Strengthening Your Immune System in the Time of Covid-19

Living through a pandemic can be frightening, but you don’t have to be in the dark about how to strengthen your immune system against both COVID-19 and the flu.

You already may be aware of some risk factors such as obesity, lung or heart disease, aging, autoimmune conditions, and immune suppressing medication that make COVID-19 more dangerous, should you become infected. Keeping your body and immune system healthy with the right diet and spices has the possibility of

making you less susceptible, or having a milder illness, if you are exposed to the virus.

This is not a prescription for prevention or treatment. It is just an extension of common sense information you probably know or have been reading or hearing from your grandmother, or nutritionally-oriented friends or doctors.

While there are really no good human studies on diet and immunity with Covid 19, there are various articles in the literature and historical practices that suggest to me that some of the foods and spices below might make some kind of difference in keeping me healthy or possibly making me less ill, if I do get sick.

I will discuss some reasons why the recipe I have made for myself is likely to be helpful (in later blogs), but now I will just talk about delicious healthy meals to prepare and eat.

Let’s start with breakfast. Several times a week, I start with grapefruit, being sure to chew the pulp, and chew off some of the white inside the skin, especially if it’s organic. However, if you are taking any medications, check to be sure their levels are not affected by grapefruit. In that case, have an orange instead. The pulp and white inside the skin is where the bioflavonoids, and in particular, the naranganin is found.

Next, eat some ground, soaked flaxseed, or put it in your cereal. You could also add some cinnamon to your cereal for sweetness. Hold off on the sugar. Finally, how about a cup of green tea, with EGCG as a natural component? You could also cinnamon to your tea or coffee for flavor.

I just made a stew for lunch. Besides lots of kale and onions, I have seasoned it with thyme and turmeric, to name a few. Carrots, celery, and garbanzo beans made up some of the bulk. I used a quart of chicken soup liquid, but could have used vegetable soup stock instead. Miso and garlic and caramelized onions were added for flavor. I put in a big piece of astragalus root while I cooked it, for both sweetness, anti-viral protection and immune support.

While I was preparing this soup, I put a few handfuls of dried Shitake mushrooms into a pot of boiling water and flavored them with soy sauce blend and seasonings. Half of the soup got the bones and part of a chicken. I poured the stew over mashed potatoes and quinoa. I will add the Shitake mushrooms for the next meal. I added sweet white miso, flavored soy sauce, along with the Bragg’s aminos, and garlic and spices to flavor the soup).

With a few additions, this yielded 3-4 delicious meals for 2 people. I made the same recipe again tonight, vegan, with red lentils and vegetable broth instead of chicken, and it was delicious as well.

Here’s My Shitake Mushroom Stew Recipe:

  1. Rinse Shitake mushrooms with water, and boil them in a separate pot, with spices, until soft.
  2. Use a pint of water saved in the fridge from the pot where organic vegetables were steamed
  3. Add vegetable or chicken broth 1-2 pints
  4. Add water to a total of 2 quarts including above
  5. Lightly sauté 2 sweet onions salt in olive oil with 4-6 cloves of garlic added toward to end, and salt or vege salt.
  6. Flavor with sweet pale miso diluted in soup stock, turmeric, thyme, garlicsalt, basilrosemary, and Italian spices, Bragg’s Aminos with whatever deletions or additions suites you.
  7. Boil the above liquid in a 6-8 quart pot and add in chopped celery and carrots, well chopped kale or cabbage, spices, Astragalus root, chicken bones with chicken, tofu, red lentils, or vegetable protein powder and any other slow cooking vegetables you like.
  8. When vegetables become almost cooked and softened, add sautéed onions, cooked beans, and Shitake mushrooms. Finish seasoning to taste.
  9. Serve over cooked quinoa, rice, squash, or potatoes. Put some aside for the next few days, and a container in the freezer to thaw for a later meal.

Stay safe with adequate distance, and wash those hands!

To your health,

Dr. Dattner


By reading this you agree that this article is for educational purposes only, and is not a substitute for advice from a qualified practitioner who understands your conditions and what you are taking, and is not a substitute for best preventative measures such as social distancing (but not emotional isolation!), hand washing, and wearing a mask. Getting enough sleep and avoiding excess sugar, smoking or other lung irritants is also a good idea.

New findings in Food allergy related Eczema

A study by Dr Leung showed that children with food allergy related eczema differ from those eczema patients without food allergy by changes in uninvolved skin. Those with food allergy were shown to have increased water loss, increased Staph colonization, and changes consistent with a immature skin barrier (as determined by gene expression studies).

The study was done by sampling the upper layer of the skin by removing cells with scotch tape. The food allergy involved was peanut allergy, in those considered food allergic. It should be noted that peanuts are far more active as lectins than other food allergens, that this study was done in a dry elevated city of Denver, and that it may or may not be applicable to all eczema patients with food sensitivities. The implication of the study is that a defective skin barrier plays a role in food allergy related eczema. We are still far from being certain that this is a as good a way to determine if food allergies are involved in an eczema patient’s outbreaks, compared to history of flares. Also, the tests used are mostly not clinically available. Nevertheless, it is an important advance, and supports the notion that a sub-population of a topic dermatitis patients do have food allergies related to their condition.

Read More:

Alan M Dattner, MD

New Studies in Eczema

New Studies in Eczema, medically termed Atopic dermatitis, extend our understanding, and verify what we already know.

Early eczema, and according to some, the majority of eczema is caused by reactions from the branch of the immune system related to antibody production known as TH2 immunity. One of the popular biologics for eczema targets this system. We might expect that people with this kind of immunity would cause reactions very shortly after exposure to allergens to which they are sensitive. But although some academic proponents of eczema being a result of immediate sensitivity, testing for IgE sensitivity, while useful for pollen, dander, and dust, is often not very helpful in identifying allergic triggers, especially if food allergy is involved.

A recent study by Dr Emma Guttman-Yassky showed that in a subgroup of Eczema patients , substances secreted by white blood cells called lymphocytes called cytokines, had characteristics of a delayed hypersensitivity or TH1 response instead. These cytokines were of the types IL 22 and IL 17, both related to delayed reactions.

Using a biologic antibody that blocked IL-22, she demonstrated that eczema patients with high IL-22 had greater improvement than eczema patients with low IL-22. She claimed this as the first example of personalized medicine for Atopic Dermatitis. While it is an important finding for drug blockade of immune reactivity, those using holistic, integrative, natural, or nutritional dermatology know that tailoring diet, food elimination, and appropriate digestive and other supplements to control the underlying causes such as microbiome imbalances or digestive disturbances to calm down the inflammation, have been practicing personalized medicine long before this study.

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The Gap Part 1

I’d like to talk about a concept that has been developing in my mind over the past few months, that I call “the gap”. The gap contains the potentially helpful treatments, often based on scientific literature and capabilities of various healing systems, but not proven in the medical literature by double blind studies or evidence-based studies. Some of these are accessible only by extreme or serendipitous circumstances, such as a particularly skilled acupuncturist, or in the jungles of Brazil. Others are accessible by working via a combination of medically and scientifically based concepts through the perspective of integrative medicine and concepts borrowed from other healing traditions. It may employ energetic or other perspectives, such as Applied Kinesiology, which I use, to corroborate, point out, or refine diagnostic data and choice of treatment.

It has been my experience that people who are guided using methods as above have a good chance of healing skin issues that were otherwise designated as incurable, or as treatable only with medications with potentially life-threatening medications. Those medications or more invasive treatments may be crucial and lifesaving in some instances. But that space of “nowhere to go” when reasonable applications of integrative methods could control the condition, is what I call “The Gap”.

