Webinar: TCM Tips for Self-Care during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Hi, Five Branches University students, this is Dr. Chi speaking. We are living in an unprecedented time. Many people are looking for ways to stay healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. But right now, there are unknown numbers of people in the U.S. that are suffering from COVID-like symptoms who are simply unable to get tested, or are tested positive, but with mild symptoms. I know a lot of us are already practicing social distancing, and most people have already been following all the rules about hand-washing, avoiding to touch their faces, avoiding to shake hands or hugging, and disinfecting surfaces frequently. But is there anything else that we can do to help our bodies?

This video will teach you how to take care of yourself, your patients, or your friends at home in self-quarantine, to promote self-healing and reduce stress. According to the last video, this pathogen invades the Mo Yuan area, causing dampness in the body. Many experienced TCM doctors from China, who have treated COVID-19 patients, believe that this pandemic belongs to dampness, and they call it Damp Yi. Yi means epidemic diseases.

The Mo Yuan is the area between the interior and the exterior. In the Shang Han Lun, they classified this as the Shao Yang level. The pathogen doesn’t invade the exterior, so we cannot use only the releasing exterior method to produce sweat. The pathogen also doesn’t invade the interior, so we cannot use the purging method. In the last class, we already talked about Wu You Ke, the first one that found that this pathogen enters the bodies through the mouth and nose and invades and lingers in our Mo Yuan area, and that he established a new method called Fen Xiao. He used dispersing, transforming, and draining; three methods together in one, in order to get the dampness out of the Mo Yuan area. And he used the spicy and warm aromatic herbs to accomplish this task. He used Bing Lang, Cau Guo, Huo Po; those herbs move Qi, remove dampness, open stagnation, and promote urination. These kinds of herbs can help to tackle the Mo Yuan area and get rid of the dampness in that layer.

During the epidemic disease, tongue coating changes very fast and can promptly reflect the development of the disease and the condition of the body. It is often found that their tongues are very white and have a thick coating on top of the tongue. We know that tongue diagnoses is one of the diagnostic tools that we use very often in our clinic. Today, I’m going to teach you how to use the tongue diagnosis. You can do self check every day at home by looking at your tongue and change your lifestyle accordingly. Many COVID-19 patients have very thick, white, powdery-like coating.

These are two patients, in the early March, with COVID-19 like symptoms, that I helped with traditional Chinese medicine. On the top, patient 1 presented with low-grade fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, and extremely fatigued with low appetite. In the beginning, the tongue was very pale, and the coating was very white. After seven days of using herbs, you can start to see that the tongue improved by the color and also the coating. The color returned to pink, and the coating started thinning up. The second patient, on the bottom, was also presented with high fever, dry cough, sore throat and chest pain. After seven days of treatment, the tongue, starting from a white greasy coating, became a much lighter white coating; and the tongue color, from pale, started returning to pink. All the symptoms improved while the tongue returned to pink and thin white coating. In this slide are two patients are diagnosed and hospitalized in China with COVID-19. The tongue is presented with very white, thick, greasy, powdery coating. At the same time, the CT scan also showed ground glass opacity saturating in both lungs . The second patient on the bottom, showed bilateral ground glass opacity when they started taking the herbal medicine together with Western medicine. You can see the tongue started with white coating, became thicker, and then started thinning. The tongue reflects absorption of the inflammation in the lung.

So what is dampness? Dampness seems to be rampant in industrialized society. It is due to the burden of unnatural substances in our food that need to be eliminated from our body after consumption. So eating a clean and wholefood diet is so important for our body and for our immune system. When a patient is presented with dampness, usually they will feel very heavy, and it is very difficult to treat. It also lasts for a long time. It has a tendency to move downward; in a lot of the patients presented with COVID-19, their lung was infected in the bottom one-third. In Chinese medicine, dampness is considered to be the cause of many illnesses such as high cholesterol, cancer, metabolic disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, allergy and environmental illnesses. So we know that at this time, people who have a higher risk of getting COVID-19 are the people who already have underlying medical conditions such as heart conditions, diabetes, severe obesity, and hypertension. All these are classified as a damp body type in traditional Chinese medicine.

Environment is very crucial for the survival of microorganisms. One of the most central concept of traditional Chinese medicine is that of the intimate connection between the body of man and the environment within which man lives, works, and plays. In physiology, the cells, the tissues, and the Zang Fu organs of the body are in dynamic internal equilibrium, and are constantly adjusting to the changes in the external environment. The Coronavirus transmits in a damp microenvironment. According to the traditional Chinese medicine evaluation, it also makes our body damp. The patients who have COVID-19 are usually presented with very white greasy tongue coating and also experiences body aches, heaviness, strong fatigue, loose stool or diarrhea, low appetite, etc. Those are all considered dampness. If we can eat healthy, get the proper amount of exercise, and keep our environment pleasant, our body has the power to recover by itself.

What are the lifestyle practices that will cause our body to become damp? How can we change them in order to provide a better environment for our bodies to recover? There are two things we can do to fight this dampness. First of all, we have to keep our body’s internal environment warm and dry. Second, we have to keep our external environment warm and dry. In our house, we can light the fireplace or turn on the heater. We can also burn Moxa, or dried sage, around the living space in our house. You can use the moxa stick, cut them into small sections, and burn a section each time. For patients who already have cold like symptoms with white coatings in their tongue, they can also burn this moxa in the place where they stay and self-quarantine. That will be a very good way to change the microenvironment for pathogens to survive.

