In this episode, I’m speaking with Dr. J.E. Williams – an expert in viral immunology – about immune boosters, the pros and cons of wearing masks, the best ways to stimulate the thymus, and why we should focus on bending the curve rather than flattening it.
Table of Contents
In this podcast, Dr. Williams will cover:
- Why “bending the curve” is way more important right now than flattening it.
- Which of the 3 kinds of facial masks are actually effective and when to wear them? (Plus, why some kind of mask-wearing may be problematic)
- How COVID-19 is different from other viruses.
- What a new ‘normal’ will look like and when will we get there.
- Is a vaccine likely to be the solution for overcoming this virus? Dr. Williams’ thoughts may surprise you.
- The 2 most important steps for dealing with COVID-19
- The 3 things you should check daily to catch the sickness EARLY
- Why thymus gland health is a major overlooked key to immune function (and how to optimize it)
- His top strategies and herbs/supplements for enhancing immune function, beyond eating well and exercising.
Listen or download on iTunes
Listen outside iTunes
Ari: Hey there, welcome back to the Energy Blueprint Podcast. Here, with me for the third time is my good friend and specialist in viral immunity, Dr. J.E. Williams. He is a highly respective integrative medicine clinician who treats and revitalizes patients in even the most severe stages of illness. He’s been in practice for about 35 years and has a whopping 150,000 patient visits over those 35 years. He also has been treating chronic fatigue syndrome for much of that time, if not all of that time. He has just an amazing level of expertise in both chronic fatigue, and in particular, infections. So, what better time to have him on than in the midst of this pandemic to talk about viral immunity? Welcome back to the show for the third time, Dr. Williams.
Dr. Williams: Thank you for having me.
The difference between flattening and bending the curve
Ari: First of all, let’s talk about this idea that you told me about via email, which is bending the curve. People are familiar with the idea of flattening the curve. There’s some misconceptions around that, which maybe we can get into, but what’s the difference between flattening the curve and bending the curve?
Dr. Williams: Bending the curve is proactively being involved in your own care, so that’s avoidance, prevention, treatment if you should get sick. You can bend it away from becoming more severe, or killing you or killing someone that you know or one of your loved ones. That has to, instead of just flattening like that or smoothing it out and extending it out, you’re actually shifting that. You’re putting a tangent to it, a positive twist to the process. The other thing is this, is that we and several other countries have effectively flattened the curve, but we’ve extended it out. What we don’t really know is, “Is that it?” Probably not.
Ari: That’s the misconception that I was getting at, which is– Part of it is, it’s not just people’s misinterpretation, it’s that there were many people presenting this inaccurately at the outset of the pandemic, where they were saying, “Here’s how many people will get this and die.” Two million people were some of the projections, for example, from Neil Ferguson, and that’s if we don’t flatten the curve, and then if we do flatten the curve, it’s only 150,000 will die. The reality of flattening the curve was never that it dramatically changes the total number of infections, it’s the same area under the curve, same total number of infections, just spread out over a longer period of time. I think that’s one inaccuracy, but there’s also this idea that’s in people’s heads that by flattening the curve and slowing the spread, this thing will just go away on its own and we can prevent ourselves from getting it. Maybe you can comment on that, but my perception is that bending the curve, what you’re talking about here, is really what should be a major focus, and yet, is not, is almost being completely ignored.
Dr. Williams: Exactly. Not only almost completely ignored, but pushed aside and focused on drug sales and money-making, and just completely the wrong attitude about the epidemic disease. What they misunderstand is exactly what you’re saying is that flattening the curve just prevents a peak infection, so that the system is not overwhelmed, hospitals. However, they were overwhelmed anyway in certain parts of the country but not maximally overwhelmed. Not only were they overwhelmed, but we weren’t prepared. Why weren’t we prepared?
Those of us who are in the field have known this forever, certainly, since the first SARS epidemic 20 years ago, that coronavirus was coming. Not to have face masks, for example, and then run out of them and not be able to get them, that just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever in the United States. Then when you flatten that curve, what’s really next is, what does that flattened curve look like and how long does it extend out? As you were saying, you’re going to get the same amount of infections and same amount of deaths. Maybe you’re going to get more infections and maybe more deaths over time. Is that curve really a stamping down, slow, like a mushroom, just sitting in the field and then getting limper and limper and limper and then going away? I don’t think so.
