FIGHTING RESPIRATORY VIRUSES (Pt 5):
INNATE & ADAPTIVE IMMUNITY
CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: This piece describes a protocol the author’s found highly effective for fighting respiratory infections over several decades, especially when augmented by some of the other methods described in the accompanying four articles. My experience is that the protocol works across a wide range of viral and bacterial infections, including a few cases recently with symptoms matching reports of the coronavirus’ common presentations. Be sure note the precautions if you’re elderly or pregnant. This information is to be considered educational and not prescriptive. If you have a medical condition, please consult your physician.
his might seem to be a good moment for us all to understand a little more about how the immune system works.
There’s two levels: innate and adaptive.
The innate immune system is the first level of defense. It’s sloppy, but fast. Like an Isis fighter spraying automatic weapons fire in a certain direction without trying to aim.
Better, think of innate immunity as an airport guard, patting everyone down before they can board. Immune cells work by examining the shapes of everything they encounter. If you’re the right shape … if you’re one of us … they let you pass. You can proceed.
But if you’re the wrong shape … WHAM!! Those airport guard innate immune macrophages stick a little flag on ya … all their buddies swarm and eat you alive, bathing you in an acid bath of free radicals until you’re nothing but pus or phlegm.
Yuck. Sorry. But that’s how it works.
We’ve all been there.
Just like airport guards, innate immune cells have to have a certain level of tolerance. Distinguishing self from other turns out not to be so easy at times. Too relaxed: the bad guys get in (especially if we’re stressed or undernourished.) Too vigilent: the immune system starts attacking its own body’s cells.
It’s part of the immune system’s job, you see, to spot unhealthy cells, along with bacteria and viruses … and destroy them, too. So the distinction can be tricky and if immunity has trouble drawing the line, sometimes it gets an itchy trigger finger.
Then no one gets through the gate and onto the plane. We call that autoimmune disease. Red, inflamed, angry, painful.
Cytokine Storms are Really Adaptive Immunity in Overdrive
Adaptive immunity is that part of the immune system that vaccines attempt to train to attack specific micro-organisms. If innate immunity sprays bullets, adaptive immunity is a sniper.
It’s slow … it takes about two weeks to gear up. (We call that an incubation period.) But when it finally joins the battle it’s a powerful force: so powerful in fact that it can kill. Just like innate immunity, adaptive immunity can produce lots of debris full of corrosive free radicals. Under certain circumstances it’ll do it very, very fast.
If the debris and collateral damage builds up faster than the body can eliminate it, we call it a cytokine storm. These can kill.
But it’s not the cytokines that do the damage. They’re just signals immune cells send each other when they sense a threat.
Cytokines just tell immunity what to do. It’s the immune cells themselves that do the damage.
And to be sure, when an immune response is so strong that it, say, fills the lungs with fluid that shows up as ground glass on x-rays … there’s plenty of cytokines in circulation.
But it’s not the cytokine storm itself.
It’s the powerful immune response it provokes, creating so much collateral damage so quickly that we call it pneumonia.
So … what do we do?
The Unfortunate Taboo Against Pauling’s Work
Over sixty years ago Linus Pauling taught us that taking enough vitamin C to trigger diarrhea was the only way to witness our full innate immune potential. He further taught that how much we could take before getting diarrhea, our bowel tolerance, would increase as a function of the seriousness of any infection we were fighting.
I’ve used it for years as a quick way of figuring out if I was, in fact, fighting something off.
Today, our valiant and brave medical establishment is falling. Literally.
Starved of the equipment and supplies they need to do their jobs, they’re succumbing to the same infections their patients are bringing them. Most will survive and return in a few weeks, immune. That’s adaptive immunity in action.
But we all know COVID prefers the experienced, the seniors … the ones with tired immune systems.
There’s a taboo in conventional medicine against talking about Pauling and his work. For one thing, he was a prominent anti-war activist (and won a Nobel Prize for his trouble.) For another, he was into eugenics. He thought it was important to attempt to improve the human race through science.
There are few ways of thinking us moderns find more odious.
There’s also an issue with the structure of conventional medical research itself: the primacy of the RCT trial. That’s too much to get into here, so just know that the “gold standard” of medical research for the last 60 years, the RCT trial, cannot practically examine the effect of complex therapeutic interventions, such as the one Pauling proposed. He titrated the dosage to the response of the patient; otherwise it wouldn’t work the way he reported.
