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‚ÄčThe Melanie Avalon Podcast Episode #35 - Dr. Kirk Parsley 

Kirk Parsley served as an Undersea Medical Officer at Naval Special Warfare Group One from June 2009 to January 2013. While there, he led the development and supervised the group’s first Sports Medicine Rehabilitation center. He is a former SEAL, and received his Medical Degree from Bethesda, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences (USUHS) in 2004. He interned in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Balboa Naval Hospital San Diego in 2005 and subsequently completed a Navy residency in Hyperbarics and Diving Medicine in 2006.

Doctor Parsley has been a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine since 2006 and served as Naval Special Warfare’s expert on Sleep Medicine. In addition he is certified in hormonal modulation (Age-Management Medicine). After leaving the Navy he went into concierge medicine and consulting. He continues to consult for multiple corporations, and professional athletes/teams. Doctor Parsley lectures worldwide on sleep, wellness, and hormonal optimization and is currently completing a book on sleep and health optimization.

His philosophy for wellness is simple; in order to optimize our health and get the most out of our bodies and minds, we must live more closely to the way we evolved as a species. He believes that many diseases and disorders that we accept as ‚Äúinevitable‚ÄĚ in modern society are unnecessary complications of poor sleeping habits, living in a toxic environment, eating foods we were not designed to digest, and allowing stress to overwhelm us. His passion is to help his patients and clients achieve the highest quality of life possible, and realize their health, performance, and longevity goals.

Dr. Parsley spends as much of his spare time as possible with his three beautiful children (Hayden, Cole, and Harper). He has been a competitive athlete his entire life, and enjoys nearly all outdoor activities and sports. 


LEARN MORE AT:

docparsley.com

instagram.com/sleepremedy

facebook.com/sleepremedy 

SHOWNOTES

2:30 - SLEEP REMEDY: Sleep Remedy Is The Ultimate Sleep Supplement, Developed By Dr. Kirk Parlsey After Years Of Research To Naturally Restore Sleep To The Sleep-Deprived, Insomniac Navy Seals. Rather Than Knocking You Out With Drugs, Sleep Remedy Provides The Necessary Neurotransmitters And Nutrients In The Perfect Amounts To Naturally Support Your Body's Sleep Process. For a limited time, you can get 25% off their NEW lavender flavor at melanieavalon.com/sleepremedylavender! Or use the code MELANIEAVALON  At MelanieAvalon.com/Sleepremedy for 10% off any other order! (I personally use the unflavored capsules every night!)‚Äč

4:35 - LISTEN ON HIMALAYA!: Download The Free Himalaya App (Www.Himalaya.Fm) To FINALLY Keep All Your Podcasts In One Place, Follow Your Favorites, Make Playlists, Leave Comments, And More! Follow The Melanie Avalon Podcast In Himalaya For Early Access 24 Hours In Advance! You Can Also Join Melanie's Exclusive Community For Exclusive Monthly Content, Episode Discussion, And Guest Requests! 

4:45 - Follow Melanie On Instagram To See The Latest Moments, Products, And #AllTheThings! @MelanieAvalon 

4:55 -  Paleo OMAD Biohackers: Intermittent Fasting + Real Foods + Life: Join Melanie's Facebook Group To Discuss And Learn About All Things Biohacking! All Conversations Welcome!

5:55 - BEAUTY COUNTER: Non-Toxic Beauty Products Tested For Heavy Metals, Which Support Skin Health And Look Amazing! Shop At Beautycounter.com/MelanieAvalon For Something Magical! For Exclusive Offers And Discounts, And More On The Science Of Skincare, Get On Melanie's Private Beauty Counter Email List At MelanieAvalon.com/CleanBeauty!

9:00 - Dr. Kirk Parsley: Sleep Hygiene, How To Fall Asleep, Melatonin, Insomnia, Optimal Sleep Time, Morning Vs. Night People, Light And Sleep, Caffeine And Alcohol, Sleep Drugs, CBD, And More!

10:15 - Should We Take The Coronavirus Seriously? 

14:00 - Evaluating Risk

14:55 - The Mathematical Model For Disease Spread

19:40 - Coronavirus Testing

30:30 - The Misleading Cause Of Death Labels

36:15 - Cytokines, Virus Mechanisms Of Action, And Infection 

42:30 - The Immune System's Role In Viral Infections 

46:30 - Bacteria Vs. Virus: What Is Alive?

51:50 - BLUBLOX - Blue-light Blocking Glasses For Sleep, Stress, And Health! Go To BluBlox.com And Use The Code melanieavalon For 15% Off!

55:15 - JOOVV: Red Light And NIR therapy for Fat Burning, Muscle Recovery, Mood, Sleep, And More! Use The Link Joovv.com/melanieavalon With The Code MelanieAvalon For A Free Gift From Joovv, And Also Forward Your Proof Of Purchase To Contact@MelanieAvalon.com, To Receive A Signed Copy Of What When Wine: Lose Weight and Feel Great with Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, and Wine!

‚Äč1:01:15 - How Viruses Tax Our Resources‚Äč‚Äč

1:04:20 - Infection Vs. Death Rates: Predicting The Unknown 

1:05:00 - The R Nought 

1:08:15 - Asymptomatic Transmission

1:08:50 - What Is Immunity? 

1:13:30 - How Vaccines Work

1:15:30 - Have People Already Had The Coronavirus?

1:19:30 - What is Exponential Growth? 

1:27:30 - Sleep And Your Immune System 

1:28:15  - The Effects In Italy 

1:36:40 - The Target Populations Of Pandemics 

1:38:40 - Social Distancing, Transmission, Masks, Herd Immunity 

‚ÄčThe Pandemic Response Website

1:51:10 - How To Combat The virus: the Cost Benefit Of Social Quarantine 

2:01:45 - How To Reframe Stress

Dr. Kirk Parsley: Sleep Hygiene, How To Fall Asleep, Melatonin, Insomnia, Optimal Sleep Time, Morning Vs. Night People, Light And Sleep, Caffeine And Alcohol, Sleep Drugs, CBD, And More!

1:57:35 - Stress And Sleep 

SLEEP REMEDY: Sleep Remedy Is The Ultimate Sleep Supplement, Developed By Dr. Kirk Parsley After Years Of Research To Naturally Restore Sleep To The Sleep-Deprived, Insomniac Navy Seals. Rather Than Knocking You Out With Drugs, Sleep Remedy Provides The Necessary Neurotransmitters And Nutrients In The Perfect Amounts To Naturally Support Your Body's Sleep Process. Go To MelanieAvalon.Com/SleepRemedy And Use The Code MELANIEAVALON For 10% Off!!

TRANSCRIPT 

Melanie Avalon:
Hi friends. Welcome back to the show. So I feel like it's a faux pas to say I'm really excited about this conversation today, but I am honestly really excited about this conversation. I am back here with a crowd favorite. We have Dr. Kirk Parsley. I had him on one of the first episodes actually of this podcast for an interview completely on the science of sleep. And that has been to date one of the most popular podcasts that I've had on the show. Dr. Kirk Parsley, he is a wealth of knowledge. He's a former Navy SEAL. He also served as the Naval special warfares expert on sleep medicine. He served as an MD to the Navy SEALS. He's basically the go-to guy when it comes to sleep. And I really mean that.

Melanie Avalon:
I was actually just listening to an interview yesterday with David Sinclair, who I've also had on this podcast and that episode appropriately enough was also about COVID and the topic came up about sleep and David Sinclair said that the thing that was changing his sleep right now was Sleep Remedy.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
No kidding? David Sinclair said that?

Melanie Avalon:
Yes he did. No, I have to tell you, it's funny because he said he was taking it and then who was the interview? I think it was on Dave Asprey's podcast and then Dave made a comment about the formulation of Sleep Remedy.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Yeah.

Melanie Avalon:
And I was like, "Actually it's changed." It was incorrect information that was put out there. And I wanted to be like, "Nope. That is incorrect." But yeah, so David Sinclair is definitely taking sleep remedy right now and sleeping.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Man, that makes me feel successful right there.

Melanie Avalon:
In any case though, listener's, Sleep Remedy is a game changer. I personally take it every night, especially during this crazy time when I think we all might be struggling with the stress of things. It might be affecting our sleep. So thank you first of all for that. I would go all into that details, but I think for listeners, I will just put a link in the show notes to that episode because in that episode we dive deep into Dr. Kirk Parsley's personal history and what led him to where he is today.

Melanie Avalon:
But today's topic is something a little bit different. It's not sleep. It is actually the current COVID-19 situation. And to be honest, when the whole COVID, coronavirus thing started happening, podcasts started coming out left and right about it. And I was on the fence about whether or not to have an episode dedicated to it because I don't want to spread a fear. I don't want to sensationalize anything. So I was going to just not address it, and defer to the experts. But Dr. Kirk Parsley's team actually reached out to me and said he was conducting interviews. So, it just showed up in my lap, so I had to accept and I'm really, really excited about the conversation that we're about to have. So thank you so much for being here.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
No, you're welcome. That's quite a buildup, there's a lot of pressure on me, but I'll do what I can to live up to it.

Melanie Avalon:
No, you will. I am certain. So to start things off, just to set the stage for everything, I think one of the biggest questions we have right now is we are experiencing this COVID-19 pandemic. It's changing people's lives. I think on the one hand, some people are just really, really upset, really stressed, thinking it's all doom and gloom, that we're never going to survive. That this is the most terrible thing that could ever happen to humanity. Though on the other side, we have people who think it's not a big deal at all. So I guess a foundational question is, should we take this situation with COCID-19 seriously?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Yeah. Well I think with about anything complex, you can rule out the two extremes. It's not going to end humanity, it's not going to crumble the world's economy. And it's also not something that you should be flippant about and just say, "I'm going to go about my life however I want to, because it's not going to get me." I'm saying should, but to be clear by this, I'm speaking from my own perspective and my own beliefs, I'm not trying to shit on people." So nothing that I'm saying should be construed as expert medical advice. I'm not an epidemiologist, I'm not a virologist, but I'm a guy who's been around. And I've been in a lot of bad situations and I'm old enough to have lived through quite a few big issues.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
My business has been impacted by lots of other things that we've been through already as a country. I was a physician for the military during the swine flu epidemic. Obviously, we've been through the 2007, 2008 deck economic gig. We've been through 9/11. There's all sorts of things that have come along the Enron scandal, all these things that have completely upended the country, and it goes back to normal. Now, this seems to be more severe. And I think a lot of that has to do with the models that people are touting it. Basically the media I think is... And I'm not sure why I don't want to ascribe malicious, or malevolent intent to this if incompetence could more likely explain it.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
And I think that's the more likely option is that the media is afraid and the media is making the government afraid. And the government's making the people afraid, and the media is making the people afraid. And that at the end of the day, the truth is that nobody knows. Nobody has any idea. Everybody wants to rely on the wisdom of all of our experts. And the first thing to keep in mind is that experts, by their very nature, academic experts, they're overly cautious. They're trying to avoid risk and catastrophe. That's their job. That's their personality. That's why they're hyper-educated, probably is because they need control and certainty. And so they're always going to be overly cautious.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So if anybody starts saying, "Oh, we should have done this, we should've done that", based on expert advice, well, if we listened to experts all the time, we wouldn't take any risk in our life, right? We wouldn't be driving cars anymore. We'd be afraid to garden at our own house, or pet our pets. There's all sorts of worst-case doom and gloom that experts, would give you that worst case scenario. But the important thing is that even the wisest of experts can't predict the unexpected. That's why it's called the unexpected. What wisdom gives us, the whole idea of being old and wise and educated is that you know how things usually happen, you know how things usually work.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
And because you can look back and say, "Well, I've been through all of this and I understand what led to this and that", which is all retrospective. We all look back, like we don't understand the situation while we're in it. We never do. Then we look back, and we analyze it, go, "Okay, we see what happened there and now we can apply that." And so right now, we have experts who are saying, "Well, there's a mathematical model for the way diseases are spread, especially viral diseases. So how does a viral disease spread? What are the factors that determine how much it spreads?"

