Monthly Archives: February 2020

Coronavirus Concerns

Disclaimer: nothing anywhere on this blog, or that I’ve written here, is intended as medical advice, or to substitute for medical advice, or intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease. It’s intended for educational, informational, or entertainment purposes only. Before making any changes to your health care regimen always consult your qualified licensed health care professional. The word “you” is used below only to refer to myself.

Ok folks, a lot of people have been asking me whether we should be concerned about the new coronavirus. At first, I wasn’t too worried about it, since the press is notorious for blowing things out of proportion and exaggerating the true dangers. Remember the panic about Ebola? I figured this was going to be the same thing.

I still don’t think there’s any need for panic, but recent news suggests to me that it’s a good idea to start taking some sensible precautions. COVID-19, the particular coronavirus causing trouble now, is basically a bad flu. In a typical year, the flu kills a little less than .1% of those who get it, so less than one in a thousand. According to the World Health Organization, this coronavirus so far has killed roughly 2% of the people who contracted it. How accurate that figure is we don’t really know, but if it’s correct then it’s about 20 times more lethal than the average flu. Keep in mind that most people who die from the flu have weakened immune systems (often elderly patients or young children with other issues or complications), so your chance of dying from COVID-19 is likely much smaller than that 2%. So, you probably have a chance of surviving it of greater than 98%.

But of course we don’t want to take that chance at all, if we can avoid it. First, let’s be prepared: https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/emergency-preparedness/preparing-yourself/pandemic-flu/individuals-families/planning-checklist.aspx

This is worth doing for other reasons as well, such as earthquake preparedness, and that website’s suggestions for frequently using hand sanitizer and so on are sound. I’d recommend storing at least two weeks’ worth of supplies, including food and water, medicines, and so on – whatever you need if you have to stay inside and avoid contact with others for some time.

A couple of points: masks won’t help you much, so don’t bother getting them at this point; and hand-washing is substantially better than using a regular hand sanitizer, but you should still have some sanitizer with you, for times when it’s difficult to get to a sink. Also, I like to boost my hand sanitizer by adding some “thieves oil” (a blend of essential oils) to it. I like the recipe given here: https://blog.mountainroseherbs.com/four-thieves-essential-oil and you can get a different version of it at Dandelion Botanical. Because it’s so strong, add only 6-12 drops of the oil mixture per ounce of sanitizer, and mix well. Use it when you’re out and about and touch doorknobs and other surfaces that many other people also come into contact with.

Chinese medicine has a lot to offer us as well; it has a history of fighting epidemics (see the story on my webpage: https://agape-acupuncture.com/insights/). I received some reports about how doctors in China are treating the virus, and the good news is that those receiving herbs in addition to drugs are having the best outcomes. I’ve gone through the formulas they used, and have ordered the herbs from them.

The most important strategy is again, prevention. I like taking vitamin D, Host Defense’s formula MyCommunity combined with some Turkey Tail extract, and the Chinese formula Jade Screen, on a regular basis. Also eat well so you get good nutrition, and do some good exercise, like Qi Gong.

My research suggests the following herb tea can help prevent an invasion of the bad Qi. Let’s call it Good Qi Tea:

Ingredients

1 tbsp chrysanthemum flowers

1 tbsp goji berries (if you have a problem digesting nightshades, use jujube – Chinese red dates – instead)

2 tsp honeysuckle (not required, but a good addition)

1 tsp mulberry leaves (also not required, but a good addition)

Boil 2 cups of water, steep the herbs for 10 minutes, then strain out the herbs. You can boil another 2 cups of water, and steep the same herbs again, for another 9-10 minutes. This tea is actually quite pleasant tasting. Drink throughout the day. Another nice thing about this formula is that it is very soothing and helpful for the eyes, like if you have eyestrain from computer work. You can drink this tea long-term, and Chinese Medicine suggests you’ll get continued, long-term benefit from it, both in terms of protection against bad Qi and enhancing your eye health and overall level of relaxation.

Ok, suppose despite your precautions and drinking Good Qi Tea, you actually start feeling sick – sneezing, sore throat, fever, fatigue, headache, and so on. What I do myself is take 1 tsp elderberry extract, plus the Chinese formulas Yin Chiao Chieh Tu Pien and Gan Mao Ling, three to four times a day; if I feel feverish or the pathogen feels very strong, I add Chuan Xin Lian (andrographis). These medicines are available at Dandelion or online.

