With information coming at us from all channels and changing practically daily, it’s been hard to separate fact from conjecture when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic.
When I got a chance to interview a molecular biologist who studied cytokine storms and has been keeping up on research on the virus, I couldn’t pass it up.
My mind has been filled with so many questions the last 12 months starting with the very basic:
What the heck IS a virus, and why are some much more dangerous than others?
Remember those cytokine storms from spring 2020? Are those still a thing? How do they work, and why were they so dangerous?
And of course, as a proponent of the strength of our own bodies and immune systems, I was dying to hear if there are any preventative or healing measures one can take without the help of a doctor or hospital.
Dr. Christina Parks was just the expert I was looking for to explain everything (with a little dose of cynicism).
My family hasn’t been personally touched by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (that we know of). But Dr. Parks’ family did contract and get through it easily.
My purpose in sharing this post is to get some straight information out there for you about the basics of virus transmission cytokine storms and antiviral tools you can use.
We’re keeping it non-controversial today — although see the end if that makes you sad.
Meet Dr. Christina Parks, Molecular Biologist
Dr. Christina Parks received her Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Michigan in 1999 where her research focused on cytokine signaling. (Cytokines are the chemicals that the immune system uses to communicate.)
She is more passionate about educating our youth than continuing to work in a lab, and she spends her time homeschooling and caring for her special needs daughter (with one son launched into the world) and teaching biology and forensics.
Dr. Parks brings a wealth of knowledge on how genetic and epigenetic factors may predispose certain populations to disease, as well as interactions between medications and the immune system.
What Is a Virus?
Can’t see the video? Watch “What is a Virus?” here on YouTube.
Quick Peek at the Video on a Virus
I remember talking with my husband way back when the pandemic started, about viruses and how they get on our skin. I said something like, “Well, you know, if you touch your face, the little buggers can crawl into your nose.”
And he said, “Are you sure?”
I said, “I don’t – well, maybe I’m not sure! I don’t know!”
So we did a little research, and I was totally wrong.
What is a virus? How do we talk about these words – living and dead viruses? How do they move? How do they get in?
“A virus is one of the simplest, but maybe one of the most elegant things that God has put in His creation.
A virus is a little package of cell membrane with proteins in it, with a strand of either DNA or RNA in it, and maybe some enzymes in there too. They’re very, very simple.
It can be really confusing to people when they hear the phrase ‘live virus.’ When we’re talking about a live virus, what we mean is it hasn’t been broken down by the elements.”
Katie: I have a kindergartner, and he just had to learn what a living thing was: it moves, it needs nourishment. It forgets. Yeah, viruses are actually not alive. There’s no crawling.
“It’s really amazing that they can get into you and cause infection when they’re not even a cell! They can’t even really think.”
We started with bacteria thinking they were always bad, and now we know that there are good bacteria (probiotics!) and that we basically can’t do anything, we can’t even make our own neurochemicals without them. When we destroy them, we’re destroying ourselves.
I think that as viral research moves forward, we’re going to find something similar about viruses – that God created them for a purpose but because of The Fall, they’ve been corrupted.
Cytokine Storms & Viral Severity
Can’t see the video? Learn about cytokine storms on YouTube here.
Synopsis of the Cytokine Storm Discussion
This coronavirus is more deadly than the common cold coronavirus, and we heard a lot about cytokine storms back in March and April 2020. I don’t hear about it as much anymore, but is the cytokine storm still a big cause of death in severe cases?
“I follow the data in Michigan, so I can’t speak about it everywhere else. If you look at the death rate, about the same number of people appeared to have died in all the fall, as in the spring. Now, the cases were at least 10 times lower in the spring, but the virus was much more deadly.”
Either the virus itself was more deadly in the spring, or we’re treating it better now.
“We knew that this virus was going to attenuate and that’s part of the theater that they’re not telling people. We knew it was going to weaken over time.”
Vitamin D and Glutathione to Calm the Cytokine Storm
More from Dr. Parks:
Having said that, the cytokine storm is very real. The question is what predisposes you to that?
Here are some things that make you more predisposed to cytokine storms:
One is low vitamin D. African Americans, especially, are chronically low in vitamin D. In fact, 80 to 90% of Americans are low in vitamin D.