That breaks all the RCT research rules.
Which is a shame, because Pauling taught us a trick conventional medicine can’t do safely, at scale and at a reasonable cost: boosting innate immunity.
Enter Vitamin C
This matters a lot, because when innate immunity is well supplied with the raw materials it needs to do its job, it can protect us against … well … let’s just say it can protect us much better than is generally understood.
And that protection generalizes across a wide range of microbes. My experience has been that it works great against a wide range of bacteria and viruses, less well against fungus.
When innate immunity is strong it serves pretty much the same purpose as social isolation does for our hospitals. It slows down the progression of a virus. Properly supplied, it can often stop it completely.
That’s where Pauling’s advice comes in.
Immune activity, you see, creates huge amounts of free radicals. Vitamin C mops them up. And this helps immune reactions become much more efficient.
Back your car up into a snowbank and the engine dies. Why?
Because the exhaust can’t get out. One way to stop any kind of process is to allow the waste to build up. Think: climate change.
But the converse is also true. If we can remove the waste quickly enough we can speed up the pace of the reaction producing that waste.
That’s exactly what Vitamin C does. It helps immune cells complete the process of digesting all the waste and rendering it harmless.
But that’s not all. Vitamin C is also the raw material from which the body builds connective tissue. Guess what: the innate immune system is part of our connective tissue.
So when we tank up on Vitamin C … we both give our immune systems a rich supply of a crucial nutrient they need to run (zinc is another …) but we also whisk away the waste just as soon as its formed, supercharging our innate immune systems’ ability to protect us.
Now … there are some precautions …
One: Pauling’s protocol should only be used when we really need it. Taking doses of vitamin C this large on a daily maintenance basis can cause issues … but 2-3 doses in a 72 hour period are almost always fine (see the discussion of the G6PD SNP at the bottom of the Vitamin C page, although there’s no evidence that’s an issue when ascorbic acid is taken orally for a couple of days.)
It’s rare to need more than that all at once (sometimes it’s a good idea to repeat 1 or 2 doses a few days later; there can be a weakened second wave.)
Two: Be sure to use pure ascorbic acid. The powder is cheapest, and best (no fillers or binders.) No buffered compounds with sodium or calcium. These doses are too large. No time release; that slows the feedback loops, which we need to observe in real time to know what to do. And no chewables, because they’re loaded with sugar which can partially block vitamin C transport.
Three: Be sure to use the right-sized spoon: a teaspoon.
Four: As mentioned above, about 400 million people around the globe have a G6PD SNP, creating a glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. This is seen most often in certain parts of The Mideast, the Mediterranean area, Africa and Asia. It’s a sex-linked trait found almost exclusively in men. In the US it affects about 10% of African American males. If, while taking large amounts of vitamin C, you notice any paleness, yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice), dark urine, fatigue, shortness of breath or a rapid heart rate, stop immediately.
There are other methods one can use to boost innate immunity and generally the more the merrier.
I myself, in an extreme situation, will often combine ginger tea, vitamin C and the hot soaks for maximum effect. If my throat is sore I’ll switch teas (to Throat Coat, a Slippery Elm tea) and wrap my throat.
And if I ever had trouble with a bad cough that just wouldn’t go away … I’d reach for the Frankincense and Marjoram and hope I’d remembered to get another bottle of Jojoba oil to help dilute and carry them in through the skin (NOT for internal use.)
OK. Now go get the details.
1. Kim H, Jang M, Kim Y, et al. Red ginseng and vitamin C increase immune cell activity and decrease lung inflammation induced by influenza A virus/H1N1 infection. 2016. J Pharm Pharmacol. 68(3):406-20/
2. Sorice A, Guerriero E, Capone F, et al. Ascorbic acid: its role in immune system and chronic inflammation diseases. 2014. Mini Rev Med Chem. 14(5):444-52.
3. Maggini S, Wenzlaff S, Hornig D. Essential role of vitamin C and zinc in child immunity and health. 2010. J Int Med Res. 38(2):386-414.
4. Pauling L. Orthomolecular psychiatry. Varying the concentrations of substances normally present in the human body may control mental disease. 1968. Science. 160(825):265-271.
5. Pauling, L. Vitamin C and the Common Cold. 1970. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman.