Covid Day 1
How a Brain Injury Survivor Defends the Brain Against Damage from Covid
In my previous post, I talked about the new neurological health crisis—people who’ve sustained some level of neurological damage as a consequence of a Covid infection. Their situation may not be too dissimilar from those recovering from a traumatic brain injury.
With a TBI, a great deal of the damage can result from the inflammatory response in the brain, which can cause a cascade of destruction and loss of neurons (especially in the area of the brain that controls the throttling of incoming sensory information).
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In recent studies with mice, researchers were able to successfully prevent this secondary neuronal injury by blocking certain inflammatory responses after impact. This medical treatment isn’t yet available to humans and it isn’t something you can cowboy on your own, since the medication is designed to target very specific genetic expressions.
I’m guessing that in the future, such medication will be part of the first line of defence for those who suffer a TBI and those infected with a pathogen that can cause brain inflammation.
Even though such medication isn’t available, the results show how vitally important it is to quell inflammation in the immediate aftermath of a TBI—and I’m guessing the same would hold true for brain injuries caused by Covid.
Every vaccinated person I know who’s gotten Covid, even in recent months, has felt quite ill for a long time, and I’ve been concerned about their long-term brain health and the possibility of them suffering Long Covid.
Those of us who’ve suffered brain injuries can appreciate how much is at stake.
Covid Day 1
Earlier this week, my son woke up feeling sick. We gave him a rapid test and it came back positive for Covid.
My wife and I took the test. It returned a negative result for both of us, but we both sensed that our immune responses were well underway.
I now had three new priorities.
One, supporting my son’s brain, body, and spirit so he could defend himself and recover quickly.
Two, helping my wife in a similar fashion, understanding that her immune response has likely begun already, and with the added complication of her history with autoimmune issues and migraines.
Three, supporting my own response—with the added complication of my history of concussions and the strong desire to avoid any further neurological damage.
My exposure was direct and sustained. The previous night, my son and I watched two hours of a TV show (The Last Man on Earth) on my laptop, our faces about a foot from each other. (Since we were in the midst of a heatwave, and our TV room isn’t air-conditioned, we were using my laptop in an air-conditioned room.)
After my son took a second test to double confirm his result, I went to the cabinet and got out the stash of supplements I bought for this very occasion—the same supplements I would use if any one of us suffered a TBI.
The one I gave him immediately, which should come as no surprise to many of you, was Longvida Curcumin—a specific form of curcumin that can cross the blood-brain barrier (it’s different from regular Curcumin).
He took 400mg along with his usual morning supplements: Creatine (which has been proven to have a protective effect in the event of TBI), Iron (my son is a vegetarian, I am not), Vitamin D, and Acetyl-L-Carnitine.
We then sit outside and do three rounds of Wim Hof breathing.
I’ve written an entire post about the Wim Hof Method and its relevance to TBI recovery and brain health. It’s also been proven in clinical trials to boost the immune system, among other benefits. In one study, they injected Wim Hof practitioners with pathogens, and they didn’t develop an infection.
Even if your personal inclination is to jump to the erroneous conclusion that a specific form of breathing could not possibly be medically useful or effective in a situation like this, you should ackknowledge that this form of breathing does do something else very effectively. And that is giving a person a sense of agency and control, which by itself has been proven (by science, in separate studies) to have a major impact on outcomes.
It’s that second benefit that I wanted my son to feel very acutely in this first session. We have a handle on this. We, like Neo in The Matrix, know kung-fu. After the breathing, we had a grounded check-in about the situation at hand. The emotional tone of that check-in was important to me.
After we finished our Wim Hof breathing, our son rested in his room, which was air-conditioned and also had an air purifier (this may or may not matter, but I’m aiming to present complete information here).
I then took my own standard daily supplements. Creatine, Vitamin D, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, and CDP Choline. And I added the Longvida Curcumin (400mg) and handed the same amount to my wife to add to her morning supplement regimen.
Then my wife and I went outside, sat down, and did four rounds of Wim Hof breathing together. Afterwards, we had our own grounded check-in about the situation at hand.
Throughout the day, I would do my own sessions of breathing, and I would also do sessions with my wife and son, separately. Over the course of the day, they each did 3 sessions (morning, afternoon, and night) with me. On my own, I did a half-dozen additional sessions, every few hours, or whenever I felt like I needed a boost.
Covid’s favoured pathway is the airways and lungs. I wanted to hit this early and often to prevent Covid from getting a foothold.
After my second session of breathing for the day, I took a cold shower (cold exposure is also part of the Wim Hof Method). I was in the cold for about three minutes (which is a level you have to work up to, and I was glad I’ve been doing this for about a year already).
My wife and son did not take a cold shower. Based on my prior experience trying and failing to get them to take cold showers, I only mentioned it once as a possible thing they could do, but I did not press it further.
Almost every time I did the breathing, I felt some post-nasal drainage, and it seemed that the session was generally helpful.