First of all, we don’t know anything really about how this particular coronavirus is going to play out. Nobody knows, because it’s a new infection. We have an idea, but we really don’t know. What we’re looking at now is, will it become endemic, permanent, so that when you get sick of respiratory illness, say, six months from now or six years from now, when you go to your doctor’s office, they’ll test you for coronavirus and influenza and a few other things like that? Is that going to be a serious consequence? Will chronic fatigue cases increase? There’s so many questions of that. What you can do and what I teach my patients and what I help them do and my readers, is to bend that curve away from the troubling effects.
Ari: I want to get to that. There’s so many nuances around the flattening the curve thing. That’s obviously been heavily politicized. There’s a right-left divide around it. There’s a public policy debate. There’s a lot of complexities to it, the public health fallout of economic devastation and unemployment, as far as suicides and deaths of despair, things like that, versus how many lives you could potentially save by extending the curve, flattening the curve and maybe, theoretically, coming up with a better treatment.
I just read an article yesterday talking about how many children are projected to die in Africa as a result of interruptions in the food-chain supply, because of global lockdowns and things like that. It’s so complex. It’s such a complex system when you just shut down the world, basically. I think we were looking at things so myopically as far as like, “Let’s avoid hospital overwhelm” that we didn’t pay enough attention to what are all of the potential massive consequences that could result from flattening the curve.
It’s a very complex debate, but there is one aspect that I would like to get your opinion on, since you just mentioned it, which is masks. What do you think as far as the evidence is concerned about mask-wearing at the population level, for hours everyday? People wearing these masks in their homes or outside their homes as they go for walks, in the workplace, in the car, hours and hours and hours, on a daily basis? I’ve seen both sides of this. What’s your take on this? Do you perceive this–
Dr. Williams: This coronavirus moves similar like influenza, on droplets of sputum, or in your tears. It’s not floating around the air, like they used anthrax, for example, as a bioterrorism. Probably it would be very difficult to make a coronavirus into a real bioterrorist weapon, where you could blow it across a battlefield or something like that, or blow it into a city. That’s what people are afraid of and they think that it’s in the air.
It’s not floating around the air. Therefore, wearing a mask all the time doesn’t make any sense. Also, it’s hard to breathe. If you have a really effective mask like N95, it’s hard to breathe. You should wear the mask when you’re in public, when you’re shopping and going into your building if you’re still at work, for example, but wearing it all the time doesn’t make any sense and may be bad for your health.
When and why you should wear masks
Ari: Interesting. What’s interesting to me is the cloth mask, the homemade mask issue. I’ve looked and there’s almost no evidence at all on the use of cloth masks in the context of infections. There’s one study, I think it was from Vietnam and they compared three different groups. One was wearing medical masks, one was wearing cloth masks, and one was standard practice which involved some bit of mask wearing, but much, much less mask wearing, in other words, much more time with no mask on compared to the other two groups. What they found is that the wearing of the cloth masks, and this is among healthcare workers, I think nurses in a hospital setting. The wearing of the cloth mask was associated with higher rates of influenza-like illness and infection compared with both of the other groups.
My takeaway from this was if you are going to wear a mask, I think the only thing that probably makes sense is wearing true medical masks, not the homemade cloth masks. Is that something you would agree with?
Dr. Williams: Yes, that’s correct. One of the misconceptions is that people see pictures of China and Korea and you see streets full of people wearing masks. Even without the coronavirus, you still see them wearing masks. I’ve been to China, as you know, multiple times since the early 1980s, and people wear a mask there because they are packed so tightly together. You’re walking on a big street, this is everywhere except out in the countryside.
You’re shoulder to shoulder, there’s a person in front of you and there’s a person in back of you six inches, 12 inches. It’s one person coughs and they’re just moving around. That’s not an unusual congestion because they’re escaping a building or going to a soccer game or something. That’s normal life there. You see people wearing masks, and they have a reason to do that. We’re not packed like that in most of the time and also the cloth masks, not only the droplets will build up on the outside and so you should have multiple cloth masks and they should be going into hot water washing or into the microwave to sterilize them and change your mask all the time if that’s all you have.
Ari: Got you. Just to wrap that thought up. Do you think that people should be wearing masks apart from any setting where they’re crammed together and close?
Dr. Williams: Absolutely. I think that this COVID-19 is changing our way of life forever. We and Europe and South America, we will be more like Asia now. That means, and I’ve talked about this for probably 30, 40 years, bowing is good, shaking hands in this era? No. Having masks on hand? Having them in your briefcase? Having them in your car? I think is going to be permanent for us. I’ve done it for years and decades and that’s how we do it.
Ari: Just to wrap up your thoughts, so you think medical masks over cloth masks?
