Pre-Vaccination Protocol: Action Steps for Better Outcomes
March 12, 2021
I received two COVID-19 vaccinations 21 days apart as per protocol. The first vaccine was inconsequential, and I showed no symptoms outside of the post vaccine injection site soreness. The second vaccine seemed to follow suit initially, but about 14 hours post injection, I suddenly developed symptoms similar to what a typical case of influenza feels like. I had generalized aches and pains, headache, fatigue, and an inability to leave my bed. This lasted for about eight hours, after which time I finally got out of bed, had some green juice (lemon, turmeric, ginger, cucumber and kale), and took a short walk outside before feeling back to normal within the 24-hour post vaccine time-frame.
The thought that some people have absolutely no side effects to the immunization while others seem to be effected for several days is perplexing. Consistently, we see more reactions with the second booster compared to the first. So, one may ask, “What is causing the adverse side effects?” The symptoms our patients are experiencing are due to the cytokines that are released in response to the antigen (vaccine mRNA allowing transcription/production of the S-protein) which causes significant pro-inflammatory molecules to be released. The degree of cytokine release and the unpleasant symptoms are not proportional to your degree of post vaccine immunity. In other words, the degree of your post-COVID injection symptoms do not correlate with the extent to which you are immunized.
I considered my symptoms to be fairly mild in severity and duration relative to what I have seen in clinical practice. That being said, I am writing this blog to help others who are yet to receive their injections. My goal is to help you understand how you can mitigate the symptom severity of the post-COVID vaccine immunization.
The most important aspects of this prevention lie in the lifestyle changes that you make prior to receiving the vaccine. This includes taking a look at nutrition, stress reduction, sleep, exercise and social connection. These lifestyle factors help improve the effectiveness of the vaccine and decrease the severity of side effects. Alongside this, we will look at some key supplements that have been proven to affect the immune system.
Modifiable lifestyle factors:
Literature supports that good nutrition can directly affect the immune system. Specifically, the foods you eat can affect the degree of cytokines and pro inflammatory production. A whole foods, colorful diet will help decrease inflammation activation, which, when activated, can trigger a cytokine storm. This inflammatory reaction is typically what causes many of the symptoms patients complain of: generalized aches and pains, headache, fatigue, and in some more severe cases, the inflammation can cause destruction and scaring of the organs like the lungs. Also, in a large study of 60 thousand people, those who ate more vegetables and fruits had a better general sense of well being, they were more social, curious, creative, and experienced better sleep.
*Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables aiming for nine to thirteen servings daily. These foods are also naturally high in fiber which helps gut bacteria flourish and improves immune response. Also consider seeking out the following:
–Foods rich in Vitamin A: organ meats, cod liver oil, oats (fortified, cooked), eggs, canned pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potato, and carrots.
–Foods rich in Vitamin C: red or green sweet pepper, strawberries, oranges, kiwis, broccoli, brussel sprouts, grapefruit, tomato juice, cantaloupe, cabbage, and cauliflower.
–Foods high in Zinc: pumpkin seeds, cashews, oysters, bison, deer, and beef.
–Foods high in Vitamin D: eggs, sardines, salmon, and tuna.
*Reduce or altogether avoid immune offenders like sugar, high salt, high glycemic foods, processed foods, and saturated fats foods.
*Eat to keep your gut barrier strong. Eating fermented and high fiber foods to help feed the gut microbiota are helpful. A good diet helps improve gut barrier function.
*Decrease your viral load. See blog on creating a healthy Microbiome.
*Stop or decrease alcohol intake, especially three days before and after immunization.
Hydration and Minerals:
-A good starting point in terms of hydration is to drink your weight divided by two in number of ounces of water per day. If you work out or are out in the hot sun, you might need more.
-Make sure to take minerals daily. You can make your own mineral drink by combining 40 oz of water, a pinch of Celtic salt, lemon juice from half a lemon and one teaspoon of grade A or B pure maple syrup.
Stress is all around us. Whether it is related to the negative effects of COVID, such as social isolation, loss of jobs, financial stress, businesses closing down, and no travel or just the day to day of everyday life, stress has a negative effect on your immune system. To combat stress, studies favor things like walking in nature, exercising, journaling your thoughts, yoga, meditation, prayer, and guided imagery.
