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Category Archives: Immune Health

How the pandemic has changed how we think about wellness


By Dr. Stan Headley, natural health consultant for Cypress Pharmacy

The pandemic has done more to change how we think of wellness than we ever could have imagined.

As we recognize National Wellness Month, it’s clear that COVID, quarantine, vaccinations and more than a year of uncertainty have brought a bright spotlight to the importance of staying healthy, ultimately shifting how we view health and health care. In fact, almost 60% of Americans say they are more focused on their health and wellness since the pandemic started.

This aligns with the World Health Organization’s definition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” as an important concept, particularly now.

Several wellness-related trends have emerged or have been reaffirmed throughout the pandemic:

  • The power of human connection. When life went virtual, we often had little choice but to embrace the idea. However, we are seeing the negative impact of virtual support groups on the mentally ill, isolation of seniors from their families and communities and the impact of virtual school on the mental health of children. Research shows that a good social support network has numerous physical and mental health benefits.
  • The recognition that helping others is a wonderful way to find your own happiness. Helping others can reduce stress and improve mood, particularly when you are feeling powerless. An attitude of gratitude relaxes communication between various regions of the brain associated with anxiety. The more you focus on the good, the more good you may be able to find.
  • The importance of digital detox. Disconnecting from technology allows us to be in the moment, pursue social interactions and focus on ourselves and others.
  • The priority of mental and emotional well-being. With a more proactive and preventative approach to mental health, consumers are seeking to manage their mental health as well as physical health. This includes an increasing emphasis on quality sleep to manage anxiety and stress.

So, what can we do to keep this positive trend of preventative health for overall wellness? The tips are not new, even if the focus may be:

  • Eat a health-focused diet. Nearly 40% of Americans report overeating or eating unhealthy foods because of stress. Instead, follow a diet that is rich in vegetables, fruit, lean meat, fish and whole grains.
  • Get quality sleep. During sleep, our immune systems release proteins called cytokines, which help fight infectious diseases and reduce risk of obesity diabetes, heart and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Stay fit. Regular exercise offers a host of physical health benefits, including strengthening the heart and improving circulation. Beyond this, exercise also helps our bodies release feel-good endorphins, which can result in improved mental well-being.
  • Balance nutrition. Lack of essential nutrients can lead to numerous health concerns. The CDC says over 95% of the population has serious nutritional deficiencies. Blood testing can help evaluate nutrient levels and determine when the nutritional support of vitamins and supplements may be advantageous.
  • Consider CBD. Derived from the hemp plant, CBD works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system. Cell receptors are located throughout our bodies, and CBD will bind to the brain receptors responsible for regulating anxiety, appetite/hunger, depression, immune function, memory, mood, motor control, pain, pleasure and reward, reproduction and fertility, sleep and temperature and more.
  • Focus on self. Self-focused activities such as meditating, pursuing your passions or learning something new can help bring joy and create greater balance in your life. Research suggests self-care helps foster resilience, lengthens life and helps manage stress.
  • Build connections. According to the Mayo Clinic, adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Studies have even found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.

As a natural health advocate, I believe that lifestyle choices are the most effective way to impact well-being. Getting adequate sleep, drinking plenty of water, reducing alcohol intake and stress and not smoking will help keep the body in balance. Lifestyle measures including a healthy diet, exercise and regular health checks for chronic conditions are critical.

If we learned anything during the pandemic, health and wellness are a lifetime pursuit worth focusing on all year long.

How to Stay Protected During Allergy Season

allergy season

It’s that time of year again – the sniffling, sneezing and suffering of allergy season caused by the telltale yellow dust that blankets Southwest Florida for months.

With longer and warmer seasons each year, the spring and fall pollen is literally and figuratively growing worse. Right now, the biggest offenders like tree pollen, grass pollen and ragweed pollen are blowing through our breezy coastal region.

These tiny airborne allergens easily get inside your body, and when they do, your immune system goes into defense mode. To combat these intruding allergens, your body releases a chemical, called histamine, which triggers a familiar response you might recognize: sneezing, itchy throat, runny nose or teary eyes.

If you are an allergy sufferer, you are not alone. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundations of America, more than 50 million people struggle with it every year.

In its latest 2021 Allergy Capitals report, AAFA placed a Southwest Florida region on its top 50 list of most challenging places to live with seasonal allergies. Cape Coral was ranked No. 33 for allergies during spring season and No. 35 for the months during fall.

So, what can you do if you struggle with seasonal allergies and Southwest Florida is your home? A few proactive steps to recognize, prevent and manage symptoms will bring hope to those with the seasonal stuffy blues.

Reduce Your Exposure

  • Before planning your day, check local news or the Internet for the area’s pollen count forecast.
  • Keep doors and windows shut to avoid pollen from coming indoors.
  • Delegate outdoor chores, such as mowing the lawn and gardening.
  • Keep floors cleaned and maintain air filters inside the home.
  • Avoid air-drying clothes and bedding outside where pollen can stick to it.

Prevent Spread & Symptoms

  • If high pollen counts are forecasted, take allergy medication before symptoms start.
  • After outdoor activities, change into clean clothes and shower to rinse pollen from skin and hair.
  • Remove shoes, jackets and hats at the front door.
  • Wipe pets down with a towel after playing outdoors.
  • Wear a pollen or dust mask for outdoor activities.