I have been fortunate in my career to have been helping a lot of people who have fallen into “the gap”. I hope that this kind of help, and the support that goes with it, will become a lot more available in terms of capable practitioners, insurance coverage, and available products. Besides safety, correcting underlying conditions to clear skin issues also improves other inflammatory conditions that have led to a multitude of problems often not even mentioned in a detailed medical history.

In the next several blogs, I will discuss this issue of “the gap”, the contributing issues, and what the benefits are of narrowing “the gap”.

Gluten-Free Diet: 3 Benefits to Your Skin When You Go Against the Grain ~ Functional Dermatology

Gluten-Free Diet: 3 Benefits to Your Skin When You Go Against the Grain

Let’s talk a little bit about the benefits of a gluten free diet for skin. We know that gluten is tremendous cause of leaky gut in some individuals who are really sensitive to it. Ceiliacs and what not. They can’t even have a little bit without actually opening up that barrier between the cells. Work is been done by Dr. Phisana to show that the gluten releases substances called Zanuler…. And the zanuler open up the junctions between the cells in the barrier of the intestinal tract allowing incompletely broken down food substances and perhaps even bacterial in…toxins into the bloodstream, into the lymphatic causing havoc as the material gets out to your skin and sensitizes your cells to various food stuffs.

So that’s one part of the problem. So what do you eat if you can’t eat gluten. Well one of my favourite things to eat is squash; spaghetti squash, kobucha squash, acorn squash, all these are really helpful for a substitute because they are very different than your grains. Now some people can deal with gluten free grains. That is things like quinoa can be very helpful.

For some people beans are okay, but beans contain a lot of lectins. And some people just can’t handle them and they the gas is only one symptom that they are having difficulty handling those chemically. So variety I think is the spice of life and with food allergy, it certainly is the spice of life. Because if you eat the same thing over and over, you are going to have more likely getting food allergies as I have observed.

So I would like to suggest that you find a variety of other things if you are going to avoid gluten, and you figure out ways to get them into your menu.

Adult cystic acne cleared, through dedication and time.

Cystic Acne Cleared

“True healing takes dedication and time—it’s certainly not for the weak-willed. Through this journey, I’ve not only seen a beautiful improvement in my adult cystic acne, I’ve discovered a deep compassion for my health and wellness. Dr. Dattner’s practice is a blessing, especially for those who strive for a balanced body and mind.”

~Larell S

After One Month of Treatment
Before: One Month of Treatment
After 5 months of treatment
After: Five Months of Treatment

Radiant Skin from the Inside Out: A Natural Skincare Bible


Gain control over skin disorders, and take your own guided journey toward better health.


Alleviate conditions involving inflammation of all other organ systems of the body as well. With my emphasis on nutritional influence on the immune system, this book will help heal individuals with allergy, autoimmune diseases, and chronic inflammatory diseases which can result in chronic pain, premature aging, and obesity.


It is estimated that 22 million Americans have some form of autoimmune disease. Recent articles in highly respected peer reviewed medical journals suggest that environmental factors including food allergens, chemicals, infection, and stress lead to sensitization of one’s immune system to their own body chemicals on the path to autoimmune disease.


This book throws off the shackles of conventional medical thinking while keeping the sense of the science behind the clinical practice, to give the reader both a guidebook and a working information space on which to take their own skin condition-guided journey toward better health. And in my own small way, I hope to shift the paradigm of Modern Medicine away from symptom suppression toward a truly holistic resolution of the underlying concert of issues.

Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food elegantly and radically shifted the American zeitgeist about the interrelatedness of agro-business, eating, environmentalism, and health. Heal Your Skin, Heal Your Life has been published to educate the public to create a similarly radical shift in how we view the interrelatedness of the skin, eating, health, the insurance industry, the traditional medical establishment, and holistic health care. By doing so, we greatly expand the number of people who will be able to choose other options for treating their skin and chronic diseases.


