While many general practitioners shut their doors in early 2020 amid spreading lockdowns, leaving those with COVID-19 to seek treatments at emergency rooms, Dr. David Brownstein, a family physician, and medical director of the Center for Holistic Medicine in West Bloomfield, Michigan, and his colleagues, remained steadfast in their commitment and oath as doctors—to keep their doors open and do what they did best—treat sick patients.
“I said to my staff, patients are going to be scared and if they get sick, they're going to need a place to go—we're going to be there for them and help them out,” said Dr. Brownstein in a recent interview on Discovering True Health.
“We've been treating viral infections and other flu-like infections using a holistic approach for close to 30 years, and we're pretty damn good at what we do,” he noted.
Early Days of the Pandemic
It was the beginning of March when COVID-19 hit Michigan. Intent on protecting his staff and their healthy patients, Dr. Brownstein and his team bundled up and set up an outdoor COVID-19 treatment assembly line—despite snow on the ground and temperatures frequently below 30 degrees. IVs hanging from standing poles flapped in the frigid wind as Dr. Brownstein and his staff treated patients in their cars.
As the weeks went by Dr. Brownstein recounts, “There were some days when cars were 10 deep in the parking lot and we were working until nine or ten at night using flashlights on our phones to see the veins for IVs.”
What stood out to Dr. Brownstein was the respiratory issues he was witnessing. “These people couldn't breathe. I've heard the lungs of many patients with respiratory viruses but this was a different sound, the air was there, but the air was not being utilized,” he said.
Because Dr. Brownstein had been employing a nutritional and oxidative protocol for treating a variety of viral illnesses during flu seasons for over three decades he felt that although SARS-CoV-2 was a new virus, it was still part of the coronavirus family.
Dr. Brownstein felt that since up to one-third of all flu-like infections come from the coronavirus family, his protocol had a good chance of being successful. “For nearly 30 years, we have had good success treating viral illnesses, why should this be any different?” Dr. Brownstein asked.
Every year between 12,000 to 52,000 Americans die during flu season from influenza. “None of my partners or myself could recall any of our patients dying from the flu over the last 30 years, and none of us can recall the last time we had a patient hospitalized from the flu,” said Dr. Brownstein.
“Think about it—let's say 25,000 Americans die every year due to flu-like illnesses. Multiply that by 30 years and that is a lot of patients dying. I think we haven’t seen our patients dying because of the support we were providing to their immune systems,” he said.
One of the treatments Dr. Brownstein used for those with respiratory issues was a dilute solution of hydrogen peroxide and iodine—administered via nebulizer—every hour until they felt better.
“We’ve used this treatment for nearly three decades for lung problems. And the consistent theme I heard from people was after the second dose of that nebulizer solution they could breathe, and they felt like they were moving forward towards recovery,” said Dr. Brownstein.
Dr. Brownstein would call his COVID-19 patients daily until they were no longer at risk from the virus, and as treatments continued, reports were coming in that patients with even severe respiratory issues were feeling better.
Dr. Brownstein outlined his treatments in a peer-reviewed study titled, “A Novel Approach to Treating COVID-19 Using Nutritional and Oxidative Therapies,” published in Science, Public Health Policy & the Law in July 2020.
His study reported his treatment of 107 patients at the time diagnosed with COVID-19. Three were hospitalized (3 percent) with two of the three hospitalized before instituting his treatment protocol and only one requiring hospitalization after beginning his treatment protocol. There were no deaths.
Based on the case fatality rate at that time, two to 10 deaths as well as at least eight hospitalizations would have been expected.
Dr. Brownstein’s COVID-19 Protocol
Dr. Brownstein's decades-tested protocol for viral bacterial illnesses during the flu season, involving high-dose essential vitamins, iodine supplements, corticosteroids, and IV nutrient and ozone therapy, became his anchor during the pandemic. He details it all in his book, “A Holistic Approach to Viruses.”
“Conventional medicine has little to offer to prevent or treat most viral infections including coronavirus infections. It’s time for us all to take the initiative and learn what other therapies are out there," said Dr. Brownstein.
“Working with a holistic doctor who can give you these types of treatments can help anyone suffering from an infection or illness,” he said.
It’s important to maintain optimal levels of nutrients, particularly vitamins A, C, and D—especially during an illness.
Vitamins A and C have antiviral abilities and can support the immune system when it’s under viral attack and vitamin D is very important for fighting infections.
Because most people have suboptimal vitamin A and C levels, Dr. Brownstein suggests implementing them daily as a preventative as well. His suggested protocol dosages are:
- Regular daily maintenance: 5,000 IU/day.
- At the first sign of an illness: 100,000 IU/day. Continue for four days.
- Caution: Vitamin A should not be taken by pregnant women.
- Regular daily maintenance: 3-5,000 mg/day.
- At the first sign of an illness: 1,000 mg/hour until diarrhea develops, then back off and resume once it subsides. Continue for four days.