Nonprescription Medication & Remedies

  • Oral antihistamines can help relieve sneezing, itching and runny noses.
  • Antihistamine eye drops can reduce itching and redness.
  • Specially formulated supplements may support healthy respiratory and immune systems.
  • Nasal rinse devices, such as a Neti pot, can flush out inhaled pollen and alleviate congestion.
  • Oral and nasal decongestants can offer temporary relief to help with nasal stuffiness.
  • Cromolyn sodium nasal sprays can help treat and prevent allergy symptoms.

Read more: Do Natural Solutions for Allergies Work?

When stubborn symptoms persist, your pharmacist or physician can identify which over-the-counter medicines are best suited to alleviate your symptoms. They can also help you navigate your options when more severe conditions must be addressed.

Treatment options to manage allergies can range from immunotherapy, such as shots, to prescription-strength antihistamines, decongestants and combination allergy drugs.

In addition, rescue inhalers and other medications can be prescribed for people diagnosed with allergy-induced asthma.

Amid the pandemic, a case of the sniffles, or hay fever, is the last thing you want to stress over. While allergies can’t be cured, they can certainly be managed. Having a seasonal action plan that attacks allergies first is a good place to start, and will keep you from playing catch-up once symptoms arise.

Supplements in Trump’s COVID-19 Treatment

COVID-19 Supplements

Last week President Donald Trump revealed he had tested positive for COVID-19 and would begin treatment. His medical team revealed it is using a combination of medications and supplements that are thought to help mediate the virus. Since there is no definitive standard of care or one size fits all therapy for the novel virus, it is interesting to see how his medical team approaches treatment for the leader of the free world. In this article, we examine the nutritional supplements used in his COVID-19 treatment and how they may help.


Zinc: Zinc is an essential trace element involved in most major metabolic pathways. It has a vital role in maintaining immune function, reproduction, healthy skin, and growth. Immune cells must rapidly divide to respond to daily challenges and require adequate amounts of zinc to do so.

As a cofactor of the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD), zinc is considered an antioxidant nutrient. Supplementation with zinc increases the antioxidant activity of SOD and provide increased free radical protection.

Zinc is thought to reduce viral replication and can be found in many over-the-counter cold supplements. When used in high doses, zinc can deplete copper, another essential trace mineral, so higher dose zinc supplements often contain copper to prevent deficiency.


Vitamin D: Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is an essential vitamin that plays many roles in the proper functioning of the body. Though classified as a vitamin, it is a key regulatory hormone for calcium and bone metabolism. It is estimated that at least 40% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D.

Vitamin D has also been recognized as necessary for normal, healthy cell growth and function and healthy immune function. For COVID-19, vitamin D is thought to lower viral replication rates, boost the immune system, and reduce concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which product the inflammation that injures the lining of the lungs.

Read More: Can Vitamin D Reduce COVID-19 Infections?


Melatonin: Melatonin is associated with sleep, but it also plays a role in the immune system. Melatonin is a natural hormone synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan by the pineal gland in the back of the brain and is contained in small amounts in food. Melatonin appears to regulate sleep/wake cycles, support normal immune function, and protect cells from free radical damage.

For COVID-19, Melatonin may help reduce the severity of the immune system’s exaggerated inflammatory reaction. Melatonin supports normal immune function by helping maintain the activity of circulating natural killer cells. It also has been found to function as an antagonist for stress-induced immunosuppression. It is also considered a potent antioxidant that enters all body cells to help prevent free radical damage.


  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C is crucial for supporting oxidative stress, energy production, and immune function.
  • Quercetin: Helps reduce inflammatory lung response when used with zinc. It is believed to help zinc penetrate cells to fight COVID-19 at a cellular level.
  • Probiotics: Improves gut health and supports the immune system.
  • Immune Health Support: A comprehensive formula that provides essential vitamins and minerals for immune support along with a generous supply of specialized ingredients that have been shown to promote overall immune health.


The use of supplements by the President during this critical time demonstrates that they play a role even in “conventional medicine.” Nutritional supplements do not need to replace prescription medications. Some medications work better in conjunction with supplements to reduce side effects and alleviate drug-induced nutrient depletions. That said, some supplements should not be used in combination with certain medications, so it is always a good idea to check with a knowledgeable healthcare professional before starting something new. Pharmacists can examine your current medications and check for any contraindications.  They can also recommend an appropriate supplement plan for your health needs and goals. If you are looking to boost your immune system to fight COVID-19, supplements may play a role.

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What boosting your immune system really means


Dr. Stan Headley, natural health consultant for Cypress Pharmacy

In the midst of uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19), many people are looking for quick fixes sometimes dubbed “immunity boosters.” But what does it actually mean to “boost” your immune system, and is it really possible?

The immune system is your first line of defense against all infections, including bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungus or mold. It is also the consensus among expert immunologists that white blood cells and their component parts, including T-cell and natural killer cells, play a vital role in combating foreign invaders, whether they are ingested, inhaled or spread by person-to-person contact.

When we consider all the factors that contribute to keeping the body healthy, at the top of the list is homeostasis, or internal balance. “Boosting” just means balancing the immune system. To begin balancing the immune system, it is recommended to first work on lifestyle factors including sleep, stress management, nutrition and maintaining a super healthy microbiome. To ensure these lifestyle shifts are sustainable, the practices should fulfill you, rather than feeling like a difficult chore or something you know will be difficult to be consistent with on a daily basis.

While there is no single fast-acting magic solution, a combination of preventive measures can help ensure your immune system is operating at its peak performance. In addition to washing your hands – an incredibly important practice – there are supplemental activities that help strengthen your immunity, not just temporarily supercharge it.

