The current novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was first discovered at its epicenter in Wuhan, China in 2019, and has since infected more than 76,000 people in over 60 locations worldwide. The rate of transmission has been very fast and because it is a new strain that had not previously been identified in humans, there is not a vaccine that can be used for its treatment.
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses that range from the common cold to more serious diseases such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. The common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.
The most important symptoms to recognize concerning the novel coronavirus are fever, cough, and shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing.
- Shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing
The virus is thought to spread in two ways.
- Person to person transmission:
- Between people who are in close proximity to each other, approximately within 6 feet
- Through respiratory droplets produced when coughing or sneezing that either land or are inhaled into the mouth or nose of someone nearby
- Contact with contaminated surfaces or objects
- After touching the contaminated surface or object, the hands then touch the nose, eyes, or mouth
- It is thought that the virus can survive for up to 9 days
Traditional Chinese medicine has endured many epidemics over the centuries from which it has gained valuable medical insights and has developed treatment protocols using acupuncture, moxibustion, and Chinese herbs and formulas to strengthen the body’s immunity, relieve symptoms, and treat the patterns of illness caused by pathogenic infections.
In terms of the current novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) epidemic, Traditional Chinese Medicine can help in three main areas. First is prevention by strengthening the body’s immunity, second is to help treat patterns of illness caused by the infection, and third is to aid recovery.
- Prevention by strengthening immunity
- Treat the patterns of illness caused by the infection
- Aid in recovery
One of the most popular Chinese herbal formulas to strengthen the body’s immunity is called Yu Ping Fang San 玉屏風散. This formula was widely used during the SARS epidemic and is thought to have helped reduce the number of infections.
It is a simple and safe formula with only three herbal ingredients that work together to enhance immunity in order to prevent the contraction of environmental pathogens, termed exterior pathogens in traditional Chinese medicine. It is encouraged to take the formula when one’s immune defense is low or when there is reason to take measures against an active environmental pathogen.
The traditional Chinese medical community has recognized the novel coronavirus as a damp pathogen. Patients who have been infected are demonstrating basic respiratory symptoms and when examined are found to have a thick tongue coating indicative of the damp pathogen. Based on the principles of traditional Chinese medicine doctors have been able to prescribe Chinese medicinal formulas and perform acupuncture and moxibustion that have been helping treat patients infected with the virus by reducing their symptoms and facilitating their recovery. Herbal formulas, acupuncture, and moxibustion prescriptions are based on the individuals’ case presentations and phases of disease development which include the prevention phase, influenza phase, pneumonia phase, and recovery phase.
Dietary supplements can also play a role in prevention by improving immune health. Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Zinc are important for a healthy strong immune system. Additionally, Zinc can reduce viral replication in the throat and upper respiratory tract.
Here’s what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Wash your hands with soap and water regularly for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol hand sanitizers are also effective
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Stay home when you are sick (except to get medical care). Keep sick children home from school
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow. If you use a tissue, wash your hands afterwards
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces