Using Chinese Medicine & Other Holistic Modalities to Prevent COVID-19
MAUREEN MCLAUGHLIN, LAc · 6 MINUTES
I would like to share with you some information on Coronavirus based on the research of John K. Chen, Doctor of Pharmacy, Oriental Medicine Doctor, and Founder of Evergreen Herbs.
I’ll begin with a brief synopsis of the western medicine aspects of the pandemic COVID-19 virus.
Coronavirus is an RNA virus similar to the virus that causes SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). SARS was recognized as a global threat in 2003 in China and was quickly contained. The hallmark symptoms of coronavirus are mild to severe respiratory illness with runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, dry cough, sputum production, difficulty breathing, dehydration, muscle pain, and GI symptoms. The symptoms generally appear 2-14 days after exposure.
I have also learned about additional symptoms of severe fatigue and headache from COVID-19 positive patients’ testimonials. Emergency symptoms include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, unresponsiveness, and bluish lips or face.
An important takeaway for me from Dr. Chen’s lecture is that the cough is actually not dry. There is phlegm with the coronavirus, and it is thick, sticky, and difficult to expel. Eventually the mucus turns into plugs--if COVID-19 progresses to the pneumonia stage--that are life threatening. Don’t be fooled: while the cough “sounds” dry, there is phlegm caught in the lower lobes of the lungs.
How does COVID-19 end up killing people? This happens when the virus progresses into pneumonia and the body experiences a cytokine storm that leads to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and multiple organ failure. A cytokine storm happens when immune cells respond in an uncontrollable fashion and flood the lungs. Because of this, fluid builds up in the alveoli in your lungs. When this happens the lungs cannot fill with air and organs are deprived of oxygen. This event is a hyper-inflammatory injury that is both physical and physiological. Because the lining of the lungs are damaged, they cannot perform their function.
● What is the good news, if there is any right now? Up to 70% of the population will get COVID-19, and most people will have mild illness. 80% of infected patients don’t require hospitalization.
● Of the hospitalized patients only 10-20% are admitted to the ICU. 3-10% require intubation. Only 2.4% of cases are under age 18. Mortality rate remains around 2-5%.
● The population affected the most is those over 60 years of age with pre-existing health conditions. One noteworthy predisposition is that people with lymphopenia (reduced white blood cells, namely lymphocytes) and thrombocytopenia (low platelet counts) are particularly vulnerable to worse outcomes.
COVID-19 is diagnosed with a nasopharyngeal swab, chest X-ray, and CT scan. The western therapeutic treatments are limited and largely ineffective. They include NSAIDs for the fever, trials of antivirals, anti-malaria drugs like hydroxychloroquine, steroids, immunosuppressants (to damper down the cytokine storm), ventilation and ECMO.
We are about 1-1 1⁄2 years away from a vaccine or being able to employ convalescent plasma and serum (giving the antibodies of someone who has had the virus to someone who has not to prevent infection). Sadly, some COVID-19 survivors will be left with pulmonary fibrosis. Some are unable to wean off mechanical ventilation.
Traditional Chinese Medicine can play a big role in preventing, treating, and healing from COVID-19. Epidemics are not new to China; there have been over 320 large-scale epidemics in China over the last 2,000 years. Dr. Chen has outlined three phases of coronavirus and how TCM can make a huge difference: Prevention Phase, Treatment Phase, Recovery Phase.
Given that the vast majority of us will contract COVID-19 and can either be asymptomatic OR symptomatic, my goal in Part I is to help you gear up for a) not getting it, or b) doing well if you do. This approach falls under the Prevention Phase of COVID-19.
I am comfortable making the following recommendations without seeing you in person. I urge you to ask your Doctor if you have any questions about whether these therapies are suitable for your particular health situation. Because I am currently not seeing patients at all face-to-face to flatten the curve, I must do my best to convey this information to you digitally and virtually.
