As information continues to surface about what treatments are safe and unsafe if a person has suspected symptoms or a positive test for COVID-19, we are receiving frequent questions about ibuprofen and elderberry.

Ibuprofen

Social media was ablaze last week when France’s minister of health announced that Ibuprofen (such as Advil and Motrin) should be avoided in the treatment of symptoms from COVID-19 infections.

After doing some further investigating, it seems that this warning was based upon the observation that some COVID-19 patients who had taken Ibuprofen prior to coming to an emergency room had more severe illness.  

Although we should clearly be cautious and pay attention to this new observation, it is important to remember that just because some COVID-19 patients who took ibuprofen had a worse outcome doesn’t mean that the worse outcome was caused by the ibuprofen.

Remember, correlation is not the same as causation.  

Isn’t it possible, and even likely, that those who reached for ibuprofen to relieve symptoms may have simply been sicker already than those who did not need that type of symptomatic relief?

After reviewing the small amount of information that is currently available, we have concluded that there is not enough evidence to warrant completely avoiding Ibuprofen or NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory) at this time.

If you are currently using Ibuprofen for symptom management for an injury or a chronic pain condition, you probably don’t need to stop taking these medications. In addition, if you have a headache or ankle sprain that you would typically take Ibuprofen for, we believe it is still safe to do so.

With that said, we also understand that what you “believe” significantly influences your body’s reaction, so please listen to your gut, and only take what you feel comfortable with. 

In the past, we have recommended using Ibuprofen over Acetaminophen, when necessary, because it is much safer, often more effective and longer lasting for most conditions.

However, since we still know very little about COVID-19, it may be wise to switch to Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) if you do develop COVID-19 like symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) as a precautionary measure. 

Please free to call us and schedule a phone appointment if you need help with your child’s circumstance and would like our guidance.

Finally, this is also a great time to remind you that fevers are part of the body’s natural mechanism for fighting off infections. If the fever is tolerable and does not interfere with eating, drinking, sleeping, and your child is not in pain, then it is unnecessary to treat the fever. For more information, please see our post on fever.

Elderberry

It seems there has also been some concern about the safety of consuming Elderberry during COVID-19 infections for fear that it may exacerbate what is called a “cytokine storm”. A cytokine storm is an out-of-control inflammatory response that may be responsible for a small number of the COVID-19 deaths. 

Once again, there is no direct evidence that elderberry caused the cytokine storm or COVID-19 deaths.

The concern came about from two elderberry studies having nothing to do with CODIV-19.  Those studies showed that some people have an increased cytokine response when taking elderberry, but reminded us that this may be why elderberry is an effective antiviral. Inflammation is not always bad—it is an important part of a properly functioning immune system.

In the previous SARS epidemic of 2003, Elderberry seemed to reduce viral replication and was found to be useful throughout the duration of infection.

Because information about COVID-19 is still evolving daily, we simply don’t have enough definitive information.

We personally believe that elderberry can be very helpful as a preventative agent, and may even be protective in the very early stages of the virus by reducing viral replication.  

However, to be on the safe side, we recommend that once you progress beyond the first day or two of illness (with suspected symptoms or a positive test for COVID-19) that you transition off of any Elderberry containing supplements.  Please then rely upon some of the other immune supportive agents we have recommended for you and your family. 

If you need more personal guidance regarding symptom management and treatment, please call to schedule a phone appointment.   

Immune Support Supplements

As a reminder, our office is offering shipping and curbside supplement pick up. Please see here for those details. In addition, many of you are already utilizing our Fullscript and Xymogen’s WholeScripts online stores.

Here is the status on some of our most requested supplements at the office:

  • Immunoberry – currently available
  • Immune Essentials – currently available
  • Vital Kids Berry Well – currently available
  • Sambucus – currently available
  • Viragraphis – currently available
  • N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) – see note below: currently available
  • Vitamin C – we have several brands available including: Alive Powder, Bio C 1:1, Kirkman Chewable Vitamin C
  • Zinc – we have several brands available including: 2 ZINC TRACE MINERALS BodyBio/E-Lyte, Zinc Lozenges, Xymogen Zinc Glycinate
  • Immunotix – this has been ordered

One additional supplement worth mentioning: N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)

N-Acetyl Cysteine or NAC has come to our attention as a useful supplement for some during this time. NAC has been used in both allopathic and natural medicine for many years. Western doctors have used NAC as an antidote to acetaminophen overdose in emergency rooms and intensive care units. In the natural medicine world, NAC has been used to help break down mucus secretions, as an antioxidant, and to increase glutathione.

There are some small studies that have shown NAC to be helpful at decreasing the duration and severity of the Flu and anecdotal reports that it might help prevent the acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) associated with COVID-19 as well.

  • Kids 5-12 years: 300 mg, 2 x per day (open a 600 mg capsule and mix half the contents into something yummy for each dose)
  • Kids 12+ and adults: 600 mg, 2 x per day

About Ara Haupt, PA-C

Ara Haupt, PA-C is a pediatric Physician Assistant whose interests have always incorporated practicing Western medicine with a balanced integrated approach, looking at the entire body. Adolescent care and integrated teen mental health have been particular areas of interest. Ara enjoys learning how the body can heal itself when given the right tools and coaching. Over the past few years in practice, her passion for learning more in integrated and complementary medicine has grown tremendously, leading her to Mindful Pediatrics.

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