March 27, 2020

immunity boosters for people with chronic pain during COVID-19

By Dr. Michael J. Cooney, Clinical Director

Even amidst these frightening and stressful times, people living with chronic nerve pain cannot afford to neglect protecting their immune systems.

Furthermore—vigorously defend yourself against things that drain your immunity stockpile, such as chronic stress and anxiety. At a time like this, I realize this is a challenge. But there are also times you can excuse yourself from a stressful situation at home, for example, or simply turn off the news for a few days.

I’ve outlined the most essential immunity booster recommendations that I share with our patients. My hope is that one or more of these tools will help your lessen pain while increasing the immune system to ward off illness—without any prescription medications.

Immune system boosters

 The statement below is so important, I’m writing it three times:

Reducing stress increases immunity against illness.

Reducing stress increases immunity against illness.

Reducing stress increases immunity against illness.

Chronic pain sufferers already spend much of their days at home, so the current self-isolation status is honestly nothing new to this community.

But how are you using your time? Scrolling most of the day? Watching Ellen or too many news broadcasts?

I’m a strong proponent of getting away from watching other people’s lives and focus on improving your own.

No, it’s not easy to pursue self-care at the moment; at the same time, self-care has never been more critical to people living with chronic nerve pain.

Peruse the list of immunity-boosters below and try some that feel manageable, and also one that doesn’t seem viable. You may surprise yourself.

  • Meditation – Everyone from pro football teams to elementary schools is practicing regular meditation. I listen to an app twice a week for guided meditation.
  • Laugh – For me, it’s reruns of The Office; My wife loves to watch Sebastian Maniscalco on Netflix.
  • Prayer – Attend a service remotely during COVID-19, pull a few verses from the Bible on your table, just pray and express gratitude, humility and grace.
  • Exercise – Lift light hand weights to build upper body strength and speed metabolism. Start walking, start biking, start Zumba. Start. And keep at it. Check with your doctor for guidance, if needed, and find videos to ensure you are working out with weights safely.
  • Nutrition – Eating whole food derived from plants, not manufactured or packaged, will reward you with boosting mental and physical health. By eating significant portions of vegetables, nuts, fruits and whole grains, you are naturally fueling your body with the vitamins and minerals to help it do its job better. Prepare to feel better, as a result.
  • REM Sleep – I know, it’s a challenge for chronic pain warriors to sleep on a good day. During these times of chaos, it’s even more of an uphill battle. Strive for seven hours of sleep nightly. Exercising and meditation also helps to calm the nerves and the mind, inviting better sleep quality. Spa-type music can also help. Do what works for you.
  • One of my patients swears a salt lamp in her bedroom improved her ability to sleep soundly through the night. It is imperative to get proper sleep so your body can regenerate.

Supplements, essential oils and herbs to boost immunity against illness

Talk with your doctor about these recommended supplements to ensure they do not conflict with any prescribed medications you are using.

My favorites for people living with chronic nerve pain:

  • CBD (again, another resource to reduce anxiety and stress)
  • Kratom
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric (pill form)
  • Nettle tea
  • Liquid vitamin C
  • Omega 3 fatty acids

Tee tree oil, dabbed just one time below the nostrils, is a natural, chemical-free anti-viral product.

On Guard is an ingested essential oil that is also known to strengthen the immune system.

Zyflamend, a pharmaceutical–free combination of multiple herbs that work synergistically to enhance its anti-inflammatory properties, continues to receive positive reviews from people with neuropathy for pain relief while also supporting healthy inflammation response and joint support.

Hands-on treatments to bolster immunity against viruses and illness

Self-massage is beneficial to lessen pain. Some people, especially those with CRPS, should apply gentle pressure above and below the actual pain site. This approach can improve immunity and help with lymphatic drainage.

I am also a big proponent of desensitization, a process that tells the brain that there is no reason for the pain. Here at Calmare NJ USA, we use a tennis ball to gently stimulate the lower end of the nerve by rolling the ball from heel to toe or wrist to fingertips, without pressure.

Doing so activates the sensory and proprioceptive nerves which communicate to the brain and send a no-pain signal.


We at Calmare NJ USA hope and pray you are all taking precautions necessary during this global crisis to protect yourselves against COVID-19.

Should you have questions about what I have discussed here, please feel free to call our pain management clinic at (201) 933-4440. I will respond promptly.

Stay well, stay healthy and keep hope in your heart,

Dr. Michael Cooney