buildup in their bodies, some patients felt uncomfortable and were reported to take the ventilators off, in which doctors subsequently injected them with paralysis medication and sedatives. This also seems to be the method of treatment in the United States. For patients who already have impacted breathing functions, suffer from a lack of C02 diffusion, were these ventilators and paralysis medications necessary? In fact, NPR reported that the majority of coronavirus patients who are put on mechanical ventilators do not survive.
Mechanical ventilators can cause a condition called hypercapnia, where too much C02 builds up in the body. Patients treated for coronavirus in both China and the United States reportedly were also given paralysis medications and sedatives to keep them still during the use of mechanical ventilators.
These cases using ventilators often lead to mortality and we must ask:
Was the treatment for these patients worse than the disease?
Much of medicine, like science, philosophy and art, is investigative. However, in our current system of medical treatment, it is often prescriptive and not investigative. Medical education is dependent on memorisation of large amounts of information but tested through a series of multiple choice questions and answers. In real life however, the answer is often not within the multiple choices and requires critical thinking and investigation to examine outside the given parameters. That is why there is often a saying, Ask 3 doctors and you will get 3 different opinions. The education of doctors is often derived from learning through clinical practice, however, when deaths of patients occur, we do not examine the treatment itself which lead to their mortality, but shift the blame onto the disease itself.
A scene in an Italian hospital where coronavirus patients are being treated. Source: CBS. The patients' heads are tightly embedded within a makeshift plastic bubble structure that provide mechanical ventilation. We must ask if this was a necessary factor in treatment? Could the high rates of mortality in Italy and Spain illuminate the inefficiency of treatment and lack of high quality medical care?
If instead of ventilators which could cause hypercapnia, and requires patients to be constantly monitored of their C02 levels, a better alternative could be hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).
HBOT delivers high pressure oxygen to patients and does not have the undesired side effect of hypercapnia. This seems like much more of a safer alternative than mechanical ventilation, although currently our health care systems do not have a steady warehouses of HBOT chambers, this is something our lawmakers could introduce so that every hospital has these available for patients who are in various stages of respiration failure.
At the face of this pandemic, our health care systems have shown a need to be vastly updated in terms of technology and preparedness, but that doesn’t mean that we should feel helpless whilst self-isolating at home.
The Power of Peppermint
Peppermint has a long history of medicinal use from ancient times. In research studies, peppermint extracts were shown to be more effective than commonly used anti-parasitics such as albendazole.
The method in which peppermint is able to do this is through some of its components such as menthol, menthyl acetate and mentithone which have therapeutic and synergistic effects. They act by dismantling an infectious agent from being able to propagate, leading to the microorganism’s death and prevent it from reproducing.
Peppermint is also anti-fungal. Peppermint was more effective than antifungals such as fluconazole and itraconazole in research studies.
Peppermint also has natural anti-viral activity. Peppermint has been shown to be effective on various “viral infections” although it is uncertain whether it is through the action against the virus itself, or through its anti-parasitic effects.
Peppermint extracts have been shown to be effective against above various viral diseases.
Peppermint also has radioprotective effects.
“The radioprotective activity of peppermint oil and aqueous extract has well been documented [192,193]. Kaushik et al. demonstrated the effectiveness of peppermint alcoholic extract against radiation induced morbidity and mortality using the optimum dose of 100 mg/kg for 3 consecutive days . Samarth and Coworkers suggested the antioxidant and free radical scavenging activities of leaf extract of peppermint are directly related to its mechanism of radiation protection . Several mechanisms such as antioxidant activity, immune response, and enhanced recovery of bone marrow have been suggested for chemoprevention and radioprotection of peppermint extracts .”
Peppermint = anti-parasitic, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal. Peppermint is the powerhouse warrior against infectious microbial agents.
Beetroot: Key In Immunity and Longevity
Beetroot is one of those superpower foods that increases nitric oxide (NO) in your body. Increase in NO activates telomerase and delays endothelial cell senescence. This essentially means that beetroot enhances longevity. In addition, beetroot contains beta glucans which have been shown to have beneficial effects for brain health. Beta glucans also increase the mobilisation of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) from bone marrow into damaged tissues.
