By now we have all heard about “herd” immunity. They are saying that as many as 60-70% of us will ultimately have this infection before it will slow down. So, you may get sick and it is easy to have a plan to help yourself have a mild case and avoid some of the serious problems that can result.
How can you lessen the severity of an infection? Begin planning and preventing now. That is the most important thing.
There are two categories of support that are important: things to take to support your immune system all the time to prevent infection, and things to take if you get an infection, no matter what virus or bacterium might be involved. Remember, there are still a lot of viruses which are not COVID-19 out there that can give you a “cold”. You should be prepared for those too.
- I’m recommending people take something with EpiCor in it for immune support. There are several supplements out there that contain it. It is also good to have larch arabinogalactan with it for better effect. Together they make the immune system more responsive to all kinds of things.
- I like elderberry extract (sambucol). There are lots of brands out there. It also helps fight viral infections and it is very pleasant to take. 500 mg is recommended. Stop this one if you get diagnosed with COVID.
- Vitamin D-3 of course is essential. 4000 to 5000 IU per day is a good dose for most people.
- Vitamin C is very important, and a liposomal form is best for supporting immune function. A high dose like 1 to 3 grams daily is best. There has been a good deal of research recently showing that high dose Vitamin C is very helpful for our recent situation.
- Another thing to keep in mind is that lowering inflammation is key if you get sick, and glutathione is a nutrient that helps detoxify the body and lessen inflammation. Again, a liposomal form is best. Liposomes are tiny fat globules that carry the nutrient into a cell more effectively. Glutathione also helps thin secretions in the lungs, so in an infection things can flow better.
- A very high quality multivitamin is key, to support all aspects of health.
- Melatonin is known to support sleep, but is also a potent anti-inflammatory so it can help prevent the serious inflammation that can accompany COVID infections. 5 to 20 mg is a good dose at bedtime.
- There are a number of therapeutic mushrooms that are known to be strong immune modulators. I take a supplement that contains 5 different mushrooms to work synergistically. Be sure to get one that is very good quality. There is a company in Canada that is excellent, called Real Mushrooms. That is my brand.
- Antiviral and immune supporting Chinese herbal formulas can be super powerful to be used at the very first sign of a respiratory infection. We have lots of research from China about which formulas have been most successful at different stages of a viral infection. I am stocking several Chinese herb formulas for various manifestations of infections.
- Zinc is critical to support the immune system in viral infections, and I think eating oysters is a great way to get this, as well as other vegetables that contain it. You can also find zinc lozenges. 30-60 mg daily is good.
- Green Tea is a wonderful anti-inflammatory and immune support nutrient. You can drink 4 cups daily. I drink green tea iced tea all day every day at work so it is easy to get this done.
- Quercitin is also a wonderful nutrient that is found in many fruits and vegetables. It is anti-viral, and you may know it as a help for allergies. It is the ingredient in rose hips that we see often in Vitamin C. We recommend 1000 mg twice daily.
- Custom Chinese herb formulas can also be made up just for you, in case you get sick. For these, I need to see your tongue and get a clear evaluation, so I am using video consultations to make the assessment of what you need. Call at the first sign of an infection of any kind and I will have herbs for you the same day. I will leave them for you to pick up outside in my mailbox.
I have supplements that meet all of the above criteria here at my clinic. You can also find things like these at local health food stores as well. And at my Fullscript online dispensary you can find my Favorites for Immune Support:
Please do call to schedule a video consultation if you need it. My patient management system can support that. Also let me know if you have more questions about the above suggestions.
Most of these suggestions are sourced from the Institute for Functional Medicine and are based on up to date research.
Please call to make an appointment for a nutritional consultation if you’d like more personalized suggestions.
I recently read the above-referenced article regarding the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and COVID-19. The unfortunate conclusions and one-sidedness of the article have led me to speak out on the ignorance surrounding Chinese Herbal Medicine. The article states that “scientists warn against the use” and that they (Chinese herbs) could be harmful and “pose both direct and indirect risks to patients”, quoted by Dr. Edzard Ernst, a professor emeritus of complementary medicine at the United Kingdom’s University of Exeter. He goes on to state that “TCM mixtures can be toxic, contaminated or adulterated with prescription drugs; they can also interact with prescription drugs,” Ernst said.