Consider these tips for boosting your immune system:

  1. Stay hydrated – Drinking good quality water will help keep your lungs moist and mucus flowing, which clears the lungs of the gunk that can collect and create conditions for opportunistic infections to thrive.
  2. Drink green or black tea – Studies show that certain teas have tremendous antioxidant polyphenols that have been shown to support the immune system by fighting off free radicals.
  3. Limit your sugar intake – Eating a healthy diet and limiting (or eliminating) inflammatory foods, like sugar, not only helps the body recover faster, it also helps build up your immunity so it is more resilient and dynamic.
  4. Get good quality sleep – Sleep is fundamentally one of the most important practices in self-care. Quality REM (rapid eye movement) sleep where one achieves several cycles of REM deep sleep helps to boost the immune system and keep hormones in balance.
  5. Manage your stress levels – Deep breathing from the abdomen several times in a row, meditation, prayer, mild exercise and other stress-reducing activities can keep cortisol levels in check and help to maintain a healthy immune system.
  6. Take pharmaceutical-grade supplements to boost immunity – Recent clinical studies are suggesting that taking a nutritional supplement protocol may be as effective in preventing various forms of bacteria and viruses as prescription medication. Immune-boosting supplements including probiotics, vitamin C, vitamin D3, selenium and zinc can help support a healthy immune system.
  7. If you are feeling ill – Stay home!

Since this has been an active viral season with colds, flu, and now the coronavirus, it is more important than ever to take steps to strengthen your immune system. Be vigilant in following the latest recommendations from credible sources including the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) for preventing the spread of viral illnesses. While there isn’t a magic fix, preventative measures to protect and support your immune system plays an important role in promoting optimal health.

Do Natural Solutions for Allergies Work?


It’s that time of year again when seasonal allergies kick into high gear. The number of Americans suffering from allergies, asthma, and hay fever (allergic rhinitis) has risen dramatically over the past twenty years. Some possible reasons include increased stress on the immune system due to poor lifestyle choices, higher chemical pollution in our air, water, and food supply, earlier introduction of solid foods to infants, food additives and preservatives, and genetic manipulation of plants resulting in food components with greater allergenic tendencies. There are other reasons which contribute to allergies, but these are some of the most common triggers which increased the frequency and severity of allergy symptoms. It is currently estimated that at least 25 percent of Americans suffer from asthma and other allergy-related syndromes. Natural remedies and lifestyle measures may reduce the allergic threshold and help to prevent acute symptoms or a more severe allergic reaction.


An allergy is an exaggerated immune response or reaction to substances that are generally not harmful. Allergies occur when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance such as pollen, bee venom, pet dander, or foods. In a person with allergies, the immune response is oversensitive. When it recognizes an allergen, it releases chemicals such as histamines, which fight off the allergen. This causes allergy symptoms. Your immune system also produces substances known as antibodies. Some of these antibodies protect you from unwanted invaders that could make you sick or cause a bacterial or viral infection. When you have allergies, your immune system produces antibodies that identify your specific allergen as something foreign or harmful to the body. When you come into contact with the allergen, your immune system reaction inflames your skin, sinuses, airways, or your digestive tract. People who have allergies are often sensitive to more than one thing. Milk, dairy, wheat, corn, nuts, and shellfish, such as shrimp, are prevalent culprits in many people who suffer from chronic health issues caused by allergies.


Generally speaking, there is a cluster of symptoms that can be associated with allergic rhinitis and asthma. Alphabetically, symptoms may include: abdominal pain, anaphylaxis, burning teary eyes, cough, dermatitis, ear infections, eczema, fatigue, hay fever, headaches, hives, increased colds, itchy throat, mucus production, rash, runny nose, shortness of breath, sinus infections, sneezing, stuffy nose, sore throat, throat clearing, and wheezing to name a few. The symptoms you experience because of allergies are the result of several factors. These include the type of allergy you have and the severity of the allergy. If you are taking any medication before an anticipated allergic response, you may still experience some of these symptoms, but they may be reduced in severity.

FOR FOOD ALLERGIESFood allergies can trigger swelling, hives, nausea, fatigue, and even anaphylaxis in severe reactions. It may take a while for a person to realize that they have a food allergy or food sensitivity. If you have a severe reaction after a meal and you are not sure why, see a medical professional or specialist immediately.

FOR SEASONAL ALLERGIESHay fever symptoms can mimic those of the common cold. They include congestion, runny nose, and swollen or puffy eyes. Most of the time, you can manage these symptoms at home with natural medicines, nutritional supplements, or OTC (over the counter) remedies.


Doctors don’t know why some people experience allergies. Allergies appear to run in families and can be inherited. If you have a close family member who has allergies, you are at a higher risk of developing allergies. Although the reasons why allergies develop aren’t known, some substances commonly cause allergic reactions. People who have allergies typically are allergic to one or more of the following: pet dander, bee stings, certain foods, certain medications (penicillin, for example), aspirin, certain plants, pollen, or molds.


Your doctor can diagnose allergic reactions. If you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction, your doctor will perform an examination and ask you about your health history. Your doctor may also want to order tests in an attempt to determine what’s causing your allergies. The most commonly ordered tests for allergies are skin tests, challenge (elimination type) tests, food allergy tests, and specialty blood tests with immunoglobulins.


What we have seen through the years is that each type of allergy has a host of natural remedies that may help to prevent the onset or speed up recovery. Many times, people find symptomatic relief by starting with nutritional supplements and herbal medicines that target allergens. Typically, the severity of the allergic reaction, whether it is mild, moderate, or severe, will dictate which therapeutic approach is best to implement.

