Middleway Medicine Blog

Covid-19 and Prevention

Covid-19 Facts

According to some sources, it is estimated that even if we practice extreme social distancing for months, 70% of people will get the Covid-19 virus.  The practice of social distancing and frequent hand washing will slow the spread, or “flatten the curve.” The less people who are sick at one time, the more capable the hospital system is of treating the seriously ill.  There is concern about the lack of medical supplies, including surgical masks and gloves, hospital beds and ventilators.  If we slow down the progression it will decrease the number of people needing more intervention at one time.  This will decrease the likelihood of more fatalities.  While many people will not get intensely ill from Covid-19, it is estimated that 20% will require hospitalization, 5% will need to be in ICU, and 3% will need the aid of a ventilator to remain alive.  It is estimated to have a mortality rate of about 3%.  The disease tends to more greatly impact people over 65, or the immunocompromised, but it can still sicken and kill people of all ages.   

Chinese Herbs 

Chinese herbal medicine has been used for thousands of years to treat flu-like epidemics in China.  One source reports that there have been 320 documented epidemics in Chinese history.  We have been learning a lot about herbal support for the Covid-19 virus from sources that used Chinese herbs in the hospital and clinical setting to treat this virus. About 60,000 patients used Chinese herbs to help in the treatment of Covid-19.

When the virus was getting stronger in China, we began increasing our herbal dispensary, with the understanding that herbs would be a very helpful tool to help people prevent, endure, and recover from this pandemic.  We have engaged in some intensive study of these protocols, and would encourage everyone of our patients to begin taking Chinese herbs and some basic nutritional supplements to help support their bodies.  While not everyone gets extremely ill from Covid-19, being proactive can lessen the likelihood that you will have a serious reaction to the virus. 

We are encouraging people to schedule an online or phone herbal consult and then take herbs and supplements to strengthen their health.  We also can prescribe herbs to take while sick with the virus.  We have protocols for treating fever, cough, shortness of breath, body aches and digestive distress.  We will prescribe different formulas for different stages of the illness.  China has a noticeable lower incidence of mortality related to the disease than the West is experiencing, and some people attribute this to the concurrent use of herbal prescriptions with western medical intervention. 

We can blend herbal formulas to help with prevention, for the actively sick stage, and the recovery stage of the virus.  As always, it is helpful to stay as healthy as possible.  We can blend constitutional formulas for each individual, and use immune tonics and anti-viral herbs to boost the immune response, while addressing your underlying health concerns.

How COVID-19 is Currently Treated in China with TCM

 Chinese medicine used to treat 85% of COVID-19 patients

Chinese medicine(TCM) in the Prevention and Treatment of COVID-19 & Integration of TCM into Educational Curriculum

Can Chinese Medicine Be Used for Prevention of Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

Dietary Considerations

Covid-19 seems to thrive in damp and stagnant body conditions.  Diet can play a powerful role in supporting healthy conditions for the body to resist the virus. It is best to eat a whole foods diet, with lots of vegetables and fruits.  It is recommended to avoid or limit foods that produce more “dampness” or phlegm, such as dairy, wheat, eggs, processed sugars, and cold or fatty foods.  Sweets in general, should be very limited, as well as beer, frozen foods, and processed foods.  Culinary herbs that are fragrant and pungent, such as cardamom, ginger, turmeric, coriander, or pepper can reduce dampness. And for those who are not sensitive to garlic, it is recommended to eat some everyday.

Supplements

  • Vitamin C: 1000mg 2X/day…If you are becoming sick, you can take 1000mg of vitamin C every hour or two.  This will loosen the bowels, but it can be very helpful in fighting off viral infections. 
  • Vitamin D-3:  2000mg/day, or 5000mg every other day.  If you become ill you can up the dosage to 5000mg/day.
  • Zinc: 15mg per day
  • Probiotics
  • Selenium
  • Medicinal mushrooms

Sleep and Rest

Stress can cause many of us to believe that we need to be in action to stay safe.  But it is especially important during this time to rest.  We recommend getting an extra hour of sleep everyday. For many of us, this means about 8-9 hours.  You may also find that a short nap each day offers a good recharge.  Remind yourself that this is a marathon, not a sprint and pace yourself. 

Mindfulness Practice/ Meditation

I debated putting this recommendation first on the list.  While there are obvious concerns during this challenging time, it is counterproductive to obsess or overthink things.  We recommend limiting the amount of news that you take in.  I personally find that a morning and evening check in is plenty.  You may find a lot of benefit in inviting in some kind of mindfulness practice.  This is simply a practice of watching the mind, emotions, and sensations in your body as a passive observer.  You can witness all of this information with a sort of curiosity, without feeling the need to change anything or do anything about it.  It is a practice in surrender. 

Like the serenity prayer:

God, give me grace to accept with serenity

the things that cannot be changed,

Courage to change the things

which should be changed,

and the Wisdom to distinguish

the one from the other.

