Coronavirus and Traditional Chinese Medicine: What You Need to Know Now

By Dr. Alexandra Stueber, DACM, L.Ac

It’s all anyone is talking about these days: Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its rapid spread across the world. As of this writing, there have been over 111,000 reported cases of Coronavirus including a few right here close to home. Much of the focus has been on the mortality rate of this virus, but we haven’t heard much at all about the nearly 63,000 people who have recovered. Even less is being shared about the medical professionals treating infected patients who themselves have not contracted the virus.

Our practice wants to share some of the positive news about Coronavirus and offer some advice about how you can be proactive. First, it is important to note that of the reported, active cases of COVID-19, 85% are mild cases. COVID-19 presents as a simple upper respiratory illness with symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. In those who have been more seriously affected, these symptoms are penetrating deeper into the body leading to pneumonia-type symptoms.

When it comes to prevention, we agree with the experts at the CDC – wash your hands, avoid touching your face, self-quarantine if you have been exposed. But, we believe there is more you can do. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been shown to work significantly to prevent the spread of the virus.

A hospital in the Henan Province of China has been successfully treating COVID-19 patients since January, and yet none of their staff contracted the virus. How have they achieved this? Chinese herbal medicine. Depending on the proximity of the hospital worker to infected patients, hospital workers were provided Chinese formulas to protect them from contracting the virus. A second report demonstrates the impact of combining Western Medicine with Traditional Chinese Medicine. The physicians in this case reported a marked improvement in their patients and a faster recovery when both Western modalities and TCM are used.

Traditional Chinese Medicine, which includes acupuncture and herbal medicine, works to prevent disease and illness by boosting the immune system. In the case of COVID-19, taking preventative steps to boost the immune system can better prepare the body to fight off infection. TCM looks at the body as whole, assessing areas of potential weakness and boosting our overall body functioning. Studies have shown that regular acupuncture treatments can increase the number of T cells your body produces. These cells are like the Marines of fighting infection. When the body senses an invasion, T cells respond first and start attacking. If they’re successful, we remain healthy.

Also, the medical community agrees that stress can have an adverse effect on the immune system by raising the levels of cortisol in our blood. When our stress level is increased (say, because of reports of a virus spreading rapidly across the world?), the effectiveness of our immune system drops slightly. Acupuncture therapy and herbs can keep your stress levels low and your immune system high!

So what do we advise moving forward?   Keep it simple. Wash your hands frequently for 30-40 seconds and avoid touching your face. Take proactive steps: Come in for acupuncture and call us for an herbal consult to boost your immunity and lower your stress.

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