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What can I do to boost my immunity? Is there any medication able to treat coronavirus? COVID-19 questions answered by Cleveland Clinic doctor

Dr. Michael Roizen of the Cleveland Clinic answers some very popular questions regarding your health and the coronavirus.

CLEVELAND — Some people swear by supplements when it comes to shortening the length of colds, but do they actually work? Are there any supplements I should be taking to boost my immune system now to prevent coronavirus? 

3News' Senior Health Correspondent Monica Robins had a one-on-one Skype chat with Dr. Michael Roizen, Chief Wellness Officer Emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and Chairman of Persona’s Medical Advisory Board, to get the answers to those questions.

QUESTION: What can people do to boost their immunity during this crisis?

Dr. Roizen: “What we know about immunity is that you have a series of things. The oil layer of your skin protects you. You’ve got some cilia – little brooms like – inside your nose and bronchial tubes that help beat things out. You want not to be exposed to particles like air pollution, smoking or vaping. Those things inhibit that first line of defense. Then if something gets in, you have a system that says, ‘Hey, there’s something foreign here.’ It signals to your other systems, which is an antibody-making system, and a hand-to-hand combat system. The two of those work together to try and kill the viruses. What helps? Sleep, a little exercise, good nutrition, a multivitamin. … Stress management.”

QUESTION: What type of supplements should we be taking now to help boost immunity?

Dr. Roizen: We don’t know of anything specific, if you will, for this virus. There are a lot of things that boost immunity. Vitamin D is one of those reported to boost immunity. Curcumin is reported to boost it. … You want more fruits and vegetables on your plate. That’s tough at this time because we aren’t going out for fresh fruits and vegetables, so use the frozen ones. They usually have as much nutrients as the fresh ones. If you can’t get those, you do want to make sure you take a mutlivitamin morning and night.

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QUESTION: The FDA just signed off to begin investigating if a common malaria drug can be used to treat coronavirus. Why?

Dr. Roizen: “With chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, the data are that it inhibits the attachment of the viruses to the lung cells when you’re really sick. The data is in vitro data. The WHO is doing a large-scale trial of 100 people – 50 with and 50 without – as I understand based in the Italian ICUs. Maybe they have some early data that shows it really is effective. It’s a very inexpensive drug. It’s generic. It’s given to all the time to everybody in Africa during the malaria season as a routine prophylaxis. I just hope it works. If it works there’s real hope. … The other thing that was shown in China and there’s early reports on, is people who recover can donate their serum. You get the antibodies, and that really did work in 10 of 10 people in the ICUs in China. We don’t know because it wasn’t a randomized study, but it may be that type of thing will work."

QUESTION: This crisis is causing a lot of stress, what do you advise we do?

Dr. Roizen: “It is doing something routine that diverts your attention. Exercise is one. … You put your finger on your belly button and just concentrate on breathing and which way your belly button moves. As you take a deep breath in, your belly button should move out, as you breath out your belly button should move in. Just focus on if your finger is moving out or in. … It isn’t the event that is stressful, it’s your response to it.”

QUESTION: Is there anything specific we should be doing if we get sick?

Dr. Roizen: “If you start to get sick with a cold, the vitamin C or zinc or mother’s chicken soup all shorten the duration of that. We don’t have good data with even any of the other coronaviruses, let alone this one, so we don’t know what really does it. But in a randomized controlled studies where we have really good data, it is chicken soup, zinc lozenges and vitamin C in high doses that shorten both the duration and the severity of the cold. Washing your hands as much as possible and sleep is really important. Get the flu shots every year. That will be really important this next September-October.”

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