Standard medical practice includes prescription medications like antihistamines, corticosteroids, and other prescription inhalers. These medications can improve allergy symptoms, but also carry significant side effect profiles. Many allergy sufferers have experienced dramatic improvement by combining lifestyle and behavioral changes such as avoidance therapy, including avoiding areas out in nature where exposure may be higher. Also, food allergy awareness, keeping a food allergy journal, and maintaining a healthy plant-based or Mediterranean diet to boost immunity has demonstrated improved results. Many people who have tried science-based, pharmaceutical-grade nutritional supplements have experienced tremendous relief once dosing and therapeutic blood levels are established. Here are some of the tried and true supplements and some of my personal favorites:

  • ALLER CALMThis is a unique blend of vitamins, minerals, and herbs, which is very effective at supporting the immune system and providing a natural antihistamine effect. Key ingredients such as quercetin, stinging nettles, ginger, turmeric, and MSM provide symptomatic relief of allergy symptoms regardless of the cause.
  • PROBIOTICSTaking a daily probiotic containing lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium can balance good bacterial counts in the digestive tract. 70 percent of your immune cells reside in the gut, so it is easy to understand why probiotics should be taken by everyone with a history of allergies and for good general and digestive health.
  • OMEGA 3 FISH OILSSubstantial evidenced-based clinical studies have documented the value of consuming adequate amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids to alleviate mild to moderate allergic reactions or allergy symptoms.
  • VITAMIN D3A recent study from Stanford University showed that Vitamin D3 is very effective at enhancing the immune system and helping to combat viruses, bacteria, as well as reducing inflammation in the body.
  • ZINCThis trace mineral is generally thought of in the context of helping men with prostate issues; however, it is well known to help reduce symptoms associated with allergies, including throat irritation, taste and smell, and head congestion.
  • TURMERIC Curcumin in therapeutic doses has shown to have tremendous anti-inflammatory properties to help with sinuses, nasal membranes, and lung-related symptoms from allergies.
  • VITAMIN CPeople often think they get enough Vitamin C from their diet. However, the truth is that 90 percent of adults are nutritionally deficient, and that includes not getting enough fruits and vegetables. Today, 1,000 – 2,000mg of Vitamin C should be part of everyone’s daily regimen.


While most allergies are not life-threatening, allergic rhinitis or allergies may trigger an asthma attack, which can be more serious. An acute anaphylactic reaction can also occur if you eat a food item you are highly sensitive to or allergic to (shellfish like shrimp, for example).

Knowing that people who are prone to allergies often are sensitive to more than one thing opens the door for using natural remedies as first-line therapy in many cases as a preventive or for general maintenance of allergies. Natural health can play a significant role in improving the quality of your life by helping to identify the underlying trigger or root cause of your symptoms. Targeted nutritional supplementation can be an effective solution to minimize and control the various symptoms linked to allergies.

Because everyone is biochemically unique and different, the decision whether to use traditional prescription medications or natural solutions should be determined on a case by case basis and discussed with your physician or health care professional. Regardless of which treatment you choose as your first-line therapy to combat the symptoms of allergies or an allergic reaction, just know that sometimes blending the best of both traditional medicine and natural health might be your best option.

Can Vitamin D Reduce Covid-19 Infections?

Vitamin D

Currently, we are in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic. From all indications, it appears that vitamin D has a potential role in reducing the risk of respiratory tract infections, including the coronavirus and seasonal influenza.

Through several mechanisms, vitamin D has proven to have the ability to lower viral replication rates and reduce concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which produce the inflammation that injures the lining of the lungs. Observational studies and clinical trials reported that vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of influenza as well. Its positive impact on the immune system is undeniable. Functional medicine physicians and healthcare providers knowledgeable in nutrition suggest the following vitamin D3 supplement levels to reduce the risk of infection from Covid-19 and influenza. Consider taking 10,000 international units per day of vitamin D3 for a couple weeks to rapidly raise vitamin D concentrations, followed by a maintenance dose of 5,000 international units per day. The goal should be to increase vitamin D concentrations above 60ng/ml. For the treatment of people who become infected with Covid-19, higher vitamin D3 doses might be needed. Randomized controlled studies and clinical trials with a large population should be conducted to evaluate these recommendations further.

How Does Vitamin D Affect Immune Health?

Vitamin D is vital for the proper functioning of your immune system, which is your body’s first line of defense against infection and disease. The vitamin plays a crucial role in promoting immune response. It has multiple properties, including being both anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory. It is known to enhance the function of immune cells, including T-cells and macrophages, that protect the body against various pathogens.

Lower levels of vitamin D have been directly linked to an increased risk of respiratory diseases, including tuberculosis, asthma, and COPD, as well as viral and bacterial respiratory pathogens. This known fact, obviously, puts individuals with any of these conditions at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus. What’s more, vitamin D deficiency has been associated with decreased lung function, which may affect your body’s ability to fight respiratory infections. Prolonged vitamin D deficiency has been well documented in clinical studies to be linked to severe diseases such as all types of cancer, depression, and autoimmune diseases like Lupus, for example.

Can Taking Vitamin D Protect Against Covid-19?

At this time, there is no cure or specific treatment for Covid-19. There are no studies to my knowledge that have investigated the effect of vitamin D supplementation or vitamin D deficiency on the risk of contracting the new coronavirus. Still, studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency can harm immune function and increase your risk of developing respiratory illnesses. Vitamin D supplements have also been shown to reduce mortality in older adults, which we have learned, are at the highest risk for contracting coronavirus. For these reasons, it’s a good idea to have your provider test your vitamin D levels to determine whether you have a deficiency of this vital nutrient.