Dr. Williams: That’s right medical masks, there’s different versions of the N95. You can get simpler versions and not the respirator type that somebody working in a lot of dust or something would wear. They’re easier, they’re less expensive and that’s the type you should be wearing. The surgical mask helps a little bit, but it still can get in along the sides. Here’s what you should do when you buy your mask, of course, there’s a lot of fake N95s. When it comes in, put some water into that mask, a few drops of water into the inside. If it holds the water, you’re good.
Ari: Then as far as mask-wearing habits, let’s say someone gets a true medical mask like an N95, you’re saying no need to wear it when you’re out and about, if I’m not correct, but only indoor settings in close quarters with other people?
Dr. Williams: Well, not just indoor. Say you’re walking, you’re parking and going to the grocery store on Sunday, or you’re moving or going to the post office or something, you probably want to wear that as you get out of your car. You don’t know who you’re going to bump in to along the way and as you’re going in, so don’t put it on in there, but put it on from your car to those places. You don’t need to wear it at the beach, but a good idea to have one in a little bag or in your pocket. Say you arrive and say, “I’m going to go there earlier or late,” and all of a sudden there’s a big crowd of people. You’re maybe having a picnic and you need to move through them, then you don your mask, move through them, if there’s nobody on the beach, you can to take it off.
Ari: Okay. Basically, any scenario where you’re in close quarters with lots of other people?
Dr. Williams: That’s right. Don’t forget that washing your hands is really important too, cleaning your hands. My car, I have masks, multiple ones, because I tend to lose them and forgot about them and give them away. I always have a package of new ones for people who need them. Then a hand sanitizer and some wipes and then when you got home, wash your hands.
Ari: Okay. Any concern with wearing this too long during the day, as far as decreased O2 or increased CO2 levels in the blood?
Dr. Williams: Yes. A good mask doesn’t allow water out, that means the droplets that you may be coughing or sneezing or the droplets coming in, which means they don’t let air also in. If you wear those masks like I do after 30 minutes or so, it’s quite a little bit hard to breathe, it gets a little bit warm underneath those masks and that’s another reason.
Ari: I did see one study that was talking about large increase in the incidents of headaches in nurses wearing medical masks N95s, and they were attributing it specifically to high CO2 levels and decreased O2 levels or just increased resistance of the gas exchange with breathing–
Dr. Williams: You’re re-breathing your own air and you’re breathing out carbon dioxide, so you’re re-breathing some of that carbon dioxide back in, and you’re getting some ambient air from the outside in.
Ari: Is there some element of, there’s a benefit of decreasing the spread of the virus and, at the same time, essentially, if you wear these masks too much, you may be stressing your body in a way that might theoretically decrease your immunity to a small extent?
Dr. Williams: Yes, think of it as a continuum. A line like this, at one end is people are coughing and sneezing, everything’s closed now, but say, for example, you’re going to the airport or you’re going to a hotel or you’re going into this grocery store. Just at that moment, there’s a lot of people going in too and one of those is sick, but they don’t know it. That mask is going to help you then, but after you get home, if there’s nobody– Unless somebody is sick at home, then you need to wear a mask in the house, but if you’re at home alone or nobody’s sick, then you don’t need to wear that mask, and you have to breathe normally, it’s important to have good respiratory function.
Ari: Got it.
Dr. Williams: Exactly. Don’t think that this is over, this is going to go on for months, many more months. If you can have a supply of masks, if you can get them, and if not, this type of living is going to go on forever now I think. The world is just too small a place, there’s too many people. In fact, these type of infections are spreading too much. Get enough of masks, don’t hoard thousands of masks, but have 50 or a few hundred.
The “flattening the curve” strategy – why it may not work
Ari: Sure. Bigger picture context of mask wearing and social distancing and lockdowns, the original whole premise of lockdowns and social distancing was to flatten the curve, as we said, to prevent hospital overwhelm.
Dr. Williams: Spread out the infections.
Ari: We’ve already successfully flattened the curve, and there is no hospital overwhelm issue at this point, maybe one or two hospitals in New York might have an issue still, but I think 99% of the country and almost the world, as far as I’m aware, maybe with the exception of a few hotspots have no issue of hospital overwhelm. Given that, what is the benefit of flattening the curve or slowing the spread now? What are we accomplishing in the big picture of the population level by doing that?
Dr. Williams: Versus just opening everything and going back to normal?
Ari: Sure. There are some people, for example, epidemiologist Knut Wittkowski, who has argued that the way to end this is to allow it to spread to get herd immunity such that you can be done with it and get back to normal. Then on the other end, outside of hospital overwhelm, it seems like now that we’ve avoided that, the argument has shifted more towards we want to extend the duration of this and hopefully find a treatment or a vaccine that allows us to get back to normal. What in your mind is the most compelling argument for mask wearing and slowing the spread?