If instead of feeling hot and feverish I feel cold, am shivering with chills, and have a runny nose with white mucus, the herbs I take are different. The Chinese formula for this is called Minor Bluegreen Dragon, but I usually prefer making a strong herbal masala chai instead:

2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, chopped

2 tablespoons dried orange peel (you can use lemon if you prefer)

1 tablespoon whole cinnamon (i.e., not powdered, but from a stick of cinnamon that’s been broken up)

1 teaspoon opened cardamom pods

1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1/4 teaspoon whole cloves (about 3-5 cloves)

Simmer these, covered, in 6 cups of water for an hour. If too strong, dilute until it’s palatable. Drink one cup at least three times a day, and wrap yourself up in a warm blanket as you drink. If you sweat, it’s good.

If I’m not sure whether I’m hot or cold, or feel both at alternate times, I’ll go with the first regimen I described. Or I can use this shotgun formula, especially if all I have available are kitchen herbs: juice of one-half a lemon or one lime, 2 tsp fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried), 1-2 Tbsp fresh basil, 2 cloves raw, crushed (not chopped!) garlic, 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, and 1/2 to one cup water; blend thoroughly and drink, again three or more times a day.

These regimens will usually stop any invasion in a couple of days. If I have any of these symptoms, I will also stay in and be sure not to go out anywhere – basically, quarantine myself – because I’m quite likely to be contagious at this stage. The last thing I want to do is make other people sick.

Now, if after a couple of days I’m still sick or feel worse, it means the pathogen is quite strong and has entered in further. The regimens I just mentioned will no longer be effective (although I keep taking the elderberry, as it’s been shown to lessen the severity of flus and reduce the number of days of illness), and different herbs are necessary. Normally, a good thing to do is to see my acupuncturist, who can make a precise diagnosis and prescribe exactly the right herbs for my condition, but if we’re talking about a flu epidemic or pandemic like with COVID-19, this is the wrong thing to do – because of how contagious the pathogen is, I’d contaminate the office I enter, and possibly infect many more people. So I’d need to stay inside (unless I believe my condition is life-threatening, of course, then I’ll call an ambulance or go to the ER).

If I’m not sick, I am willing to prepare a formula and drop it off for a patient at their home (if you’re one of them and are sick, text me so we can discuss your symptoms). But we have to consider the possibility that I might be sick myself, and unable to go out. In that case, it’d be a good idea to have some formulas at home, ready to use just in case. So, based on what I’m hearing from what’s worked in China and on my clinical experience, there’s a couple of formulas that imo will be helpful. If I have the ingredients on hand, I can simply prepare them myself, and take them at home, if the need arises.

Formula A: 2 parts honeysuckle, 1 part chrysanthemum, 1 part Chinese skullcap (scutellaria baicalensis).

Formula B: 1 part red root, 1 part licorice root, 1 part lomatium. I’d be cautious about this one, because in some sensitive people it can cause a rash.

To make these formulas, it’s easiest to use tinctures, just combine them in the proportions indicated, and take 1/2 tsp 3-4 times a day.

If you use the raw herbs, use 30 grams total in 3 cups of water (A: 14 g honeysuckle, 7 g white chrysanthemum, 7 g skullcap; B: 10 g each herb). For formula A, boil the skullcap until the volume is reduced by one-half, then steep the rest of the herbs for 15 minutes. The typical dosage is 1/2 cup three times a day. For formula B, boil everything until volume is reduced by half; the dosage is the same.

Of course, it goes without saying if you’re feeling so ill you’re concerned for your life – you have trouble breathing, for example, or have a high fever – you should go to the emergency room, or call an ambulance.

Ok, to summarize (these are for me, not advice for anyone else, see disclaimer above):

(1) Prepare for having to stay in for an extended time by getting things like storable food and water

(2) Hand-wash liberally and use a souped-up hand sanitizer when you can’t

(3) Eat well, do your Qi Gong, and take herbs to strengthen your Qi

(4) Drink your Good Qi Tea

(5) Have some herbs ready for the first sign of a cold or flu: elderberry, yin chiao, gan mao ling, chuan xin lian. Stay in and don’t go out.

(6) Have the ingredients for formulas A and B ready in case you get sick. Again stay in and don’t go out.

Best of luck and let’s take care of each other!

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Insights

I added a new page called Insights, where I’ll add useful or interesting tips from and about Chinese Medicine. Today’s insight is about how an expert herbologist helped fight an outbreak of Japanese encephalitis.

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