Viruses, our immune system and Natural medicine


Virus, Our Immune System, and Natural Health Dr Kamat Singapore Naturopathic Medicine What TherapyMost people think of infections as something that happens acutely. The most common viruses that cause a common cold or a stomach virus often have a distinct beginning and an end. We are sick, get better, and move on..

However, in chronic infections, the pathogenic organism(s) persists – often in spite of or hidden from our immune systems – and contribute to diminishing health over time.

The common viruses that can contribute to this are Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), parvovirus, and others from the Herpes family of viruses.

As opposed to bacteria, viruses are living, metabolizing, and act like genetic machines that replicate and float in the body. They are sneaky and possess a keen sense of survival.

What happens normally to keep these organisms at bay?

The body has in-built immune responses to fight invaders through stomach acid, intact skin and mucus membrane or through specific proteins that kill a virus. If the immune response under-functions, the virus can get to the cells, hijack the DNA, and start to replicate itself. Just like animals and plants replicating themselves, viruses start replicating inside the body and cause viremia.

How do people respond to the viruses and why only certain people develop chronic illness?

People respond to viruses very differently.

In the majority of the population, an early onset of exposure may develop symptoms similar to having a cold or flu, which could normally run a course of two weeks. A robust immune system produces a nice acute immune response that allows the complete clearing of the virus from the system.

A second group of people might present differently than those described above. These people may be able to produce an acute response in the beginning, but it may not be sufficient to completely clear the virus.

Unlike the above two, a third category of people may not be able to produce any immune response to a virus which could be the result of a weakened immune system or other coexisting conditions.

When there is inadequate clearing of the organism from the system, the organism tends to remain dormant in tissues or organs. If there are periods of physical or emotional stress and trauma, the virus begins to re-activate and replicate causing unusual tiredness or fatigue. This set of people can develop bigger problems leading to chronic illness in the future. Emerging research supports the idea that persistent underlying viral infection, especially from the Epstein-Barr Virus, is at the root of many chronic ailments in autoimmunity-SLE, MS, and other chronic illness.

How can viruses cause inflammation and pain?

The uncleared viruses in the system might be noticeable by the immune system at times, which then decides to mount a war. However, the immune response may not be enough to mount a real attack on the invaders which as a result can instead cause inflammation. The slow ongoing inflammatory response leads to aggravation which can then affect muscles and joints. The individual may notice increasing ongoing fatigue at this time. A healthy person might even present with pain in certain already-injured joints and adhesions. In a chronically-ill person with existing conditions like autoimmunity, Fibromyalgia or Lyme Disease, will experience increased pain throughout the body including prior-injured joints.

Our bodies also have compensatory mechanisms through adrenal and other hormones that allow for unnoticeable pain and fatigue for periods of time. As these compensatory mechanisms begin to be exhausted and fade…Boom!! Now there is sudden onset of pain. Mitochondrial damage from the virus can result in more fatigue and susceptibility to other infections.

Joint pains from virus and bacteria present differently in otherwise healthy people and in people with chronic illness. It is important to check the thyroid, adrenals, sex hormones, and nutrient deficiencies.

What about Lab testing?

Various serum markers to different viruses can help identify active, ongoing or a past infection. In addition, your doctor will check for inflammatory markers along with a routine blood count. A throat swab might be required to rule out a strep infection. Assessment of nutrient deficiencies, thyroid, adrenal, and digestive health may be necessary.

Are there effective treatments to clear and heal ongoing viral infections?

Conventional Antivirals like Valcyclovir or Acyclovir might be useful in some cases but rebound symptoms with these drugs are a common phenomenon.

Maximizing the effectiveness of our own immune response is ultimately the best defense against viruses.

Fortunately, Mother Nature provides an arsenal of medicinal herbs to assist the immune system against viruses. There are various botanicals that may address different systems. A combination of individualized immune-enhancing, antiviral, adaptogenic, and antioxidant herbs and nutrients provide a potent combination to fight infections. A few examples of these are Larrea, Lomatium, Licorice, Osha, cordyseps, and Siberian ginseng or antioxidant nutrients such as mixed carotenoids, Vitamin E, and alpha lipoic acid. Increased fluids, rest, and a wholesome organic diet, along with an individualized naturopathic plan to restore adrenal, digestive, and mitochondrial function along with symptom-based homeopathic treatments, can definitely provide effective healing and strengthening of the immune system.