- At the first sign of illness: 50,000 IU of vitamin D3/day. Continue for four days.
Dr. Brownstein suggests working with a knowledgeable holistic physician before taking these doses on your own.
According to Dr. Brownstein, different tissues in the body require varying forms of iodine—some preferentially take up iodide, the reduced form, which contains an extra electron, and others prefer iodine, the oxidized form.
“A combination of iodine and iodide, such as Lugol’s iodine solution [5 percent iodine (I2) and 10 percent potassium iodide (KI)], can effectively target the iodine-requiring receptors in the body,” he said.
For those not taking a regular iodine supplement, Dr. Brownstein suggests 25 mg/day at the first sign of an illness.
“For those taking a daily iodine supplement they should double their dose for four days at the first signs of illness, then go back to their original dose,” said Dr. Brownstein.
Nebulizer Treatments: Hydrogen Peroxide and Iodine in a Saline Solution
As mentioned above, Dr. Brownstein treated individuals experiencing respiratory issues with a highly diluted mixture of hydrogen peroxide and iodine in saline via a nebulizer administered every hour until they experienced relief.
Dr. Brownstein learned about hydrogen peroxide while attending an oxidative medicine course and has been using nebulized hydrogen peroxide and intravenous (IV) hydrogen peroxide clinically for over 25 years.
Dr. Brownstein believes this nebulized solution is one of the best therapies for viral infections like SARS-CoV-2 or other respiratory viruses that we may face in the future. “It’s incredibly inexpensive, and can be used at home,” he noted.
A 2020 study published in the Elsevier PMC COVID-19 Collection highlights that hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is an important antimicrobial agent and is effective against many viruses, including swine flu, rubella, and rabies.
The study also pointed out that there is a significant interaction between innate immunity and oxidative stress, with H2O2 potentially holding a central position in this interplay.
Innate immunity plays a crucial role because its main purpose is to immediately prevent the spread and movement of foreign pathogens throughout the body.
The authors strongly encourage the rapid development of randomized controlled trials in both SARS-CoV-2 positive and negative subjects to study the effects of H2O2 against viral infections.
A 1982 study published in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry discusses the role of H2O2 in killing bacteria. The study found that nearly every system in the body available for killing ingested bacteria incorporates H2O2, signifying the fundamental importance of this reactive oxygen compound in microbicidal activity.
To make the solution Dr. Brownstein uses food-grade, 3 percent hydrogen peroxide. He instructs his patients to place one drop of hydrogen peroxide along with one drop of 5 percent Lugol’s solution along with 5cc of sterile, normal saline in the nebulizer well.
The final concentration is a highly diluted solution of 0.03 percent hydrogen peroxide per Dr. Brownstein.
Although Dr. Brownstein normally administered ozone intravenously, because he could not bring the ozone generator into the parking lot for treatments early in the pandemic he resorted to using intramuscular injections of ozone into patients’ buttocks.
IV Nutrient Therapy
“People were not eating or breathing well and were losing a lot of fluid,” Dr. Brownstein said. This put his patients at risk of dehydration and other serious life-threatening complications. “If people can maintain hydration and electrolytes they have a much lower chance of ending up in the hospital,” he stressed.
There have been multiple studies that suggest that low electrolyte levels are directly linked to mortality, disease severity, and weakened recovery. Sodium, magnesium, calcium, and potassium have been shown to be the four essential electrolytes in the fight against severe COVID-19.
Medrol is a glucocorticoid steroid. “We used injections of Medrol for initial doses then we transition patients to an oral dosage form after that,” said Dr. Brownstein.
Government guidelines at the time were telling doctors not to use steroids on COVID-19 patients saying using them would inhibit the immune system.
Dr. Brownstein disagreed with this hypothesis. “We use steroids right from the beginning despite government guidelines. We've used steroids for pneumonia, to stimulate white blood cells, and take away inflammation. I saw results in my patients immediately and wasn't going to withhold a therapy that I saw working for them,” he said.
Government guidelines now allow for steroids in mainstream COVID-19 treatments.
A 2022 study published in the Elsevier PMC COVID-19 Collection stated, "Compared with no glucocorticoids, methylprednisolone treatment in COVID-19 patients is associated with reduced short-term mortality and better clinical outcomes, without increasing secondary infections, but could slightly prolong duration of viral shedding.”
The authors noted that patients with severe COVID-19 are more likely to benefit from short-term, low-dose methylprednisolone treatment and suggested 1–2 mg/kg per day for up to seven days.
Early Treatment May Mitigate Long COVID
There has been no messaging from government health agencies regarding early treatment strategies for COVID-19 and how implementing early or preventative treatments may impact mortality and the percentage of those who end up with long COVID which is now referred to as postacute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC).
“I can't even stress how important early treatment is,” said Dr. Brownstein, “In my opinion, the lack of early treatment was responsible for a significant proportion of deaths. We will look back on 2020 as the dark ages of medicine. History will not be kind to the medical profession,” he noted.