First, TCM mixtures should be prescribed only by a licensed TCM practitioner that has spent years learning the medicine. Chinese herbal medicine in granular form is pharmaceutical grade and is tested for adulterants, chemicals, pesticides, and thin-layer chromatography is used to ascertain the correct genus and species of the plant. His argument that Chinese Medicine can be contaminated and or adulterated and that the entire system of medicine should not be used is like saying that because Zantac has recently been pulled off the shelves because it contained NDMA that no one should ever use pharmaceuticals because they can be adulterated.
He also claims that TCM mixtures can be toxic. Yes, a few herbs have some level of toxicity, however, over the 3000-year history of the medicine, the way the herb is prepared and the amount that is given within the formula negates the toxicity and increases the safety of the herb. For example, the herb pinellia (ban xia in pinyin) is toxic when harvested but when prepared with ginger, the toxicity level is negated. Pinellia is sold in the prepared form only, so there is no chance of ever consuming it raw. We have specific guidelines about dosage to ensure safety of the herbs prescribed. Many of our herbs are considered foods, like Reishi mushrooms, goji berries, and longnan fruit. These are incredibly gentle and safe. Anything taken beyond a prescribed dose can be toxic. If you drink too much water, it can actually kill you. If you eat too many carrots, you will turn orange from excess beta-carotene (called carotenemia). In addition, many prescription drugs can be considered toxic, however, they are prescribed because the benefits of the medicine are thought to outweigh the side-effects.
Dr. Ernst goes on to say, “It can also give patients a false sense of security, leading them to neglect proven medications or therapies.” First of all, there are NO proven therapies for COVID-19 right now. If Chinese Medicine can help to bring a fever down, clear some of the glue-like phlegm from the lungs and help the patients recover quicker, than how is this a “false sense of security”? No one is saying to neglect Western Medicine. If a patient is turned away from the hospital saying they aren’t sick enough to be admitted, then what? A telemedicine consult with a licensed practitioner that can prescribe herbal medicine can open up valuable options for many in need. And if TCM can be used in the hospitals (like they are in China) alongside other as of yet unproven therapies, then why wouldn’t we welcome it as another tool in our armory to fight this and save lives? As long as the practitioner is a licensed herbalist (Dipl. OM, or Dipl. CH) they should be working alongside hospitals to prescribe the correct formulas to the individual patients.
The article goes on to quote, “The lack of detail about the remedies contributes to doubts over their efficacy”, Dan Larhammar, a molecular cell biologist and president of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, said in a phone interview. Mr. Larhammar is referencing the pre-packaged herbal pills that are being produced for the masses. TCM practitioners in China developed these specific COVID remedies (such as jinhua qinggan capsules, lianhua qingwen capsules) because there are not enough TCM practitioners around the world to prescribe custom formulas for the swaths of people in need of such medicinals. Also, there is a shortage of specific herbs that seem to be effective against this virus which makes it more difficult for the private TCM practitioners to prescribe on a large scale. Do I agree with the use of a capsule that could be used to treat everyone? Not really. Chinese medicine is based on treating the individual. The Chinese found a formula that would treat the “typical” symptoms of COVID, although true practice does not work that way. And if the ingredients aren’t listed, then I would be hesitant to trust it as well.
The “scientific rigor” that is missing from Chinese herbal medicine treatment is due to a few important factors. One, herbs are combined for specific reasons. The herbs work together within a formula and interact with each other on a molecular level to have a specific therapeutic outcome. By researching each individual component rather than seeking the holistic effect of the formula together is a reductionist view that is typical of the pharmaceutical industry. The complex interactions that occur with combining Chinese medicinals have been studied over thousands of years. Secondly, the lack of “scientific rigor” is due to the inherent nature of our individualized medicine. If there are 20 people that have COVID-19, there would likely be 20 different formulas given to each one of them (with some overlap of specific herbs found to be useful with this virus). This makes it difficult for TCM to be shoe-horned into the Western model of placebo-controlled, double-blinded studies. There are no “one-size fits all” remedies. And to neglect its benefits, even as an augment to Western medicine in treating COVID-19, is short-sighted. Yes, TCM terminology and its “vague terms” are not often understood by Western researchers, however, this is because the ancient medicine used terms from the natural world to describe physiologic events occurring in the body. Just because it does not conform to the standards of modern medicine, it does not mean that it is inferior.
If people improve with or without TCM, this argument is completely illogical. If they have the virus and they get better, they should continue with their quarantine for 14 days like everyone else that has a confirmed case. If TCM helps them, it could prevent them from going into the hospital and decrease the risk of their symptoms getting worse and a potential need for a mechanical ventilator, which is in short supply. Again, let’s compare. If a physician prescribes medicine to fight COVID, and the patient feels better and decides to venture out before the 14-day quarantine, the argument to not treat with physician-prescribed medicine because it will give patients a false sense of security now seems quite laughable.
I hope this writing has cleared up some of the misconceptions surrounding an extraordinary medicine. The hospitals in WuHan and the surrounding areas have been forthright with the global Chinese Medicine community by disseminating information to TCM practitioners in how to best treat COVID-19. The amazing community of TCM herbalists across America stands poised and ready to help those in need by doing telemedicine herbal consults. I personally have offered my services to the state of NJ to fight alongside the doctors and nurses in local hospitals to bring TCM to help those in need. I believe that we should all work together to save as many patients as we can using every single tool available. Join me in the embrace of old and new, traditional and modern, and together we can overcome and heal the globe.
Candace Jania, L.Ac., Dipl. O.M.
Acupuncture Fights Influenza, Decreases Mortality Rate
Acupuncture reduces mortality from influenza. Two independent investigations confirm acupuncture’s efficacy for fighting influenza. One laboratory investigation tested acupuncture as a monotherapy and determined that acupuncture lowers mortality rates, increases serum interferon levels, and improves the phagocytosis of viruses. Another investigation finds acupuncture effective for enhancing the clinical effictiveness of anti-viral drugs. Let’s start with the integrative investigation and we’ll look at the acupuncture monotherapy next.
Researchers from the Taizhou Municipal Hospital combined acupuncture with standard drug therapy. Patients receiving both oseltamivir and acupuncture in a combined treatment protocol had superior patient outcomes compared with patients receiving only oseltamivir.  In an independent laboratory experiment, the researchers proved that acupuncture exerts an antiviral effect by increasing the serum level of interferon (IFN) and improves phagocyte function in rats with influenza virus infections. 
The research team of Lang et al. compared a control group receiving only oseltamivir (an antiviral drug, also known by the brand-name Tamiflu) and a treatment group receiving both acupuncture and oseltamivir. The treatment group patients had significantly shorter recovery times for relieving fever, sore throat, and coughing. The researchers conclude that the addition of acupuncture to an oseltamivir treatment regimen increases the effective rate of oseltamivir for the treatment of influenza. Furthermore, the researchers conclude that acupuncture is both effective and safe; acupuncture did not produce any severe adverse effects.
Following treatment, the average recovery time from fever was 63.80 hours in the drug monotherapy control group and 57.05 hours in the acupuncture plus drug treatment group. On average, acupuncture reduced fevers by 6.75 hours.
The average recovery time from sore throat was 80.35 hours in the control group and 71.25 hours in the treatment group. Acupuncture improved the pharynx pain recovery time by 9.1 hours.
The average recovery time from coughing and other symptoms was 115.20 hours in the drug monotherapy control group and 104.70 hours in the acupuncture plus drug treatment group; acupuncture produced an improvement of 10.5 hours. The recovery time refers to the time it takes to completely relieve symptoms (including body temperature ≤37.4 degrees Celsius) for at least 24 hours from the start of treatment. The results showed that acupuncture significantly increases the total effective rate of oseltamivir and the combined therapy shortens the development course of H1N1 influenza.