My philosophy places real responsibility both on the individual to make better choices and for the government and industry to actually offer a healthier and less toxic environment and food supply. By helping individuals experience the reality of damaging environmental factors affecting both their skin and their lives, they not only have the opportunity to get better safely at a more fundamental level, but also see the importance of grappling with these issues on a local and global scale. Only a widespread consciousness of these factors can avert the growing environmental disaster we have been building. This book can help bring about the personal revolution to do your part in changing the world.


Heal Your Skin, Heal Your Life will be available in 2014


Natural and Integrative Skincare Treatments

I take the time with each patient to find and correct the probable events which preceded the outbreak of your skin disorder.

  • HERBAL TREATMENT use of botanical extracts to treat conditions with greater range of safety and capability than offered by drugs alone 
  • VITAMIN, MINERAL, ENZYME, AND OTHER SUPPLEMENT SUPPORT the chemical processes going on inside our cells and organs can be restored to normal balance 
  • INTRAVENOUS NUTRIENTS (NYC office) dramatic results can sometime be obtained by injection of nutrients intravenously. Certain nutrients such as magnesium enter the cells at levels that would cause diarrhea if taken orally
  • DETOXIFICATION (enhancement of biotransformation and excretion) get rid of toxins, pesticides, preservatives, heavy metal, hydrocarbons, and Supplements & Herbshormone mimics, disrupting cell function
  • BIOCHEMICAL AND METABOLIC NUTRITION using an understanding of thebiochemistry and physiology of the body as elated to your condition, chemicals normally made and used by the body, and the natural products containing them, can be supplemented to make desired changes

  •  ENVIRONMENTAL ALLERGY DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT allergic to substances, foods, dust, pollen, or other chemicals in their environment, leading to non-classical symptoms
  • FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE optimizing digestive and other organ function using natural substances to correct inflammation and other disease processes
  • APPLIED KINESIOLOGY uses a system of muscle response testing to assess organ dysfunction and the best treatments to correct, testing your autonomic system rather than your blood
  • ASYRA PULSE ELECTROMAGNETIC BIOFEEDBACK EVALUATION AND TREATMENT tests and treats for allergy, degenerative disturbance, metabolic and digestive imbalance, nutrition, toxic stressors, GI panel, fungi, lyme, heavy metals, and moreTongue
  • CHINESE TONGUE DIAGNOSIS visual diagnosis of signs of digestivedysfunction, and the type ofcorrection needed
  • NMT (NEURO MODULATION TECHNIQUE) assesses and corrects patterns of dysfunction and the brain/body pathways involved, cluing your body into awareness and release
  • LANG DESENSITIZATION TECHNIQUE cold laser desensitization to viruses and substances causing inflammatory attack on one’s own body
  • TENNANT BIOMODULAR (Scenar) RADIOFREQUENCY ELECTRODIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT FOR MUSCLE, JOINT, AND OTHER INFLAMMATION evaluation of the voltage of body areas and acupuncture points, and correction by patented pulsed modulated current
  • MINOR EXCISION AND MINOR PLASTIC SURGERY as a board certified experienced dermatologist, surgical and other dermatologic treatment with a holistic consciousness, from simple biopsy to cancer removal with plastic repair


Natural Skincare: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Do you use vitamins and supplements when you treat skin naturally?

A. Yes, my preferred method is to use multiple supplements to simultaneously correct a variety of factors leading to your condition. I have you add to the program over time, and then make changes as your condition improves.


Q. I find it hard to take supplements without having reactions because I am very sensitive.

A. I use a number of techniques which do not require supplements. These include NMT (Neuro Modulation Technique,) Lang desensitization, and Scenar (Tennant Biomodulator) treatment, and others. I look for a reason for overwhelming sensitivity. If these methods are not adequate, I will recommend that you see a good homeopath.