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
And they put it into a model and you can play around with the numbers in that model and you can have anywhere from 10,000 people dying in America to 2 million people just by shifting a few numbers around. Now, the truth is nobody knows those numbers that you're shifting around. They're all guesses and they're guesses based on incomplete data from other countries. They're guesses based on what we've seen so far in this country. But keep in mind, even if you base it on what you've seen in this country, there's a lot of assumptions in that, right? So to say, "We have this many cases and we have this many deaths based off this many cases."

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Well first of all, we know of course that we haven't found all the cases. Secondly, we don't know how long these people have had it, right? Just because we diagnosed them yesterday doesn't mean even that they've gotten it in the last two weeks. We don't know for sure that people can't have this dormant for 20 days. We also don't know that people are more likely to die between these days and those days. And so if you're looking at the model, the only number that we really know is deaths. We know how many people die, but we don't necessarily know why they die and we don't know if they would have died anyway.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So you see it in the headlines, and the media loves to spit out inflated numbers completely out of context. And the worst case, human toll. This horrible, whatever, 35-year-old doctor, five kids that was volunteering for a Christian hospital and contracted the virus and pushed through and ended up dying and whatever. They're going to tell the most sensationalized story. And one of the things that I've seen a lot, and I've actually contemplated just getting up every morning, reading the headlines and talking through what do the headlines really mean, because they are so misleading.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
And, so one of the things that you keep seeing in the headlines is so-and-so died from coronavirus complications. Well, what does that mean? There was this thing about this neurosurgeon in New York city and he was famous for doing the first separation of co-joined twins, sometimes called Siamese twins. And he was heralded as his genius and he did all this great work, 50 years ago. But you don't see any of that, even in the first three or four paragraphs, all you see is what a great surgeon is and what everybody had to say about him and unfortunate his timing of death was and this great things that he did with the twins and how this moved medicine forward. And then you get a little further and go, "Okay, well he was 86-years-old and he had other health problems." So if he would have died of the flu, that same thing wouldn't be in on the front page. And that headline wouldn't be the same. Right?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
And we don't know that he didn't die from the flu. Right? So here's something that a lot of people don't realize is when they say that somebody's dying of coronavirus, they're saying they're dying of coronavirus and that's not necessarily the case. They're dying with coronavirus, right? Meaning that if you are 80-years-old and you have congestive heart failure and diabetes and high blood pressure and all sorts of medical problems and you could go to the hospital with a pneumonia, or a generalized flu, any type of viral or bacterial infection in your lungs, which is what kills most elderly people with complications, because that's the easiest way to get infections into your body is through your airway.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
And so if this is killing most of those people anyway, we don't know that that person didn't actually go to the hospital with a bacterial pneumonia or a viral pneumonia from influenza B, or H1N1. We don't know for sure what drove them there. What we do know is that once they got to the hospital, they got tested and the test isn't 100% accurate either, people need to realize that. And what the test shows is that you have that genetic information from the coronavirus, that's consistent with the coronavirus.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Now keep in mind that same genetic information is in all coronaviruses, or almost all of them. That's overstating. It's in a lot of them. It would be indistinguishable from a lot and there's even bacteria that have that same genetic information in it. And so it doesn't mean that their symptoms were caused by the coronavirus. It's simply means that we tested their saliva for the genetic information that's inside of the coronavirus and it showed that they have that genetic information. But they could have very likely come to the hospital under duress from other illnesses that were going to kill them anyway. They were already crashing, and they're immunocompromised, and so they got this virus too. But they might actually die before they even develop symptoms from coronavirus.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So, I'm not trying to say that people are deliberately manipulating the test and making it seem like that and hiding things and making things seem worse. I don't believe that medical community's doing that. What I'm saying is that it's very limited as to what they can actually say. All they can say is, "We looked for this, we found this in their system. And if they die and we know that we found that in their system, then we're going to call it a death from that."

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So even if you believe 100% of the data and you just say, "Okay, everybody who has the coronavirus DNA in their system who dies, died from coronavirus." So even if you're willing to acquiesce to that and just say, "All right, every single person who we tested positive for this, that died, died from it." The death rate is still astronomically low, or not the death rate, the total death. So what's called the absolute risk of death. The absolute risk for death is still exceedingly low compared to all of the other things that you're very likely to die from.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
For example, you would be hundreds of times more likely to be diagnosed with cancer and die from cancer in the next year than you would be from coronavirus. At least the way it stands right now. It would have to get hundreds of times worse to keep up with cancer, heart attacks, stroke, automobile accidents, smoking, obesity. All of these things are killing people, and 99.97% of people in the world who have died in the last three months have died from something other than coronavirus.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So I'm not saying that we're flippant and we just say, "Hell with it. This is stupid. I'm going about what I'm doing." The metaphor I keep using this week, which I think is apt, and it's too simplistic for some people and they get offended by it. So I'll apologize in advance if it's offensive. But there's a great metaphor with automobiles, right? So we have three to 4,000 people die every month in automobile accidents. And that's been going on for decades. We've known this, this is not something new. So if you look at that, we're having 30 to 40,000 people die of automobile accidents every single year. Well, that's a pretty big number because that's pretty close to all the influenza's. The flu is anywhere from 30 to 60,000 and influenza-like illnesses, which includes any respiratory infection at least to death, that is, I want to say like 150,000 people a year.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So, if you're being rational about this and saying, "Okay, well what's my risk of dying from this versus dying from something else?" Your risk of dying from this disease, or the risk of someone that you love or caring for dying of this disease is very low, relative to everything else they can die from. So your absolute risk for this is super small. Now, there's also something called your relative risk and your relative risk is... Let's say 50,000 people are going to succumb to coronavirus. I don't think it's even going to be that much. I think it's going to be closer to 10 or 15,000. But let's say 50,000 people succumb to the influence of virus. Out of those 50,000 people, not all people are equally likely to be one of the 50,000 right?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So a healthy child, someone under nine years old has a 0.0001% chance of dying from this. Somebody under 40 and healthy has a... And again we don't know these numbers but to the best of what we can figure out right now has still has basically about the same risk of dying from the flu. And if you're under 40 the risk of dying from the flu is pretty damn small. So it's about the same. And then the older you get, the more likely you are. So if you're 80-years-old and you have what we call co-morbidities, meaning that you have other diseases that are putting your health at risk, putting your life at risk. If you're 80-years-old and up, you have a 7% chance of dying from this.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
But guess what, you have a seven eight, nine, 10% chance of dying of any infection in your lungs, because you're elderly and you have disease. You have metabolic disease, you might have infectious disease, you might have cancer, you might have cardiovascular disease, who knows? But the older you get, the more likely you are to have disease and the more likely you are to die. And so the older you are, when you get this, and the more medical problems you have when you get exposed to this. And keep in mind everybody in the world is going to be exposed to this eventually. But the older you are and the more problems you have, the more likely you are to die. So your absolute risk at 80 is a lot higher than your absolute risk at 25.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
And so when you factor that into it, man, let's say if you're somewhere between 30 and 50 and you're healthy and you take care of yourself and you don't have medical issues, you're probably more likely to die from getting struck by lightning. You're definitely more likely to die in a car crash. So my metaphor with the cars is we have this expectation that a certain number of people are going to die in cars. And it's not that we're okay with that. It's not that we're just saying, "Well hell with it. We don't care if people die." we're doing what we can and what can we do?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Well, the government gets involved in mandating the cars pass a certain safety standard, right? They have to be able to survive intact from a certain crash speed and directions. And those are based on what we know have killed people in the past. And now cars have to have airbags, and cars have to have seatbelts, and you have to drive the speed limit. And you have to have headlights on at night, and you have to stop at red lights and you have to stop at stop signs. And you have to obey road signs and you have to slow down for schools zones. There's all these things that we do and we've agreed as a society that we're doing the best we can to prevent automobile accidents and automobile fatalities, but people still die.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
And in fact worldwide, 1.2 million people die of car crashes, of traffic accidents every year, 1.2 million every year. And we're looking at 35,000 deaths from coronavirus worldwide right now. If were 10 times more, it would still be a third of car crashes. The point is nobody gets out of bed in the morning and says, "Oh my God, I'm so afraid I'm going to die from a car crash today." Even though your risk of dying in a traffic accident is infinitely higher than your risk of getting this disease, everybody's waking up and worried about this disease. And here's why, because if you woke up in the morning and you pulled up your social media feed and you watched your television and you read the newspaper. And We have 90 people per day, average, 90 people per day die in automobile accidents in America.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So if every morning you woke up, the news was talking about how all 90 people died, where they died, what state they died, and telling you the human toll of this, it's a 75-year-old grandmother on her way to her five-year-old grandchild's fifth birthday. And it was just tragic and she was such a great person. And yeah it's sad. But if they did that every single day, everybody would be afraid to drive cars. And what would we do at that point? Would we just say, "Okay, no more cars. We're not going to drive cars anymore." Of course not, because that would shut down our way of life.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
And so I'm not saying what we should or shouldn't do, but I'm just saying we should. I'm not saying we should or shouldn't, I'm just saying we should. I'm just saying it's worth considering how this stacks up relative to other risks that we knowingly accept every single day. And therefore what can we do about it as a society and what should we do about it? So we could quit driving cars, but we as a society, as a group have decided that's not reasonable. We don't want to quit driving cars. We're going to really push for people to be as safe as possible and cars to be as safe as possible. And we're continually improving on that.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So should we say nobody can leave their house? Well probably that's reasonable for a certain amount of time, but how long? And is it the same everywhere? If you live in Tucson, Arizona, your risk of getting this disease, no matter what you do, is infinitesimally small right now, exceedingly small right now. If you live in New York City, your risk is a lot higher. So we shouldn't treat people in Tucson, Arizona the same way we're treating people in New York City. And I keep saying shit. I don't have a better way of saying it, but just to be clear, I'm not saying I have the answers. I'm just saying these are different things to consider.