When we practice mindfulness it teaches us to surrender believing we need to do something, if there is nothing that can be done.  It also allows us to clearly recognize when something does need to be done, and to be more able to be in appropriate action.  Then mindfulness teaches us to be better able to discern the difference.  When we sink into the stillness that resides deep within us, our divine nature, we become more resilient and more able to adjust to whatever comes our way.

Exercise and Breathing Exercises

Dampness and phlegm tend to plug up the body, causing things to become stagnant.  Exercise and taking deep breaths can both help move stagnation in the body and clear out congested fluids and toxicity.  Since the Covid-19 virus greatly impacts the lungs, exercise and deep breathing can help clear residual congestion from the lungs and increase their resiliency.  We recommend 30 minutes of brisk exercise 5 days a week, as well as taking deep breaths throughout the day.

Joy/Connection:

It is especially important to connect with friends and loved one, laugh, sing, dance, and be creative during this time.  Being joyful and loving is powerful medicine.  It has noticeable healing effects on the body, mind and soul.  You may find that you finally have the time to reach out to friends and neighbors, or that you can pull out the easel or a neglected instrument.  Make the most of this free time. It is a gift.

Dry Brushing

Daily dry skin brushing stimulates your immune system. Gently brushing the torso, neck, sides and back, arms and legs helps to move the lymphatic system.  This will stimulate lymphatic circulation and increase your general feeling of vitality and well-being.

Hydration

Of coarse it is always good to drink plenty of water, but it is especially important to remain hydrated when you are warding off illness.  More water dilutes mucous and phlegm and allows it to move more freely.  This helps the body process it more easily so it doesn’t collect in the body.

Essential Oils

This is shared from master herbalist, Heiner Fruehauf about the use of essential oils for Covid-19. For thousands of years essential oils have been used to ward off infection. 

  • Apply essential oils before going out in public, either in the form of an anti-viral massage oil (applied to the chest, neck and lower arm areas) or an anti-viral “perfume” (applied to the area below the nostrils). During the bubonic plague in the middle ages, essential oils prevented the professions of perfumers (who exclusively worked with oils on a daily basis) and thieves (who fortified themselves with oils before burglarizing abandoned houses) to become ravaged by the pandemic. Since different viruses thrive in the environment every year, the types of appropriate oils also vary from year to year. These oils have proven to be most effective for the prevention and treatment of upper respiratory infections in early 2020:
    • Eucalyptus
    • Tea Tree
    • Niaouli
    • Lemon
    • Cinnamon leaf
    • Clove
    • Rosemary
    • Thyme
    • Frankincense
    • Myrtle
  • Any or all of the oils described above can be mixed together to produce an essential oil blend. Massage oils should incorporate 30 drops of essential oils per ounce (blended into a base of high-quality oil).
  • You can also diffuse oil in your home
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Fog Lights

 
by Clark Zimmerman, LAc.
 
The other day while I was driving my car, I began to hear a rattle that I hadn’t heard before.  Since my car is 15 years old, I had gotten used to new rattles showing up.  My usual remedy is to find the rattle and push on it, or give it a knock with my hand.  Sometimes this works, other times I just have to find a way to let it be.  This time it seemed to be coming from the dial that turns the headlights on.  I pushed on the dial and then gave it firmer tap, but the rattle persisted.  Then I tried pulling on the dial and to my surprise, not only did the rattle stop, but it turned on the fog lights that are set underneath the main headlights.  I’m a little embarrassed to say, I never knew that this is how these lights turned on.  I assumed that they were on as running lights when the car was on, but hadn’t noticed in my 15 years that they had their own control on the dial.  While regular lights are useful for looking further down the road, fog lights are more useful in a fog.  When a brighter and longer reaching light is reflected in the fog and can actually make it harder to see.  I think that things tend to happen for a reason, and if we are paying attention, we are constantly given information that is relevant for each moment.  So it wasn’t lost on me, in this time where the future is so foggy, that I finally discovered my fog lights.

Most of us strain ourselves to try to look into the future.  We believe that if we can just see what is coming our way, we can better prepare and avoid some of the suffering that may be in store.  While there is some benefit to looking ahead and preparing as best we can, the future is a mystery.  It is enshrouded in a sort of fog that is always going to be beyond our ability to predict or understand.  We can drive ourselves crazy going over all of the possible scenarios in an attempt to feel more in control, to feel safer.  But it is truly a fools errand to try to predict the future:  As the saying goes “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”  This is especially noticeable in times of great uncertainty. 

 No one knows what is coming, we are all improvising. 

It is times like this when we can take some inspiration from fog lights.  

Rather than focusing the light far ahead towards the horizon, we bring the light closer to where we are.  If we are trying to look too far into the future, it is like shining your high beams into the fog…it won’t help you see more clearly.  In fact will probably serve to make it harder to see.  

When you turn off the high beams and rely on fog lights, you are focusing your light closer to where you are:  You are shining it on the here and now.  You could say that fog lights are more for the moment at hand, rather than what is further ahead.  Not only does this allow you to be more in the moment and to better address the most pressing needs, you also lessen the likelihood of over-illuminating the the foggy terrain ahead and blinding yourself in the process.  

So how does this translate to times like these?  I have to keep reminding myself to stay with the moment.  Like most people in the world, I am noticing waves of fear, confusion and grief.  When I check in with myself I am noticing that typically these emotions are at their strongest when I am straying too far into the future.  When I pull myself back into the moment I notice that these challenges are joined by a sense of curiosity and hope.  I begin to wonder what the silver lining of this great upheaval will be.  Typically, great moments of evolution and growth are born from moments of great challenge and confusion.  These moments of hope and trust come more readily when I am focusing the light of awareness on the things that are close to me.  In these moments I notice the kindness of the people around, though I know that they too are struggling.  I see the small miracles and acts of courage that arise when we are pushed beyond the comfort of the familiar.  I see the love and the commitment that grows stronger with each new challenge.  I am also asked to explore deeper parts of myself that I haven’t had as much reason to explore until now.  

It is still very foggy ahead, and if I try to look too far down the road, I find myself  disoriented.  If I bring my gaze back to the light that is right near me, to the depths of myself, I find courage I didn’t know existed.  I find love and hope and appreciation for the simple ways in which life still goes on.  I can see greater detail in the path that I am traveling.  I may have to go a little slower, I may not arrive to the place that I originally thought I was heading to, but I arrive into the moment.  This is place where faith lives.  This is the place where the truth resides.  This is the place that the fog lights illuminate.  

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The Sticky Stuff

by Clark Zimmerman, L.Ac.

 

The other morning I took a hike with my dogs in the mountains.  The sun had not yet crested the mountain next to the trail, so the trail was still in the morning shadows.  As I walked through a narrow spot on the trail, I ran face-first into a spiderweb that was between two trees.  It was quite a surprise to have the sticky web covering my face, as I hadn’t noticed it at all in the shadows of the morning.  Luckily, I didn’t feel a spider moving across my face.  I gently removed the web and continued on my walk, but it got me thinking about how spiderwebs can appear to be so different depending on the presence or absence of light.  Whether in the light or in the shadows, one thing is certain: webs are sticky.

I have always been fascinated with spiders.  They are master weavers who seem to spend so much time creating and maintaining their webs.  I feel a certain sort of guilt when I am cleaning and I have to remove a web from the corner of a room, as I think of all of the hard work that went into its creation.  Webs are works of art, but when they stick to you, they become a nuisance.  It is amazing how they can remain hidden in the absence of direct light, but in the presence of sunlight, they take on a life of their own.  They become dramatically radiant in the light.  Sometimes in the early morning, they are covered with dew that glistens like jewels when the sun catches them just right.  But the stickiness of a web is remarkable.  It reminds me of how sticky it can be to live as a human being. 

We all have parts of ourselves that can be quite sticky:  our judgments, our emotions, our desires, can all grab our attention and dominate a moment.  Some of the time we are aware of the things that get in the way of us being present.  Other times they can remain hidden from us.  It is like we are walking through the forest in the early morning and suddenly, seemingly without warning, our face is covered with a web.  Awareness is an amazing tool that is like inviting the sunlight into the moment.  When we practice awareness, we suddenly become noticeably conscious of the sticky webs that lie in our path.  What before was hiding in the shadows of our lives, can become quite obvious in the light of awareness.  Our hidden personality patterns, our habits, our addictions all start to show themselves as glowing works of art in our lives.  We might not think about such difficult things as works of art, but these things are what show us where we are stuck in our evolution as human being.  They point to the areas where we can improve and become more open and free.  They are crafted by years of experience. 

When we shine the light of awareness onto the path that we walk on, these places where we can get stuck become something to be fascinated by.  They become something to be curious about.  We may ask ourselves:  “How was this made?”  “What are the threads composed of?”  Once we begin to see the places where we get stuck in the light of awareness, these things can become great sources of growth.  They can catalyze huge change in the things that have been holding us back for much of our lives. 

Awareness practices come in many forms.  Some of the more common ones include meditation, self-inquiry, and therapy.  There are many forms of meditation that promote awareness.  When we meditate, we sit with the intention to simply watch all of our experience.  We watch our thoughts, feeling, emotions and the sensations in our body without the intention to control or judge them.  In watching these things, they begin to soften and show more of the underlying stories that feed them.  There is also the tool of self-inquiry, which is consciously playing with a pattern with curiosity as the driving principle.  When we sit with a riddle that seems to complicate our lives with the intention of understanding it, rather than judging it, we shine a ray of sunlight into the sticky places in life.  We can more clearly witness our patterns and the impact that they have on our thoughts and beliefs and on our relationships with others.  We can see the beauty of those parts of ourselves that have been hidden and use them to become a more whole person, a better version of ourselves.  Another helpful tool to increase awareness is therapy or group work.  Therapy allows someone else to reflect light into our blind spots in an effort to illuminate the hidden stories that can dominate our lives.

Whatever tool or tools we choose to work with, it is incredibly valuable to find ways to bring more awareness into our lives.  With more awareness, we can see a bigger, clearer view of the path that we call life.  We can see the beauty in the sticky parts, without getting so stuck.

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