More About the “Sunshine Vitamin”

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient essential to the health and functioning of your immune system. It enhances white blood cells that are necessary parts of your immune defense. When skin is exposed to sunlight, the cholesterol (fat under the skin) makes vitamin D, giving it the nickname the “sunshine vitamin.” We can also get it from dietary sources. Foods that provide vitamin D include fish like salmon, sardines, and trout. Also, legumes, eggs, beef, and extra virgin cod liver oil.

It is essential for many other health reasons, including:

  1. Increasing the absorption of calcium and phosphorous in the small intestine for healthy bones
  2. Improving the nervous system and brain health
  3. Immune system enhancement supporting B and T cells to fight infections
  4. Strengthening lung function
  5. Helping maintain healthy blood pressure and regulating blood sugar in diabetics. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey indicated individuals with lower vitamin D had higher levels of systolic blood pressure and, in type II diabetics, lower levels of insulin resistance.

Vitamin D3 is considered to be the most natural form of vitamin D and also the best absorbed.

Lifestyle Medicine and Vitamin D

While Big Pharma rushes to develop an FDA approved treatment or vaccine for coronavirus, there are lifestyle measures that can naturally boost the immune system that you can proactively implement into your daily regimen immediately. Here are my favorites…

  1. Stay hydrated – this keeps your lungs moist and mucus flowing to clear the lungs and minimize infections.
  2. Drink green or black tea – these teas contain tremendous antioxidant polyphenols that support immune system function while fighting off free radicals.
  3. Get good quality sleep – this is one of the most crucial self- practices to maintain a healthy immune system, and keep hormones in balance.
  4. Limit sugar intake – eliminating or reducing inflammatory foods like sugar helps build immunity and allow for faster recovery if infected. A study out of Loma Linda University in California stated that excess sugar-reduced white blood cell function by as much as 40%.
  5. Keeping stress and anxiety in check – mindfulness, deep abdominal breathing, meditation, prayer, listening to music, mild exercise to release endorphins is also crucial.
  6. Laugh more – A study from Harvard Medical Center showed that humor might still be the best medicine by boosting the immune system.
  7. Maintain social network and family relationships – remotely, studies confirm staying socially connected keeps the immune system happy and intact.
  8. Keep a positive mental attitude – this is a powerful tool as the brain responds to healthy thoughts. Feed your brain what it needs. You have a choice of what you put into your mind. Thoughts are things. They matter.
  9. Acceptance– Let go of things out of your control
  10. Take targeted nutritional supplements that have anti-viral and immune-supportive properties. These include :
    1. probiotics – 70% of your immune cells reside in the digestive tract
    2. vitamin C
    3. vitamin D3
    4. immune support herbal formulas with medicinal mushrooms, astragalus, and olive leaf extract
    5. zinc
    6. elderberry
    7. glutathione
    8. turmeric
    9. CBD oil

Maintaining a healthy immune system is crucial, not just in this current pandemic, but every day. Consider practicing some of the above lifestyle tools today. Your body and mind will be grateful!

Stress: The Good, The Bad, and The Healthy


In these uncertain times with COVID-19 on everyone’s mind, it’s obvious each one of you has your own definition of how stress has impacted your life, or how it makes you feel.

Nobody is immune, even during so-called “normal times.”  If we define stress as anything that alters our homeostasis ( internal balance), then good stress, in its many forms, is vital for a healthy life.  Bad stress can sometimes eventually turn into good and vice versa.  Good stress, which psychologists call “ eustress,” is the type we feel when we experience the emotion of excitement or receive good news, for example.


Good stress, then, is the type that triggers our pulse to quicken and your hormones to surge, but there is no threat or sense of fear.  This type can be appreciated if you reflect, for example, on your very first date in high school.  The excitement you felt about the date or the person produced this healthy form.

Another type is acute stress.  It comes from quick surprises that need a response rapidly.  Acute stress triggers the body’s response as well, but the triggers are not always happy or exciting.  It can be good or bad stress, depending on the specific incident.  Acute stress by itself does not take a heavy toll on you either mentally or physically, if, you find ways to relax or calm yourself down in a reasonable amount of time.  To remain happy and healthy, we need to return the body back to its pre-stress state or back to internal balance.  Chronic stress is another form of bad stress.  This is generally considered a more severe form.  Because our bodies are meant to be in a steady state of balance physically, mentally, and emotionally, you can face adverse health effects, if chronic stress persists unchecked for months without end.

Interestingly enough, everyone’s perception of stress and their ability to cope with various stressors throughout life is uniquely different from one person to the next. This is similar to what we see with people’s perception of pain, for example.  Each individual’s pain threshold is different.  Studies even suggest that different ethnic groups and cultures experience stress and pain levels at different rates, frequencies, and limits.  The body’s response reacts strongly to “perceived threats. “  If you don’t perceive or interpret something as a threat, there is generally no sympathetic nervous system response in terms of a “fight or flight” response.

There are some tools or resources you may consider to help you make the paradigm shift mentally in your mind regarding perceptions or perceived stress which include such things as:

  1. focus on the resources you do possess
  2. see the potential upside or what is to be learned from the experience
  3. remind yourself of all your strengths
  4. maintain a mindset of mental toughness
  5. keep a positive mental attitude (feed the brain good thoughts)


In addition to the current stress levels being generated or created from the coronavirus, other factors play heavily into triggering the stress response in millions of Americans.  The key elements and top causes of stress include job pressures, money, health, health insurance, relationships, both personal and professional, poor nutrition, media overload, and sleep deprivation.  Typically, the most common physical symptoms associated with persistent stress include fatigue, headaches, upset stomach, IBS, muscle tension, changes in appetite, teeth grinding, changes in sex drive or libido, and occasionally feeling dizzy or light-headed.  Furthermore, people report the following psychological symptoms as well, which include irritability or anger, feeling more nervous or anxious, fatigue or lack of energy, and feeling sad, mildly depressed, or being tearful more frequently.