This is something that should have been addressed. We’re a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, it should have been addressed so long ago.
Everyone’s had plenty of time to meet with their doctor, test their vitamin D levels, and figure out what supplementation is right for them. Get that vitamin D, especially if you’re in a vulnerable group.
RELATED: How much vitamin D is enough?
Vitamin D shuts down the cytokine storm.
You want an immune response, that’s how your body kills a virus. A normal immune response will ramp up, kill the virus, and then shut down once the threat is gone. If you don’t have vitamin D, it’s not shut down normally.
Some people have mutations in their vitamin D receptors, or other different parts of that system so that even if they do have enough vitamin D, it isn’t working properly. They’re going to be most at risk.
Here’s Katie’s favorite Vitamin D+K supplement that the whole family takes, from Seeking Health.
There’s another molecule that’s really important for this too, and it’s called glutathione. Glutathione is the body’s master antioxidant. Interestingly, Tylenol depletes it.
So what do a lot of people do when they get sick? They take Tylenol, which makes them even more at risk.
When you’re fighting an infection your immune cells are making a lot of cytokines, which are like little fires, they’re starting fires everywhere to kill the infection, but if the immune cells fall apart, those cytokines inside spread like gasoline everywhere and fuel the fire too much.
Glutathione prevents the immune cells from falling apart. It keeps your immune system, your immune cells intact, and prevents them from basically falling apart and throwing all of their inflammatory molecules all over the place. It prevents lung pathology.
If you feel you have some lung pathology, there are things you can do to increase your glutathione.
Cruciferous vegetables are a great place to start, throw some lightly steamed broccoli into your soup. (Or make Steph’s broccoli salad, our family’s new favorite! I haven’t bought fresh broccoli in YEARS and now I buy it every other week to make this!!)
Sulfuric vegetables: your onions, your garlic, all of those are great.
RELATED: Health benefits of garlic with a creamy garlic dressing, and potent garlic soup
You can buy liposomal glutathione supplements as well. There are different ways you can raise your glutathione. Your doctor or your natural care practitioner can actually give an IV with glutathione in it.
Why isn’t some of that being done?
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I (Dr. Parks) read about a study where they were giving COVID patients vitamin D on the day they were admitted to the hospital and reduced mortality by almost half.1
Doctors were seeing huge reductions in mortality by giving vitamin D.
Vitamin D works much better if you’ve been taking it all along.
RELATED: My friend Erin had a pretty low-key case of COVID-19, and her kids were mostly asymptomatic. They all took Vitamin D religiously for the entire pandemic.
What you can do is give your body what it has been depleted in. The illness is going to deplete all that vitamin D, vitamin A, and glutathione.
The people who have long-term COVID, that’s what they’re missing. They’re missing the antioxidants. They’re missing the vitamin D, they’re missing the ability to shut this down.
I talked to a woman and she said, “Oh, my daughter has really bad post-COVID syndrome. She’s only 30.” And I said, “Wow, that’s terrible. It’s surprising someone young wouldn’t be able to shut that down.”
Well, it turns out she’s a vegan, and what many people don’t realize is that vitamin D and vitamin A can only be gotten from animal sources. Now there are some supplements, but in general, it’s going to predispose you, because vitamin D is found in foods like egg yolks, butter, and lard. All those things we’ve been told are bad for us. 🙂
Your immune system is good, the cytokines are actually good when they ramp up, this is good. They’re like the soldiers going into battle.
Vitamin D is the brakes on that system so it doesn’t go too crazy. Then the glutathione is going to keep the car together, keep it from falling apart and, causing these problems.
Do Anti-Viral Options for COVID-19 Exist?
Can’t see the video? Watch “Anti-Viral Options for COVID-19” here on YouTube.
Summary of Dr. Parks’ Info on Anti-Virals
Let’s discuss some evidence-based measures against COVID-19 that aren’t being implemented all that well.
There’s this misconception that we have antibiotics to deal with bacteria, but there are no antivirals. This has been taught in medical school, and it’s sort of a huge monolith that we can’t seem to get past.
But in recent years, because of molecular biology, we can actually screen thousands of medications at a time for antiviral activity.