For enhanced immunity, beetroot increases white blood cells in the body, restored levels of red blood cells, and protects radiosensitive immune cells against ionising radiation.
“Beetroot not only stimulated cell proliferation, but also minimized DNA damage of splenocytes. Beetroot also repopulated S-phase cells and increased Ki-67 or c-Kit positive cells in bone marrow. Moreover, beetroot-treated mice showed notable boosting of differentiation of HSCs into burst-forming units-erythroid along with increased production of IL-3. Also, beetroot-treated mice displayed enhancement in the level of hematocrit and hemoglobin as well as the number of red blood cell in peripheral blood. Beetroot diet improved survival rate of lethally exposed mice with a dose reduction factor (DRF) of 1.1.”
Beetroot juice = enhanced longevity, enhanced athletic performance, immunoprotective, enhanced cardiovascular effects and beneficial for the brain. Beetroot is the ultimate superfood.
Beetroot Juice recipe. As a note: beetroot juice increases white blood cells in your blood. If you take a blood test after ingesting beetroot juice, it will show elevated levels of white blood cells and oftentimes, doctors associate elevated white blood cell levels with infection. However, the elevated levels will probably be due to the beetroot and not necessarily to infection. Beetroot juice also colours lactating mother's milk and may colour urine and stool in a reddish/brownish tone. These have no harmful effects.
Building a Healthy Microbiome with Fermented Foods: Kimchi
During the SARS outbreak in 2002-2004, South Korea was relatively not affected and many news agencies reported subsequently that it was due to a particular national dish that is consumed multiple times on the daily by its citizens: kimchi.
Kimchi is a spicy fermented vegetable side dish (usually cabbage, radish or spring onions) that are usually aged in clay pots or glass jars in which strains of bacteria begin to develop. These beneficial bacteria when ingested colonise the gut and develop a microbiome that helps fight against pathogens and enhances immunity. This could also be a possible explanation in how South Korea was able to flatten the curve on COVID-19 infections whilst the rest of the world continued to spike towards new highs.
“[Researchers at Korea Food Research Institute] said well-fermented kimchi with pH levels of 4.0-4.2 had the best results in tests, adding that steady consumption of the food over a long period of time boosted resistance to infection.”
With the rise of remote work, social distancing and self-quarantine, it might be time to try out new kimchi recipes at home.
Other fermented foods include sauerkraut and kombucha. Dietary fibers in vegetables promote the growth of probiotic bacteria and the microorganisms found on the vegetables are key in kimchi fermentation, including lactic acid bacteria (LAB). Korean researchers at Ewha Woman’s University Medical Center also have recently discovered that lactic acid bacteria from sea buckthorn berry inhibited COVID-19.
In earlier studies, South Korean researchers found that pigs with coronaviruses that were injected with probiotics from lactic acid bacteria (LAB) all recovered within a week.
Although pharmaceutical lobbyists have promoted chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as possible treatments for COVID-19, with many test trials being set up around the world, we can see from previous epidemics that South Korean researchers and academics have extensively studied beneficial bacteria from lactic acid in successfully treating coronaviruses.
Side effects from chloroquine, hydroxycholoroquine and azithromycin are long and varied, including irreversible eye, hearing, heart, liver, multi-organ damage etc.
Side effects from probiotics from lactic acid = none. In fact, it might be to our collective benefit to eat more kimchi in addition to drinking more beetroot juice and peppermint tea for their immune boosting effects.
Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only and not intended as medical advice. If you feel sick, contact your local health professional. It is a part of lifelong learning to discuss ideas, examine research and engage in dialogue that can produce new theories in fast-moving sectors such as epigenetics, medicine, microbiology and virology. The only intention of this article is to begin a dialogue in order to re-examine old assumptions via discussion of ideas in a respectful way.