I had COVID in February and didn’t know it at the time. Not the standard respiratory version, but the cardiovascular version, which involved panic attacks, chills, shoulder and neck pain, palpitations, tachycardia, feeling faint, and elevated blood pressure. Heart attack like symptoms. Not fun. In mid-February, I began experiencing what I thought were panic attacks, assumed I was working too much, and took some Epsom salt baths and tried to de-stress. A few days later, my symptoms weren’t getting better, and the panic attack symptoms were progressing to angina-like pain, so I headed over to urgent care to check myself out. The EKG for my heart came back normal, my pulse and blood pressure were elevated, and the doctor on call told me that it probably was anxiety and that I could go home. I insisted on running blood tests, just to make sure I wasn’t anemic or hypothyroid, and also requested that my troponin be tested. Troponin is a marker that will be elevated in times of inflammation or damage to the heart. I drove out to the lab, did the tests, came home, and as I was pulling back into my driveway, got a call from the hospital that my troponin had come back elevated and to come back immediately and check into ER.
I checked into the ER, and they ran with another EKG. It was normal. That was good. We took more blood tests, and my second troponin result came back lower than the first, which was a good sign that the heart inflammatory marker was decreasing. My thyroid came back ok. A Chest x-ray to rule out pulmonary embolism came back negative. Another relief. My cholesterol panel that I had asked for earlier also came back with very good numbers, which was another indicator that I probably didn’t have coronary artery disease. At that point, they wanted me to stay overnight and take a nuclear treadmill stress test in the morning, which involves injecting your arteries with radioactive dye so that they can image your blood flow. Spending the night in the hospital was not my preference, so I conferred with my doctors and we agreed that if my C-Reactive Protein and D-Dimer came back in range, that I would go home for the night and sleep in my own bed. C-Reactive Protein, or CRP for short, is another marker of inflammation, which can be associated with coronary artery disease, and D-Dimer is a marker that will test for the presence of a blood clot that is being broken down. Both of them came back in range. I thank my cardiovascular fitness, healthy diet, and lots of DHA algae oil for that. My potassium levels came back low, which I attributed to dehydration at the time, but now I realize that was due to the coronavirus attacking my ACE2 receptors and inactivating my ACE2 enzymes which regulate potassium and sodium levels. I was given a potassium tablet.
Happy to be able to go home, I drank a green vegetable juice on the way and slept fairly well after having 10 vials of blood drawn. I was tired but ok the next day, and the chest pain, intermittent palpitations and other symptoms were still there but less prevalent. At that point, I recalled that the week prior, the toes on my left foot had blistered and peeled from what I thought must have been a really bad bug bite. I wear flip flops all of the time and figured I must have gotten bitten somewhere. I self-diagnosed myself with viral myocarditis, induced from a venomous insect bite, and put myself on a regimen of natural medicine, including anti-virals, natural blood thinners, and peptides, both oral and injected. I was thinking of it kind of like Lyme disease, where there is a vector that pushes your system over the threshold of tolerance, and treating it with anti-microbials to bring down the infection and anti-inflammatories to mitigate any damage and free radicals. Often with Lyme, there are co-infections involving Human Herpes Viruses (HHV), Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), or yeast overgrowth. I felt like these were factors that were aggravated as my system was dealing with the current virus at hand.
The next day I got my homocysteine result back, and it was 4. Technically, that’s in range, but functionally, that’s actually way too low. High homocysteine isn’t desirable, as it can suggest increased cardiovascular inflammation, but too low isn’t a good idea either, because it correlates to a low glutathione level. Glutathione is a substance that is very important to help with detoxification, and if it’s too low, it makes it difficult to get rid of viruses and other toxins. Something, namely the virus, was depleting my glutathione in trying to get rid of it. I started taking NAC, which is a component of glutathione, and also added a capsule of S-Acetyl Glutathione. I also drastically increased my meat intake, to provide taurine and carnitine.
