The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was first identified in the Wuhan province of China late in 2019. Genetic analysis of 2019-nCoV is in process to confirm the origin, likely from bats. Until we are able to understand this virus better, prevention is in order, but not panic. Take care of your overall health and practice good public health measures while the situation develops.
Naturopathic Virus Care
A virus not only causes damage to the body by itself, but additional damage, sometimes lethal, is caused inadvertently by our own immune system responding to the virus. It’s vital to seek treatment that will allow the immune system to respond appropriately. Naturopathic doctors focus on supporting the immune system and helping patients develop an appropriate immune response. You should begin helping your immune system now amidst this outbreak and for the future should another outbreak happen.
The simplest action you can take is to make sure any other chronic health conditions are under control. Those with prior chronic illnesses are more at risk of a lethal form of any influenza or virus than those that were previously healthy. By addressing your chronic illnesses and taking appropriate preventative measures, you may suffer a milder course of a disease. Take heart that this is within our control, but more must be done.
The medical professionals at Heart Spring Health can support you in prevention and treatment of viruses. Beyond naturopathic doctors – acupuncturists, massage therapists, and our chiropractic doctors offer whole-person, natural medicine modalities. They offer non-pharmaceutical interventions for many troubling chronic conditions with a focus on immune response. This is absolutely vital during this time of potential pandemic.
Here are some basic steps to avoid exposure and exposing others to any virus including the current Coronavirus:
- Stay home if you are sick!
- Avoid people who are sick (but DO connect in creative ways).
- Prioritize hand-washing more often, with soap and water for twenty seconds, especially before eating.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when handwashing is not possible.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and discard or sneeze into your bent elbow.
- Limit handling doorknobs and other public surfaces without gloves.
- In a severe epidemic, use gloves outside to limit contact.
- Avoid large crowds and places with poor ventilation.
- Use a properly fitted mask in large crowds or places with poor ventilation. If using a mask, change it frequently as they harbor bacteria.
Support your health and immune system with these tips:
- If you are feeling run down, take a day off for rest and healing.
- Drink plenty of fluids including water, broth-based soups, and low sugar beverages.
- Get adequate sleep, essential for a well-functioning immune system.
- Avoid sugars, alcohol, and refined, overly processed foods.
- Eat a diet that supports optimal immune function: lots of vegetables, protein, and healthy fats. Ingest cultured food and drink to support an active and robust microbiome, which in turn supports proper immunity. Include high fiber foods for optimizing the gut microbiome.
- Stop or at the least reduce smoking. Viral-like symptoms will be worse in smokers. You also help protect loved ones from the impact of second-hand smoke.
- Reduce your stress levels. The stress hormone cortisol negatively impacts immune function.
Check out these natural medicines that enhance immunity while helping to create and maintain healthy mucous membrane tissue:
- Acupuncture is well established as immune modulating, and Chinese herbal formulas have been helpful for restoring mucous membrane function.
- Botanical medicines help prevent flu. Some key herbs to consider include licorice root, marshmallow root, ginseng, elderberry, echinacea, and garlic. Your naturopathic doctor or acupuncturist at Heart Spring Health can also help you with herbs to help protect vital organs affected by the virus such as the lungs.
- Nutritional supplements and IV nutrients can help ensure optimal immune system function. These include but are not limited to zinc, vitamin C, and probiotics.
- Using a humidifier will reduce virus survival (7) and may decrease transmission.
- Constitutional hydrotherapy treatments help to stimulate the immune response to the virus and reduce the toxic effects of the virus.
Responding to the Coronavirus
Transmission of the various Coronaviruses has been noted to be person-to-person. It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so. It’s not clear yet how easily this Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) spreads from person-to-person. It is thought to spread via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. Spread is believed to be between people who are in close contact within 6 feet. We know that the virus can be spread before a person is symptomatic.
Symptoms vary greatly from mild respiratory illness, fever, and cough, to more severe symptoms like difficulty breathing and death. According to the CDC, symptoms can develop 2-14 days after exposure. There is currently no vaccine for 2019-nCoV. The CDC offers guidance on who should receive testing.
At this time testing is open to patients who meet certain criteria. Please reach out to a naturopathic physician at Heart Spring Health for more information about testing. Heart Spring Health is testing patients who meet the criteria given to us by the Oregon Health Authority.
What to do if you become sick
If you think you have been exposed to the Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) or you have symptoms of the virus, here is a list of steps to follow:
- It will be important to follow quarantine guidelines. If you think you might be contagious, you should keep yourself isolated and avoid contact with other people.
- Seek appropriate care.
- Call the Emergency Department if you are experiencing severe symptoms including trouble breathing, confusion, persistent chest pain, or bluish face or lips. They can provide you with instructions for how to receive care.
- Reach out to your Heart Spring Health provider through the ChARM portal messaging system or call the office to set up an acute same day phone or video consultation. These consultations will be remote. Addressing specific symptoms of 2019-nCoV will be individualized to the patient, the type and severity of symptoms that arise.
We are ONLY seeing folks in the office who meet certain criteria and follow special instruction. Due to the contagiousness of the virus, it is advised you keep yourself away from contact with other people. If you show up without special instruction from one of our naturopathic physicians, you will not be able to enter the clinic and will be asked to leave and call us.
The steps and instructions included in this post are only guidelines. If you suspect you have contracted the 2019-nCoV, call us to schedule a phone consultation first for further evaluation. Do NOT go to any clinic or the hospital until you have consulted with a health care provider. If you suffer from severe respiratory symptoms go to the emergency department but please call ahead and let them know what you are experiencing so they can properly handle your arrival and expose the least number of individuals. If you suffer from other, unrelated chronic disease, consult your naturopathic doctor and other medical provider for further individualized care.
Some patients under investigation for, or diagnosed with, 2019-nCoV may be eligible for home care per current CDC guidelines. Home treatment for this virus looks very much like home care for the flu (hydration, rest, eliminating transmission to others, etc.). Work with your natural health practitioner to further individualize your care.
For more information about 2019 Coronavirus:
Dr. Sherry Pittman is a naturopathic physician at Heart Spring Health in southeast Portland, Oregon who loves to help others regain their sense of well-being and health by using holistic medicine. She graduated from Bastyr University and completed a residency at Bastyr Center for Natural Health. Dr. Sherry enjoys supporting others in their healing journey and particularly enjoys working with women’s health conditions and mental health. She loves to create individualized plans with her patients utilizing herbal medicine, nutrition, physical medicine, homeopathy, pharmaceuticals, counseling, and/ or hydrotherapy to best support them. Click here to learn more about Dr. Sherry.
- Q. Liu et al.: The cytokine storm of severe influenza and development of immunomodulatory therapy. Cell. Mol. Immunol. 13, 3 (2016)
- P. M. Honore et al.: Cytokine removal in human septic shock: Where are we and where are we going? Ann. Intensive Care 9 (2019)
- R. Yadav et al.: Curcumin Suppresses the Production of Pro-inflammatory Cytokine Interleukin-18 in Lipopolysaccharide Stimulated Murine Macrophage-Like Cells. Indian J. Clin. Biochem. 30, 109 (2015)
- S. V. Culpitt et al.: Inhibition by red wine extract, resveratrol, of cytokine release by alveolar macrophages in COPD. Thorax 58, 942 (2003)
- H. Ahsan et al.: Pharmacological potential of tocotrienols: a review. Nutr. Metab. 11 (2014)
- J. M. Reiman et al.: Humidity as a non-pharmaceutical intervention for influenza A. PLoS One 13, 9 (2018)
Photo courtesy of CDC on Unsplash