Dr. Williams: Well, the author and one of the top writers in the field of infectious disease, David Quammen, he said that every new pandemic starts as a mystery. That’s the way we need to approach it. An intelligent person and a medical professional should be approaching it, and I know that they do when we’re talking in private, but they present to the public as if it were as simple as what you were just talking about. It’s not that simple, that’s not how it works, but people have a hard time with uncertainty.
You give them something certain, you’re looking for something certain. You give them a curve that goes like this, and you give them a curve that goes like that, and then you ask questions or you talk about herd immunity. We don’t know, nobody knows, experts do not know. That means that we should still continue to be careful.
Ari: Careful as individuals to decrease our personal susceptibility.
Dr. Williams: That’s right. For example, in my case, our clinic has stayed open. We have not treated a single person with a COVID-19 infection, that’s not our type of patients, but we screen the people who come into the building. We screen them. We take their temperature. We have a list, I developed a whole protocol for that. We don’t let them into the clinic until we screen them. If any of our employees have had the slightest possibility of contact, we send them home. We haven’t had a single employee test positive, and though we’ve sent home two to four of them over the last several months after– We do it 5 days, 10 days, 15 days and we let them back in, but this is not over. This is not a flu. This is not a seasonal flu or even a bad flu that goes up and down and over and you have the herd immunity and the vaccine helps a little bit and so forth, this is not what we’re dealing with.
Ari: What’s different? What’s different about this compared to that?
Dr. Williams: Well, first of all, it’s not a seasonal virus, although it may have seasonal tendencies. Second, it’s has a potential to have higher infection rates. MERS was 30% death rate and SARS, original SARS, was 10% death rate. People die very badly, you can’t breathe, your lungs fill up with fluid. It’s a really frightening condition. With the seasonal flu, it comes with a darker, colder weather and less sun and indoor heating and it goes away when the ultraviolet light comes out. The two are different types of viruses.
We know a lot about influenza, but not everything. We know almost nothing about coronavirus and this virus is mutating. We don’t know what it’s doing, but we do know that there’s multiple different strains and that those are mutating. It’s possible that it could mutate into a SARS-1 type of infection, where the death rate, all of a sudden, goes up to 10% or 20%. I think we should be, individually and as a society, careful and cautious for over at least the next several months. Then if we see the natural curve going down and going down without intervention, then I think we can start to return to a semblance of normal, but I don’t think we’ll ever, ever be normal again.
Ari: This will circulate every year like the flu does.
Dr. Williams: This virus is everywhere and if it’s not this one, there’ll be another one. We need to change our behavior and bow instead of handshake and namaste, more California namaste, and we need to have some masks on hand and we need to keep our hygiene more like Asian people do. Then what I’m talking about is bending the curve. That means what can you do? Don’t wait for it till you’re sick and end up in the hospital. What can you do now for prevention? How can you manage your immunity? How can you support your thymus gland? Then if you do get sick, what do you need to do? Then after sick, you’re not going to be just free of this illness if you get sick. We don’t know that yet. We’re seeing consequences of people who have been sick showing up already, so better to do a post-infection cycle of substance and nutritional substances as well.
Why flu-vaccines may not be worth the investment
Ari: Okay. I want to get there. Let me ask you first. What is your take on vaccines? There is a lot of people under the impression that are like, “The only thing that can save me is when the vaccine comes out.” There are people hiding in their homes right now who refuse to come out until there’s a vaccine available. Bill Gates is coming out and saying, the only way we can get back to normal is when we have a vaccine. Trump is now in Operation Warp Speed to develop a vaccine. Everybody’s got their focus here.
As we said at the outset, nobody’s talking about bending the curve, but people are focused it seems exclusively on the pursuit of this vaccine that’s going to save us. My personal perception of that is, if we develop a vaccine and it happens to be wonderfully safe and effective, great. However, what I see is really unrealistic expectations. The context that I see is there’s so many viruses we’ve been trying to develop a vaccine for, for years or decades unsuccessfully, common cold viruses.
We have the flu virus that has over the last 14 years about a 40% efficacy. Flu still goes around every single year despite having a vaccine and 50% of the population getting the vaccine. It’s not even clear if there’s a really significant effect size from the vaccine as far as reducing hospitalizations. There was a Cochrane review from 2010, 2018 talking about that.
Then the past history of coronavirus is vaccines seem to have all failed and in some cases in animal testing has resulted in antibody-dependent enhancement where the vaccinated animals actually had worse reactions when subsequently exposed to the real virus and died due to cytokine storms. My perception of all of that is it seems somewhat unrealistic to me to imagine we’re going to have a remarkably effective and safe vaccine in a year from now, but I’m curious what your take is on that, and this idea that we can only get back to normal when we have a vaccine.
Dr. Williams: Well, we have to get back to normal, but it has to be a new normal. Part of what I was just talking about. Second is, we’re circling back to uncertainty, so give the public something certain. We’re working on a vaccine. The vaccine is going to help us get back to normal. We’re not going to ever get back to normal. Things are going to improve. Things are going to be better but it’s going to be a change. It’s going to be a new better. Coronavirus is here and we’re going to learn about that over time.
A vaccine takes a long time to develop and then prove to be safe. Except for the smallpox vaccine and the polio vaccine, most vaccines have not proven to be that super effective and also have consequences and also have potential, again, for bioterrorism so there’s not a– We don’t want to develop vaccines for every microbe on the planet, that doesn’t make any sense. For the coronavirus, since it’s mutating and there’s multiple types of them, which coronavirus are we making a vaccine for? The COVID-2, which is the one that causes COVID-19 disease? Will that COVID-2 be the same? Probably not. We’ve already had COVID-1 MERS and now COVID-2, and many others, but those are the three main ones. Will we have COVID-15? We have a vaccine for COVID-2, two years from now, or four years or 10 years from now, but maybe COVID-2 will have changed to COVID-15. I think that we have to become stronger and become more proactive and take the power back into our own hands and, yes, support the research for a vaccine, but it’s not going to come quickly and it may not be that effective if it does, it might, but probably not.
Ari: Are you worried about this new technology of mRNA vaccines and the safety risks?
Dr. Williams: Yes, exactly. The vaccine– Anytime you poke something into somebody, you have potential for harm and immune disruption, and nobody really knows, but I’m for wise use of vaccines and I’m more pro better public health, more intelligent approaches to infectious disease control and things like that, and wise use or moderate use or strategic use of vaccines.
Ari: Got it. Let’s get into immunity and bending the curve on an individual level, and let’s talk about prevention first. At this point, we’re in mid-May, as we’re recording this. We’ve had, whatever it is, 12 weeks or so that we’ve been all thinking about this, obsessed with it, learning about it. Studies have come out, some things that were proposed early on, maybe haven’t panned out as predicted, other things have come, there’s hydroxychloroquine, Remdesivir, or all these things.
Then simultaneously you have in a lot of the mainstream media, you have certain professionals that have come out and said, this whole idea that we could “boost” our immune system is nonsense, and there’s this whole effort by some people in the mainstream, conventional medicine, mainstream media, that are trying to “debunk”‘ the idea that vitamins and minerals and herbs could possibly have any impact on immune function or that nutrition and lifestyle impact it, which I think is absurd and is criminal that they’re promoting a narrative like that. Let’s talk about prevention first and then maybe segue into treatment, or you can pair them together as much as you want, but what are your thoughts on the key ways that people can avoid maybe severe sickness?
Dr. Williams: Well, first we talked about avoidance, so wearing a mask, washing your hands, things like that, that’s number one. If you don’t get exposed, you won’t get sick. If you were living on a small island in the Caribbean and nobody came over there, no ships came into port, no canoes came by and no mail arrived and you and your family were there, you wouldn’t get sick.
Ari: To me, this seems a bit unrealistic. If you’re in the modern world, if you’re living in a city, it seems to me like we’re all going to get exposed and I–
Dr. Williams: That’s right, so eventually, what we were talking about earlier, is some people say it’s better if everybody does get exposed, but a little bit over time, and then we’ll develop herd immunity, but that sounds very sweet and nice and may not be biologically 100% accurate. Avoidance is one, and then prevention is two, and prevention and avoidance overlap a little bit. I’ve advocated for early interaction based on your symptoms and being well prepared at home.
In March and April, you couldn’t get an ox– The little device that clips on your finger.
Ari: Oximeter, pulse oximeter.
Dr. Williams: That’s right. That we use all day long in our office, and it gives you an estimate of your percentage of oxygen. Everybody should have one of those, and everybody should have a thermometer. In the old fashioned days, I’m sure your mom had a thermometer that she shook down and put it under your tongue every time you didn’t feel good. People used to do that. For some reason, in our mid-generation, we lost that kind of touch with that when the things were not so bad. Vaccines seemed to work for a lot of things and medical care was not too bad. How many people have glass thermometers anymore? Nobody, but you should have an infrared thermometer and oximeter and blood pressure cuffs too at home. During this time, this epidemia, you should be testing yourself everyday.