By default, I inhaled through the nose and exhaled through the mouth. However, when I was feeling some soreness in my throat, I alternated the inhales through the nose and through the mouth, because inhaling through the mouth allowed me to focus the airflow onto parts of my throat that nasal breathing bypassed.
For the sake of providing complete information, I’ll say what I ate throughout the day. I don’t think that what I ate proved especially pivotal, apart from avoiding things that might worsen my situation. But I did make some effort to eat spicy foods.
A cup of coffee with 1/2 and 1/2. Later, a shot of espresso. Red leaf lettuce, which I cut up and turned into a salad with sesame ginger dressing, ham, and gochujang. Half a bottle of ginger brew. Three bites of vanilla ice cream. Black beans cooked with molasses, bbq spices, tamari, and ham served with sour cream and Tobasco, with three small nixtamalized corn tortillas. Gerolsteiner mineral water. A small number of strawberries and blackberries.
After my son had relaxed in his room for a bit, I had him do a 20-minute session with the Vielight X-Plus device that is designed to boost one’s immune system. It couldn’t hurt, and it could help.
Vielight devices (I have no affiliation with them) are something I have on hand in case of a future TBI, and I also use one of them for daily maintenance.
The device my son used is called the X-Plus, which has both a Head Module and a Body Module. The Head module targets the cerebellum—an area Covid commonly attacks. My son used the Body Module, which stimulates the thymus, and also has a nasal applicator.
When on, the Vielight nasal applicator lights one’s nose up like Rudolph. The light enters the skull through one’s nasal passages.
I also have the Vielight Neuro device, which I use daily, including this day.
In the afternoon, after our second meal, my son and I had a combination of supplements aimed specifically at protecting our brains. It contains:
Magnesium Beta Hydroxybutyrate
Nicotinamide Riboside Hydrogen Malate
Any of these supplements can be purchased separately, but you can also get them in a supplement cocktail sold by Thorne, which they market under the name SynaQuell and SynaQuell+. (I have no financial or other association with Thorne.)
On Thorne’s product page, they explain: “SynaQuell is for everyday maintenance, while SynaQuell+ provides higher amounts of certain nutrients for shorter-term, post-impact support.” The impact they’re referring to here is a concussion or mTBI.
The product page explains the benefits of each ingredient, which might help you decide which ones to consider separately, consulting with the appropriate healthcare provider, of course. An excellent resource for information about supplements (including links to the studies that prove their efficacy for specific effects), is Examine.com.
By weight, this is the most expensive supplement I have ever purchased. SynaQuell+ is a 15-day supply. This would technically get you through that immediate 15-day aftermath phase after an mTBI. In that context, it seems like a small price to pay for effective support during that period. I purchased SynaQuell, which has a smaller volume of the same ingredients. This is what we had on hand.
I gave my son a half dose, or one scoop, in the afternoon (this is 1/4 the recommended daily dose for an adult). And I gave myself one scoop in the afternoon and one scoop in the evening (half the recommended daily dose).
That night, my son and I also had some Inositol. Then I took my usual pre-bedtime Magnesium Bisgylcinate and L-Theanine.
Before bed, my son said he was feeling substantially better than he had that morning.
Throughout the day, I felt varying levels of soreness in my throat, slight difficulty focusing, and some dizziness.
Overall, it felt like my brain and body were successfully defending themselves. My wife had a similar feeling, although the arc of her symptoms seemed to be slightly behind mine.
My wife suffers from migraines, and she takes medications and supplements aimed at reducing the frequency and severity of migraines. A number of these things seemed like they would be beneficial in this situation.
Because she already takes so many things, the only addition she made was the Longvida Curcumin. She did not take the SynaQuell.
I should note here that due in part to my wife’s history with migraines, including her reliance from a fairly young age on the medication Imitrex for pain relief, she is positively inclined toward medications as the first line of defence from physical ailments. Whereas my aim is to use behaviours, nutritional supplements (typically amino acids and other things naturally produced or consumed by the brain and body), diet and exercise and devices. My aim is to avoid taking medications when possible.
You might want to think about where you stand on that continuum and, of course, consult with a relevant medical professional.
We went through our medicine cabinet and got out the old pulse oximeter, which we bought way back in 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic, to measure our blood oxygen levels if we got Covid.
Back then, the early reporting was that people would feel relatively fine, then collapse and be rushed to the emergency room, where it was often too late. Without realising it, their blood oxygen levels had dropped very low. The pulse oximeter was supposed to give us a more advanced warning. Later that year, a pulse oximeter sensor was added to the Apple Watch.
We checked our blood oxygen levels. They were optimal.
In my next post, I will share the notes I took on Covid Day 2. If that might be helpful to you or someone you know, please subscribe and share.
Brainwave is an informational resource for people whose symptoms haven’t resolved after a concussion or mTBI. I aim to present this information in a clear and concise way, spelling out what’s backed by science and what remains unknown. Nothing here is meant as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. I am not a physician or a healthcare practitioner of any kind; I’ve simply had a lot of sports-related concussions and had to learn this stuff the hard way. If you found this information helpful or know someone who might benefit from it, please share and subscribe to Brainwave.
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