What they’re finding is that molecules that they really had no idea about, are highly antiviral.
Hydroxychloroquine has been studied for its antiviral properties for two decades now! It’s actually been studied as a treatment for HIV. It’s used because it’s so cheap you can get it to a third-world country and use it as a treatment for HIV.
There are six different mechanisms that hydroxychloroquine works through. Ivermectin works through some of the same mechanisms, but also some different ones, so you could actually take both of them together. Ivermectin is a wormer, and you can get over the counter for your horses.
Both are inexpensive. They’re not patented, so no one is going to make any money.
Both can be used prophylactically as well.
Unfortunately, most of the hundreds of clinical studies done on hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin have been done outside the US.
One study was done on Ivermectin and the COVID-19 virus in a medical setting. They exposed about 650 people on Ivermectin and none of them got it. They exposed almost 500 people that weren’t on ivermectin in the control group, and about half of them got COVID.2
Note from Katie: The actual numbers on the study we found didn’t match Dr. Parks’ memory. 14 people in the Ivermectin group contracted the virus and 57 out of 600 in the control group got sick. The actual research still points in a positive direction, and more research is needed, but the video exaggerates the data.
Hydroxychloroquine Must be Paired with Zinc
More from Dr. Parks:
One of the many mechanisms that hydroxychloroquine uses is anti-inflammatory, as is Ivermectin. Hydroxychloroquine specifically works as a zinc ionophore. That means lets zinc into the cells.
Interestingly, quinine, which is from the cinchona tree, is also a zinc ionophore and was used as a treatment for malaria starting in the 17th century.
It was called the miracle tree because malaria was so terrible. But quinine tasted awful so they said, “It’s terrible. Put some gin in it!”
That’s where the British got their gin and tonics. I don’t know why the gin would make it better, but that’s why they drank their gin and tonic – it was their malaria preventative.
As a result, we still actually have tonic water that has three milligrams per liter of quinine in it.
One way to get that zinc into your system would be to drink it with something like tonic water, which has quinine, a zinc ionophore. Green tea and quercetin are also zinc ionophores.
Once the zinc is in your cells it actually prevents the virus from replicating. That sounds like a pretty effective solution to keep yourself from getting sick, even if you’ve been exposed.
Use the Tools at Your Disposal and Keep Asking Questions!
Can’t see the video? Watch Dr. Park’s final words here on YouTube.
You have natural things like vitamin D, vitamin C, quercetin, green tea, and zinc, to build your immunity.
If you’re even more concerned, Ivermectin likely prevents you from getting COVID – treats it very effectively and so does hydroxychloroquine [with zinc].
We can distill Dr. Parks’ final words down to 4 points:
- Medical interventions not approved by the FDA cannot be mandatory.
- Don’t be afraid to speak. If we are afraid to speak, we are going to hit a point where we lose our voice.
- There’s still science that needs to be done.
- When there are still “what ifs” and “what might happen” questions about something, that should play very strongly into your personal decision.
Dr. Parks and I want to encourage all of you to think: Do I really want to make a decision I may not be able to reverse, I cannot reverse when there’s still science that needs to be done?
Want to hear more?
This full-length interview was about 40 minutes long, and Dr. Parks covered many other topics, such as mRNA interventions, viral transmission vectors, active infections vs. positive tests, why children aren’t affected as much as adults, the impact of UV light on viruses, the impact of facial coverings on infection, super-spreader theories, herd immunity, viral attenuation (the process of a virus getting weaker), and of course, plenty about the V-word and some cynicism and realism.
If you’d like to see the unedited version, it will be made available to Kitchen Stewardship® subscribers only next week on April 6, 2021– join the community for free!
- Leaf, D.E. & Ginde, A.A. (2021, February 17). Vitamin D3 to Treat COVID-19: Different Disease, Same Answer. JAMA, 325(11), 1047–1048. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.26850
- Hill, A., Abdulamir, A., Ahmed, S., Asghar, A., Babalola, O., Basri, R. et al. (2021, January 19). Meta-analysis of randomized trials of ivermectin to treat SARS-CoV-2 infection. Research Square. Retrieved from https://www.researchsquare.com/article/rs-148845/v1