Melanie Avalon:
No, this is so fascinating. And I think it's so valuable to just dismantle and demystify what actually is happening. And hearing you talk about all of that, I feel like it's the perfect storm of fear because it's fascinating what you were saying about all the deaths being attributed to corona regardless if that was the entire cause of death. It's like we could easily say of all the people that died "from corona", I wonder what would be the second most common degenerative disease or metabolic condition that that person might also have?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
It would be influenza-like illness. So it would mean that they had some sort of respiratory infection, meaning that could be H1N1, like the swine flu, which is influenza A. It could be influenced to B, it could be a bacterial infection, it could be MERS, it could be SARS. It could be any of these things that we just lump into that category. And next year coronavirus will be in that category. You see what I'm saying?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So, as things pop up, we just add those to the category. More people died from swine flu this year than died from the standard flu we knew about in 2009. But all you heard was total number of flu deaths. Nobody's saying, "Oh my God, swine flu, swine flu." The total area under the curve, the total number of people dying doesn't seem to change no matter how many different infectious respiratory infections we

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Let's say a hundred years from no, we're tracking 20 different infections that are killing people, the total area under the curve as a portion of the population is probably going to remain fairly constant. Because unless something is just a lot more deadly, which this doesn't appear to be any more deadly than a lot of other things, unless something is just infinitely more deadly, it's really going to kill the same people, The same people are going to succumb to it.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
And if this turns out to be truly a 1% instead of a 0.1% which is unlikely. But let's say it turns out to be a 1% death rates instead of a 0.1, 0.1 to 0.3 is with the general flu's considered, even if that's the case, all that means is that when we track this, when we look back on this over a year, more people... And I don't have a smoother way of saying this. I don't mean to be callous about this. But more people who were going to die anyways died of that. At least the way we tracked it.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Let's say there's three infections that usually kill people a year. I'm oversimplifying, but let's say there's three respiratory infections that kill the elderly and infirm every year and they make up 30 to 60,000 people. Well, if you have one that has a death rate that's 10 times more than the other three, well then it's 10 times more likely to kill people under that curve. But it doesn't mean it's 10 times more likely to kill people outside of that curve. See what I'm saying?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So now maybe 80% of people will die from coronavirus out of the hundred percent of people who died, which is very likely to be the same 100% of people who are going to die, or who were likely to die from some other infection. Does that make sense? I feel like that's getting messy.

Melanie Avalon:
No, no. That's actually what I was trying to get to was like the delineation between the infectious disease side of things, versus the degenerative and how...

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Right.

Melanie Avalon:
... you could, in a way, say you reframe the death rate and instead of attributing the cause of death to coronavirus complications, you just changed the label and attributed it to degenerative disease, or metabolic, or immune system complications, which I think could still be true in most of the cases. It's just that potentially coronavirus was the catalyst that...

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
I see what you're getting at. And I think a good metaphor for that is to say if the medical community was really hot right now on alcohol-related deaths and then they therefore made a rule that anybody who dies with a measurable blood alcohol level died from alcohol-related death. You could say it, because well, they had alcohol in their system, so it's related, right? They might've died from the flu, but they came in with alcohol and their blood. Or, they died from a car crash when they were stopped at a red light, and somebody hit them going a hundred miles an hour and killed them, but they had had a glass of wine, so they died from an alcohol-related incident.

Melanie Avalon:
To be even more shocking. What if we made that like processed foods, or something?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Right, right.

Melanie Avalon:
Probably would be about 80% 90%.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Well, here's a good one we could say. Obesity-related complications.

Melanie Avalon:
I was actually going to say that.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Right? If you said everybody who died in America who was obese, died from obesity-related complications, the rate of obesity death would be a hundred times more than anything else. It'd be higher than cancer and heart disease and everything else, because we have 40% of our population is obese.

Melanie Avalon:
Yeah. And I don't mean to put that lightly, but I think it really can make you reevaluate the numbers and what's happening, although, I have a big question. So when a person does die "from coronavirus", are they dying from the actual virus or is it from the cytokine storm that it's occurring and tearing apart their body? What's actually happening there?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Yeah, so the cytokine storm that's an overblown misnomer in the media, again. That's a process that happens during severe infections. And it happens in all respiratory disease. Not all, but it's a significantly likely process to be going on either leading to your death, or going on during the time of your declining health. And all this is is your immune system just flushing everything it possibly can to try to fight off this infection, which is obviously killing you.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So, what people actually die from with the virus. So let's talk really quickly about what a virus is. Okay. So a virus, it's a hollow shell. A good thing to think about I guess would be like one of those little rubber spiky balls that look like they have a million little, spikes on them. That would be a good model for a coronavirus. That's why coronaviruses are called that. Because when you look at them two dimensionally, which means you just take a slice down the middle of them or something, all those things sticking out and makes it look like a crown. And corona is Latin for crown, so that's why it's called a coronavirus.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So if you had a little rubber ball with all the spikes on it and he put a little ticker tape of information inside of it, that's what a virus is. The viruses aren't alive. So when somebody says, "Oh, it can live on this..." It's like well, it's can't live period, because viruses don't live. There's no life in there. A virus does nothing. You put a virus down on a piece of paper, or a piece of metal, or concrete, or whatever. It just sits there until it gets degraded by water, wind, or radiation from the sun or whatever. But it gets broken down and then it becomes nothing. It becomes a pile of mush.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
And so what happens when you have what's called a viable virus, meaning that that virus hasn't been broken down into nothing, it hasn't become a ball of motion? And maybe you got it from somebody coughing, or sneezing on you, or maybe you touched something and then touched your eye. So, it's important to realize that your first line of defense for almost every infection is your skin. Your skin, gets rid of all of that. Viruses can't go through your skin and neither can bacteria. And...

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Viruses can't go through your skin and neither can bacteria, and very few parasites can even get through your skin. Your skin is your shell. That's your primary immune system. Now, there are parts that are exposed to the world that aren't skin, right? That's your eyes and the inside of your nose and inside of your mouth. That's kind of it, right? If you get a virus that touches your skin, it does nothing until you put it in your mouth or your nose or your eye. Once you put it into your mouth, your nose or eyes, all that virus does is it floats around in your bloodstream until it attaches itself. It has those little spikes that you see on those balls that they're showing. Those are little protein structures, right? Those protein structures are recognized by certain protein receptors that are on cells.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
This virus will float and it'll lock in like a lock and key. Like a key into a lock, it'll lock in to one of the protein receptors on yourself and then the cell will pull it inside of the cell because it thinks it's something good. It thinks it's something that it should be binding to, because it looks like some other protein structure that would ordinarily be good to take into the cell. It's like a Trojan horse, right? It kind of tricks the cell into bring it inside, and then what it does is it goes into the nucleus of the cell and it changes the DNA expression. Every cell in our body has DNA and every cell in our body actually has the same DNA, but the reason a liver cell is different from a heart cell is different from a muscle cell is different from a neuron is because all of the DNA is unexpressed. Very small portion of the DNA is expressed, meaning that a very, very small portion of that DNA is being read.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
When that small portion of DNA gets read in that particular cell, it leads to that cell behaving in a certain way. If it replicates, meaning it makes another cell, it makes the same kind of cell because that's the DNA that's being expressed. What the virus does is it injects its information, which is viral DNA essentially, or bacterial DNA is called RNA, and that goes into the nucleus and it infects which ones of those DNA pairs are being expressed by that cell. It leads that cell, it tricks that cell and to making more RNA particles and more viral shells and it makes a bunch of that virus. Then once it makes so much of that virus that this cell is literally bursting at the seams, it explodes and it dumps all of the viruses that it made into the bloodstream.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Now, we can have exponential growth, so all of those can then go and attach, and I don't know how many those. I mean, it may be it's making 10 viruses, it's making 10 million viruses, but it dumps all of that out to the bloodstream. Then those go attach to other cells and the same process repeats. If you think about that, unless a virus went through and attached itself to every cell in your body, and keep in mind you've trillions and trillions of cells in your body. If the virus were able to take over every cell of your body, or let's say even half of the cells of your body, of course you would die and you would actually die from the virus and viral infection at that point, but that's not what happens because that would take way too long.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
It's completely unrealistic, and because we have immune systems and what our immune systems do is they fight off things that aren't actually supposed to be in our bloodstream, right? Our skin and our adrenals, like our fight or flight system, our adrenal or which are called adrenal cortical system, that system protects us for what's outside of our body, right? That's where we get the fight or flight that gets us away from lions and tigers and predators and people with guns and car crashes and it keeps us from making dumb decisions, right? That's the outside, everybody. Once it gets inside of everybody, we have an immune system that we call the immune system, right? You're born with some of that and some of that's learned, and so what's happening right now, when you're born, you come programmed with your mom's immune system essentially.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
If your mom has been exposed to something, your immune system will recognize that right away, and so it's very unlikely to infect you. So here's the game. If the virus attaches itself to the cell and then makes a lot more viruses, and then that cell erupts and it puts a ton more viruses into the bloodstream, the faster your immune system recognizes that those things aren't supposed to be in your system, the faster you get rid of it, the less likely you are to show symptoms. You could see very easily, if let's say you have 300 trillion cells in your body and the virus manages to infect a million cells, well that's nothing, right? You're probably not even going to realize you have it at that point. That's not enough to make you sick because you haven't decreased the activity of enough cells.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Now in things like hepatitis, when all his viruses are just attacking one organ, it tends to even more dangerous, but when we're just talking about a generalized implements like this, this actually obviously is primarily affecting the lungs and it's causing the most havoc in the lungs, but viruses can attack any kind of cell. What actually makes you feel sick is your immune system fighting it, and this is the same thing with the flu, and this is the same thing with a cold. Like the cold, the common cold is a Coronavirus. It's a different Coronavirus, but it's a coronavirus. Obviously, the flu is influenza viruses, but these things they're doing exactly the same thing. They're going in there and they're affecting cells and your immune system fights them. Even if you already have immunity to it, which is your acquired immune system, which we'll talk about next.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
In your acquired immune system, basically you have these little proteins that we market with, right? We call those antibodies, and these antibodies, essentially, they recognize that this is a bad guy, and so it's like these antibodies are attaching themselves to the virus and then they're acting like a beacon, right? Think of it like a little strobe light. The antibody attaches itself to a virus and then it starts flashing its strobe light and now your immune system goes, let me check up that strobe light. Let's go kill that. That's a bad thing. What we don't currently have, we don't currently have antibodies to this virus, which is why this virus is dangerous. In the absence of having antibodies, that virus gets to infect a lot more cells before our immune system catches onto it. If you have a marginal immune system to begin with, it's going to take you a lot longer to catch on and your immune system's going to have a lot harder time defeating it. Not only because it took longer to catch on to this more viruses, but it was a weaker immune system to begin with.

Melanie Avalon:
My mind is being blown in so many ways right now. Okay. Huge question here. I feel like I could have a whole episode just on the consciousness of viruses. Viruses are not alive, bacteria are "alive".

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Yeah.

Melanie Avalon:
Is it kind of like the difference between, I'm talking about like a metaphor, is it like the difference between if you threw a ball at something, the ball itself is not alive, but it's going based on this forward momentum that's keeping it going and it could hit something compared to a bird that is actively flying and hit something. I'm just wondering what drives the virus? Is it just the momentum of that information moving forward that's driving it? What's keeping it going if it's not alive?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Think about all viruses as being equal, and just for simplicity’s sake, all bacteria being equal, right? If we were to do like a late night law enforcement shows, where they're going around and solving murders and whatever and we have this black light and the black light shines on fluids or blood or whatever it is and it shows. They shine the light and they're like, "Oh, look at all of this." That you can't see with the naked eye. Well, if viruses and bacteria, even just viruses, if viruses were something that resonated with the black light like that, it would blind us, right? I mean, they are everywhere. There are viruses everywhere, and it doesn't matter if it's a virus which isn't alive or bacteria which is alive, a plant or an animal, the whole sort of point of life and everything on this planet, right?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
You can't, well you can, but we don't usually ascribe consciousness to plants, but think about a flower. A flower is trying to spread his genetic information with pollen, right? It even has some helpers. Bees can come and get that and take it to somewhere else. Plants can drop seeds and nuts that become more of that plant because it's promulgating, it's perpetuating its own genetic material and humans and other animals are the same, right? When we co-habitate, when we get together, when we base pair and we procreate, we're perpetuating our DNA over somebody else's DNA or some other animals. The whole end of the game on this planet is to continually promulgate your DNA to try to be more of you, and this is the anthropomorphic meaning. They're like, we're describing human goals and desires to things that don't have it.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
We don't think plants have this or viruses or bacteria, but it's still true that the end game of everything with genetic information in the world is to try to get more of its genetic information out there in the world. That's where procreation with animals come from. It's like we are getting together in families, and recall viruses. We classify viruses in families, and Coronaviruses are a family. Let's back that up a step and think about, okay, let's say that I am the king of a warmongering country and all I want to do is take over the entire world. I want to take over the entire world so that I can make everybody my slave and they can do my bidding, they can do whatever I want them to and they can make products for me. They can make food for me.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
They can bring me their daughters, like whatever. I'm just this horrible, nasty person and I am trying to promulgate my DNA and my country's DNA across the entire world. When you think of a virus like that, and I'm not saying that a virus is malicious because it doesn't have the human intent behind it, but if that were true, if we go back to my metaphor, the worst thing that I could do is to have my army go out and kill everybody on the planet because then how would it promulgate my DNA, right? I wouldn't have any slaves. I wouldn't have any worker bees, so if a virus is trying to make a slave out of my cell, one of the cells in my body. It's trying to make a slave out of it to make more viruses because it wants to perpetuate its own genetic information.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
If that were to happen, but the virus did it so effectively that my immune system could never catch onto it within a very short order of time because let's say that every cell it affects, produces a million more viruses that then go into effect a million other cells that then go on to cause those million cells to produce a million more, right? You could see in pretty short order, it would impact every cell in my body and I would die, but if I die, I can't pass it on, right? Viruses that are so deadly that it kills everything that comes into contact, or even if it killed 50% or 30% of the things that it came in contact with, it wouldn't exist very long because the host that they're trying to use to replicate themselves are dying and they're therefore not infecting anybody else.