Ari: Is the decreased oxygenation of the blood, is that an early symptom or late symptom?
Dr. Williams: It could be an early symptom too. You should know what your standard level is, so a younger person like yourself should be about 98 or 99%. A person in their, say, 55 to 65 or 70, they may be 96, 98%. Everybody, including young people, if they can’t breathe well, their numbers are going to go down. One of the first things that happens is that you develop a fever, so your body is responding to that, it’s affecting your respiratory tract, and your oxygen is going to go down, and you may not have a lot of other symptoms.
The idea is, can you manage and catch early symptoms? If you can, you’re ahead of the curve, and you have the opportunity to bend the curve. Prevention, what you said, was the nutrients help especially if you’re deficient. There’s not a single researcher scientist or physician who’s going to say that if a person is zinc deficient that their immunity is normal. Most of us have enough, but some of us don’t have quite enough, so we’re running a little bit borderline deficient. Some people, depending on their diet, could actually be zinc deficient, but we also don’t know really what that level of zinc, which is necessary for the thymus to work with, and the thymus makes the T cells, the T lymphocytes, which are first line of defense against infection.
The idea is, if you take a mega-dose of zinc, that it gives you some type of magical super powers. That’s not correct because your body will disperse that zinc, and also too much is toxic, right? Having enough is important and having enough everyday is important.
Ari: Got you.
Dr. Williams: Right.
What to do if you come down with an infection
Ari: Okay. Let’s say someone is monitoring their temperature, is monitoring their blood oxygenation status, maybe also their blood pressure, they’re catching something early on, what should they do, then, if they feel like they’re coming down with something?
Dr. Williams: Well, that’s the time when they start to do what I call the supportive care. First, in the beginning we didn’t have any testing. Even now the testing is not very good, and I have not chosen a test to run it for all of our staff and myself. Even the one from LabCorp is not FDA approved. It says right on the form, “This test is not an antibody test,” but when I run an antibody test is IgG, IgM and IgA, if I can, because that’s going to tell me a little bit of insight into the mucosa membrane effect. I want not just the qualitative but I want a quantitative, so I want to know what level of IgG is in the blood, not just positive or negative. Just like when we measure it for Epstein-Barr, as you know, you can tell that the level of the IgG there. If it’s in a relatively normal range or moderately, then probably is not playing a role as a persistent infection in that case of chronic fatigue but if it’s super elevated, very likely it is. We don’t have those tests yet for coronavirus. We will but not right now. Getting tested is important. I don’t have a recommendation, unfortunately. What we do tell patients to know– You can’t just go to LabCorp. I can’t order a test for a patient because LabCorp will not accept them in their office to test them.
They want you to do it in your office and then send the blood over to them, but not every doctors draw blood in their office. You’re left with getting the swab and then your car at the drive-through testing, so it’s a real mess. Getting tested is important. Following those symptoms is important. Making sure you’re already taking vitamin C, zinc and selenium are important. Then you should start picking up your beta-glucan and then it’s anti-inflammatories like cat’s claw, uncaria, these Chinese herbs like Scutellaria and then as you move through the process, your antioxidants because you have a lot of tissue damage even in moderate illness. Of course, please keep up your fluids, manage fever, but try not to infect anybody else.
Ari: Got you. As far as antioxidants, what would be your specific recommendations?
Dr. Williams: Zinc, selenium and vitamin C are antioxidants. Making sure that you’re dosing appropriately and frequently. Once a day is not enough. You have to do multiple four or five times a day but a low dose. The zinc stays in the body a little bit longer but vitamin C, you need to do it maybe every four hours. There’s also the controversy about IV, vitamin C but from what I’ve read and knowing the Chinese studies that vitamin C, IV helps. Oral vitamin C helps. It doesn’t cure. It’s not a shield to prevent or to treat serious illness, but in integrative therapies, it shortens the time you’re sick, and it can prevent most of your symptoms. It’s not 100% but it does help, all of these other substances help. Now, also the luteolin, resveratrol and then anti-inflammatories like curcumin and uncaria from cat’s claw.
Ari: I’ve seen some research. Actually, there’s a researcher up in Canada looking at– I think it just got a million or $2 million to study quercetin to treat COVID-19.
Dr. Williams: That’s right.
Ari: Quercetin and many other phytochemicals, possibly things like luteolin, curcumin, resveratrol. There are some others that act as zinc ionophores where they pull zinc into the cells where it can potentially be more effective in combating the virus. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Dr. Williams: Yes, exactly. That’s what I recommend. All of those.
Ari: Okay. Got it. The other thing is vitamin D. There’s been a few studies now that have linked vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency to higher risk of dying from COVID-19. Have you seen any of that research and what are your thoughts on vitamin D?
Dr. Williams: Yes, I have. Vitamin D3 is on my list of essential basic nutrients. Of course, in our clinic, when we test the patients with their levels if they’re deficient, functionally deficient, say less than 40, then we give them an injection, a vitamin D3 injection of 50,000. Sometimes 100,000, especially for older people right away. Then we follow that with 5,000 to 10,000 a day and a burst of 50,000 oral a week or if they’re really deficient, if they’re at 20 or 30, some patients are down to 10, and then we have them come in weekly for the injection of 50,000 for one month and then retest them.
Ari: Got you. Do you think that implementing the list of strategies that you just mentioned– If you were to quantify it, and I know this is all speculative because we don’t have any randomized controlled study, but if you were to quantify it in terms of how much do you think that this has the potential to reduce someone’s risk of– Obviously it doesn’t reduce the risk of getting it per se, or maybe it does to some extent, but getting severe symptoms in a severe trajectory of illness.
I have parents in their mid-70s for example, if they implement all of these things, what could they expect about their– How much it would affect their risk of dying or getting severe symptoms from COVID-19?
Dr. Williams: Well, first of all, for people over 70, the mid-70s like your parents, then you want to focus on the thymus so that’s zinc, but also other natural substances that promote thymic health and they’re just– Their thymus function is so far down naturally already that there– A few supplements, a little bit of vitamin C is not enough. To prevent infection or to hold back that wave of activity that come into their body.
We’ll be publishing next in the first part of June an article on how to do that with your thymus, and I can send a pre-publication copy to you if you’d like. Then your question is what– I can’t give a percentage, we can’t quantify, but my clinical experience and from what I could glean from the research, as you know, I read hundreds and hundreds of articles and mainly I’m looking at mostly the Asian studies because they’re much more open to taking natural compounds and using them together in an integrated way.
Of course, in China, they emphasize traditional Chinese medicine, however, they’ve already done this for SARS in Hong Kong and in Guangzhou in South China. What they found was that– You notice that steroids are hardly used at all with this current COVID-19. That’s because they had a disastrous results with steroids in China.
Dr. Williams: They saw dramatic improvement because they gave massive dosages intravenously and they saved patients’ lives, and they destroyed their bones permanently, and the damage was so– We couldn’t afford to do that here. You’ll never hear a word about the use of steroids on this one, but you need to use anti-inflammatories to manage the inflammation.
Ari: What about something like nebulizing glutathione? Have you experimented with that? Do you have any thoughts on that?
Dr. Williams: Glutathione is an antioxidant and a naturally occurring antioxidant, and giving patients pure oxygen helps a little bit. It’s easier because it’s a passive, the little tube by their nose, it’s a passive way of getting oxygen in and that helps, and using a nebulizer carefully can help. It can also cause problems because you’re inhaling with the mask completely over your nose and mouth and it’s creating a very fine aerosol right now.
Usually, we use N-Acetyl cysteine and that’s used by traditional medicine and has been for years to help thin the mucus. That would be the first line but in very small dosages, the people who use glutathione or high dosages of NAC cause a lot of lung damage and difficulty breathing.
Ari: Nebulizing it at a high dosage.
Dr. Williams: That’s right. For older people, there are certain people who have genetics sensitivity or susceptibility to cardiovascular effects from glutathione, so I would never recommend that to anyone over 70 to 75 years old or maybe even 65. We don’t know how to measure that and who would be susceptible, but you certainly don’t want them going into getting the blood pressure up or irregular heart rate, which can happen.
Ari: What about melatonin? There’s been some talk about this deactivating, I think, it’s the NLRP3 inflammasome that’s instrumental in creating the cytokine storms. Do you have any thoughts about it?
Dr. Williams: Melatonin plays a key role in the thymus function. It has antioxidant effects and many other effects as well. Taking Melatonin is part of the protocols that I use. Now, the dosage is different from the standard sleep dose which is usually 0.5 or 1 or maximum 3. For my patients, I’m using 10 or 20 milligrams for immune support and infection prevention.
Ari: Okay, got it. Any other tips as far as thymus gland optimization?
Dr. Williams: Yes. There are thymic peptides that are injectable, low dose injectables, there’s thymic extracts, oral extracts, like from New Zealand organic grass-fed glandular extracts, usually get thymus and spleen together.
Ari: [inaudible] extracts?
Dr. Williams: Yes. Even bovine or from sheep.
Ari: Is there research showing that those affect our thymus function? I know that’s a contested, controversial topic, where in conventional medicine they don’t accept the idea that ingesting glands of other animals helps optimize our own glands.
Dr. Williams: They’ve been in use for decades. There’s soft research or evidence that support that. Again, it’s not a pharmaceutical. There’s individual researchers and small studies.
Ari: You do believe that it could be of benefit.
Dr. Williams: I believe so. We use it for older patients just to support healthy aging. I’m not sure that it has a profound effect against an infection, but anything that you can do to maintain healthy thymic function during aging is, I think, important. I wouldn’t prescribe thymus tissue or thymic injections or anything for younger people. That doesn’t seem to make any sense.
Ari: What’s your complete list of thymus optimization strategies if you were to just list them off? I know you have a protocol that you’re developing with more in-depth guidance, but what do you think are the biggest factors?
Dr. Williams: Could you repeat that?
The top strategies for thymus optimization
Ari: What’s your list of strategies? You’ve mentioned a few already, but what’s the full list of strategies for thymus optimization?
Dr. Williams: Sure. My list, I’m going to read it off to you, is a high macronutrient diet, restorative sleep, melatonin, supportive single nutrient and in supplement cocktails, like zinc and I can read that list off in a moment. Balance your hormones and support your thyroid, thyroid and thymus go well together same with the pineal and melatonin. Then the list of supplements that I recommend include zinc, vitamin C, Vitamin A, selenium, thymic and spleen extracts and astragalus.
Ari: Got it. Beautiful. Great list. You’ve mentioned a lot of key strategies and evidence-based ways to boost immune function. If somebody feels overwhelmed with all of this, what would you say– This is my final question to you– What would you say are your, let’s say, top three or top five most important pieces of this puzzle. Let’s say someone is already eating a healthy diet. They’re already exercising, they’ve already got basic nutrition lifestyle stuff handled, what’s your top three or top five must-do strategies to prevent severe sickness from COVID-19?
Dr. Williams: Zinc, vitamin A, selenium, vitamin C.
Ari: Beautiful. Do you have any final words that you want to leave people with as far as what they should be focusing on right now?
Dr. Williams: Sure. I think the big idea is that you can bend the curve. You don’t need to do something miraculous, you just need 1%, 2%, 3%. It’s a trajectory. If you’re bending it just enough, 1% over that trajectory, you’ll do better and you may survive. The research shows, the clinical research and clinical data out of China inform us that. Some of the doctors who use IV vitamin C in the hospitals in New York, inform us of that. They’re not official studies, but the information is there. It’s not a wiping out disease or getting a vaccine that clears the pathway for everybody, and you don’t need that. You just need 1 or 2 or 3 or 7% to bend the curve in your favor.
Ari: Beautiful. Dr. Williams, brilliant as always. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with my audience. I think this is a critical message, and I am 100% on board with, that we really need to shift the focus from, in my opinion, flattening the curve to bending the curve. Not saying flattening the curve is not important. I’m not saying it wasn’t a great goal to avoid overwhelming the hospitals. It absolutely was. I really think that bending the curve deserves just as much, in my opinion actually more, attention than flattening the curve.
I think it’s one of my biggest disappointments and things that gets me really riled up about what’s going on right now is that within mainstream media, there’s almost no attention being put on this at all. Thank you so much for sharing this very, very important message. I really appreciate it. If somebody is interested in contacting you, learning more about your work or working with you directly one on one, where’s the best place to reach out to you?
Dr. Williams: You go to the website and that’s jewilliamsomd.com and everything is there.
Ari: Beautiful. Dr. J. E. Williams OMD. Is that correct?
Dr. Williams: That’s correct.
Ari: Okay. Dr. jewilliams.com. Sorry, drjewilliams–
Dr. Williams: I have two websites. One is the drjewilliams.com that’s the clinical website. The other is jewilliamsomd. That’s where you can see all my pictures of 20,000 feet in the Andes and my work with indigenous people and stuff like that.
Ari: Okay, wonderful. Great connecting with you again, my friend, and I feel we’re probably scratching the surface. I think there’s probably a whole bunch of other topics we could have delved into here and maybe I’ll have to have you on for a COVID-19 part two, podcast number four with you. Really, it was a pleasure connecting with you. I look forward to the next time.
Dr. Williams: Thank you, Ari. Bye.
The difference between flattening and bending the curve (1:00)
When and why you should wear masks (8:00)
The “flattening the curve” strategy – why it may not work (19:26)
Why flu-vaccines may not be worth the investment (26:49)
What to do if you come down with an infection (38:50)
The top strategies for thymus optimization (53:11)