These suggestions are in addition to all the CDC guidelines that are in place regarding hand washing, social distancing, etc. PLEASE OBSERVE THESE GUIDELINES RIGOROUSLY.
● Massage your ST 36, Zusanli point. ST 36 is an important tonic point for one’s overall health.
● This is a great video that shows you where to find ST 36: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPT62vN7CvY
● It is also possible to apply moxibustion to ST 36, but this would require a phone call with me to talk you through it (and help you source moxa sticks).
● Take Jade Windscreen Powder, Yu Ping Feng, a Chinese Herbal Formula. Jade Windscreen Powder boosts immunity and prevents colds and flu.
● Once you start having COVID-19 symptoms, you should stop Jade Windscreen Powder and move to a different formula. You can order Jade Windscreen Powder yourself; you do not need to be a Practitioner.
● Here is a reputable source: https://mydaolabs.com/products/immunity-support
Vitamins & Supplements:
Not all supplements are appropriate for all people. Please consult your practitioner before beginning a new protocol. Virtual consultations are available with Dr. Taryn Cass, ND to help you determine if these recommendations are safe for you.
● Vitamin C: 1,000 mg once or twice daily (watch if you tend towards kidney stones -- Vitamin C lessens duration of colds, supports immune function)
● Vitamin A: 15,000 IU of mixed carotenoids daily (helps mucous membranes repel viruses)
● Zinc: 15 mg daily (boosts immunity)
● Vitamin D: 600 IU daily (helps protect against a number of diseases including cancer)
● NAC N-Acetylcysteine: 600 mg daily (NAC thins mucus and eases cough. I highly recommend anyone with COPD or asthma get on this now so the lungs will function better if and when they encounter COVID-19).
There has been some controversy around whether elderberries are safe to take to prevent COVID-19. You can take elderberries in the Prevention Phase of coronavirus. The cytokine storm happens once you have severe pneumonia (the controversy revolves around whether or not elderberries encourage cytokines). You would be hospitalized, and well past the consumption of elderberries at this point. https://www.gaiaherbs.com/blogs/seeds-of-knowledge/the-facts-on-black-elderberry-and-covid-1 9
Foods that are good for immunity, particularly the lungs, in chinese medicine:
I urge you to keep up overall good nutrition during this time, and don’t use staying at home as an excuse to overdo it on sugar, alcohol, saturated fats, additives & preservatives and simple carbs. Allow yourself a few treats and moments of “comfort food,” and then try and get right back on track with healthy eating. An optimal immune system depends on it!
● White radish
● White Mushrooms
● White fish
● Other superfoods I feel are good for immunity: Blueberries, salmon, kale. Eggs, tomatoes, walnuts. Acai, apples, bok choy. Avocados, spinach, cauliflower. Arugula, olives, edamame. Strawberries, black beans, sprouts. Seeds, sweet potatoes, greek yogurt. Grapes, oranges, wheat germ. Garlic, whole grains, watercress. Do not eat these foods if you are sensitive or allergic!
Deep breathing will strengthen your respiratory function, important with regard to COVID-19.
● Breathe in through your nose, all the way to your belly, taking in as much air as possible. Once the lungs are full, hold for 5 sec. Then, breathe out through your mouth. Do this three times, three times daily.
● Eucalyptus is excellent for respiratory conditions. There is medical evidence to support its efficacy: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24831245
● You can diffuse it or apply it to your chest, throat, and philtrum as both a prophylactic and therapeutic. It is a bronchodilator that will help open the airways.
● Eucalyptus oil can be applied to an important point on the body, Lung 1, Zhong Fu. Here is how you locate Lu 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTN__V7kwR0
● (Please note: some pets are sensitive to eucalyptus, so I would not diffuse it if I had a pet. Be careful with its use around infants and children as well.)
UPDATE: If you find yourself with a lot of phlegm and difficulty breathing try rotating face up with face down throughout the day. It makes sense to me that the lungs might benefit from being given an opportunity to drain in the prone position:
Stay Tuned for Part II - Treatment Phase