Q. Will I have to change my diet? I’m very particular about what I eat, and very busy.

A. Likely, yes. What you eat is one of the biggest sources of foreign substances that enter your body. Unless there are medicines you take, materials you touch or breathe, or hidden infections which can be found and controlled, it is fairly likely that you will need to make some changes in your diet to get improvement in an inflammatory condition. Other conditions don’t need these changes, but I can evaluate your situation to find out. In general, you must be brave and flexible enough to consider making some changes in what you eat, and what supplements you will take, to work with me successfully. You probably will find that the resulting improvement in health, comfort, and appearance is worth it.


Q. Do you accept Medical insurance, or belong to any HMO’s?

A. Unfortunately, I do not. Medical Insurance usually does not cover preventative care which may not show up as savings in your health care for several years. In non life-threatening conditions, payment only covers brief visits, and strict definitions limit charges. Most physicians have to spend only 5 to 10 minutes per patient to cover their expenses Indeed, some patients report to me that the dermatologist they saw under insurance barely walked into the office to see their skin condition, for a minute. They haven’t the time or experience to overhaul your diet or life style to get changes in your underlying condition There is no way that their current payments cover the amount of time I spend in consultation and research on your problem. 

Patients are sometimes told that there is nothing else that medical science has to offer them, which from a conventional medical viewpoint, is true. Those people often need to unravel a lot of problems and past treatment experience to get to the core of their problem. This takes a lot more time and work, just as if a part at the center of your car’s engine needs replacement. Insurance companies may call this work unproven, preventative, or unnecessary, and pay for it at their whim and rate. Years of experience tell me that digging deeper with the synergy of conventional, scientific, and complementary diagnostic and treatment tools allows me to help people who were told that there was nothing else that would help them.


Q. Can you treat my unique skin disorder naturally?

A. This sort of question is most important when a specific technique is being used, as in a surgical treatment for skin cancer of the bridge of the nose. In other conditions, I apply several methods of diagnosis and an individual specific approach, so the individual factors are much more important than the name of the disease in my selecting a treatment regimen. Most skin disorders have a common final presentation and similar mechanisms of expression, but different ways to trigger that final pathway. I go back to the specific ways the initial inflammation occurred, and what outside influence or inner deficiency was most likely to have brought it on.

It is my familiarity with the skin, the specialty of dermatology, immunity and inflammation, evaluating the scientific literature, knowing and contacting experts when necessary, and my background in alternative medicine and having numerous techniques to apply it to someone in need, which gives me an edge. The work often turns out to be so individual specific that the question is irrelevant. You do better to ask whether I have treated you or your identical twin for the same disorder, for that is more likely to be relevant. I have been successful with treatment of patients with many different skin disorders, some of which I never treated before. Success is more dependent on my tools, varieties of approach, network of experts, and different systems for defining the underlying cause. 

Q. Do you treat skin cancer naturally? 

A. I have treated many dozens of cancer patients. Being the only dermatologist at my community hospital in Northeast Connecticut for over twenty years, in a town where there was no other plastic surgeon, and being a sculptor who is skilled with my hands, I performed over a hundred facial plastic surgical procedures transferring tissue (flaps) in order to repair the defects where skin cancer was removed.

I get great results in older patients, because their skin is more lax, and good results in middle aged patients.

Q. Why should I go to you as a holistic dermatologist when I can go to my HMO dermatologist for free and to a nutritionist for less?

A. Actually, for some people, that’s a good idea, because they might be able to get some additional help from the combination. But since both tend to have different worlds of knowledge, you will have the additional burden of evaluating the treatment plans of one over the other. And, neither will be informed enough to really offer you a perspective which evaluates the suggestions of the other in a knowledgeable and unbiased manner. The nutritionist skilled in alternative treatment may not know when to stop and consider a more serious internal medical condition which is presenting as the skin problem. When the combined experience is necessary, you really need someone who is knowledgeable about both.

Next: Contact Dr. Dattner for an appointment