A 2020 study published in Infectious Disease And Therapy points out that historical studies on HIV and hepatitis C suggest that starting treatment early can reduce illness, death, and virus spread. The authors stress that this supports the idea of prioritizing early treatment for COVID-19 as well.
The Household Pulse survey estimates that about 10 percent of the adult population in the United States suffer from PASC.
Less than 3 percent of Dr. Brownstein’s COVID-19 patients suffered from PASC and he feels that this was attributed to early treatment.
Tips for COVID-19 Prevention
Dr. Brownstein also stresses the importance of maintaining what he calls the “basics of health” as a prevention and mitigation strategy.
Diet, exercise, hydration, and maintaining adequate levels of electrolytes and nutrients go a long way.
His preventative tips include:
Maintain a healthy diet
Keep refined carbohydrates down, and cut out refined sugar. Refined sugar has severe direct effects on our immune system. Research shows that eating 100 grams of sugar will reduce the reactivity of white blood cells by 40 percent and can disable our immune system for up to 4 to 5 hours.
Maintain hydration, electrolytes, and adequate salt levels
Because everyone’s body is different, getting a serum electrolyte test done would be a great first step to see where you’re at and if you need therapeutic intervention for vital electrolytes. Salt plays a key role in detoxification and in his book “Salt Your Way to Health,” Dr. Brownstein suggests adding unrefined salt to a daily diet as it is not stripped of its trace minerals.
Although not completely understood, some experts say that exercise directly benefits the immune system by helping white blood cells, which are disease-fighting immune cells, to circulate more rapidly allowing them to potentially detect illness sooner than they would in someone who does not exercise.
Exercise also can help flush out bacteria in the lungs and airways and raise body temperature briefly which helps the body fight infections better. Also, some stress hormones increase the probability of illness and exercise helps to slow down the release of stress hormones.
Correct nutritional deficiencies
Dr. Brownstein stresses that you should not go into an illness deficient in iodine, vitamin A, C, or D. In his research, he found the vast majority of his patients were over 90 percent deficient in vitamin D as well as having suboptimal levels of A and C.
What to do at the onset of symptoms
Dr. Brownstein recommends starting the high doses mentioned above of vitamins A, C, D, and iodine. He also recommends getting an IV of hydrogen peroxide, and vitamin C, and nebulizing the hydrogen peroxide/iodine/saline solution mentioned above as well.
Warnings From the Federal Trade Commission
As the pandemic raged on Dr. Brownstein watched as death tolls around the globe climbed. “The news reports were all negative. There was nothing positive coming out of the media. They scared us all. Yet, we were seeing success treating our patients. I felt it was my duty to report what we were doing to help,” he said.
As his patients began to show signs of improvement, Dr. Brownstein decided to conduct interviews with them, allowing them to share their personal experiences. The stories were subsequently published on an online blog titled, "There Is Still Hope Out There.”
“I was taught in my training to report your successes and your failures so other doctors can learn from them. In fact, my dean at my medical school graduation told us all to do just that,” Dr. Brownstein said.
After posting about 20 blog posts of patients recounting their recovery experience Dr. Brownstein received a warning letter (pdf) on May 13, 2020, from Dama J. Brown, regional director, Southwest region of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The FTC not only demanded he cease the blog posting but also take down all videos posted to date.
The letter advised that the FTC had determined he was unlawfully advertising that certain products or services he sold online or in his clinic treated or prevented COVID-19.
The letter continued saying that because there's no prevention, treatment, or cure for COVID-19, and unless there are well-controlled human clinical studies, any mention thereof falls in violation of FTC law, and therefore, he had 48 hours to remove all posts.
Dr. Brownstein complied and removed all posts. Then in July 2020 he published his peer-reviewed study on his COVID-19 protocol and contacted the FTC asking permission to post the study on his website.
According to Dr. Brownstein, the FTC responded by denying his request saying that because it was not a randomized controlled study he could not post it. “The reason I didn't do a randomized study was because it was unethical for me to withhold that treatment to my patients,” Dr. Brownstein said.
Lessons for the Future
The message throughout the pandemic was to stay at home unless one felt as though they could not breathe and needed to go to the emergency room.
“What we should have been doing was researching and reporting what worked and didn't work. But we were prohibited from doing that at that time. And that's where the government colluded with big tech to shut everything down,” said Dr. Brownstein.
In the early days of the pandemic, there were no conventional therapies available, and the world was merely waiting for a vaccine. By March 2021 the COVID Tracking Project estimated that over 500,000 COVID-19 deaths were confirmed.
“I never recall being taught in medical school to wait until patients get worse and not treat them early on. I wonder if we would have just treated them early and supported them with holistic treatments, vitamins, and oxidative protocols if it would have turned out much different,” he said.
“I think we're unfortunately still paying the price for it right now, and hopefully we've learned from it,” he concluded.Correction: The dosage for vitamin A has been corrected. The Epoch Times regrets the error.