With this post I would like to share my approach to the viral pandemic we found ourselves into and offer it to anyone who finds it sensible and beneficial. My approach and in-home therapies are based on my education, knowledge and experience in traditional Chinese medicine, as well as my knowledge in Western herbal medicine and Western conventional medicine. 

Please know that this information is for consumer education purpose only and that you always need to seek the advice of a physician or other qualified professional regarding concerns with your personal health and medical condition. Please read our Disclaimer.

 

The concept of immunity in traditional Chinese medicine is very different from what immunity is perceived as in Western medicine. Immunity in TCM is largely guided/overseen by two major organs – the uppermost and lowermost solid organs in the body - the Lung and the Kidney. Let’s look at them a little more closely.

 

The Lung in Chinese medicine is often referred to as the “umbrella organ”. When you look at an x-ray of a lung you will easily see why.

 

Lung

 

The Lung is viewed as the “protective” organ of the body, the one shielding the rest of the organs from external pathogens (in Chinese medicine external pathogens are viewed as the six climatic factors or “the six evils”). Together with the lower respiratory tract (trachea, bronchi) the Lung also governs the upper respiratory tract (nose, nasal passages, sinuses). Whenever there is pathogen attacking the body it goes through the Lung and its constituents – the upper and lower respiratory tract. They all work as shields that protect the body from the pathogen entering it further and deeper in. The Lung furthermore governs the so called Wei Qi  (Protective Qi), which circulates under the skin and between the muscles and also protects the body from external pathogens. Thus it is essential that at all times the vitality of the Lung is strong - it is our frontline soldier. 

 

Usually the pathogen first hits the upper respiratory tract having the body fight it with runny nose (the body's attempt to flush out the pathogen), cough (from the runny nose), sore throat (the body trying to locally “toast” the pathogen by sending white blood cells to the area), and maybe fever (the body’s overall response to external/pathogenic attack). If the body cannot hold up at that level the pathogen sinks deeper entering the actual organ – Lung – causing internal diseases known in Western medicine as bronchitis and pneumonia. It is considered that once it manages to pass the Lung the pathogen enters the deeper realms of the body transforming itself from initially being "wind" into "heat", then "toxic heat", "dryness", etc., attacking different organs and causing various internal damages.

  

The Kidney in Chinese medicine is referred to as the “root organ”.

 

Roots Of Big Old Tree

 

Just like the root is essential for the growth, strength, longevity, reproduction and overall vitality of the plant, so is the Kidney responsible for all these essentials in the human being. Thus if the Lung has a “protective” function in the sense of shielding the body from external threat, the Kidney has a “nurturing” function in the sense of developing/nurturing the body from within. So when we want strong immunity we want to cater to those two organs. How do we do that? Through selecting healing substances based on the appropriate colors and tastes.

 

The Lung benefits from white color foods, herbs and substances. Every ingredient with white color benefits the Lung. In the current situation (knowing that the Lung is a constituent of the immunity and that it will take the first and most dangerous hit of the pathogen that circles the world right now) there are 5 major white color ingredients completely accessible in every part of the world that can be used to maintain our immunity and assure that the vitality of the Lung is strong. These substances are – garlic, onion, coconut oil, baking soda and salt. Let’s go through them one by one.

 

White Foods

 

I would like to start with garlic first. This amazing vegetable is largely used in many cultures as a culinary aid yet here we need to consider consuming it raw. Garlic has a proven antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic property. It is white and … spicy – the taste that stimulates the Lung. Taking raw garlic daily benefits our body and immunity from the perspective of both medicines - Eastern and Western. It is important to mention that its truly strong anti-pathogenic effect might cause some (if not most) people to experience side effects when consuming it. This is due to the fact that whenever bacteria and parasites get destroyed they release toxins which based on the amount of garlic taken might give unpleasant sensation of nausea and lightheadedness to flu-like symptoms. Therefore it is best that the strong quality of raw garlic is introduced to the body gradually. Starting with 1/3 garlic clove a day for couple of days in a row, moving to 2/3 garlic clove for couple of more days, coming to a full garlic clove daily, is gradual and easy on the body. Taking one garlic clove a day for 1-2 months a year to cleanse the body from all kinds of viruses, bacteria, fungus and parasites is something reasonable to do yearly. In the case of pandemic it is something we might consider doing as we speak.