Researchers (Lang et al.) used the following study design. A total of 80 patients diagnosed with H1N1 influenza were treated and evaluated They were randomly divided into an acupuncture plus drug treatment group and a drug monotherapy control group, with 40 patients in each group. Inclusion criteria were established and included the following:
- H1N1 influenza diagnosis
- Body temperature ≥38 degrees Celsius
- At least two indicative symptoms (e.g., sore throat, coughing)
Both groups were given identical drug therapy. A total of 75 mg of oseltamivir was administered twice daily, for a total of 5 days as one treatment course. Symptomatic treatment (antipyretic analgesics, antitussives, or expectorants) were also given if necessary.
The treatment group received acupuncture treatment. The following primary acupoints were selected bilaterally for the treatment group:
- LI11 (Quchi)
- TB5 (Waiguan)
- LI4 (Hegu)
- LU5 (Chize)
Additional secondary acupoints were added based on symptom presentation:
- High fever: GV14 (Dazhui)
- Severe cough: LU6 (Kongzui)
- Sore throat: LU10 (Yuji), LU11 (Shaoshang)
The Taizhou Municipal Hospital researchers determined that acupuncture improves outcomes for influenza patients taking oseltamivir. This includes reductions of fevers and symptomatic relief. Overall, the total recovery time improves when acupuncture is added to the drug therapy treatment regimen.
In another investigation, Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) researchers investigated the effect of acupuncture and moxibustion on rats infected with influenza virus. They found that both acupuncture and moxibustion decrease the mortality rate and increase the average survival time. In addition, they document that both TCM therapies significantly increase the serum level of IFN and improve phagocytosis of viruses.
Interferon (IFN) plays a major role in defective neutrophil recruitment and influenza virus killing.  The researchers conclude that both acupuncture and moxibustion are effective for the treatment of influenza. Notably, acupuncture produced superior outcomes over moxibustion therapy.
Three groups were compared. The first group received acupuncture. The second group received moxibustion. The third group was a control. For the acupuncture treatment group, a needle was inserted into one single point (Dazhui, GV14) and was manipulated with the twisting technique with a frequency of 30–50 times per minute. For the moxibustion treatment group, 10–15 mg of moxa cigar cuttings were applied upon the acupoint Guanyuan (CV4). A total of 4 cuttings were used in one treatment session. The above treatments were conducted daily, for 3 consecutive days in total. The control group received no treatment.
The mortality rate of the acupuncture treatment group was 63.5% and was 78.6% for the moxibustion group. The control group mortality rate was 96.4%. In addition, overall survival times improves in the acupuncture and moxibustion groups.
The aforementioned independent investigations indicate that acupuncture reduces mortality from influenza and acupuncture is an important treatment option for the treatment of influenza. Acupuncture improves the serum level of IFN and improves phagocytosis of viruses. Patients are encouraged to contact local licensed acupuncturists to consult about treatment options.
 Lang BX, Jin LQ, Liu SN, Liu XR. Clinical observation on the effect of acupuncture combined with conventional therapy on influenza H1N1 [J]. Chinese Archives of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 2011, 29(2):411-412.
 Chou YF, Cao YM, Wang JL, Yang ZM, Qiu ML. Protective effect of acupuncture on mice infected with influenza virus [J]. China Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy, 1990(2):16-18.
 Wenjing Li, Bruno Moltedo, Thomas M. Moran. Type I Interferon Induction during Influenza Virus Infection Increases Susceptibility to Secondary Streptococcus pneumoniae Infection by Negative Regulation of T Cells [J]. Journal of Virology, Oct 2012, 86 (22) 12304-12312.
The implications of this investigation are that an integrative medicine approach to infectious disease has the potential to save lives. The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that sepsis “affects more than 30 million people worldwide every year, potentially leading to 6 million deaths.” 
