A Tale of Two COVID Patients
COVID-19 has turned out to be a disease testing the health of humanity. Obesity, diabetes, suppressed immune systems, inflammation, and other problems cause patients to fare worse when they get COVID-19. These patients have a more difficult time with the disease and have continued symptoms, turning out with the COVID Long Haul effects. Physicians need to employ a more holistic approach, rather than fixated on the overall clinical picture. Intubating patients early was an example of being fixated on a clinical picture. Humans who catch COVID-19 do far better when they are treated early and metabolically healthy. Here’s a story of two similar patients and how they fared after catching the COVID-19 virus. The names are changed, but the information is based on actual cases.
Tim is a 51-year-old male. He works as a busy commercial real estate agent, which is a high-stress job. Tim is obese, 5’8”, and weighs about 270 pounds. He has hypertension, coronary artery disease, and type 2 diabetes; he takes diabetes and blood pressure medicine. He also has a history of low testosterone for which he used to supplement his testosterone but has not done this in some years. Otherwise, he is reasonably healthy, does not smoke, and drinks alcohol socially. Tim used to be an elite athlete in the sport of Jiu-Jitsu and laments these days. He knows that he could get into shape again if he just had the time.
Tim tests positive for COVID-19 and is told by his family doctor that he should go home and rest and wait it out. Uncomfortable with this answer, Tim calls his wellness doctor for a second opinion. Tim explains that he is still overweight, blood sugars are in the 130s, and shortness of breath. Otherwise, he has been taking hot sauna baths and trying to get sun while he isolates himself in his house’s basement.
His wellness doctor recommended that he obtain a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine as soon as possible, preferably with an oxygen concentrator, and begin using it during the day and night while sleeping. He was given a prescription of azithromycin, hydroxychloroquine, and dexamethasone. He was advised to start taking vitamins (intravenously if possible), especially vitamin C, B-complex, and zinc, and vitamin D. Finally, he was offered the peptides called thymosin alpha 1 (TA1) and Sermorelin (subcutaneous injections). TA1 has already been used in treating COVID-19 patients and is used to enhance the immune system. Sermorelin increases the natural production of growth hormone, which is also vital for the immune system. Finally, he was advised to consume a nutrient-dense, low carbohydrate diet, mostly nose-to-tail consisting of bone broth, meats, organ meats, soups, and some vegetables.
Ultimately, Tim chose to wait it out, only starting the azithromycin and dexamethasone. The pharmacist explained the risks of taking hydroxychloroquine, and Tim was scared to take this medication. He continued the steam sauna baths and sunbathing and initially felt better. He even monitored his oxygen levels with a pulse oximeter, and these values varied from 92 to 97%, with 92% being the lowest. Two days later, he reported continued shortness of breath and was advised to go to the emergency room (ER) for evaluation. At the ER, his oxygen saturation was 94%; his other vital signs were typical. His chest X-RAY showed a left-sided pneumonia, consistent with a COVID-19 infection. He was released from the ER and told to go home and rest.
Two more days passed, and Tim was feeling about the same. He decided that maybe he should buy the CPAP machine and the other treatments advised by his doctor. Tim ordered the machine, and another day passed. It had been a week since he was diagnosed with COVID-19. That night, Tim felt worse with increasing shortness of breath and presented himself to the hospital. He was admitted to the COVID-19 intensive care unit and immediately placed on a CPAP machine with oxygen. X-rays at the hospital revealed that the pneumonia was in both lungs and worsening. His oxygenation levels were in the high 80’s to low 90’s. He needed to be positioned in the prone (face-down) position to improve his breathing. At this point, Tim was fighting for his life.
Tim was continued on intravenous antibiotics, dexamethasone, remdesivir, blood thinners, and other medications with minimal improvement in the days to come. Remdesisvir is an anti-viral medication given intravenously. Tim’s condition remained about the same, and he was in danger of needing to have a breathing tube placed, and artificial ventilation started to maintain his oxygen levels. It is well known that once a COVID-19 patient is intubated and placed on a ventilator, the chances of survival are dramatically decreased. After about a week in the hospital, Tim was given the experimental plasma treatment from a person previously infected with COVID-19. After this treatment, Tim showed some improvement. His breathing improved, oxygen levels were better, and most of all, his cloudy mentation went away, and he was able to think clearly.
Tim stayed a few more days in the hospital and was then discharged to his home. He explains the process as a horrifying moment in his life. He felt like he was being starved of oxygen despite receiving oxygen from a machine. He noted that the plasma treatment was a turning point, and he was amazed at how much his mentation improved afterward.
Tim ultimately regrets not being more aggressive in his initial treatment of his COVID diagnosis. His doctors continued the blood thinners for a short time. He immediately started the regimen of the TA1, Sermorelin, injectable vitamins, statin medication, melatonin, and hormone replacement. He maintained a strict nose to tail carnivore diet. He lost over 30 pounds in the process. Luckily, he does not have any of the “long-hauler” effects of having COVID. He is working out, maintaining his weight, and controlling his glucose levels. He has a new take on life and thankful for everyone involved.
Dave is a 50-year-old male who works as a police officer and recently had bariatric surgery to treat his chronic obesity. Before the surgery, he weighed about 285 pounds and is 5’10”. Dave has been dealing with obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and arthritis for the last 20 years. Dave does not drink alcohol or smoke tobacco. Dave was also heavily involved in martial arts when he was younger and still likes to practice, but it is at best difficult given his medical issues. Dave had his bariatric surgery in mid-March. The surgery went well, and there were no problems with his recovery.