In my culture eating raw garlic together with your meal is part of our culinary ethnicity. I do understand however that for a lot of other cultures out there this might be odd or even repulsive (I tried to advocate the garlic “internal hygiene” principle to my medical students in China and it didn’t go very well…). So for those who feel repelled by the idea of snacking on raw garlic I suggest to cut the garlic clove into small slices and swallow them in the form of small pills. This may also help with the “garlic breath” situation as the garlic will not be chewed up (causing bad breath) but swallowed directly, causing say…mildly bad breath. Certainly if one is social and unrestrained one can have the garlic at dinner time.

 

The other white substance that stimulates the Lung is onion. Consuming raw onion with your meal just like consuming raw garlic is also very beneficial for the Lung not only from TCM perspective (color-white/ taste-spicy) but also from Western science perspective. Yet it is my experience that garlic has a broader antimicrobial spectrum therefore a better soldier to choose. Certainly we can consume both as well. But here I will propose a different onion therapy for the Lung – inhalation of onion water vapor.

  

Luk

 

This is very effective for first stage “wind-attack” symptoms (known as “common cold” in the West). Runny nose benefits greatly from inhalations with onion. Lower respiratory symptoms such as cough (dry or productive) and cough with sputum also benefit greatly from such an onion therapy. Simply chop two to three large onions into quarters – and throw them together with their peels in a stove 1/3 full with water. Once the water starts to boil bow down above the stove, cover your head with a towel (to preserve the healing mist), and breath in deeply the mist. If your nose is runny and/or congested you might start with breathing the vapor through your nose. If you have some cough and lower respiratory issues you can switch to breathing through your mouth to get the healing vapor into the lungs directly.

 

Here is when we introduce the baking soda. Another white substance that is antimicrobial - simply for the fact that it is alkaline (usually bad bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc. do not thrive in alkaline environment). One table spoon of baking soda is added to the boiling onion water to further disinfect the upper and lower respiratory tracts. I have been using baking soda as a cleanser and disinfectant for some years now. I have two boys, a dog, and a ferret, and my house gets quite messy very often. I keep it clean and nice-smelling with baking soda. I sprinkle it on my carpets and let it stay for half an hour, then vacuum the carpets to find everything smelling fresh and clean. I dilute it with water (around 3 tablespoons per litter) and sprinkle it on my kitchen counter daily (specially after I have worked with raw meat). If the vegetables for my salad are not my own produce I soak them in water diluted with baking soda for 10-15 minutes (again – 3 teaspoons/liter will do). If you do this yourself you will find that the color of your fruits and veggetables is much more vibrant after you've soaked them with baking soda than it was before. Everything – kitchen and bathroom appliances and surfaces, fruits and vegetables (even your own face! … but this is another discussion for another time) are visibly cleaner and more vibrant after they have been through some baking soda treatment.

 

The fourth white-color antimicrobial substance that I use is coconut oil. Most of you know that nowadays coconut oil is viewed as superfood. There is so much information on its properties and indications that there is no need to list them here. Here we only want to remember that it is white color and that it is highly antimicrobial (so much so that it needs to be introduced to the body gradually in order to avoid “healing crisis” as the one mentioned with the garlic). Yet – just like the garlic – this is a substance that cannot be consumed in large quantities and at any time. Being oil it can fit in only few of our daily routines. I personally put a table spoon into my morning coffee or tea and I consume it like that. In the beginning the oily surface of your favorite drink will feel and taste odd but within couple of days I personally got used to it and actually craved its nourishing/moisturizing property when I discover that I am out.

 

Last but not least – salt. Another white color substance salt is very beneficial to the Lung and its constituents in the form of nose drops. The way to make them is really easy – take some boiled water and add sea salt to it. Keep adding salt until the mixture gets the taste of the sea. Put couple of drops into your nose three times a day if you have mild runny nose and increase to couple of drops every couple of hours if you have a more serious cold/flu like symptoms. What it does is it dehydrates the environment of the microbe (which as every living being requires water to survive) thus destroys the ability of the microbe to survive. When introduced through a pipette to the nose the salty liquid drips down back to the throat dehydrating (thus destroying) the microbes that have covered ones throat. This is what makes this treatment very useful for the current pandemic situation because we know that the virus likes to attach itself to the throat mucosa and remain there. Throwing some salt water through the nose down the throat will not only dehydrate and unplug the breathing but also dehydrate the throat mucosa surface where the virus resides, thus devastate its environment.

 

It is here where we will take a little detour from Chinese medicine’s white color substances and mention fish oil. This amazing supplement is something I give my boys daily to strengthen their immunity and relieve eventual stress. It is good for the immunity because it fortifies the mucosa thus reduces the ability of microbes to easily attach to it. It has many more amazing health inducing properties (especially for women) but we will talk about them in different posts. 

 

Back to Chinese medicine we also need to mention the not-so-white ginger – another herb with antimicrobial properties. In Chinese medicine ginger is a warm acrid herb used to expel “wind-cold” (common cold) and is prescribed for acute and chronic cough patterns and Lung disorders with phlegm. I personally like to throw a slice or two of fresh ginger in my green tea to neutralize the green tea’s cold temperature with the warm temperature of the ginger (if you like to know more about the temperatures of the different foods, herbs and spices click here).

 

After we sufficiently covered how to strengthen the “umbrella organ” let’s go to “the root organ” – the Kidney. As mentioned above the Kidney benefits from black color foods. I found the best ones to be black sesame (you can take it in the form of black sesame tahini), black beans (beans have the shape of a kidney), water chestnut, blackberry and blueberry. They can be incorporated in snacks and meals and are easy to be found everywhere in the world. Yet here I would like to mention one black food-herb that I discovered two years ago and tested its amazing immune-inducing properties together with my family – elderberry (Sambucus nigra). One of its many properties is to strongly stimulate the immunity being especially beneficial for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections as well as tonsillitis. I found on the internet that Elderberry juice was used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama in 1995. I can personally root for this herb as I have given it to my boys every day during the last year’s flu season and they remained completely healthy despite the fact that half of the pupils in their school had the flu and were absend from school, and that the school had to go into “flu vacation” eventually because of the severity of the infection.

 

Elderberry

 

In my country elderberry can be found in the fields and in the mountains so I go in the autumn season to pick it myself. If you happen to decide to do that (and if you are certain that you can recognise the herb with precision) please know that you can only pick completely ripe black elderberries and absolutely avoid the green colored and purple colored unripe ones, which are very toxic. This is extremely important!

After I have my berries I make syrup (based on the recipe by our country's famous traditional medicine healer Peter Dimkov). I place one finger-width elderberry in a jar then and add one finger-width sugar. Than on top of this I add another finger-width elderberry and another finger-width sugar up until the jar is completely full. I then cover it with cotton cloth to let it breath and leave it in a dark and dry place somewhere in my basement for 40 days. After 40 days I take it out and strain the juice throwing out the remain of the berries. I keep the syrup in glass jars and bottles and in the refrigerator. The daily dose is one teaspoon for kids and one tablespoon for adults on empty stomach.  Another local healer recommends 10 elderberries on empty stomach for 1 month for cleansing the blood, which I have also done with my husband and felt very good. In any ways - I am not sure if you have elderberry growing in your country/continent and whether it exists in your culture's traditional medicine or not but it is definitely worth the research!

 

Now let’s go over everything we discussed so far and show you how our family fits it all into our daily routine. We start our day with a hot cup of coffee or tea (for the boys) in which I dissolve at least one teaspoon of coconut oil. We take one teaspoon of the elderberry syrup on an empty stomach at that time. We take our fish oil supplement with our breakfast. If we are not leaving the house for the day we have some raw garlic with our lunch (if we are – with our dinner). For afternoon snack we could have fresh black/blueberries or berry jam mixed with yogurt. If any of us feels a little off with some upper or lower respiratory symptoms – runny or congested nose, some sore throat and/or cough - we apply salt-water nose drops every couple of hours and do onion water inhalations every couple of hours as well. In those cases we stop completely consuming sugar and sugar products (besides the elderberry syrup) as sugar is tonic and tonifies the pathogen. We eat only raw honey for it has strong antimicrobial properties and not-so-sweet fruits such as grapefruits. We also drink an extra amount of antimicrobial herbal tea - St. John's Worth tea for the adults and Chamomile tea for the boys. 

 

This is how I handle the current situation – strengthening my family’s and my own immunity and preparing our bodies to be strong in case we get hit with the virus. I hope that this information sounds sensible and that it can be of some benefit.

 

There is one last thing I would like to add. As everyone understandably feels fearful in this situation it is important to mention that according to Chinese medicine fear is the emotion that corresponds to/is connected with the Kidney. Immense fear destroys the Kidney’s vitality and this is exactly what we cannot allow in the current situation.  

The antidote of fear is love. One cannot feel fear and love simultaneously. Love extinguishes fear. Therefore as part of working on becoming stronger and healthier let's fill our minds with compassion, love and good wishes for all sentient beings. I am certain that this will bring great benefit to everyone around us, to ourselves, and will work strongly towards transforming our current uneasy situation. 

 

In health,

 

Yana

Founder of the Holosapiens Project

 

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