Cardiac coherence and mindful breathing is the single most effective thing you can do to reduce the effect of stress on your body. During this pandemic, it has been difficult for many to feel joy, but it has been very healing to create an “other-oriented” response focused on helping people who are less fortunate. This compassion stimulates the caretaker part of our brain releasing Oxytocin. Oxytocin is responsible for creating the feelings of bonding, generosity, trust, and loyalty. Sending kindness by kind works results in receiving love and helps decrease the stress effect on our bodies.
Good sleep has been associated with improved immune system function partially due to nocturnal melatonin secretion (melatonin enhances immune function). Following are some good sleep habits but if you want more sign up for the Suggestions+for+Better+Sleep.pdf
–Set a regular bedtime – always go to bed and get up at the same time daily, maintaining a natural Circadian Rhythm.
-Refrain from electronic devices 1-2 hours before bed.
-Don’t eat two to three hours prior bedtime.
-Create a relaxing routine before bedtime (epsom salt water baths, Yogi bedtime teas, and reading books).
-Eat foods rich in melatonin. My favorite is a tablespoon or two of Tart Cherry juice.
-Supplements that help: Melatonin, Magnesium Glycinate, Phosphatidyl serine – do not use any supplements without consulting a doctor
-Workouts – Shoot for 30 min, five times per week doing what you love such as going on hikes, walks or playing basketball.
-Yoga and meditation will decrease the stress response from high levels of Cortisol and decrease pro-inflammatory IL-6, IL-8, and TNF alpha agents. It will also increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor with BDNF improving nervous system function.
-Move regularly throughout the day especially while at work. Use a standing desk, walk during breaks etc…
-Don’t exercise too much – this is stressful on your body.
-Studies show that being outside in nature has a positive effect on your immune system. This is known as “Forest Bathing” and has had positive psychological effects on our overall well being.
One of the reasons COVID has been particularly hard is due to the social isolation. It is important to be with people you find supportive, to be purposeful in making time to be with others, to eat in community, and to find ways to stay connected. Even something simple like making yourself laugh while watching a funny home video or movie is helpful.
-Wait 90 days to 6 months after you have COVID before you get immunizations and/or booster.
-Try to schedule the COVID immunization first thing in the morning when cortisol levels are highest as cortisol has an immune enhancing effect.
Top recommendations for dampening the cytokine response (decreasing the overproduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines). These all have anti-inflammatory properties, inhibiting NLR3 inflammatory response, anti-oxidant effects, and is currently being studied in patients with COVID.
-Curcumin (Orthomolecular’s Traumeric one capsule/day: also has Quercetin)
-Melatonin (Orthomolecular’s Melatonin 1 mg tabs 1-2 tabs/nightly)
Vitamins and Minerals:
-Vitamin C – up to three grams daily mix with MCT oil (or get liposomal vitamin C).
-Vitamin K2 D3 – dose depends on serum levels between 50-80 ng/ml – generally safe to take 5,000 IU daily with monitoring.
-Vitamin A – respiratory benefit 25,000 IU daily – number of studies say Vitamin A is critical for fighting off viruses (study on measles) – be sure to avoid during pregnancy.
-Zinc lozenges or Zinc picolinate (about 10 mg daily) studies show it has antiviral effects and reduces influenza symptoms. Be mindful that if you get too much, you lose taste and smell which can be confused with a COVID symptoms.
-Selenium methionine helps in production of a very powerful anti-oxidant called glutathione (along with NAC).
-Multivitamin including a good MVI with methylated B’s like Metagenics Phytomulti, one A.M. and one P.M.
-Magnesium Glycinate (Metagenics Magensium Glycinate), one or two nightly has been shown to decrease cellular stress and this particular magnesium helps with sleep.
-HistaEze (Designs For Health), we see a huge histamine response especially to the second -COVID vaccine – this is a great option to reduce symptoms.
*Top Supplements I recommend:
If you have a 2-4 weeks prior to your immunization, consider a consultation with me to discuss all the ways your can improve pre and post vaccination outcomes. In addition to lifestyle changes and taking key supplements, it is important to have good gut function, giving your intestinal lining the key nutrients it needs for optimal health. Sign up for a visit today.