Concerned about his health, he went to see a physician for a consultation to optimize his health. His main goals were to make sure he kept the weight off, reverse his diabetes, optimize his hormones, and decrease his arthritis. He is very motivated to get back into the gym and start his martial arts program.
His doctor recommended that he start with a low carbohydrate, nutrient-dense, nose-to-tail high diet. Intravenous vitamin infusions were done weekly during the three months after his surgery. He started using the peptides TA1 and Sermorelin, as well as the peptide for arthritis, pentosan polysulfate. He also went back to using human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) to stimulate his testosterone production. He started exercising regularly and began meditation to control the stress resulting from his job as a police officer. Two months after the surgery, he lost about 45 pounds, and his overall health was excellent.
Three months after the surgery, Dave and nine others of his police colleagues caught COVID-19. Most of his colleagues experienced shortness of breath, fatigue, and some had to be hospitalized. Dave, however, was asymptomatic. He never showed one symptom of COVID-19 and isolated himself for two weeks, and felt fine the entire time.
He continued his peptides, vitamins, diet, and hormone regime during his quarantine. He took azithromycin as prophylaxis for the infection, but no other medications. His blood sugars remained stable. Dave never experienced fevers, headaches, shortness of breath, or fatigue. He did lose his ability to smell for a couple of days. He returned to work ten days later and exercised in the gym every day.
Two similar patients, Two COVID-19 diagnoses, Two Very Different Outcomes
How could two similar people have such different experiences with the COVID-19? More importantly, improving metabolic health can render COVID-19 essentially harmless, as in the example of Dave. The short answer is that we don’t know the exact reasons. What we do know is that people who have optimized metabolic health do well with the COVID-19 infections in general. Many have no symptoms despite being infected with COVID-19. Those with poor metabolic health are at risk for having bad outcomes when they catch COVID-19. Consider the ways how you could improve your metabolic health. Ninety percent of the battle is removing processed foods from your lifestyle. The result is weight loss, reversing carbohydrate intolerance, and decreasing inflammation.
COVID-19 consists of two diseases, severe viral infection, and an immune system-mediated syndrome. Early treatment of the immune system dysfunction is essential. The SARS-CoV-2 virus appears extraordinarily adept at hyper-activating the patient’s immune system and subsequent widespread inflammation throughout the patient’s own body. Typical viral infections do not cause a wide range of symptoms associated with COVID-19. It’s not unreasonable to expect immune reactions like cytokine storms, hypercoagulable states, and vasculitis Guillain-Barré syndrome, and Kawasaki like-disease seen in children with COVID-19. Patients should be examined by their doctor as an individual and realize there’s more than one approach in treating this disease.
Using intravenous vitamins for the treatment of COVID-19 has been described (vitamins C, B-complex, zinc, magnesium, and glutathione). Vitamins critical for the immune system are vitamins C, D, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. A lack of these essential nutrients can affect resistance to infection and increase disease severity. Severe illness also increases the requirements for these vitamins. Dr. Marik of Eastern Virginia Medical School has studied the effect of high dose vitamin C on a severe illness. Vitamin D is important in COVID-19. Most people do not know 30 minutes of sunlight per day gives us about 25,000 units of vitamin D or that an injectable form of vitamin D exists.
Using the peptide TA1 has recently been shown to aid COVID patients (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7409727/). Thymosin alpha 1 is a peptide isolated initially from thymic tissue shown to restore immune function in thymectomized mice, with a dual mechanism during inflammation. Thymosin alpha-1 restores T cell function by enhancing their maturation and inhibiting apoptosis. T-cell immunity turns out to be crucial in modulating the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Also, it could prevent a proinflammatory cytokine storm by increasing regulatory T cells. As an immune modulator, TA1 exerts significant biological influence in regulating the immune system’s function in many diseases, including COVID, sepsis, cancer, chemotherapy-induced immunosuppression, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
Peptides like Sermorelin and Ipamorelin increase the own body’s production of growth hormone (GH). Sermorelin recently became available to practitioners for use in longevity medicine. Intriguingly, the GH–IGF1 axis and the immune system seem to be finely interconnected. It is worth recalling that GH is fundamental for the development and maintenance of the immune system, and its reduction may lead to an immune system disruption. Furthermore, immune system dysregulation, which is often present in patients with SARS‐CoV‐2 severe respiratory failure, may represent another missing link between COVID‐19 severity and GH–IGF1 axis impairment. According to recent findings, SARS‐CoV‐2 infection determines an inflammatory disease characterized by monocyte, macrophage, and dendritic cell activation as well as increased systemic cytokine production and Interleukin 6 (IL‐6) release, which contribute to the pathophysiology of severe COVID‐19, such as hypotension and acute respiratory distress syndrome; for this reason, anti-cytokine therapy is thought to be useful. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2699646/).
Melatonin, a well-known anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative molecule may protect against acute respiratory distress syndrome caused by viral and other pathogens. Melatonin is useful in critical care patients by reducing blood vessel permeability, anxiety, and sedation use; it also improves sleep quality, which is beneficial for COVID-19 patients. Notably, melatonin has a high safety profile.
The importance of optimizing your metabolic health cannot be overemphasized. Making lifestyle choices such as eliminating processed foods from boxes, wrappers, and cans are 90% of the battle. Once a person does this, obesity, diabetes, and chronic illness start to go away. More importantly, fixing your metabolic health before you get COVID-19 can be lifesaving.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute the practice of medicine or other professional healthcare practices, including the giving of medical advice. No doctor-patient relationship is formed. The use of this information is at the reader’s own risk, and the content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Readers should not delay in obtaining medical advice.