How about our internal environment? If we feel cold, or have some kind of chills, or if we already start feeling achiness and soreness in our body or in the back of the body, we can drink warm ginger lemon water and sit in front of the fireplace or any other heat source with our back facing the heat, until we start sweating. It is a light sweat, the kind of experience when you drink hot soup or tea. Remember, it cannot be a heavy sweat like from the sauna or intense exercise. Lemon, we know has alot of vitamin C, and vitamin C actually help to fight virus. Ginger can disperse lung cold and stop cough. It also releases the exterior and warms the middle Jiao. It helps to remove dampness by warming our stomach and promotes sweating. A light sweat will open the pores of the skin so that the lungs can disperse the fluids so that the fluids will not become pathogenic dampness. Then when we warm the Middle Jiao, we can get rid of the dampness by transforming the dampness in our stomach.

There are other ways to avoid dampness and phlegm in our body. First of all, we have to avoid overeating. In traditional Chinese medicine, we believe that overeating will weaken the stomach and the spleen and leads to the accumulation of dampness and phlegm. An excessive consumption of cold and raw food will also weaken our spleen. For example, refrigerated foods, ice water, and ice cream will cool our stomach and make our stomach unable to move efficiently. Raw vegetables, salads, and fruits are also considered cold and raw. If you already have COVID-19 like symptoms, you have to avoid refrigerated food and raw vegetables and salad if possible. Some other food are also considered as greasy and creates dampness. For example, deep fried foods like chips, cheese, milk, cream, butter, banana, fatty meats, or nuts; nuts have a lot of oil inside. Try to eat light; it is crucial during the time when you already have dampness in your body, especially if you already see white coating in your tongue. So it is actually a good recommendation that when you wake up in the morning, stand in front of the mirror and take a look at your tongue. See if your tongue is already covered with white coating. If you already see white coating, try to eat light and avoid sweets. A recommendation here is to take Yi Yi Ren with Chi Xiao Dou. Chi Xiao Dou is very good for moving the blood, and at the same time has a diuretic effect together with Yi Yi Ren. Yi Yi Ren transforms dampness in your lung. We can even use Yi Yi Ren to remove pus in our lung. It can become a very nice dessert for dinner or it can even be a very good breakfast for the morning.

We can also keep our bodies warm by doing standing medications with the sun warming up our back. We know that the Tai Yang, Urinary Bladder channel travels in the back of our body. It helps to eliminate fluids in the body and at the same time protects us from external invasion. There is also one very simple exercise you can do if you already have symptoms of chest pain and tightness. If you find any area of discomfort, you can use your fingers to tap on the area that you feel tight; or you can make an empty fist and pound on the area that you feel tight. We know that the thymus is where the T cells mature, and is very crucial in targeting and destroying the pathogen. If we press on the area where the sternum bone is and find any sore and achy spots, we can tap around that area. You can also use your finger to tap along your lung channels; that will help with circulation and Qi movement in the lung channel.

Moxibustion. We talked about burning moxa to make our environment dry. At the same time, we can also use moxibustion to warm up acupuncture points to help the transforming of dampness in our body. There are two points we can recommend. Number one is Ren-12. If you draw a straight line between the end of the sternum bone and your bellybutton, find the center; that is Ren-12. This point is the best to transform dampness and improve circulation in your digestive system. ST 36 is also a very good acupuncture point, which will help you transform the dampness and improve your digestion to increase your immunity. There are also some very simple alternative therapies that we can do at home. We can do Gua Sha in the back and we can also use cupping in the back along the urinary bladder channel. Both methods can increase the movement of Qi, eliminating extra fluid that has been accumulated in the surrounding tissues.

What is the best way to boost your immunity? I cannot underscore enough, the importance of sleeping, in maintaining a healthy immune system. So please sleep before 11 and try to sleep at least 7 hours. There is really no substitute to good sleep when it comes to the health of your immune system. There is nothing you can eat, including supplements or herbal medicine, or do, to make up for poor sleep. So sleep really needs to be the highest priority at this time. Talk to your TCM doctor if you have problems with sleep. The second, is we have to reduce our stress. The body’s reaction to chronic stress is to produce more cortisol, which can result in accumulation of fat tissue; this is also an indication of the increase of dampness in our body. The stress hormone, corticosteroid, can suppress the effectiveness of our immunity; it lowers the number of lymphocytes. Stress can also have an indirect effect on the immune system, as a person may also have unhealthy behaviors and coping strategies to reduce their stress, such as drinking and smoking. These are very bad for the immune system. Try to call your friends, pray, or play some music to reduce your stress. If you do all these things we recommend, you will have the best condition to fight this battle.

TCM can help with all three stages of the disease. Stage one, we can help prevent the disease before it happens; we can help your body to prevent you from getting the COVID-19. Stage 2, if you already have COVID-19-like symptoms, we can prevent it from progressing. In the third stage, if you have recovered from the COVID-19 but still have symptoms of weakness, tiredness, poor appetite, or poor lung functions, we can help you return to your optimal health condition. If you have any questions, please leave your comments and we will try our best to help you. We can fight this battle together. Please do not be stressed, because there are so many things you can do to help your body recover by itself. That is all for today. See you in the next video.

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