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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Boosting Immunity and Optimizing Social Distancing Time

Mar 31, 2020 12:17PM ● By Linda Sechrist

There has never been a better time to focus on the health of the immune system, our body’s first line of defense against any illness. Natural Awakenings talked with local health practitioners and health food store owners about the immune boosting herbs and supplements that Southwest Floridians are purchasing in anticipation of preventing the COVID-19 virus. Their feedback provides insights into the preventive measures available to everyone in the area for boosting immunity. 

Supplements and Herbs

Mariesa Copeland, co-owner of Genesis Non-GMO Vitamins, in Naples, advised that customers are buying vitamin C, vitamin D3, echinacea and zinc lozenges, supplements commonly taken to help combat flu. Not so common, but in demand are elderberry, olive leaf extract and oil of oregano. “Hand sanitizers were first on every customer’s list,” she says. 

Along with purchasing curcumin and vitamin C, a supplement that Karen Walker, owner of Sunshine Discount Vitamins, in Naples, takes throughout the year but increases the dosage during flu season is a new herb that she recently learned about—Andrographis paniculate (green chireta), used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. “This bitter-tasting herb is rich in compounds thought to have anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antioxidant properties,” says Walker.


According to Charles Caccamesi, DOM, owner of Acupuncture Care of Naples, the majority of individuals are unaware that acupuncture can be used to boost the immune system, and that there are Chinese herbal formulas for prevention. “Treatment of the acupuncture point Stomach 36, several inches below the knee, energizes the individual, boosts their immune system and helps with digestive disorders,” says Caccamesi, who suggests staying well hydrated and keeping the lungs moist. “Run a diffuser with a few drops of any essential oil known to help combat airborne viruses. For anyone without an difuser, a steam tent can be made with a bowl, hot water, a few drops of an essential oil such as eucalyptus oil and a towel draped around the head. Breathe in the steam.”

The Best Use of Social Distancing

In addition to the previously mentioned supplements, a daily dose of 500 to 600 milligrams of N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) with eight to 12 ounces of water, is what Barbara Lewin, a local sports dietitian and functional nutritionist, suggests to her clients along with buying healthy fruit and vegetables to keep on hand and take time for a little fun in the kitchen by making a big pot of soup or stew to freeze and store in individual containers. “Making the best use of social distancing, I also suggest reading the book you’ve been putting off, buying a jigsaw puzzle, and taking the time to learn yoga or qigong at home. YouTube has tutorial videos for these. Look for the positive, keep a gratitude journal, manage your stress and stay present. Consider downloading the meditation app, which is free. I definitely recommend staying updated, but not watching the news 24/7. 

“Look at the positive aspects of this as time for a rest and reset. While it’s important to practice social distancing and to stay safe, we can still call friends and stay connected. This is also a good time to practice kindness, as we’re all in this together. Instead of worrying about what you can’t control, shift your energies towards health and creating a positive outlook,” says Lewin.

Do-It-Yourself Measures

Beyond treatments and supplements, there are do-it-yourself measures that can strengthen immunity. Sleep seven to nine hours, eat and drink less sugar, exercise, reduce stress, create strong relationships and have a good social network. Develop a sense of humor and be sure to laugh.

Local Resources:

Acupuncture Care of Naples, 501 Goodlette Rd., Ste. D-100, Naples. 239-877-2531.

Ada’s Natural Market, 7070 College Pkwy., Fort Myers. 239-939-9600.

Barbara Lewin 239-300-0072.

Food & Thought, 2132 Tamiami Tr. N., Naples. 239-213-2222.

For Goodness Sake, 9118 Bonita Beach Rd, 239-992-5838.

Genesis Non-GMO Vitamins, 877 91st Ave. N., Ste. 4, Naples. 239-596-9017.

Sunshine Discount Vitamins, 2608 Tamiami Tr. N., Naples. 239-436-6659.

Whole Foods, 9101 Strada Pl, Naples, 239-552-5100.