Several weeks went by, and I was following all of the COVID-19 data that was starting to come in. Stories of “COVID toes”, where people in Europe were reporting that they thought they had spider bites on their feet and were testing positive for Coronavirus1. Coronavirus cases involving myocarditis and heart attacks2. I began to put it together that I had had COVID. The presumed insect bite had been an internal immune reaction to the novel coronavirus, causing a rash and inflammation on my toes. More data came out regarding the mechanism which Coronavirus gains entry into the host cells, involving ACE23. I’ve had my genetic testing done, and I am homozygous for the ACE deletion. Which means that I may have been genetically more susceptible to the virus binding at my ACE receptor sites, particularly the receptor sites on my heart muscle. I also have NOS (nitric oxide) SNPs, which regulate endothelial nitric oxide, and play crucial roles in regulating vascular tone, cellular proliferation, leukocyte adhesion, and platelet aggregation. Coupled with my homozygous MTHFR A1298C SNP that regulates the associated tetrahydrobiopterin pathway (if I’ve lost you here, I’ll refer you to the fabulous MTHFRsupport, a great resource for genetics), my vascular system had been under attack. After I established this connection, I increased my natural blood thinners like vitamin E and systemic enzymes, so that I could keep my coagulation factors in better balance. I also increased my cytokine support and added hydrogen water to scavenge free radicals and keep inflammation in check. Coronavirus can create so much inflammation that the inflammation can start to do damage, which is why it’s important to use things to keep the inflammation down.
It’s been quite a journey, and I am incredibly grateful to still be here and using natural medicine to heal myself. I’m so thankful for my friend Dr. Tasha Turzo, who used her osteopathy skills to recalibrate my vagus and phrenic nerves that had been extremely affected by the virus. The vagus and phrenic nerves are cranial nerves that innervate the heart and diaphragm. It’s possible that one mechanism in which COVID affects the heart, lungs, and breathing could involve involvement of those 2 nerves. Another wonderful friend, Dr. Kerry Heitkotter, ex-neurosurgeon and walking Wikipedia, provided guidance and support that has been instrumental in my rehabilitation process. As it stands, I’m still prone to a few moments of Epstein Barr like fatigue, but I’m out getting exercise in the sunshine and feeling good most of the time. I feel this is going to take some longer-term management, in a way similar to having had mono or Lyme, and it feels necessary and helpful to continue with the supplemental support that I have been using. As this is a novel virus, we are gathering data moment by moment, and as there is more information and as time goes by, we will begin to see the longer-term effects that COVID may have. I recommend that everyone do as much as they can to remain healthy, regardless of if they have had COVID, and if you have had it, to make sure to take extra care of yourself for a full recovery. There are many, many people who will be completely unaffected by this virus, and there will be others who will be more susceptible. For now, I urge everyone to do their best to establish, maintain, and/or regain health. If you’ve already had COVID, make sure you notice residual signs and symptoms, and take care of yourself. If you don’t have the more common symptoms associated with Coronavirus, it’s possible that you could have a radically different presentation; COVID toes, heart or cardiovascular symptoms, hallucinations, kidney issues. Be aware that we still don’t know the full range of symptoms that this virus might cause. We need to think outside of the box with this one.
A note about antibody testing: my first antibody test through UsBioTek in Washington came back negative. As of June 2020, the Roche combined IgM/G antibody test is available, and is reported to be improved over prior antibody testing. My second antibody test with the Roche assay was also negative. The newer data is coming in that there are a large subset of people who may recover from their nCov infections via another mechanism involving cytokines and T cells, and do not spike an antibody response. A study in Sweden found that a large number of people testing negative for the B cell associated IgG antibodies tested positive for a T cell novel coronavirus immune response. This could mean there are potentially A LOT more people who have had COVID or been exposed than the current antibody testing data suggests.