Melanie Avalon:
Differentiating still between the viruses and the bacteria. What makes a bacteria alive and not a virus alive? It's kind of sounding sort of like artificial intelligence is like viruses. I'm just wondering what drives it?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
It's not a great metaphor, but kind of the best metaphor that I can think of is that a virus is more like a parasite, right? Bacteria is by and large are symbiotic. Bacteria are all competing with each other. They're all trying to be the only game in town, but there's other bacteria competing for the same resources and so there's lots of different bacteria around. Bacteria is an organism that actually has a life cycle that can replicate itself. It doesn't need something else to replicate itself and it has functions. It takes in material, it does work. It puts out material and it creates waste. That's what we say is alive, right? Because if you think of a single cell bacteria, single cell organism. It's doing exactly what a human does, right? We're taking in nourishment from our environment, which could be sunlight, it could be air, the oxygen, it could be carbon dioxide, it can be food that we eat, but we're taking in nourishment from our external environment.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
We're bringing you that internal, we're doing work with it, and then we're extruding waste. A Big part of the work that we do as human beings just basically keeping the body alive and the immune system takes a lot of those resources. I'm just going to tie this in real quick because I never answered your question fully. When we take in these viruses, our immune system uses more of our energy to fight that virus than it would ordinarily be using. Let's say my body has an energy level of 100%, so 100 bits of energy, and if I don't any infections, I still have bacteria in my bloodstream. I still have viruses in my bloodstream. I still have some damaged tissues that need to be taken away and some new tissues that need to be developed, so my immune system is doing that.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Maybe the immune system is using 10% of my energy. Well, now when I get an infection, it could use up 30% of my energy or 40% of my energy or 50% of my energy, and depending on how much energy I have and how efficient my body is, meaning how healthy I am, at a certain point, the energy expense of my immune system takes so much energy away from the rest of my body that my body can no longer live. That's what's killing people, right? That's where the death comes from because your entire immune system is taking over almost your entire energy source, and so you can no longer do what you need to do to the rest of the body. You can't replicate your cardiac cells. Your bloodstream is filled with a bunch of immunomodulators.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So a bunch of chemicals that are affecting your immune system. Your blood vessels are dilating in there. Your capillaries are dilating and are leaking your blood out into the tissues around them to try to fight off this infection. Essentially, you die from... I mean, eventually, right? I mean, by definition everybody dies from heart attack, right? Because you're not dead until your heart quits pumping, so at some point you don't have enough resources to operate the rest of the body. That's what they call this multiorgan system failure. Basically, it's just like when you took all of the electricity from the house and you plugged it just into the microwave and 100% of the electricity for the house is going to the microwave, nothing else in the house works anymore. Now, if you put all the electricity back to the rest of the house, everything went to work again, so it's really just a resources issue. It's not that the virus is damaging you so much, it's just taking up too much of your resources for you to be able to keep living.

Melanie Avalon:
Okay, that's fascinating. Is that why, for example, people with severely low BMIs are at risk of dying from things like the flu for example too because they don't have enough body fat or energy resources to fight off the infection?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Well, yeah. I mean, it depends on if it's extremely low, is to be pathological. Pathology means that it's something that resembles a disease state or something we've labeled as a disease state. If your BMI is low enough, there's probably some sort of underlying metabolic or hormonal issue leading to that, and so you have some impairments need of energy production or immune system, or the reason viruses cause fevers is because fevers is deliberate increase of your body's core temperature because a lot of bacteria and parasites and viruses can survive and can keep existing and growing in a high temperature environment, so it's a defense mechanism, but you have to have a certain amount of brown fat that causes what's called non-shivering thermogenesis, which means basically that your muscles and other tissues are generating the heat.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
You could have something as simple as like, Whoa, that person's BMI is so low, they're cachectic we call it, meaning they lack so much mass outside of their skeletal system in their organ system that they can't even generate enough heat to create a fever. They get overwhelmed by something that they might've been able to fight off or they could have some metabolic disorder where essentially their energy sources like maybe blood glucose can't get into their cells very well, and so the cells start getting over taxed and requiring more energy. Those cells essentially starved to death individually, so there's a lot of reasons for that. BMI is not a great number. I mean, BMI is like taking a picture of somebody and then saying these are their health issues based on this picture I took of them.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
It's just a descriptor, and most of... That's the other thing that I keep telling people during this is keep in mind that most of science, especially biological sciences, almost all of biological science is a description, right? We put fancy Latin names on it and it sounds complex, but it's just describing stuff. Like the Coronavirus, for example. It looks like a crown, so it's called a coronavirus. Well, Coronavirus sounds way more important than crown looking virus, right? But it's the same thing. It's like all we did is observe it. We can't create a Coronavirus. We don't know how to destroy a Coronavirus necessarily, so we don't know exactly how it works. We know some characteristics of it. We have a way to describe it. When we look at disease states, so if you look at something like the flu, one of the really important numbers is the toll of death rate.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Well, to know the total death rate, you have to know the total infection rate. We've never known that. We will never know that, but every year it's around and it's the same type of illness and it looks and behaves very similarly. We get a little better at saying, "Well, we think this many people had it. We think that many people had it." We know this many people die too. Therefore, it's the death toll, the death rate. We can also... The most important number when they're talking about these models and keep in mind all models are wrong. 100% of models are incorrect, but some models are useful. There's no way to model this. Like I was talking about before, experts are good at predicting things based on how things happened in the past, but nobody is good at predicting the unexpected or the unknown.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
We can't predict the stock market. We can't predict weather very well. We can't predict hurricane patterns and tornado pattern very well. We're getting better. Every year, we get better. We're not great at predicting and we can't predict economic downturns. We can't predict all sorts of things. We can't predict success in America, right? There's all sorts of things we can't predict and this is no different, but the more information we have, the better we'll be at predicting it. Our models can get better over time, but we just don't know enough right now, and one of the most important things and how many people are going to die is something called the R naught. The R naught is a number that describes how many people will get this infection from each person, so if 100 people get it, we take one person out of that 100 and we say, how many people are going to get it from this one person?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Well, it could be anything. It could be less than one, right? It could be for every three people who have this infection between the three of those, they'll give it to one more person and then it'd be like a 0.3 R naught, or it could be 10. For every one person with this disease, they're going to spread it to 10 people, and now it'd be really bad cause you can see how quickly that would grow, because 100 would become 1000 super quick, right? 1,000 become 100,000 really quickly. The R naught is the best predictor. Of this whole formula, you can play around with all the different numbers, and these numbers, again, these aren't known quantities. Nobody knows these things. We're basing it off of incomplete information worldwide from a virus we don't truly understand yet and we're plugging them into these formulas based on the way we know other viruses tend to behave and based on what we think these numbers are for this virus right now, which we'll never know.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
We'll know a lot more two years from now than we know right now and we'll be able to model it better then, but the R naught changes more than anything. If your R naught is one, meaning every one person in this country is going to give it to one other person, our toll of death rate is beyond what we would expect right now, right? We're only going to have a few thousand people die because so few people die. If the R naught is two, we could have 15,000 people die. If the R naught is 2.3, we have 800,000 people died. If the R naught is 2.5, we can have two million people die, right? It's very, very small changes in this R naught and we don't know the R naught.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
We have some guess and it is an absolute guess because keep in mind if I have the virus right now, I could be spreading it to people and if I never feel sick and I eventually develop immunity to do this and it passes from me, but I've infected 10 people, nobody knows that came from me. Also, if I live on 100 acre farm in Wyoming or if I live in New York city, it's totally different number of people I'm going to infect. Context matters, so if we knew the R naught, we would be better at predicting this. We don't have any idea what the R naught is. They're seeing it's anywhere between two and five, which means that it's anywhere between zero and 100 because we don't know. We just don't know.

Melanie Avalon:
Okay. Some more questions about the immunity aspect in infecting and transmitting, so you were talking about how the way the virus infects people is that it's basically taken into the cell, the body thinks it's something else. Is immunity when the body becomes aware that the virus is not itself, so then the body just actively does not allow it to attach or is immunity actively fighting off the virus, does that make sense?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Yes. It's absolutely both, right? What our innate immune is, is we have different types of cells in our body that fight off different threats, different ways, but it's the same across everybody, right? We have natural killer cells. We have lots of different types of cells that behave... We have some cells that basically get near something dangerous and then they just spew all these chemicals out of themselves and they kill whatever's around them because these are toxic things that will kill, that will destroy the virus' shell or it will destroy the bacteria around it. We also have cells that will literally just eat down and it looks like a Pac-man. They'll just take them in and inside of those they have all sorts of chemicals that just do grate it down into nothing, so that's our innate system.

Melanie Avalon:
Are those macrophages?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Yes. Macrophage, yes. The acquired immune system is other immune cells, I mean actually I guess... I think technically it can include some of those as well, but definitely other innate immune cells. This is where your T cells and B cells, these helper ourselves and so forth, they're talking about. When you have an antibody, so an antibody is basically that's the strobe light. Their immune system says, hey, we recognize you and we're going to model the protein structure on your outside. We're going to use that as a way to develop a strobe like this going to stick to you. Then we're going to put this strobe light on you, and as soon as that strobe light on, you're toast because all these natural killer cells and macrophages and cytokines and all these things are going to crush you.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
They're going to kill you as soon as the strobe lights on. Now if I have a really, really good immune system and I put one virus in my body and my immune system could recognize that as a threat and develops an antibody to it before it kills it and then if it goes on, proliferates that antibody and says this is really important, we're going to make a billion of these. Now I became immune because one viral cell. It never even got a chance to go into any of my cells and rupture and dump a bunch of other viruses in my skin, so I just had this one virus cell got into me. My immune system caught onto it. It designed the strobe light in case it gets in my body again and now I'm going to fight up.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Now that's completely unrealistic, but I'm doing this to be simplistic, versus I have an immune system that's kind of slow and I have to have 10 billion viruses in my bloodstream before my immune system figures out how to build the strobe and figures out that this is bad and starts attacking everything with the strobes on it. That's where your immune health comes into play, right? If you think about it, this is another thing that changes that R naught I was talking about, the infectious rate to other people. This is also changed by how long I have that virus and how many of those viruses exist in me. If I get one in me and my immune system catches on and kills it and develops antibodies to it and I never get another one, I mean, well obviously I'm never going to get sick and I'm never going to give it to anybody else.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
If I get one inside of me and that leads to a million inside of me before my immune system can fight it off, I have a chance of coughing some of those million. We're sneezing some of those million now or touching my own mouth or nose or eye and then touching something else and just passing that along to somebody out, so I become more infectious. Now, if my immune system wipes it out in a day, I'm only infectious for one day. If it takes my immune system 20 days to wipe it out, I'm infectious for 20 days, maybe longer, right? This changes the R naught drastically.