Healing from viral infections can be a challenge; please seek help from a qualified professional who can provide individual strategies that are safe, efficacious, and well-tailored to help you on your path to complete recovery and healing.

what is Naturopathic Medicine?

What is a Naturopathic Doctor and What is Naturopathic Medicine? What Therapy Singapore

Naturopathic Medicine is a distinct healing art that combines the use of nature’s wisdom with rigors of modern science. It is not simply the application of evidence based herbs, food and therapies, but the main goal is to build health through investigating and treating the root cause of the imbalance.  It involves use of natural treatments and substances that will facilitate body’s own inherent abilities to heal and restore balance.

What training is involved for Licensed Naturopathic Doctor?

There are only few accredited schools that provide intensive medical training to be a Naturopathic Doctor (ND). Applicants to accredited naturopathic medical colleges in the US need a bachelor’s degree and a competitive GPA in scientific prerequisites, just like applicants to “conventional” medical schools.

After admission, the course work of the first two years of naturopathic and “conventional” medical school is comparable both in subjects and in hours of training. We learn all the basic medical sciences like anatomy, pathology, and biochemistry including all the ‘ology’ series like- pharmacology, neurology, gynecology, gastroenterology etc.  We learn to use the same labs, physical exams, and medical imaging (X-ray, CT, MRI) that hospitals and clinics utilize to diagnose diseases and monitor health. The next 3 years involves intensive study of  Naturopathic therapeutics involving Botanical medicine, functional medicine, clinical Nutrition and supplements, Homeopathy, Hydrotherapy, Manipulation, craniosacral therapy and other modalities of physical therapy.

ND’s are experts into looking at Herb-drug interaction, and interpretation of research literature to help make appropriate treatment decisions.

In cases where  there is a need to wean off medications (when purpose is not served, or instances where patient prefers to consider other routes) we can bridge the gap by educating patients providing other options, so  they can make their own informed choices. ND’s have in depth training in pharmacology of drugs and can effectively support the system during this process.

One of the six principles of Naturopathic Medicine is-   To treat the root cause and we go a huge extent to find the cause of illness. This may involve physical exams, extensive testing through regular conventional diagnostic and non- conventional tests called functional lab testing. Functional laboratory tests can aid in finding the root cause where modern tests may fail. (Eg: comprehensive stool analysis, MTHFR genetic testing, Lyme, food sensitivity tests, heavy metal screen etc.).

Our treatments are advised based on the therapeutic order where laying the basic foundations of healthy living is the first step. Use of higher force interventions like specific nutrients, herbs, homeopathy are selected depending on the condition and severity.  A referral is done to other specialists if there is a necessity.

What conditions do Naturopathic Doctors treat?

Naturopathic medicine treats all forms of health concerns — from pediatric to geriatric, from irritating systems to chronic illness and from the physical to the psychological.

Most commonly,

  1. Patients that are looking for disease prevention and health promotion strategies.
  2. Patients that have a range of symptoms that they have been unable to address on their own or with the help of other medical practitioners like chronic pain, fatigue, fibromyagia, autoimmune disorders, etc.
  3. Patients that have been diagnosed with an illness and are looking for alternative treatments. Naturopathic medicine is very effective in improving quality of life for those with serious and life threatening illnesses.

We appreciate that our patients are much more than their physical components and consider overall spiritual and emotional aspects providing –‘health care’ that is in its true sense. Every individual is unique and different with his own values and priorities and as ND’s we believe that our health care should reflect that.

What is the difference between a Naturopath and a Naturopathic Doctor?

These terms are very confusing and often interchangeably used regardless of the background and training. Naturopathic doctors (ND’s) go through rigorous 6-8 years of medical training to become a Licensed ND.

On the other hand, a Naturopath may have an extensive background of information and years of experience treating patients without formal Naturopathic medical training. Others may have only attended a weekend workshop. Your medical doctor may call himself a naturopath if they use alternative modalities with patients. So, the difference lies mostly in the extent of training in naturopathic philosophies, approach and treatments that sets us apart from others.

Is there a difference between a naturopathic doctor and a homeopath?  

Yes. Naturopathic doctors learn several modalities during their training such as Botanical medicine, counseling nutrition and homeopathy. Homeopaths on the other hand focus on just one modality- Homeopathic remedies.

Although both attempt to stimulate the innate healing of the body, Naturopathic doctors have more tools to use in combination along with homeopathy.