The nasal swab test to check for a current infection is limiting because if Coronavirus is not present in the upper airway that is being swabbed, it can show a negative. I did not have a nasal swab test at the time because it was too early on to suspect that it could have been COVID, and my guess is that it would have shown negative because I never had a cough, phlegm, or much of any upper respiratory issue. There is now a saliva test available, which is available through Doctor’s Data. A stool test through Diagnostic Solutions is also available, for those who suspect GI involvement.
My Supplemental Friends: What I took to get better
These are working well for me on an individualized basis, to support my recovery from the cardiovascular impacts of the virus. Everyone is different and may present differently, but basics like olive leaf, turmeric, NAC, fish oil, and vitamins could be beneficial for a broader spectrum of needs.
Teas: Local Olive leaf tea by Bella Vista Olive Oil, Cistus tea, Nettles tea
Turmeric, turmeric, and more turmeric: a potent anti-inflammatory
Green vegetable juices
Probiotics: Bravo, Visbiome 900 Billion Prescription Strength
Myc-P by Researched Nutritionals: an anti-microbial tincture that initially gave me a Herx reaction every time I took it. A Herx reaction is an aggravation of the symptoms you are trying to address. For example, after taking Myc-P, I would feel palpitations and chest pain again for a bit, with sensitivity on my vagus and phrenic nerves. Myc-P acts intracellularly to address microbes that have entered the cell, not just the ones in the blood. Initially, I had to take it every other day to allow the inflammation it caused to settle down.
Microbinate by Researched Nutritionals, Liposomal Cat’s Claw, EN-V by BioPure: more anti-microbial management
HistaQuel and CytoQuell by Researched Nutritionals: to manage inflammation and cytokines
Peroxynitrite Scavenger by Methyl Genetic Nutrition: to decrease free radicals and support balanced nitric oxide levels
Hydrogen Water: to decrease free radicals and inflammation
Vessel Forte, by Designs for Health: Diosmin, horse chestnut, gotu kola, Grape seed
NAC, or N-Acetyl Cysteine: precursor to glutathione and lung/detoxification support
Algae DHA oil and fish oil: to keep my blood thin and prevent clots, 2-3g daily
Boluke systemic enyzmes: A lumbrokinase enzyme derived from earthworms to keep inflammation down and prevent clots. Works more specifically in the lungs. Taken on an empty stomach.
Nattokinase and Serrapeptase systemic enzymes: Anti-inflammatory support and to prevent clots.
Vitamin C: both liposomal and regular forms, 2g-15g daily, and high dose vitamin C IV
Vitamin D: 5000-25000IU daily
Vitamin A 10,000IU doses
Vitamin E as gamma and delta forms
Zinc: 30mg daily
Melatonin 3mg, pulsed
Ashitaba: my favorite new herb, essentially a Japanese supergreens powder with amazing properties to support endothelial cells, promote autophagy, and clean out unwanted debris. It also contains super nutrients like folate, B12, and other wonderful minerals and vitamins. Can literally feel the difference it makes. Blossoms Biodynamic Farm in Corralitos sells it at our local Santa Cruz farmers market and it’s fantastic. Happy to say we carry the fresh powder at Green Health Wellness.
25mg/mL B12 shots: high dose methyl and hydroxy B12
Oral peptide therapies: Russian oral peptides for bronchi, heart, vessels, and thymus to repair any vascular damage and keep immune system happy.
Injectable peptides: Thymosin Alpha-1 to balance immune system, LL-37 antimicrobial, MOTS-C to support mitochrondria and energy, Humanin to target mitochrondria in the heart and vascular cells and facilitate healing. BPC-157 to support tissues and blood flow. One round of Thymosin Beta to repair damaged vascular tissue.
July 31 2020 Update: I am so happy to say that I feel 99.99% recovered. The residual nerve infection seems to be almost gone, and I feel back to my normal self, thanks to 6 packets of fenbenzadole (that’s another story in itself). I’m not feeling POTS like symptoms or tingling at this point, and I went for my first 50 mile bike ride this week since having COVID. Here’s to health, healing, and natural medicine. May we be well and all help each other wherever we may be. 🙂