Melanie Avalon:
Okay. This is actually answering a question I've had literally since I was a child. I never understood how you could be vaccinated against a virus, because it didn't make sense to me that even if you gave your body the quote information to fight off this virus, I was like, "Isn't there always the chance that the virus could still win?" I guess since viruses compared to bacteria don't have, I don't know that sentient aspect, it's more likely that if they never get a foothold that they just don't stand a chance basically. Does that make sense? I was just always, I was like, how can it be a fail safe?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Here's how the vaccine works. Your immune system never attacks the genetic material, it attacks the virus' shell, right? My spiky ball metaphor, it actually destroys the ball. The ticker tape inside of it just gets dissolved by the fact that it no longer has a shell around it, so what we do with a vaccine is we give you the shells with no genetic information in it. Your immune system gets to learn that that shell floating around is bad, and we're going to learn how to mark it and we're going to kill it. We have to give you a lot of them to give you a really good chance of catching, your immune system of figuring it out and developing antibodies to it. Now, if you get the real virus, your body already knows what the viral shell looks like and it's ready to destroy it, and the real virus has the dangerous genetic information and that could cause your body to replicate it. The vaccine itself does not have the genetic information in general. That's again, over-simplification, but that's the basic idea.

Melanie Avalon:
I am loving this. This is like the magic school bus episode I always wanted to have in a conversation. Back to people having it and not being aware that they have it, do you think that a lot of people at present had the Coronavirus already, have it now and are unaware? I think people more and more people keep asking like, "I had symptoms very similar.: I guess we can go over that for people who aren't familiar, what are the symptoms of the coronavirus? People now are reflecting on, "Oh, I was really sick few months ago, and I had all these symptoms and it was hard to get rid of." Do you think a lot of people actually did have it? I know my family, for example, they traveled in Europe a few months ago and they all got some sort of thing. They've been asking me, "Is it possible that...

Melanie Avalon:
And they've been asking me, "Is it possible that it was actually circulating in Europe already, and people just weren't aware of it?" So yeah. Do you think a lot of people have had it?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
There's no question that a ton of people have had it for a long time. If you look at how viruses spread and how quickly they spread, I mean you just see ... how quickly are we seeing these symptoms all over the world? Well it's very unlikely that this virus magically started at exactly the same time in all these countries that are experiencing, seeing these increased death rates right now. We know that China has had this since at least November, right? And there are, I want to say there's like 40,000 people a day in America going to and from China? So what are the odds that from November to March, nobody came back from China with this virus? I mean, that doesn't exist. The odds of that just aren't even worth considering. The odds of that are essentially zero.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
And so we learned about this deliberate, directly from the Chinese ... I don't know if they were Chinese nationals, or they're people that traveled to China and they came back to Seattle and they had this illness, and we were already aware that China had this illness, and these symptoms weren't matching what we expected the flu to be, and it was something different. So we started tracking it. Seattle is one city. How many other cities did people come back from China? Right? And of course New York's a metropolitan area, there's more traveling, and there are people from China traveling all over Europe, and lots of people from the East Coast traveled to Europe and lots of people from the West Coast traveled to Southeast Asia. And Italy has something like 600,000 Chinese nationals living there, that China controls one of the major ports in Italy.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
And so, there's absolutely no question if this has been around for a really long time. So the question is, the one question that does exist is to what extent has it been around for a really long time? Right? Has it just been really simmering ... let's say the R0 is, the R0's low. Let's say the R0 is 1.3 which is about like the flu. And if only a few people had it, and let's say it really did start in China, which is likely, but we don't know for sure. Let's say it really started in China and every one person in China gave it to 1.3 people, but also everybody in China who had it flew over to the United States, or flew Europe, or whatever and they gave it to 1.3 people. And we know it's been around since November, and if they're giving it to ... if every person's infecting somebody else, and the next day those that 1.3 is giving ... it could've just been this really slow simmer, and we're now seeing just an ... oh, I also want to clarify something to your listeners.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Exponential growth isn't like a set rate of growth. What exponential growth means is that the growth is dependent upon the existing numbers. So, if a million people have the virus and they're spreading it to 1.3 people, then that growth is based on a million people spreading it versus the growth of just 1.3 plus 1.3 plus 1.3 plus ... right? It's a million times 1.3, because a million people have it. So it's based on the overall population that you're studying. So if you're thinking about who, how many people have the virus and how many people are going to have the virus next week, that's based on how many people are going to have it next week, how many new cases are we going to have next week is based on how many people have it right now. And that's all exponential growth means.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
The other thing is to consider what does it mean when we say X number of people have it? We have X number of cases. So there's lots of things that lead, there's lots of variables in how many people have it. The biggest variable is how many people we test, right? If we test everybody, we're going to find a lot more cases than if we test 10,000 people. So who do we test? How many do we test? Well, we could test people that just have symptoms. We could test people who just have symptoms and they're in a high risk category. We could test everybody whether they have symptoms or not. And we could only test people who are like in serious distress and look like they might need to go to an intensive care unit. So anything in between we can test. Now every country isn't testing the same with the same standard. So we might say, "We're going to test everybody in America." And Italy, they might say, "We're only going to test the really sick people that show up to the hospital." And someone else might say, "Well, we're just going to test people who have fevers," right? And so there's all sorts of different ways to test it. So unless you test everybody on the planet, you're never going to know how many people actually have it.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So when the cases grow, all that means is that we've uncovered a lot more people that have it. That doesn't mean that we're finding ... that doesn't necessarily mean that it grew to that many. Right? And this isn't ... statistically this is an improbable. But it could be the 125,000 people that we've tested that have this virus, it could be that all 125,000 of those people that have had this for two months. Right? That's very unlikely, but I'm just saying that would be, that would be statistically possible in a test like that and a study like that.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So when we say we have new cases, what does that mean? The other thing is what is the risk of having that case? Right? So the risk of having that case is dependent upon other variables, which makes it a relative risk. So the risk of you needing medical attention, the risk of you giving it to somebody else, the risk of you dying from this, is all dependent upon how old you are, where do you live, where do you work, how good is your immune system, what other comorbidities do you have, do you have medical issues, are you taking medications, do you have another issue? All of this stuff, so we don't ... I mean there's absolutely no way of knowing how many people have this. It's exceedingly improbable, it's almost completely implausible that we have come anywhere close to diagnosing even half of the people who have this. And if that's true, we didn't ... and we actually have 250,000 people with it, which is a gross underestimation. We almost certainly have millions of people with it already. It's exceedingly unlikely that there's a million people who have all gotten it in the last two or three weeks. No way. No way. It would have to have an R0 of 10.

Melanie Avalon:
Yeah. So ironically seeing more and more cases diagnosed often perpetuates fear because people are saying, "Oh, it's spreading." But really that's massively changing the death ratio. It's actually, it's actually a good thing in a way.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Right. Well, also though, it's also ... I mean, the other thing to consider is that it's also making it almost indeterminable. And so you have all these people, you have half the country ... or not necessarily, whatever. So you have pundits on television and the media and so forth saying we need to test everybody. Trump is failing us because we need to be testing every person in America. Okay, well here, two things are going to happen when we test everybody in America. One is that information is going to be completely useless, because we've never done that before. So we don't have any idea what it means. We don't have any idea what the prevalence would have been if we treated it like every other viral infection. We've treated it completely different. So the fact that we find 10 million cases doesn't mean anything because it's 10 million of 330 million at that point. Whereas if we had 10 million people and we were only testing around the same guidelines that we're using for the flu, we could say, "There's 10 million people of this, that have this, which is actually fewer people than have the flu usually." So one, we make the data about this virus almost completely useless.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
The second thing that we do is we make the data from this virus completely incomparable to anything in the past, right? So when we can no longer ... to your point, we can no longer quantify the death rate of this virus relative to the flu. Because in order to do that, we would have had to test everybody in America for the flu, and know the absolute total number. So if we tested everybody in America, we are going to get 10 times, 100 times, 1,000 times, a million more, a million times more positive cases. We don't know. We have no idea what the prevalence of, say, the flu is.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
It's possible that 80% of America is carrying the flu virus right now. We don't know. We've never tested that. So if we find out 50% of America's carrying the Coronavirus, but we don't know that 80% of the people are carrying influenza virus, what have we learned? Nothing. We've made it completely useless at that point, which is why we can't test everybody in America, which is why we have to set some general standards. It's very unlikely that somebody is going to ... it's very unlikely that somebody's going to just sit around their house and die without seeking medical attention if they have this infection. Now it is true that maybe they could have been saved if it was diagnosed earlier and that's everybody's argument to it. But at some point this is going to self select. It is going to kill a certain number of people, and it might just kill the really sick people. It might kill some really sick people that are slow to respond. It might kill some otherwise healthy looking people that have some something else going on that we're uncertain of, or maybe they just got a bigger viral load than anybody has ever had, and they were only 30 years old and they were healthy, but they just got a bigger bolus of the virus, and they were sleep deprived, their immune system was depleted.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
I think that's one of the big reasons healthcare providers are getting into such a high degree. I don't think it's necessarily because they're being exposed to it so much, because they are wearing protective equipment, and everybody's really cautious about that right now. But when you don't sleep enough, you decrease your immune function by like 30% in a single night of, of bad sleep. So if you're running around with only 60 to 70% of your normal immune function and you're dealing with people who have this all the time, you're exponentially more likely to have the disease. And having the disease from the viral exposure, and the more immunosuppressed and depleted you are from resources, from being tired and overworked, the more likely you are to succumb to the disease and have a really bad outcome or death.

Melanie Avalon:
Yeah, so I'm really glad you brought that up, because I definitely want to dive into the active steps we can take with our immune system and lifestyle to make us more resilient. I just have some last follow up questions about what we were talking about, because I think you've done a brilliant job of painting a realistic picture of what's going on, even if it's a picture that we don't really know. But in any case it might not be exactly the image that's portrayed in the media. That said, so this is my huge question. So that said, why then are we seeing this, what we perceive as just a complete collapsed situation and something like in Italy, is it ... I mean, so is that from Coronavirus or is that from the response that we have had to it and how we're being dealt with it?