Acupuncture And Drug Therapy
For both groups, patients received routine care and anti-infective drugs. The anti-infective therapy contains 400 mg of a moxifloxacin hydrochloride injection (an antibiotic) and 250 ml of a 5% glucose solution. The two medicines were delivered by intravenous fluid drips for a total of 90 minutes.
The acupoints used for the treatment group included the following:
- LI4 (Hegu)
- LI11 (Quchi)
The results indicate that acupuncture combined with conventional anti-infective therapy into an integrated treatment protocol is more effective than using routine care and anti-infective drugs without acupuncture. Wang et al. conclude that acupuncture is safe and effective for the treatment of pneumonia-induced sepsis.
1. Wang S, Li LN, Qi WS. Curative Effect of Electroacupuncture of Large Intestine Meridian YUAN Point Combined with HE-sea Point in Treating Sepsis Patients Caused by Pneumonia and the Impact on Cholinergic Anti-inflammatory Pathway [J]. Practical Journal of Cardio-cerebral Pulmonary Vascular Disease, 2018, 26(8): 66-69.
2. who.int/sepsis/en/. Sepsis, World Health Organization. 3-31-2020.
From Health CMi
You can do healthy quarantine cooking with whole foods now. As of this writing I am industriously looking at what I’ve got in my extensive larder. I do tend to stockpile food, so finally I’m having the opportunity to use some of it. I’ve got freezers full of vegetables and meat, canned tomatoes and tomato products, every kind of gluten free flour, every kind of grains, beans and pulses, frozen fish, even frozen dehydrated tomatoes. I was raised by people who grew up in the depression and was taught to think that someday we might not have access to food, so I am a food collector.
Last week I made a casserole out of some frozen lasagna noodles I had, combined with some crushed tomatoes, some chopped green olives, chopped black olives, onion and garlic. I made up the sauce by sautéing the veggies and adding the tomato sauce and olives, seasoning with basil and oregano. I stirred in some parmesan cheese and about a cup of sautéed sausage that I had frozen after my last pizza cooking round. Stirred in the chopped thawed noodles, turned it into a greased casserole, topped with some cheese I happened to have on hand, baked at 350 for 45 min. Voila!
Yesterday I made my favorite sautéed spinach. I make this most weeks. Sautéed one chopped onion, 4 cloves of garlic put through the garlic press in olive oil. Mix in two large bags of frozen chopped or whole leaf spinach. Put on the lid and cook a bit. Uncover and add salt and pepper to taste, and a little more olive oil for richness. Cover again for about 5-10 minutes and stir until everything is mixed. Eat one cup of this stuff daily and you are getting about 3-4 cups of spinach. Great for the immune system.
Today I made my famous tortilla soup. I sautéed onion and garlic in olive oil, added chopped carrots and celery from my fridge, sautéed the bunch with a little salt and pepper till soft. Then I poured in a pint of green enchilada sauce, a quart of chicken broth, and added about 1/4 cup of quinoa grains. I allowed it all to simmer while the quinoa cooked and expanded to thicken the broth. I threw in one and a half diced red bell peppers that were in the fridge. I added more water and salt until the volume was about a gallon. Seasoned at the end with oregano, a little soy sauce, some chili powder and a pinch of cayenne. Simmer 1 minute. Done.
Going through your pantry you can find all kinds of things that have might have sat there a while and been forgotten. You can get those out and get creative. And now we have so much time to research cooking on the internet.
If you have a chance to get to the grocery store, focus on fresh vegetables that keep a while like bell peppers, organic celery, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, organic white potatoes, and frozen greens like spinach and kale and green beans that you can dump into anything. Pick up some whole grains because all the white rice is gone, and get creative with new grains like quinoa, millet, faro, and more. Be sure you have salt and pepper, onions and garlic if you can get them. Even garlic powder can be great.
Make some soup. Make a casserole. Make some glop. Enjoy it.
Cook whole foods to nourish your body and support your immune system. By combining fresh and frozen vegetables with whole grains and small amounts of meat you can make a very satisfying dish.
Choose a theme: Italian, Mexican, American (?), Asian. Use a few condiments from your fridge and spices from your larder to create the theme.