We all know that exercise, healthy eating, and proper nutritional supplementation can have a profound effect on our overall general health.  However, chronic high-level stress will, over time, overload the adrenal gland stress hormone response of cortisol and epinephrine. These physiological or functional  “ fight or flight “ responses will then create a cascade of emotional and physical toxicities within the body that must be dealt with.  Also, chronic stress increases both the risk and duration of all viruses, viral syndromes, and bacterial infections, for example. When we are poised to adapt to these responses, the natural self-repair mechanism of the body can go about the business of doing what it does best- which is to heal the body.  After all, balance is the crucial element when we are dealing with the nervous system.


Gone are the days where we don’t look at the mind-body connection. Functional medicine doctors and holistic practitioners are aligned with this concept, and put great faith in this connection for healing and putting the body back into homeostasis.  The more research that rolls out, the more we see it as the absolute connection needed to bridge the gap not only for the treatment of but also in the prevention of the many diseases, including chronic stress.  Having the knowledge and the emotional and physical tools to manage stress effectively takes some time and effort, but the payoff in optimizing your health is enormous.


Here are my favorite health tips to help you, your family, and friends navigate through the maze of eustress and distress in your daily lives to keep you happy and healthy.

  1. MINDFULNESS – meditation reduces anxiety and lowers the stress hormone cortisol. Merely taking a few deep abdominal breaths activates the vagus nerve, which triggers a signal within your nervous system to slow your heart rate, decrease blood pressure, and lower cortisol.  The next time you feel yourself in a stressful situation, take a few deep breaths and feel your entire body relax and decompress.  Simple, and it works!
  2. FOOD IS YOUR FRIEND – Let food be your medicine.  Nearly 40 percent of Americans report overeating or eating unhealthy processed foods as a result of stress.  Eat the colors of the rainbow.  This simply means more fruits and vegetables.  The Mediterranean diet is still considered to be the healthiest of all diets.
  3. LAUGH MORE – Harvard Medical Center clearly feels laughter and humor to be one of the best forms of good medicine.  Laughter triggers chemical responses in the brain that lead to feelings of pleasure and a sense of well- being.
  4. CORRECT NUTRIENT IMBALANCES – Optimal nutrition is the cornerstone of optimal health.  Checking for nutrient deficiencies is one of the most important ways to help someone enter into a healing environment. Chronic stress, some medications, poor diet,  and digestive issues all contribute to a lack of crucial vitamins and minerals in the body, which can lead to chronic health conditions like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, for example.
  5. POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS –  Having close social networks with family, friends, significant others, and co-workers, can support the body is dealing with stress.  The emotional aspect increases healthy molecules like serotonin ( the feel-good hormone ), for example.


Stress, whether good or bad, is obviously a part of life for all of us.  And while you can’t always control your circumstances, you can control how you respond to them.  When it becomes overwhelming, or it is chronic in nature, it can take a toll on your well – being.  That’s why it is essential to have effective stress reduction strategies that can calm your mind and body reasonably quickly.  What works for one person might not work for another.  There isn’t a perfect recipe or magic bullet as a one-size-fits-all option.

What Immune Boosting Really Means


In the midst of uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus ( COVID-19), many people are looking for quick-fixes sometimes dubbed “immunity boosters.” But what does it actually mean to “boost” your immune system, and is it really possible?

We know that the immune system is your first line of defense against all infections, including bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungus or mold. It is also the consensus among expert immunologists that the white blood cells (WBC’s) and their component parts including T-cell and NK natural killer cells play a vital role in combating foreign invaders whether they are ingested, inhaled, or spread by person-to-person contact.

When we consider everything in the body when it comes to staying healthy, at the top of the list is homeostasis or internal balance. “Boosting” just means balancing the immune system. Obviously, there is no single fast-acting magic bullet or solution. It generally takes a combination of preventive measures to ensure your immune system is at its peak performance most of the time.

To start to balance the immune system it is recommended to work on the lifestyle factors first. The main lifestyle factors we need to concentrate on are sleep, stress management, nutrition, and maintaining a super healthy microbiome. And to ensure these lifestyle shifts are sustainable, the practices should fulfill you, rather than feel like a difficult chore, or something that you know you will have difficulty being consistent with on a daily basis.

Beyond washing your hands and getting more sleep, which are incredibly important practices, there are other activities that can help strengthen your immunity, not just supercharge it.

