…and how natural medicine can help.
Recently, the federal government declared monkeypox to be a public health emergency. This has caused some alarm among the population—are we entering another COVID situation, with lockdowns and efforts at forced vaccination? Are there natural interventions that can help protect us from this new virus? Contextualizing the threat from monkeypox may help alleviate some of these fears.
It’s important to note that monkeypox is a very different virus from the virus that causes COVID. Monkeypox is a virus similar to smallpox but less severe. Since the virus was discovered in 1958, it was primarily found in Central and West Africa, but recently it has spread to dozens of countries, but cases in the US have risen the sharpest. There are likely more cases than currently being reported due to a testing bottleneck created in part by the federal government—in this, the current outbreak does share similarities with COVID-19. Shortages of the primary vaccine to combat monkeypox also has not helped dispel fears among the communities most threatened by the virus.
Generally, the disease is manageable and is characterized by clusters of small, painful bumps and blisters, often in the genital area, accompanied by fever and lymph node swelling. The rash can spread to the arms, legs, and face.
The virus is spread primarily through close, physical contact with a monkeypox sore during sex. It can also spread through respiratory droplets and touching objects that have also touched monkeypox sores, but this is very different from COVID. That is, the data we have so far from this outbreak suggests that these other routes of transmission are rare; when they occur, it is usually from living with an infected person. Infection usually requires exposure to a lot of the virus; the virus is concentrated most in the sores. Experts say it probably takes hours of repeatedly touching the virus on surfaces or breathing in particles to get infected. You won’t get it from casual contact, like shaking someone’s hand, or trying on clothing at a department store. Even if you’re living with someone, the risk of catching it is still quite low. Preliminary data found that the chance of spreading monkeypox to a household member, not through sex, is only about 0.6 percent.
For these reasons, some experts say it is accurate to think of monkeypox as a sexually transmitted disease, though there are some caveats. For example, wearing a condom can prevent many sexually transmitted diseases, but with monkeypox, naked cuddling is a big risk. Researchers are still looking at whether monkeypox can be spread through semen, blood, urine, or other bodily fluids.
Whether asymptomatic individuals can spread the virus is another open question at this point. Without the sores that characterize monkeypox, it seems unlikely that an individual can generate enough virus to be contagious. But a new Belgian study detected monkeypox in three men, none of whom had symptoms or any lesions.
More than 99 percent of the people infected with monkeypox in the US are men who have sex with men. Those who are at the highest risk for serious outcomes are those who have uncontrolled HIV infections.
Part of the rationale for declaring this outbreak a public health emergency is to allow more data sharing between the federal government and the states, expand the resources available to combat the outbreak, and to increase access to medical care.
Especially given the crippling shortage of monkeypox vaccines, the government should be looking at natural medicines that have shown promise. A 2017 study found that resveratrol suppressed poxvirus replication; Sarracenia purpurea, the purple pitcher plant, was used with apparent success in the 19th century to combat smallpox, and subsequent laboratory experiments have shown that it inhibits viral replication. The CDC confirms that medicines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox.
In terms of prevention, we would do well to apply the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, and that is that our best defense is to ensure that our ecological terrain is healthy—that is, we must maintain a healthy internal environment of the body (good diet, exercise, nutrition, etc.) and a healthy external environment (minimize stress, maintain positive relationships, and minimize exposure to environmental contaminants).
Our friends at ANH-International put together an excellent immune-support protocol for children going back to school during 2020, but many of these lessons still apply. It provides guidelines for vitamin D, vitamin C, and zinc supplementation for every age group.
We also know that 92 percent of Americans have a vitamin deficiency. In fact, large studies have confirmed that most Americans are lacking in important micronutrients. Studies have shown that the immune system relies on micronutrients, and that supplements can help deliver these nutrients. You can help protect yourself by working with an integrative medical practitioner to assess your micronutrient status and correcting inadequacies.
Because of what we know about how monkeypox spreads, it doesn’t seem likely to produce a pandemic on the scale of COVID; but we must guard against the eventuality that the government will use the monkeypox outbreak to further erode our freedoms—particularly our right to use natural medicine to stay healthy.
5 thoughts on “Monkeypox: A Public Health Emergency?”
This article brings up the very important point about 92% of Americans being deficient in several nutrients, adversely affecting their immune systems. What the article does not mention is why that lack exists. Our modern methods of profit-oriented factory farming have stripped our soils of many vitamins and minerals, creating food with less nutritional value. I have written to my elected officials in government more than once asking that they look into the matter and try to find a way to reintroduce healthy farming techniques. I wonder how badly COVID would have affected our population had most of them had stronger immune systems.
I read (can’t remember where or when) that monkeypox is acquired from eating bush meat. Do you know of anything about this?
Add Quercetin to the list. It is known to be a zinc ionophore: gets the zinc into the cell to inhibit viral replication.
Whoever wrote this needs to do some more homework.
One question it doesn’t touch on, is : What’s the case definition of monkeypox, and what is the test for “monkeypox”? What does it actually test for, and how was that marker determined? The NEJM article linked to in your first NPR link shows that these things vary from place to place. Are we even talking about a single illness with a single cause here?
Second: what is the basis for this statement: “…monkeypox is a very different virus from the virus that causes COVID. Monkeypox is a virus similar to smallpox but less severe.” It sounds like just parroting what the health authorities are saying, without looking into it further. What is the process for identifying this so-called “monkeypox virus,” and does that process pass muster as scientifically valid?
Third, this statement is completely questionable: “Experts say it probably takes hours of repeatedly touching the virus on surfaces or breathing in particles to get infected.” What experts say this? on what basis? Are there any actual scientific studies (and I don’t mean statistical or epidemiological studies) that show evidence of how “monkeypox” actually “spreads”? In 1918 when scientists did actual experiments to discover how that year’s pandemic flu was spread, they found to their surprise that it was NOT spread from a sick person to a healthy one by any contact between people, or between the healthy person and body fluids from the sick one. See: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/f/flu/3750flu.0016.573/1/–experiments-upon-volunteers-to-determine-the-cause-and-mode?page=root;rgn=full+text;size=125;view=image
I really wish ANH would be a true alternative to the “mainstream media” industry, but so often your articles are just slight spins of material gotten from sources like NPR and the “fact sheets” from WHO, which you may have noticed, almost never includes their sources for the information they so graciously provide to us.