Melanie Avalon:
Because, I mean, because on the one hand, we can discuss how the numbers aren't what they might seem and it's not, might not actually be what's happening like we think, but then at the same time we look at the system in Italy, and the hospital systems, and they're just overwhelmed. And we're seeing that potentially happening and things like, you know, New York or other cities. So if that's happening, it's happening.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Right. So we do know, like I said, the one thing that we do know is deaths, right? We're pretty accurate with that. It's pretty hard to not be accurate with that. Even if, even if we're saying like, "People are dying with this and not necessarily from it." However we categorize that is not necessarily that important, but that's the number we know the best is how many people are dying. And a lot of people are dying in Italy, and there's lots of potential reasons for that. Right? So one reason for that is simply just the medical capacity, right? So The World Health Organization ranks all of the countries in the world for their ability to respond to a medical disaster, which this would, of course, fall into. And America is ranked number one, and Italy is ranked number 23 I think, or maybe 33 or something. But it's down there. Italy has I think 2.2 ... no, it has, it has ... yeah, 2.2 beds for every ... I'm going to make up some numbers. But the ratio's about right.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So I want to say they have 2.2 per 10,000, or per 100,000 people, they have 2.2 ICU beds. Well, we have 34, right? So that's one factor. How prepared is the medical system for this? I think much more likely it's we're dealing with the fragility of the population, right? So if you go back to my earlier postulate that there's a bell of how many people throughout the season are going to die from any given disease, and if we're just going to lump this in with influenza like illness, a certain number of people are going to die from influenza like illness. And it's a fairly constant number. Like in America, I mean I realized this is a double, but in America is between like 30,000 and 60,000 per year are dying from influenza. It's like 125,000 from ... or, it's a lot more than that. But let's, let's just stick with influenza.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So if we lump this into that and we say, "Okay, well the same number of people are going to die, but just a lot more of them are going to die from Coronavirus now instead of influenza, because Coronavirus is more deadly and it's going to kill them faster, it's going to kill them sooner, it's more contagious, it's more likely to get them." But it's not any more likely to kill anybody who wasn't going to die under that risk curve anyway. And of course that's an oversimplification, but the concept is valid. So if I know that everybody underneath this curve is likely to die from that, well there's a reason that they're likely to die. There's something about them that makes them more likely to die.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So something glib would be like, "Who's more likely to die?" The absolute risk for everybody dying in a car crash is not the same, right? If you drive a really safe car, and you drive the speed limit, and you do every ... you obey all of the laws, and you don't text and drive, versus if you're a high functioning alcoholic, and you drive a motorcycle, and you're 20 years old, and you're always speeding, and yeah, you're much more likely to die. Relative risk. So you would be more likely to fit underneath that curve if that curve were car deaths. So if we look at the population that's vulnerable to dying from influenza like illness, well that is older people with what we call co-morbidities, meaning that they have other medical issues that they're dealing with, and they're older, so their immune system isn't functioning as well. They don't have as much energy resources. They have less muscle, they have lower metabolic function, and they're dealing with the disease already. So they have less resources to deal with this same infection that we're all dealing with.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Now, it's true that Europe is, that Italy is the second oldest population on the entire planet, and it's the oldest in Europe. So let's just say that a nine out of every 10 people that die from this are over the age of 70. Well, Italy has 30, 40, 50% more people over the age of 70 relative to the country next door, then it's going to have 30, 40, 50% more deaths, right? So now instead of having 300 deaths a day, they're going to have 450 deaths a day instead of, right? And so that's true on its own. Now the other thing is that the R0 I told you is the most important thing in predicting how many people are going to be infected and therefore, regardless of the death rate, if you keep the death rate constant, the more people that get infected, the more people that die.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Now Italy's a very warm culture, and they tend to live in highly population dense areas. So Italy has something like 532 people per square mile. America has 94 people per square mile. So if we're worried about the how many people, each person's going to infect, well, if you have almost, if you have over five times the number of density, that means you probably are going to infect five times as many people, right? Now you add to that that Italians tend to live with their extended family. So it's very common for parents and grandparents and grandchildren to live all in the same house. And if everybody is being exposed to it, and kids are probably being exposed to more because they mix and touch more than we do, and they put more stuff in their mouth and nose and they don't have the same sanitary, sanitation tendencies, and the kids are giving it to the parents, and the kids are giving to the grandparents. Now you have a higher population of people who are getting it. You have a higher population density, and you have an older population that's less likely to be able to deal with it.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So all of those are factors. And then the other thing is the fact, just like I said earlier, I think it might be Italy's biggest port, but it's definitely one of their most major ports is, it's some exchange deal, I forget the name of it, it's something, an exchange deal they did with the Chinese, and the Chinese essentially run that port. And so there's 600 and some odd thousand Chinese nationals in Italy. And the area of Italy that's most affected is close to that port. So they could have just had a lot more disease come a lot quicker, have a older population that lives in a more dense area, and younger kids, younger people are more exposed to older people than they are here. So all of those things combined to lead to a completely different picture than what we're seeing here.

Melanie Avalon:
Yeah, that's actually something I've been thinking about, almost the sad irony that because Italy has one of the longest lived populations, which we would see as a marker of longevity and health, that at the same time that would make them more susceptible to succumbing to an infectious disease like this.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Right. And we could have, I mean, the next epidemic, God forbid, could actually target children more, right? It could be more problematic, and people who don't have as developed of an acquired immunity versus an innate immunity. It's more targeted towards children, and children die from it more than adults. Well then the younger population is more at risk, right? Or let's say next time it's not a pulmonary infection, next time it's a GI infection that causes such severe dysentery that people dehydrate and die. And now it's like, well malnourished countries and countries without as much access to water supply, that clean water, that's going to be the biggest. So it all depends on the environment, right? None of us are equally suited to the environment, just surviving the environment. All people aren't equal, right? We're not equal even throughout our lifetimes. I'm nowhere near as capable as the 25 year old version of me. But I'm also not as capable as lots of people my age, or more capable than other people my age as far as fighting off this infection.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So I mean, there's no way of knowing what the next pandemic means. I mean, wise people can't predict the unexpected because it's unexpected. And so all this bickering about whether or not we have enough ventilators, or our response was fast enough, or should we have listened to the experts that know. There's no possible way. This was unexpected and because it's unexpected, we don't know. We don't know how to deal with it. And we certainly couldn't have predicted it because it's never happened before.

Melanie Avalon:
Yeah. And then to that point, at the same time ... so we enact something like social distancing. I'd love to get your thoughts on how effective a practice like that is or quarantine type behaviors. On the one hand, I completely see the purpose there and how that can help matters. At the same time, I personally come from the mindset of the ultimate role of environment, social interaction, life mindset, just your life and how that relates to health. And I'm like very curious about the longterm implications of a quarantine type lifestyle on the individuals beyond just whether or not it affects or addresses our susceptibility to Covid, or transmission of it. So how effective do you think something like social distancing is? When I go to the grocery store now at Whole Foods, there's the tape on the floor so you're six feet away from everybody. Do you think that is having an actual effect? Do you think it's more we think it's having an effect so it has an effect?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
That's the other thing. We just don't know. It could be. It could be that we could say, "Hey everybody wash your hands five times as much as you ordinarily do, and don't touch each other, and try not to touch your face," and that might flatten the curve that they're talking about. We might need to social distance, we might need to self isolate. We don't know. Now what I do know is the CDC, this isn't new, right? We've had pandemics before, we've had infectious pandemics before, and the CDC has guidelines for this, and they get out these guidelines, again, that are based off of historical data, what we've seen in the past, and what works, and what doesn't work. And then that a lot of times leads to clinical research, and let's try this in smaller scales. So let's try this every flu season and let's see how it works.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Well, it turns out that social distancing doesn't really help during the flu season or at least it doesn't help significantly enough to warrant doing it. Is it true for this case? Absolutely nobody knows. We don't have the slightest clue. It makes intuitive sense, right? If I'm around fewer people, if I'm sharing resources then with fewer people, I'm less likely to give it to somebody. I'm less likely to get it. Now, at some point you have to ease off of that. Right? Because I can't just isolate myself forever in hopes that I'm never exposed to this. I'm going to be exposed to this as long as I'm part of the human race, right? So we're all going to be exposed to this. The question is do we all get exposed to it the next month or do we all get exposed to it in the next two years?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Every person on this planet has been exposed to the herpes virus. If you do serotypes on people, if you just serology on people, you find out that 98.6% of the people in the world are carrying the herpes virus or antibodies to the herpes virus, so they are showing that they've been exposed to the herpes virus. Well, this is probably like that. We're probably going to see that every person on the planet is going to be exposed to this. The only other possibility is that it kills so many people that it doesn't get to transmit to anyone else and that it eventually just degrades into nothingness and there are no more pockets of this virus in existence anymore, and that's very unlikely to happen. So we're all going to be exposed to it.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
What we do know is that giving it to yourself by touching yourself in the face and the eyes, the eyes, and the nose, and the mouth, giving it to yourself is the most likely way that you're going to get it, or you getting it from the air. Because when you sneeze you get what we call an aerosolization, right? So it's like aerosol cans. It's like you're spraying little bits of fluid out into the air to where it almost looks like a cloud, to where it's kind of lingering around in the air if it's a super small particle. And then you could breathe that in and now you've gotten that. And obviously we don't want to be sneezing on people.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Should we all wear a mask? Well, if you're not trained on how to use a mask properly, there's a reasonable chance that you're more likely to give it to yourself by touching yourself when you're taking your mask on and off and things like that. Or when you're reaching up and you have this moist cloth over your face and you're reaching up and kind of trying to scratch it, and fiddle with it, and things like that. And if you get a high concentration of the virus on the mask itself, because it's in the air and now it's all stuck to the outside of the mask, and there's billions of little virus particles, and now you take the mask off and you put your hands on that and you put that away, and now you touch yourself, you know, in your mouth, your nose, your eye or something like that and you wipe it into yourself. Well, you've kind of given it to yourself by having the mask, which is why that's not 100 percent certain either.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
And the other thing is, well let's say by washing our hands and wearing a mask and social distancing, but not self isolating, right? So we, still going to work. We're just staying six feet away from everybody. We're still traveling, but we're doing everything to where we're, we're really far away from each other. Everybody's wearing masks, everybody's washing their hands, everybody's wearing gloves even. It could be that okay, now essentially nobody gets it until we take off the mask, until we take off the gloves, until we quit social distancing. Now everybody's still going to get it, right? If it's still around, everybody's going to eventually be exposed to it. So we have to let people get exposed to it because we believe that it confers immunity, meaning if you get it once, you develop antibodies to it and now you're infinitely less likely to get it again. Not infinitely, but significantly less.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So we have to balance it with the fact that we want herd immunity, what they're calling herd immunity, right? We want everybody to eventually be exposed to it. Ideally we want everybody to be exposed to it with plenty of medical resources around so that if they are exposed and they do have a very severe reaction to it, and they do have a lot of medical problems, we have the medical resources to take care of them to give them the best chance of living. But we also want life flights for every automobile accident, and that's not possible either, right? Like some people are just farther away and they get in an accident in a remote area, and had they gotten into that same accident in New York City, they might've lived versus if they get in that accident in the middle of the desert somewhere and it takes them five or six hours to get to the hospital.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
The CDC, like I said, you can ... there's a page on their website, you can go to it, it's called The Pandemic Response for Influenza. It's written at a high school level, it's not super technical, and it talks about the different phases of pandemic, and when we start washing our hands more, and when we start social distancing, and when we start wearing masks, and when we start isolating and quarantining. And right now we are responding at what's called a category five or a level five, which is the highest category there is. And that is reserved for I want to say expectations of at least 2 million people or 1.8 million people dying?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So we are doing the most aggressive prevention policies that we know of. We're doing the absolute most that we can do and we don't know what the key is to it. We don't know for sure that what we're doing is the right thing. We don't know if we're giving it to the right number of people over the right amount of time. You're letting people be exposed to it. We don't know to what degree we're preventing it with mask, and hand-washing, and social distancing, and quarantining. So in the absence of good information, we're just acting as though the worst case scenario could be true, and let's do the most we can until more data comes in.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
And not that I don't care, or I'm callous about it, but so far no country has had more than 1,000 deaths a day. Now we have a much bigger population than Italy, or Spain, and they're putting up numbers in the 800s and so forth. So we may break that number, but even at 1,000 deaths a day ... I mean if you said we hit 1,000 deaths a day and sustained 1,000 or more per day, and we average that over the course of three months consistently, we had 90,000 people die? I mean that's probably by far the worst case scenario. There's a really good chance that this is somewhat self-limiting. Like I was saying, if a virus spreads too quickly and it's too ... or if a virus is too virulent, meaning that it causes too many deaths, too high of a portion of the population that it infects that die, then that virus is going to go away and it's going to sort of self level off. And we're not really sure if that's what happened in China or not, because we don't know how true anybody's data is. But we have more reason to question the validity of their data than anybody else's but everybody's data is questionable because everybody's data is imperfect.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So the answer is, I don't know if social distancing is the right thing to do. But I'd say for the time being, it's reasonable for a little bit longer maybe? At some point we have to accept a certain death level, and if we plateau out, and you're averaging three or 400 deaths ... now, we're over that right now, but let's say we're peaking right now and it goes back down and we're only looking at two, three-

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
... back down and we're only looking at two, three, 400 deaths a day. That's probably not worth shutting down the whole economy for. Just like we don't quit driving automobiles to prevent every single death. There has to be some acceptable point where we're like, the risk of dying from this is so low that we're risking more by people not working. That's leading to more domestic violence. That's leading to more divorces, that's leading to more depression, that's leading to more suicides, that's leading to more financial crises, that's leading to more homelessness. We have to balance it with the other things that are likely to kill us and the other things that are likely to destroy our way of life.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
At some point we'll have enough information to say it's better. We believe it will be better. We believe for the whole of America, the greatest good for the greatest number of people we believe is to quit social distancing at this point. And like everybody get back to work. Or maybe we do something simple like going since you know you sent your relative risk under 40 years old is almost zero, if you're under this age and you're otherwise healthy and you don't routinely engage with the elderly or infirm, then you should go back to work. Maybe after all those people have had it and now they're less likely, if we let that go on for two or three months and now all those people have been exposed to it and had it and developed immunity to it. Now we can start letting other people who have a slightly higher, slightly different risk profile.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Or what they're talking about now is different counties, dividing up into counties like what are the medical resources of your county? What is the population of your county? What's the population density? What are the demographics? How old are people? How sick are people? If you live in a really healthy town and it's not super big and you have a lot of medical resources for a few people and it's a fairly young, healthy population, let that, just let that area go. Let them push on the gas and just jump back into it. We can pull it back if we need to if things ramp up like we could... I mean there's a lot of things that we could do.

Melanie Avalon:
I have to tell you a funny story about the masks. So like about two years ago I had really, really severe mercury toxicity and I was struggling with chemical sensitivities and I was reacting to everything in my environment and I bought one of those really, really expensive masks that has the filtration system and everything. It was really legit. Then I started feeling a lot better. Things improved. I moved and I was like, "I'm just going to throw away everything that I associated with this old identity of feeling sick." So I threw it away.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
I threw away a hundred of those.

Melanie Avalon:
And then this all happened I was like, "Oh, of course. Of course." But in any case, so going to the steps that we can take, given this whole new context of... thank you so much for this conversation by the way. I think it is really valuable and really puts things in perspective. So now I think I'm understanding more when we talk about taking things to combat the virus. Would that really, be it supplements. I'm thinking mostly supplements at the moment. Are those ever things that directly kill the virus or is it really just about modulating the immune system or supporting the immune system? Like is there... and now I'm understanding more I guess why things like alcohol kills it. So it's literally degrading the virus is what it sounds like.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Right, right. Well, so the virus has, I don't know if it's a lipid bi-layer or a lipoprotein, but it has like a membrane essentially inside that protein shell. And that protein shell isn't consistent. You could think of this sort of like a Swiss cheese kind of consistency. It has lots of holes and pores in there. You can get things like soap, it can degrade that membrane in there and things like alcohol will degrade that membrane in there. And then now you've exposed the genetic information to air, oxygen, whatever. Things and that ordinarily would degrade the genetic information in there. So now you degrade that virus and make it useless really quickly.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
There are different postulates around this. So the first thing that I'll say is that the really good news about this is that the 99% solution is the same thing that I always talk about. It's sleep, nutrition, exercise and stress mitigation or mindfulness, whatever you want to call that category. That's the 99% solution. Now by definition, supplements are supplemental to that. So you can do supplementation on top of that. There's some arguments out there that vitamin D3 will help. There's some arguments that vitamin D3 will be harmful. There's arguments out there that vitamin C will help. We know that there are certain things that tend to support the immune system. Fish oils, vitamin C, vitamin D3. We know these things tend to support good immune system functioning.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Now there's also things like zinc. Zinc can actually interfere with what we call the ion gradient of a cell. How many positive charges and how many negative charges are inside of versus outside of a cell. So a cell wall is divided by the fluid around it, the fluid surrounding it and that has a certain pH. It has a certain protein and acid profile, the water around it or the fluid around it. And then the inside of the cell has a different one and it exchanges information through something called pores and channels. And so it lets things in and out, flow in and out to balance out this gradient to be the right gradient. And if the grading gets too far off then the cell can no longer function and the cell dies.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
There's some evidence, and this is in-vitro. They did it in dishes, like in Petri dish or something under a microscope, not inside of a human. That zinc actually interferes with the pores that allow the virus to get inside of a cell. And so zinc supplementation could actually be specifically helpful for a viral infection. But would it be true for this viral one, this virus infection? This is why people take zinc lozenges when they have a cold. This is the science behind that.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Now there's a supplement called quercetin that acts like an ion pore that I think transports more zinc inside of the cell, which then makes it harder for the virus to get inside. There's some combination of how that works and I forget the exact science of it. But again, all of these are supplemental. These are all supplemental. These are supplementation's to boosting your immune system, your immune function.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
And as I said earlier, if you have one night of poor sleep, you can decrease your immune, your overall immune function by 30%. Well if supplements are improving your immune system by you know, 1% or 5%, you'd be a lot better off focusing on your sleep.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
If you eat foods that are irritating, that are antigenic so they behave, you basically have an immune response to food that you don't do well with. And some of it's because nobody does well it, humans aren't designed to digest it. And some of it's specific to you. But if you eat things that cause an immune response in your gut because it's perceived as an outside threat and so your immune system attacks what you've eaten essentially. And let's say that requires 10 or 20 or 30% of your immune function to deal with what you just ate. Well now if you're sleep deprived and you're eating food that isn't ideal for you, you could be losing like 50% of your immune function just by not living right.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Now, add to that blood glucose, elevated levels of blood glucose. That impairs the immune system function and it makes certain things like bacteria and oftentimes unhelpful bacteria have a better chance of growing and proliferating. You want to keep your blood glucose down low. That's nutritional but also exercise. So when you exercise it stimulates certain transporters in your cells to allow glucose to go in and out of cells better and lowers your overall blood glucose level and therefore making yourself essentially boosting your immune system.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
The biggest problem I think right now is the stress hormones. If you look at something I think most people are familiar with, is the fight or flight system. So you have this fight or flight, which is basically means that when you're in this level you, when you're at this level of stress, under stress hormones, you're at the highest sort of the peak physiological manifestation of stress hormones or stress and stress hormones that you can have.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So these are things like being attacked physically, a violent crime, being shot at, being, if you're in the military or law enforcement or something or being in a near car wreck or even it can be things that aren't as externally obvious. It could be bankruptcy, it could be divorce, like these things stress you out. These cause more stress hormones. And you can get such a high level of these that you get into something called fight or flight.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
When you get into fight or flight, lots of good things happen. And I know we talked about this on one of your other podcasts, one of the other podcasts we did, but lots of good things happen and that your pupils dilate, you take in more light and your visual field expands, your concentration on whatever the threat is. That hyper focuses, your pulmonary system dilates. You take in more air, your blood pressure goes up, your heart rate goes up, your neuro muscular tension goes up, you're stronger, you're faster, your pain threshold is higher, your reflexes are faster. You're like a superhuman version of yourself, able to fight off something or flee from something in your external environment that's likely to cause you serious harm or death.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Now the reason we don't just run around like that all the time, super capable is because we're taking energy away from all sorts of areas of our body and one of the major systems that we're taking energy away from to make ourselves superhuman is we're taking away our immune system. Because our immune system doesn't matter at fight or flight. It doesn't matter if you can fight off infections and parasites or repair damaged tissue, if you're about to be eaten by a tiger. You have to get away from the tiger before your immune system needs to function again. So the more stress you're running around with right now, the lower your immune system is functioning. And also the less joy you'll have and the worse your brain is functioning. So you won't be able to make rational decisions and rational observations and put things into perspective and be a good communicator and deal with your crazy kids at home while you're sequestered inside and all that other stuff.

Melanie Avalon:
Yeah, exactly. I mean that's why I was thinking that the implications of the quarantine lifestyle and then the stress of everything. How much is that affecting the... I mean, affecting everything compared to the actual virus itself. And on the one hand I've been thinking about how it's crazy because on the one hand we could see this time of social distancing and quarantine, we could actually see it as a time of rest and recovery and reconnecting. I mean it's, I don't even know how many different protocols I've read where they say they wish that you could just take a week off or a month off to just rest and recover. And it's like, I wish we could somehow all see it that way and all just use this as a time to not have fear and instead focus on what can we learn about ourselves, more time with family.

Melanie Avalon:
And then I just think about even things like... I've been listening to some interviews and they'll say, "Oh, you need to do all of these things to boost your immune system. So don't drink any alcohol, don't do anything like that." And I even to that I'm like, well, if a person's been drinking a glass of wine as part of a healthy lifestyle for years, I don't know that it's going to help telling them, stop drinking your glass of wine at night. I feel like that might just add more stress to the matter.

Melanie Avalon:
Of course, we don't want people becoming alcoholics, but just I think the message is often so one of fear and then you brought in the whole sleep thing and I mean I could obviously talk to you for hours about that. For listeners, you've got to check out the interview we did earlier because we dive deep, deep into sleep. So for people right now who are struggling with the stress aspect of things and do feel it impacting their sleep, what would you recommend for sleeping during this time of intense potential stress?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Yeah, so I mean this is actually I believe the crux of it all. And if I can be helpful at all, this was the most likely way I can be helpful. The very first thing that I tell people to do is to do what I've done throughout this show, is that to look at the data yourself and then put it in perspective. Nothing means anything. Everything has to be compared contextually to other things for it to mean anything. Up means nothing without down, black means nothing without white, on means nothing without off. Like we live in this dualistic language.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
When you read in the media that cases have skyrocketed, instead of letting that emotionally charged word scare, figure out what skyrocketing means. And if they say that, "Okay, there's 2000 new cases." All right, well how many did we have before? All right, well we had 50000 before and now we have 52000. Well that's not really skyrocketing. Like most people would go, "Okay, well you can use that word, but I wouldn't. That doesn't cause me nearly as much fear as if we had 2000 yesterday and we have 200000 today. That would be skyrocketing."

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
I encourage people first to just avoid the media and social media input on this. If you see it on your social media feed, I'd just mute that person right now for 30 days or whatever you can do that. And then go to academic sites. People that are presenting data. And again, our data is very, very, very insufficient to know much of anything right now. But it does a lot better to go to Johns Hopkins site or go to worldometers and look at, "Okay, what are the number of deaths worldwide? How many people died today versus how many people died yesterday? What does the trends look like in this country versus that country?"

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
And now if I say, "Okay, 600 people died yesterday." Which it was slightly less than that but let's say 600 people died yesterday of coronavirus. "Okay, well how many people died from influenza like illnesses? How many people died from cancer? How many people died from stroke? How many people died from cardiovascular disease? How many people died from medical errors? How many?" And you can just go in and worldometer says all of that.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
You can just go and you can look at all the data and you can say, "Okay, 600 people seems like a lot. But 600 out of 330 million, that is now your risk of dying." Which is an... there's such a small percentage, you couldn't even express it. You couldn't even articulate it. It could be so many zeros behind the decimal that it wouldn't make any sense to say. It would be like a billionth, some billionth of a percent or something. So if you have a billionth of a percent of dying from this disease today or tomorrow, are you really going to concern yourself with that? Because you have like a one in 300000 chance of getting struck by lightning and most people aren't worried about getting struck by lightning.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So do your own research and it's a lot more favorable to look at the data however you're going to look at it as opposed to listening to some politician or media personality telling you what their interpretation of that means.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
The other thing is to keep in mind that there's no such thing as an accurate model. Models are approximations. And the more information we have, the better the model will look and over time we'll get more information. So the models will become progressively more accurate right up until the point where they don't matter anymore. Like when we kind of get to the terminal end of all this, then we'll have close to enough data to actually be able to predict where we ended up. But we couldn't predict, we can't predict where we're going to be six months from now because we don't know enough information.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So just realize that the unknown is just as likely to be positive as it is to be negative. You could say, "We don't know that this thing isn't going to completely peter out and four weeks and go down to essentially nothing." Like we don't know for sure that China lied and that their data isn't true. But that's what their pattern look like. They spiked up for a while, had a little dip, they had a little bitty spike again and then it just dropped off. And now they're having like single digit deaths and a few dozen new cases per day, which over population 1.3 billion is completely insignificant. That's not even a rounding error.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So just look at your own data, interpret or look at the data, the raw data and interpret it however you interpret it. And if you're somebody who's high-strung, you're going to interpret it different than somebody who's pretty laissez-fair. But it'll at least be you. It'll be your interpretation. It'll be your normal stress and risk tolerance and it'll be your spin on the data as opposed to somebody else's spin.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Number two is like I said, make sure you're eating well. Make sure you're exercising, staying mobile and make sure you're doing something to control your stress in general, which is something like exercise and breath work and meditation and mindfulness and coloring and distracting yourself with other good information. You could watch comedies, you could read novels, you could play with your kids, you can go on a walk. Like there's things that you can do to take your mind off this, which would decrease your overall stress hormone levels and your overall stress hormone levels being lower means that you have higher immunity and it also means that you're more likely to be able to go to sleep well at night.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Now the biggest problem with daily stress is that daily stress tends to interfere with sleep. If you have high levels of stress, if you think about it, could you go to sleep if somebody were shooting a gun at you? No. You have too many stress hormones. You're not going to fall asleep during a gunfight. So what if you have half that many? Well, you're probably going to sleep half as well. You're going to, you're probably going to sleep, but you're not going to sleep very well. What if you have a quarter that? Well you're going to sleep a little better. What if you have a 10th of that? You're going to sleep a little better. So the lower your stress hormone is throughout the day, the better you're going to be up to sleep.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So you do all of those things to lower your stress hormones. Now, the second part is to really focus on your sleep because if you don't sleep well, by definition, you're going to wake up with more stress hormones tomorrow because we have this contract that we signed when we were born. Before we could even read or sign, we signed this contract that said in order to repair our body for tomorrow, our brains and our bodies for tomorrow we have to sleep and there's a set number.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
There's a finite amount of time that we need to sleep in order to prepare ourselves for tomorrow. And as adults that number is somewhere around eight hours. If you only sleep six hours instead of eight hours, you've given up 25% of your preparation for tomorrow. You're giving up 25% of your resources. How are you going to get through tomorrow? Tomorrow's still coming. You're still doing it whether you sleep or not. Tomorrow's still coming. The demands on your body and brain are still going to be there.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So part of it is by not doing as much and not responding to the demands on you. And the other part of that is marshaling your own body's resources to use yourself, your own body as its fuel source to get through the day. And the way we do that is by increasing stress hormones. And I've just told you that having high stress hormones decreases your immune function.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
So now you're not sleeping well, you're waking up with higher stress hormones, you're decreasing your immune function, and the peak of your immune system functioning is while you're asleep. So if you're not sleeping well, you're losing about 50% of your daily immune function, which is going on during deep sleep. That's not happening as well. Now you're messing with some of that. You're having higher stress hormones, your immune system during the day.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Now you have worse immune function, you're more likely to get the virus, you're more likely to have more symptoms from the virus. You're more likely to spread that virus to somebody else. So get good sleep. Easier said than done. So how do we do it? And we may have talked about this on your other podcast, but you take a piece of paper and you draw a line down the middle of it and on one side you write your to do list and that's determined by you and how you're wired. Some people need a to do list of three major things that they're going to handle in the next 24 hours. Some people's to do the list are six months projected up to the future. Whatever's you is you.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Write down your to do list on the left hand side of the paper. Everything that you know you need to do, even if you don't know when you're going to do it or how you're going to do it, but it's on your mind, put it on that list. Now on the right hand side of that line, you're going to write your to worry list. And your to worry list is things that you don't have any control over, but you want to make sure you worry about it. So you could write corona death, great. You know you can't control that, but I want to make sure I worry about that tomorrow. Whether or not I'm going to go bankrupt. I want to make sure I worry about that. You're just going to make sure that you, everything that could possibly keep you awake is on that piece of paper.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Now go back to that original contract that we need eight hours to be our best tomorrow. Now if I said, "Hey, here's this list that's full of to do's and to worries and it's somewhat overwhelming. I'm going to either give you, I'm going to give this to you when you're completely exhausted or I'm going to give it to when you're at your peak." When do you want the list? Well you want the list when you're at your peak. You want to the list when you're well rested, when you're well nourished, when your brain is functioning as its highest and your body and your brain and your energy levels are all at their highest competency level. And that is after a good night's sleep.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Now we have a list of everything that we're going to do when we're in our ideal state. We have this contract that we know to get in our ideal state we need to sleep for eight hours. So now this gets really simple. We set an alarm for nine hours before we're going to wake up. So when the alarm goes off and let's say that's 9:00 PM I'm going to sleep from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM. So at 9:00 PM an alarm's going to go off. When that alarm goes off, that's my it's time to get ready for bed alarm. And that's non-negotiable. That's just as important as the alarm that gets you up to go to work. It's exactly the same thing because these alarms are around sleep time. I'm going to get ready for sleep an hour before I want to be asleep and I'm going to wake. I'm not going to get out of bed. I'm not going to give up on sleep until the alarm goes off in the morning.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
And that whole time is nine hours and time in bed is some portion of that. At least eight hours. Once that alarm goes off, you decrease the amount of stimulation going into your brain. Means you don't worry about anything in your list. You have your list. You don't watch the Texas Chain Saw Massacre, you don't sit around in super bright lights and flashing lights and loud music. You don't go exercise, you don't juggle chainsaws. You don't do things that are going to stimulate your brain. And you also decreased the amount of light going into your eyes for that hour or so getting ready for bed. Distract yourself from your stressors by making sure your list is complete by reading novels, by listening to audio books, by watching mindless, non-emotional television. Whatever it is that kind of settles you out.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Get yourself ready for bed, go to sleep, get in bed and give yourself every opportunity to get eight hours of sleep. And you're not going to have a clock in your room. If you need an... well you're going to have an alarm clock, which could be your phone or alarm clock, whatever. But you don't need to see it. You only need to hear it. So it can be under a towel, it can be in a drawer, it can be under your bed. Wherever it is that you can't see it. And you lay in bed until that alarm clock goes off and you don't allow yourself to worry about anything on your list because you've already agreed that you want to handle the list when you're at your peak so why would you waste time worrying about it right now and interfering with your ability to be at your peak tomorrow?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
And so you lay there in the bed until the alarm clock goes off. And you'll fall asleep. And if you wake up at some point in the middle of the night, you don't know what time it is because you don't look at the clock and your alarm clock might be going off in 15 minutes. It might be going off in four hours. If it's not going to go off for four hours and you lay there and you relax and you don't think about your list and you do breath work and meditation, mindfulness, guided visualization, whatever it is that cools you out. Listen to an audio book, do some low light reading, whatever. But you just going to lay in bed and you're going to relax. You're going to stay calm and you're going to wait for your alarm clock to go off.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Now if your alarm clock goes off 15 minutes later, you got seven hours and 45 minutes of sleep and you got 15 minutes of meditation, you're ready. Like that's the best you're going to be that day. Get up and get after it. If your alarm clock's not going to go off for three or four hours, you're going to fall back asleep and then when your alarm clock goes off, you're going to wake up and you're going to get after it. You're going to be the best prepared you can possibly be. Whether you sleep six hours or eight hours, you've given yourself the best opportunity to get the most amount of sleep, to be able to handle that list the best, to have the lowest level of stress hormones. Now the better you handle that list, the fewer stress hormones you'll produce during the day as well, the better sleep you'll get the next night, so on and so forth. That's simple.

Melanie Avalon:
Oh my goodness. I am smiling so much right now and I'm really excited because we did not talk about this list last time. The takeaway that I really implemented that I got a lot of good feedback on was the not looking at the clock thing. But man, this list. Okay I'm really, I am pumped. I am okay. This is really exciting. Well thank you so much. I could talk to you for another five hours but I will not. But in any case, this has been absolutely wonderful for listeners. We didn't even talk about the sleep remedy supplement that Dr. Kirk Parsley has. But I cannot recommend it enough.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
That's all right.

Melanie Avalon:
No, but I, but honestly I can't recommend it enough. Like whenever I stopped taking it and then I start taking it again, I'm like, "Why did I stop?" And then apparently David Sinclair's loving it as well. And we do have a special offer for listeners. If you go to Melanieavalon.com/sleepremedy and/or use the code Melanie Avalon, you can get 10% off. That's absolutely amazing. And I do want to be super respectful of your time. This was amazing, but I can't let you go without the last question that I ask every guest on this podcast. I don't know if you remember it from last time, but it's really appropriate right now. And it's just, what is something that you're grateful for?

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Oh geez, that's so hard to come up with just one. You know, I'm grateful for having a rational mind to be able to deal with this right now because I really feel sorry for people who can't hover around rationality right now. That's got to be just overwhelming.

Melanie Avalon:
Yeah, no, that's incredible. And I talked about this in the beginning, but I think you're such a wonderful source to people to bring that sense of rationality because you've got the MD background, you're a doctor, you also have the government experience, you have I think a more broader perspective of that whole aspect of everything. I think you're such, just a valid resource and I can't thank you enough for this conversation and I said this last time. I look forward to talking to you again. Maybe next time we talk it'll be about a happier subject, but in any case, this has been absolutely amazing and sleep well tonight.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
I will. And thanks for having me on and letting me get on my soapbox and pontificate and all that other stuff and I hope you thrive and do well during this period and we'll meet up on the other side. I still have several friends I need to visit in Atlanta, so if I ever get around to doing that, maybe we could go have a cup of coffee or something.

Melanie Avalon:
Oh yes. That sounds perfect. You can put it on your post-COVID to do list. Or if I'm in Texas.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Exactly.

Melanie Avalon:
All right well thanks. It's been wonderful.

Dr. Kirk Parsley:
Likewise, talk to you soon. Bye.

Melanie Avalon:
Bye.

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