Some common-sense recommendations include:

  1. Stay hydrated – drinking good quality water will help keep your lungs moist and mucus flowing which clears the lungs of the gunk that can collect and create conditions for opportunistic infections to thrive.
  2. Drink green or black tea – Studies show that certain teas have tremendous antioxidant polyphenols that have been shown to support the immune system by fighting off free radicals.
  3. Limit your sugar intake – Eating a healthy diet, and limiting ( or eliminating) inflammatory foods, like sugar, not only helps the body recover faster, it also helps build up your immunity so it is more resilient and dynamic.
  4. Get good quality sleep – Sleep is fundamentally one of the most important practices in self-care. Quality REM ( rapid eye movement) sleep where one achieves several cycles of REM deep sleep helps to boost the immune system and keep hormones in balance.
  5. Manage your stress levels – Deep breathing from the abdomen several times in a row, meditation, prayer, or mild exercise, for example, can keep cortisol levels in check and help to maintain a healthy immune system.
  6. Take pharmaceutical-grade supplements to boost immunity- Recent clinical studies are suggesting that taking a nutritional supplement protocol may be as effective in preventing various forms of bacteria and viruses as prescription medication. My immune-boosting regimen includes a daily probiotic, vitamin C twice daily, vitamin D3, selenium, and zinc. This supplemental combination should help to support a healthy immune system.
  7. If you are feeling ill- Stay home!

Since this has been an active viral season with colds, flu, and now the coronavirus, here is a brief review of the details of viral function. Viruses are non-living particles consisting of protein and nucleic acid that infect cells in biological organisms. They can reproduce only by invading and taking over other cells as they lack the cellular machinery for self-reproduction. A virus is about ten times smaller than a bacteria. Some viruses you will recognize are influenza, herpes, measles, and the common cold. Some viruses are particularly dangerous because they can undergo a period of latency, during which they are hidden in the cell and do not reproduce. Influenza and HIV are examples of viruses that frequently mutate, thus making it nearly impossible to achieve a long-lasting immunity.

So, as you can see, the immune system is quite complex. The body, however, is very intelligent and will respond if given the opportunity to heal and you follow best practices to avoid viral illnesses.

For further questions, you may call Cypress Pharmacy at ( 239)-481-7322 or go to http://www.cypresspharmacy.com for more information on how to keep your immune system performing optimally. Cypress Pharmacy’s staff of caring professionals is always available with answers and information regarding your medication and wellness questions. However, our professionals are not equipped to test for or diagnose Coronavirus. If you have symptoms of a viral illness including coughing, shortness of breath or fever, please consult your nearest medical professional.

Learn what vitamins & supplements are best for you in order to stay healthy with a FREE consultation.

Make an Appointment

Best Practices to Avoid Viral Illnesses

best practices

We believe that a pharmacy should not only take care of you when you are sick but prevent you from getting sick in the first place.

There are several simple best practices that health experts say are beneficial to avoiding many illnesses, particularly important during cold and flu season.

Flu and other serious respiratory illnesses, like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough, coronavirus and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), are spread by cough, sneezing or unclean hands.

Cold and flu viruses may be spread by indirect contact. For example, someone who is sick sneezes onto their hand and touches a doorknob, only to potentially transmit the virus to the next person who touches the doorknob. Viruses that cause colds and flu can survive on common surfaces for up to 72 hours.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), handwashing, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing can help prevent infections and even help prevent skin and eye infections, including:

  • Reducing the number of people who get sick with diarrhea by 23-40%
  • Reducing diarrheal illness in people with weakened immune systems by 58%
  • Reducing respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 16-21%
  • Reducing absenteeism due to gastrointestinal illness in schoolchildren by 29-57%.

Correct handwashing is the key to getting the most protection from germs. Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Handwashing is still highly preferred. If hand sanitizer is unavailable for purchase, there are recipes to make your own online.

Here are steps recommended by the CDC for effective handwashing:

  • Rinse hands under clean running water if available. The temperature of the water does not appear to affect microbe removal.
  • Use soap to wash hands because it helps to lift soil and microbes from the skin, and people tend to scrub more thoroughly when using soap. Studies show that antibacterial ingredients are not necessarily more beneficial than plain soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap, including the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails, where high concentrations of microbes are often found. Lathering and scrubbing creates friction, which helps lift dirt, grease, and microbes.
  • Scrub for at least 20 seconds, the equivalent of humming the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice or singing the ABC song (30 seconds).
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water. Some recommendations include using a paper towel to turn off the faucet after rinsing, but there are no studies to show it improves health.
  • Dry your hands on a single-use or clean towel or air dry them.

In addition to protecting yourself from becoming ill, the CDC says frequent, effective handwashing helps the whole community stay healthier. Preventing sickness reduces the amount of antibiotics people use and the likelihood that antibiotic resistance will develop. Reducing the number of infections by washing hands frequently helps prevent the overuse of antibiotics – the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world. Handwashing can also prevent people from getting sick with germs that are already resistant to antibiotics and that can be difficult to treat.

Other tips for avoiding illness include:

  • Stay away from people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick. Adults with the flu can spread it to others starting the day before they first feel sick – and up to 5 to 7 days after they first feel symptoms. Children may be able to spread the flu for even longer than 7 days. If you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. (Your fever should be gone without using fever-reducing medicine.)
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze – whether or not you have the flu. Throw the tissue in the trash. Coughing into your elbow will also reduce the virus that could cling to your bare hands and be transmitted to others.
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, and nose, allowing germs to get into the body.
  • Clean surfaces and objects that may have germs on them, like doorknobs. Use hot, soapy water or a household cleaner.
  • Taking targeted immune-boosting vitamins and supplements like zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D, and selenium during high-risk periods can also protect against the onset of viral syndromes.
  • Studies show probiotics with proper strains balance intestinal bacteria and increase immunity.
  • Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. Water can help strengthen your immune system, keeping the illness at bay. If you do get sick, water flushes your system, rehydrates you and washes out the toxins.

You have probably seen people wearing face masks in public places. The CDC does not recommend that people who are not sick wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illness. Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of illness to help prevent the spread of disease. Wearing a mask when sick is especially important around people whose immune system is compromised or the elderly.