Have fun. We will get through this and be stronger for it.
Telemedicine available now for Chinese herb treatment of infections.
For new and existing patients we are immediately offering telemedicine video conferences for you to discuss your health concerns with Laura Christensen LAc over a secure, HIPPA compliant connection.
Just go to our Patient Tools tab on our website, click “create appointment” and you will either open your patient account or create one. Then scroll to the bottom of the list of services and choose Telemedicine consult 60 min. If you are coming back for a check-in, choose either 30 minute or 15 minute for your time. Then the available appointments will be highlighted in our calendar. You will receive an email reminder about an hour before your video call.
Then be sure your computer is on, you have either headset with mic, or a set of earbuds with mic, and computer camera ready to go. You can test those using the settings function on your computer. Also be sure you have a fast internet connection. If not fast enough, the system will invite you to convert to just an audio session. We would prefer to collect your fee by credit card at the beginning of the session and we have a virtual terminal to enter this charge without swiping your card. Prepare for your meeting also by having a list of what you’d like to address, and a way to take notes during the conversation.
If you are sick, Laura will need a good image of your tongue in order to prescribe the proper chinese herb formula. She is up to date in studying these formulas and her pharmacy is prepared to prescribe specialized ones based on the recent experiences of the Chinese doctors in China.
Laura will either guide you to where to purchase the appropriate herb formula, or will compound it in her pharmacy and you can pick it up at the office. Long distance patients cannot be well served with this system, as the formula could change every day or so and immediately modifying the prescription could be necessary.
We can also recommend nutritional supplements that will support your immune system or help you recover from the acute stage of a viral infection. We can also support those suffering from allergies at this time of year in the US.
Watch this space for changes in our telemedicine news.
Call 319-341-0031. We look very much forward to serving you.
Acupuncture for Stress to be your best self. Everyone is feeling very stressed right now. And we know from research that stress suppresses the immune system. So it is more important than ever that we practice all the stress management techniques that we have. Acupuncture is one of those.
Consider scheduling an acupuncture treatment to help your nervous system settle, enhance the function of your Qi in being able to defend you from infection and keep your Qi strong to get through this challenging time. If you’ve had acupuncture before, you know very well how rested and refreshed you can feel after a treatment and for days after.
Chinese herbs can also be very helpful in strengthening our Qi, balancing whatever might be out of balance, and optimizing our health. In professional Chinese medicine we can treat the “constitutional disharmony” that underlies all your health issues. That can very much help keep you healthy in the face of current situations.
At our office we are keeping our waiting room free of patients, repeatedly sanitizing all surfaces during the course of the day, asking patients to wash hands as they enter the clinic and as they enter their homes. We are sanitizing every surface such as credit card machine and all door handles, as we always do. We want you to feel safe in attending your appointment.
If you are an older person or in poor health, we are recommending that you stay home and do not come to the clinic.
At your appointment we can make recommendations about how to support your immune system with nutrition and supplements and other lifestyle supports.
Science tells us that this virus will be with us for quite a long time and that we must all make changes for the long haul. We are doing our best to support you during this time.
Chinese herbs are an effective treatment for COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. Laura has been keeping careful watch on the posts coming out from the Chinese doctors in China who have successfully treated severe cases of the novel coronavirus. There are simple herb formulas that can be used to deal with the infection when it sets in. Laura is prepared to consult with infected patients by facetime, google hangouts, and other platforms. Then, personal formulas will be created for each patient.
One of the important aspects of this illness as it has been observed in China, is that it does not follow the common pattern that Chinese doctors expect with viral infections. In fact, some of the off-the-shelf Chinese herbal antivirals might even make things worse. So seek personalized evaluation and treatment by a qualified Chinese herbalist rather than trying to self treat.
The most important diagnostic feature of these cases is the tongue. Tongue diagnosis is critical to good Chinese herbal prescribing. That is why the computer images will be so helpful in designing the most effective formulas.
We are prepared to treat. Give us a call to set up a consultation. 319-341-0031