Ebola: The Basics

SUB-JP-HOSPITAL1-master495It’s hard to have a conversation without the topic of Ebola popping up, but do we really understand exactly what it is other than we don’t want to “catch” it?   Let’s start with the basics.  Ebola is a viral infection.  A virus that must live inside a live cell is in itself not a living agent.  It does not produce its own energy, grow, nor can it reproduce on its own.  A virus will usually live naturally in a specific unharmed species.  This is called a viral reservoir or host species.  In the case of Ebola – scientists speculate that fruit bats are the host.

So the big question…how do we contract Ebola and can we protect ourselves?  The spread of Ebola is through bodily fluids.  This includes, but is not limited to: blood, sputum, feces, and sexual intercourse. Ebola is NOT considered airborne nor are there any known cases; but I fear this is more of speculation rather than fact due to the ability for a virus to mutate.  Ebola, like most viruses, can mutate to survive.  Mutation can include a different mode of transmission to better infect its target.  Some virologists (those who study viruses) have studied, in labs, Ebola infecting lung tissue through a similar inherit transmission mechanism as influenza.

Ebola has a death rate ranging from 50-90%, which makes this a very serious infection.  Signs and symptoms of Ebola mimic those of less serious infections and usually start out with a fever and “flu-like” symptoms that could take 2-21 days to show up. If your symptoms progress with vomiting and bloody stools I would urge you to get to a local hospital immediately.  The timing of treatment is paramount—the earlier the better.ebola-virus-big_0

So, with its mode of transmission being as vast as bodily fluids, I think it would be paramount to concentrate on how we can protect ourselves and families, rather than the “watch and wait” approach.  At the time of this article there are no known “cures” for Ebola and hospitals are admitting they are ill prepared for this infection.  This does not mean we do not have ways to combat infection.  The greatest anti-viral that we know of is our body’s own immune system.  Seems hard to believe that something we were born with could be the answer along.  Perhaps the dismissal comes from the over abundance of sickness in our country, thus leading to a lack of trust in our body’s own defenses. Once we take a closer look at our lifestyle, food choices, manufacturing and processing combined with environmental toxins, we can start to see the recipe for disaster we are creating on the immune system.

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Our immune systems are extremely complex and we are not going to go into that, rather I want to concentrate on things we can do to strengthen ourselves.  Adequate vitamin C consumption is extremely important because, as humans, we lack the final enzyme in the process that makes vitamin C—so it must be consumed.  Vitamin C is needed for the phagocytes (part of your immune system that eats up the bad guys—like Pac Man!) and also T cell health.  T cells are a major player in the immune response.  They range in variety from “killer” cells to “helper” cells.  Vitamin D3 receptors are found in highest concentration on these T cells and is integral for their proper function in communicating and killing infections. Over 90% of our patients are deficient in Vitamin D3 regardless of sun exposure!  Iodine gets a lot of press for its role in thyroid function but it is also a potent anti-viral/fungal/bacterial that can be ingested or applied topically for skin rashes.  Coconut oil also possesses a unique fatty substance called monolauric acid that has been used effectively in treating other viral infections, such as Epstein Barr Virus.  Perhaps one of the most overlooked immune-regulators is the gut.  Proper digestion and good GI bacteria are a pivotal portion of the immune maturation process and what allows our body’s to recognize and kill foreign invaders.  Fiber, apple cider vinegar and probiotics are usually a great place to start.  As always, before changing/starting any natural or pharmaceutical therapy you should consult with your physician.

There are many other nutrients and strategies to make sure you have a healthy immune system.  Certain diagnostic tests can be utilized to assess your current immune status as well as other metabolic processes that may be deficient and leave you vulnerable to infections, in general.  Keeping your health a priority gives you the greatest benefits, not only from infection, but for overall well being and vitality.