Most importantly, stay informed. Knowing what precautions you can take and where to go to get credible information, such as the CDC at cdc.gov or World Health Organization at who.int is the best way to make plans to protect yourself and others.

Cypress Pharmacy’s staff of caring professionals is always available with answers and information regarding your medication and wellness questions. However, our professionals are not equipped to test for or diagnose Coronavirus. If you have symptoms of a viral illness including coughing, shortness of breath or fever, please consult your nearest medical professional.

Learn what vitamins & supplements are best for you in order to stay healthy with a FREE consultation.

Make an Appointment

Dark Chocolate Hits Top 5 Immune Products

dark chocolate

Did you know that dark chocolate is now considered to be a powerful antioxidant and may help you during the cold and flu season?  Considering that the flu season appears to have more new cases this year compared to last, dark chocolate might just be your new “rescue remedy”.

Thanks to its unique, rich and sweet taste, the sales of dark chocolate from the best chocolatiers continue to soar rapidly across the country and around the globe. Most people do not realize the health benefits that can be generated from such great tasting “medicine”.

Nutritional Studies Tout Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

There is a growing number of natural health studies demonstrating the health benefits of dark chocolate consumption.  Small studies presented at the Experimental Biology 2018 conference and published in the FASEB journal from Loma Linda University in California, indicated the positive effects of dark chocolate on overall general wellness.  From this, it was determined that the chocolate containing (70%) cacao concentration or more had the highest impact on various health conditions.  In other words, the higher the concentration of the cacao, the better.

Some Salient Facts About Chocolate

Chocolate is made from Theobroma cacao tree seeds.  It is now acknowledged scientifically that higher concentrations from the seeds produce the highest amount of antioxidants.  Antioxidants, as you recall, help fight off free radicals.  Free radicals may cause damage to your DNA and other cell damage which includes causing a normal cell to change and become an abnormal cell.  Additionally, this may manifest as some form of chronic disease including arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.  Milk chocolate, on the other hand, has not shown the same health benefits.  It also contains less iron, magnesium, and naturally does not contain the antioxidant levels needed.

What Are the Experts Saying?

From all indications, it appears that dark chocolate is now one of the top food supplements to boost the immune system, as well as provide other anti-aging properties.  A study published in the Journal of Nutrition suggested its ability to lower cholesterol and decrease LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or what is known as our “bad cholesterol”.

A study out of Harvard Medical School showed a positive effect on cognition and memory decline specifically.  Another clinical study from the British Medical Journal indicated cardiovascular improvement and reduction of heart disease by 33% with regular consumption of dark chocolate.  More research published in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition showed its potential to boost available oxygen in athletes.  Scientists believe the success of dark chocolate is due to it containing flavanols known as epicatechins, which can boost nitric oxide levels in the blood.

All of this is good news for chocolate lovers, but even most impressive is the noted benefit it has on increasing the expression of genes involved in the activation of T-cells.  As you may know, our T-cells are also known as T- lymphocytes and are the white blood cells that help us fight off all types of infections, whether, bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic.  Furthermore, other benefits of eating the dark chocolate before bedtime can improve sleep by helping to relax the nervous system utilizing the magnesium present in the chocolate.

Dark Chocolate, Nutrition, Immunity, And Genetics. What’s the Connection?

Understanding that chocolate has the potential to increase the expression of certain genes involved in boosting the immune system via white blood cell and T-cell activation, it is most interesting relative to fighting off the enemy and entourage of germs, for preventing infections and reducing the autoimmune response.  Researchers are just now beginning to understand how genes affect nutrition and overall immunity.  It turns out, the probability of contracting many diseases is or can be influenced by genetics.  The association between a healthy balanced diet, nutritional supplementation, exercise, and chronic diseases including cancer is well-known.  Nutrients supplied by food are known to be important variables in gene expression throughout the body.

What Have We Learned So Far?

  1. The immune system declines as we age, making us more susceptible to various diseases and pathogens.
  2. Immune system health is closely related to stress, frequency of exercise, and nutritional status. Poor intake of vital nutrients including supplements that enhance the immune system is associated with depressed immune response and increased rate of disease.  Knowing that 90% of adults are nutritionally deficient, immune-boosting nutrients including dark chocolate can make a difference.
  3. The immune system has two primary defense mechanisms: natural, which uses white blood cells and physical barriers to protect against disease, and acquired, in which, specialized cells generate antibodies to defend against specific pathogens.
  4. Inflammation is caused by multiple factors including microorganisms, physical stress, tissue death, and inappropriate immune response. In addition, knowing that nearly 70% of inflammation comes from the gut with its abundance of serotonin receptors, dark chocolate could prove invaluable to individuals who are diagnosed with leaky gut ( when small pores or openings in the lining of the gut allow toxins and bacteria to flow directly into the bloodstream.

Supporting a Healthy Immune System

A healthy immune system becomes ever more important as we begin to age.  Seniors are at high risk due to multiple factors related to metabolic, hormonal, increased prescription drug use, digestive disorders, and stress-related nervous system dysfunction.  We know that a healthy immune status is closely associated with good nutrition, a healthy diet, moderate exercise, hydration, stress reduction, and quality sleep.  Many times, sleep is overlooked.  Studies show a direct link between insomnia and increased incidence of infections due to poor immune response.  Older people are especially at risk, due to the majority of them with histories of some type of sleep disorder.

Maybe, this holiday season, toss the guilt aside, and indulge in a therapeutic dose of dark chocolate, the “sweetest immune booster”, and fight off the flu the 2020 way.

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