Phone: (0274) 837 188
Open: Tues-Fri 10am-6pm
Phone: (0274) 837 188
Open: Tues-Fri 10am-6pm

While New Zealanders have not suffered the same degree of impact of the Covid-19 disease itself that other nations have, it is worth acknowledging that just under 2000 New Zealanders have had Covid-19 and some of that number may be living with post-Covid unwellness. This unwellness needs to be recognised and the patients supported.

In the esteemed medical journal The Lancet, a recent study has found that 6 months after leaving hospital:

These long-term issues may involve the lungs, the cardiovascular system, the brain and other parts of the nervous system, and even may have psychological consequences, any of which may prove to be debilitating.

While this study only looked at people who were hospitalised with it & whose average age was 57, previous research showed that the likelihood of developing Long Covid was more common in the young than the old, and the most common prolonged symptoms being a cough (or breathlessness) and especially fatigue (or decreased exercise tolerance), even among those who had been very fit prior to illness. While men seem to be at increased risk of severe infection, women and those with a higher BMI seem to be more affected by Long Covid. Studies seem to think that altered hormonal status is one of the predictors for it.

Research suggests around one in five people who test positive for Covid-19 have symptoms for five weeks or longer. For around one in ten people, they last 12 weeks or longer.

Symptom management tips from the UK include:

Flexibility exercises (like stretches, yoga and tai chi) and strength exercises (like climbing stairs, lifting weights and working with resistance bands) can be useful. (

Results from data analysis by a team from the Cleveland Clinic (PLoS Biol. 2020 Nov 6;18) showed that patients who used melatonin as a supplement had, on average, a 28% lower risk of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2. 

This is interesting, but not very helpful for us in New Zealand where melatonin is available on prescription only. The usual reason a GP will prescribe melatonin here is for the treatment of insomnia.

Other recommended pro-active habits such as discussed earlier and across the media still apply, such as using PPE appropriately and maintaining a good diet, exercise and sleep and not putting oneself at risk. The best advice is to try to avoid contracting Covid-19 in the first place!

For those wanting to prevent or reduce the effects of Covid-19, Marion Stobie offers tailored health programmes specifically for your genetic predispositions, health history, and current circumstances. Contact us to book a Fitgenes DNA test and naturopathic consultation.

Photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski on Unsplash

By Marion Stobie, Naturopath & Medical Herbalist

It has been acknowledged for some time that 70-80% of the immune system is in the gut.

One class of tissues that the immune system has is called sampling tissues. One of the jobs of these tissues is to understand what the body is being exposed to, both chronically and acutely, and to learn whether or not it should be attacking those things..

Why is the sampling tissue in the gut? The gut is the largest site where foreign material enters the body. Some stuff comes in through the eyes, the nose, the genital tract, some through our skin where the skin is broken, but mostly it comes from what we put into our mouths, not just nutrients but also toxic elements from the environment.

Anything that enters through the respiratory route will also end up in the gut to some degree, because one of the things that happen is when viruses or other material are in the upper respiratory tract, they get trapped by mucus. One of the important jobs of mucus in your respiratory system is trapping things so that your immune system has a chance to assess and identify them. The cilia, the fine, hair-like structures that help sweep away fluids & particles in your lungs and airways, move the mucus up and then your sinus system drain the mucus down and all of that ultimately gets swallowed.

Everything from your nose, and your ears, and your lungs, all of that stuff eventually comes into your throat and you end up swallowing it. The swallowing part is really important because that’s where whatever’s being trapped in your respiratory tract and in the upper airways gets presented to the immune tissue in your gut.

Now viruses in general, and COVID-19 in particular, enter through the gut and causes a gut-based infection as well. In fact, at least 53% of the cases in one of the latest publications (April 2020) in the American Journal of Gastroenterology shows that they first present with gastro symptoms rather than anything else – nausea, diarrhoea, cramping and pain to the gut.

It may be that if there is a good response in the gut, that may help with our overall defence against Covid-19. Disclaimer: there are no validated studies on Covid-19 in particular, but there have been studies done on other influenza viruses.

The immune system uses short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) for energy, especially butyrate. We typically get small amounts of butyrate from fibre in our diet, so remembering to have a diet rich in fruits & vegetables over processed food it a good guideline.

Beta-glucans and Quercetin help the immune system switch from the highly inflammatory response to the more specialised targeted response, making antibodies against the virus.

Beta-glucans are found in certain mushrooms, oats, yeast and seaweed. A medicinal mushroom supplement may be helpful.

Quercetin is found in onions, grapes, berries, apples, broccoli & citrus fruit.
Probiotics also play a big role in modulating the microbiome in the gut, which in turn helps modulate the body’s immune response. There has been much research undertaken on probiotics, and different strains are indicated and recommended for different applications, for instance, one for irritable bowel, one for allergies etc. Spore-based probiotics are particularly indicated for the immune system and show dramatic improvements for conditions like intestinal permeability (“leaky gut”).

Another user-friendly aspect of spore-based probiotics is that they do not need to be refrigerated. Cow serum is taken and spun out and purified to extract the antibodies. When we add them back into our system, they go to work in our digestive tract, neutralizing viruses, bacteria, toxins, compounds, mould toxins, bacterial toxins and so on, thereby lending an important helping hand to our immune system.

Probiotics are present in some of the food we eat, but for therapeutic effects we need to take them as supplements.

Your health practitioner will be able to guide you as to the best one for your needs.

As a summary, as well as being aware of hygiene and upper respiratory care practices, it is also relevant to acknowledge the role our gut health may play in protecting us from Covid-19 and other seasonal viruses.

With Covid-19 prominent in our awareness this year and public messages about those with compromised immunity being more at risk, more of us are thinking about whether we fall into that category. If you know you have an auto-immune condition, you may be more likely to think that this may apply to you. But what if you don’t have an auto-immune condition? It may be that those little niggles (low energy, itchy skin, sore muscles, poor sleep, moodiness, sniffiness or coughs, occasional random bouts of diarrhoea or constipation) could be signposts to impaired immune function.

Learn how to boost your immune system! Don’t wait till winter illnesses strike, be proactive and get your immune system protection in place now!

Book a session with Marion Stobie and she will help you identify and address your own particular weaknesses before winter hits!

Marion Stobie

Senior Naturopath & Medical Herbalist

Marion practices the art and science of medical herbalism within the framework of naturopathic evidence-based practice.

Coronavirus 2019-nCoV – an action plan

PLEASE NOTE: This advice is for people who are reasonably healthy and have not been diagnosed with coronavirus 2019-nCoV. IF YOU EXPERIENCE SYMPTOMS, CONSULT A HEALTH PROFESSIONAL IMMEDIATELY.

What is coronavirus 2019-nCoV?

It is a relatively newly discovered respiratory virus found in the nose, throat and lungs, believed to have originated from Wuhan, a city of 11 million inhabitants, in Hubei Province, China. At the time of writing it has been identified as 2019-nCoV (2019 novel Coronavirus)

Symptoms of coronavirus infection

The main symptoms are fever, coughing and difficulty with breathing, but similar to influenza viruses early symptoms may include chills, body aches, sore throat, headache, diarrhoea, nausea and a runny nose.

How infectious is it?

At the moment, this is still unclear, but, roughly, each infected person may infect two more. Unfortunately, these figures are clouded by the fact that a person may be infectious without having any symptoms. However, medical opinion is that transmission is likely to be in the incubation period which is usually within 2-3 days of contact with an infected person, but may be up to 14 days after contact.

The most risky contact is considered to be close, such as a 15 minute face-to-face conversation, or 2 hours in a confined space such as an aircraft or other public transport and repeated, for instance living with or caring for a family member, working in close proximity to colleagues, and affectionate embraces between friends. It may be spread by droplets in coughs or sneezes, droplets which settle one metre away, unlike an airborne virus which can travel further distances.

Who is most at risk from infection?

Essentially those whose immune systems are not strong. This includes young children whose immune systems are still developing, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems, for instance, it has been found in someone without the viral symptoms but with diagnosed pneumonia.

However, it is an opportunistic infection and it may affect others.

As with many viral infections, good management during the viral stage is essential to reduce progression into serious, life-threatening bacterial complications such as pneumonia.

What can I do to help protect myself and my family?

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) advise:

Other things you can do include avoiding eating or drinking things you know you may be sensitive to, for instance if you know that dairy makes you feel bloated, or tomatoes make you cough, or if you return positive results from any type of sensitivity or allergy testing, give those things a miss. If you tested positive to anything, this means that that food item or drink is challenging your immune system, and if you suspect you may have been exposed to 2019-nCoV you will want your immune system to be working well to protect you.

Also, (refined) sugar needs to be mentioned, as research shows that as little as 1 tsp or 5g of sugar can deplete your immune system for 4 hours afterwards! Remember to look for hidden sugars in sauces & baked goods.

Supplements to support the immune system

There are herbs and supplements that are very helpful for supporting the immune system. I am a keen advocate for the use of medicinal mushrooms, particularly Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes), largely due to their beta glucan content which boosts immune cell activity.

Large doses of vitamin C, intravenous is the most effective, for which you will need to see your doctor or your naturopath . Otherwise, orally, either liposomal Vit C or a good powder; one needs to be aware that too much vitamin C can cause loose stools in some people.

Vitamin A can be very helpful as well for the immune system and for mucous membranes, and vitamin D is a well-known immune support, and is most effective when taken orally as a spray.

Enzymes such as bromelain and bioflavonoids such as quercetin that break down mucous accumulation and congestion and that help manage the immune response to inflammation can be of benefit.

N Acetyl Cysteine is an antioxidant, it assists the body with glutathione production, and can be useful for acute respiratory infections. It is generally available as a powder.

Zinc plays an important role in our immune function and is easily depleted by modern living, by exposure to chemicals and heavy metals and some pharmaceutical medications, and by stress. If the body does not have enough zinc, the immune system may not work efficiently.

Zinc is available in our diet, especially in red meat, egg yolks, liver and seafood, so many vegans may be deficient in this mineral. Its most effective oral dosing is also as a liquid.

Selenium is another mineral which is important in immune function, as well as thyroid balance, and it is well known that New Zealand soils are low in selenium. Brazil nuts are often eaten as a way of bringing up selenium levels nutritionally, but many people are happier to take it as a supplement in the form of drops.

Care must be taken with selenium, as too much can result in toxicity, so it is a good idea to check your supplements and add together any selenium content to make sure that it does not exceed the safety range (200-800 mcg/ day).

Herbal medicine to combat viruses and support the immune system

Herbal medicine can be very effective when used appropriately.

Immunity-supporting herbs such as echinacea are well-known as a first response to viral infections, but this action may be enhanced by using other herbs in a combined formula, such as St John’s Wort, which is strongly antiviral, pau d’arco, andrographis, elderberry, thyme and licorice.

As some of these herbs may have interactions with some prescription medications or some pre-existing health conditions, please be sure to consult your health professional before using them.

Do you need more help or specific advice?

If you live or work in an area with a lot of exposure between people, you may need to take specific steps in addition to the above. You may receive specific recommendations from health authorities. In addition, you may want to have a comprehensive immunity boosting plan recommended by a natural health professional.

At Holden HealthCare, this would include diet, lifestyle, supplement and herbal recommendations based on your particular circumstances.

In light of recent awareness about viral attack, the month of February is promoted as Immunity Aware Month; please quote this article to claim your 12.5% discount applied to any naturopathic consultations booked this month.

Marion Stobie, MSc (Herbal Medicine), Dip Herb Med, Dip Naturopathy, is a senior Naturopath and Medical Herbalist at Holden HealthCare.


Clinic Address

87 Knights Road
Rothesay Bay
Auckland 0630
New Zealand

(0274) 837 188 - Please SMS as we are not always available to take your call.



Legal Medical Disclaimer: Information and statements made on this website and all our associated literature are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. David Holden & Holden Health Care do not dispense medical advice, prescribe restricted medicines, or diagnose disease. If you have a medical condition, we recommend that you consult your physician of choice.
Privacy Policy
Follow us on Facebook:
Copyright © 2015–2021 Holden Health. All Rights Reserved.
Top linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram