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”.

No Sweat: Natural Deodorant

schmidt naturals“The medical term for excessive sweating is hyperhidrosis, and while it’s not very common, it can be debilitating. If you have an inkling that you may be suffering from hyperhidrosis, start by looking at the circumstances under which it happens, says Dr. Alan Dattner, MD, a New York-based holistic dermatologist.” (from Schmidt’s Natural’s website)

Got a problem with sweat? Don’t want to get expensive Botox treatment to stop your sweat or use aluminum-based deodorants? I recently talked with Schmidt’s Naturals about sweat. Take a look at the article here.

To your health,

Dr. Dattner

Curing Dandruff: Seborrheic Dermatitis and Malasezzia Yeast

I recently saw a young woman complaining of bad dandruff. I agree with my dermatologist colleagues that Malasezzia yeast living in the follicles causes inflammation leading to this condition. My own perspective differs and jumps beyond.

I believe that overgrowth of other kinds of yeast like Candida in the digestive tract, and the presence of yeast byproducts in food. These foods include bread, beer and wine, rile up the immune system for a cross-reactive attack against the Malasezzia yeast in the follicles, in an inflammatory ruckus that causes the skin overgrowth we see as dandruff.

This conceptual leap in understanding the cause leads to new and effective dietary and other natural treatment. Although it may take some time to correct those issues that have been present for years, it occasionally results in a rapid improvement in conditions like dandruff and flaky, dry skin, as shown below.

Here is an email I just received from someone who followed my program, using diet and associated supplements, with great success. (I have changed names for privacy purposes.)

“Hi Dr. Dattner,

AMAZING news: after following your advice, Susan’s dandruff problem is completely gone. You will recall she had a drastic scalp condition which you diagnosed as seborrheic dermatitis. You advised her to eliminate yeast and sugars from her diet and add more vegetables as well as supplements. She followed your advice and within a week there was not a flake to be found on her scalp! I was flabbergasted! I thought for sure it would take many months to see a small change.

We are very grateful to you for your time and advice.

Sincerely, Beverly”

Could it be More than Dry Skin? ~ Best Holistic Skincare Tips

Could it be More than Dry Skin?

Here are my best dry skin holistic tips…

A lot of people notice that they had dry scaly skin and assume that’s all it is. They put creams and various things on to try to make it better. However, a number of people with skin that’s dry actually have what’s known as eczema or atopic dermatitis and that’s an allergic condition, as well as a conditioner for barrier function.

There are also people who come in with dry skin, who have seborrheic dermatitis, which is really commonly known as dandruff and those are conditions that need different kinds of treatment in dry skin. So in addition, there are more unusual and rare conditions that present as skin that’s dry, such as ichthyosis. And that usually is seen in patients with fish-like scales on the fronts of their legs. So it’s important if you have dry skin and it’s not clearing up, to have somebody who is more expert in skin diseases, such as dermatologist.

Take a look and see what’s going on. If you want to find the underlying causes, you may also want to have someone with a holistic view point. Someone like this doesn’t just try to suppress it, but also tries to correct the underlying causes.

Benefits and Dangers of Essential Oils ~ Holistic Dermatology

The Benefits and Dangers of Essential Oils

Essential oils are for example the various kinds of oils that have a strong fragrance in taste that tend to be either cool or hot now essential oils can be very valuable. They have various emotional effects they also are highly antimicrobial in many instances and they can be used even in cases where there are staph infection that are resistant to antibiotics.

They can be used to keep surfaces clean of those, various bacteria and also even to treat infections on the surface of the skin. Some people have even use them internally, they are good for brushing your teeth because they kill the bacteria that are living in between the teeth but there is a down side to essential oils. And that is that you can become allergic to them and develop all sorts of reactions, either locally at the site where you having the problem or elsewhere in the body.

One fellow who I know had a rash on the side of his chest for the longest amount of time and somewhere along the line he figured out that it was being caused by the cinnamon he was eating. And he got away from the cinnamon and that rash went away but sometime down the line he found himself eating some dessert that have cinnamon in it and sure enough he broke out in those same places on the side of his chest.

Now, that doesn’t mean everybody who has a problem with cinnamon or everyone who eats cinnamon is going to have a rash on the chest it could manifest many different places or he may not have a problem at all. Sometimes this comes from just having essential oils over and over and over again not just in your teeth but in your mouth wash and your food and may be in your chewing gum over and over.

So, some people have to get away from essential oils in order to get better, those essential oils I might mention include  clove cinnamon and cloves and all those things that have a strong and also a lot of the perfumes. So one of the things you may find you have to do is take a break from essential oils.

Do Hormones Cause Acne? ~ Best Natural Acne Treatment

Do Hormones Cause Acne?

Many ways to tell is if your acne starting with a hormone change such as puberty, especially in women. Another way especially if women, is to see if it is related to the menstrual cycle, may not be every time.

It could be every other month, but it can usually start before the period begins or at some point during the period or even at the time of ovulation. Observing if this is cyclical activity of your acne is very important in understanding which hormones contribute to that condition.

The other thing is that we get a lot of hormone-related products in our environment, everything from pesticides, petrochemicals to various kinds of preservatives in our skin care products. All those things have small amounts of hormonal activity and they may also be disturbing your system and leading to hormonal acne. Examining this and starting to discover your own acne triggers is the start of the best natural acne treatment.

3 “Health Foods” That Could Aggravate Your Acne ~ Best Natural Acne Treatment

3 “Health Foods” that could aggravate your acne

The first type of health food that can aggravate acne is the natural looking product that really is a bad product. That would include various types of chips that are coated with oil and heated to high temperature in an oven rather than a fryer, so they say they are “baked and not fried”. 

The second kind of health food that can aggravate acne is part of the sugar that come from wonderful natural sources like a guava or honey because they really are sugar.

Another type of health food that can aggravate acne especially to people who have sensitivities to various types of yeast are foods like kombucha, vinegar, or apple cider vinegar. It is important to know that many of the kinds of things that might be promoted on the internet or the health food store, may not be the ones that are good for you. Your body ecosystem is unique; different foods are good for different people. Find out what’s right for you by noticing how you feel after you eat.