We are not sterile beings but even throughout our most recent history we have seen outbreaks of various viruses: Swine Flu, Avian Flu, Ebola Virus, and now the Coronavirus. Note that the common cold comes from the coronavirus family. So, while this virus is something to be aware of, its not something to be panicking over just yet or if at all. In this article, I have done my best to summarize key points that have been in discussion throughout the Naturopathic, Homeopathic, and Integrative Community. There are links and resources at the end of this article should you like to investigate any of the points further.
The History and Life cycle of 2019 -nCOV as of 1/30/2020:
It's a single stranded RNA virus that started in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.
There is speculation that the virus is coming from snakes by way of bats and perhaps other unknown animals. This however has NOT been confirmed by the CDC.
How infectious/contagious is the virus? Currently, for every person infected, they can potentially infect 2-5 people. A typical flu virus is usually between 1.5 - 3 people. So the 2019 nCOV is currently slightly more contagious.
If you've traveled internationally, particularly China, and/or you've been around someone who has, it is being recommended by the CDC to self quarantine for 14 days.
This is a viral respiratory infection. At the first signs of feeling unwell from a respiratory infection, it's always a good idea to stay home and take care of YOU. Regardless of what virus.
Public Health representatives are advising typical self care and hygiene practices. Washing your hands, sneezing and cough into your elbow (although I argue to do this inside your clothes or into a handkerchief), and staying home if sick.
The Perspective of a Naturopathic Doctor:
1. PREVENTION is key.
This is always the case but in moments of known epidemics, it is imperative that you take care of yourself using all the immune supportive therapies you have and that you know to have worked for you in the past. This may be a combination of the following: eating clean, getting a good night's sleep, setting boundaries where necessary, keeping your surroundings as clean as possible, taking herbal/homeopthic remedies, using essential oils, etc.
2. Addressing the virus.
Use all antiviral and immune supportive herbs whenever possible to address the virus itself. I will focus a following post on anti-viral and lung loving herbs.
*I would like to make a very important note here. Whenever there is an epidemic, a novel infectious disease where there is no proven treatment as of yet and is life threatening, the FDA supports the use of therapies, or "investigative medical products", that may go outside what is currently in clinical trials. That means, the use of herbs, homeopathics, and other CAM therapies to treat and/or prevent 2019 nCOV is under the realm of "expanded access" and therefore being supported by the FDA.
3. Protect and heal the damaged tissue. This section pertains mainly to high risk individuals: elderly, immune compromised, those with known lung diseases.
This virus infects and damages the lungs. So while eradicating the virus is important; as clinicians, we must also do what we can to protect and promote healing of the respiratory tract specifically. For example, if you are in a house fire and inhale smoke, the smoke will damage the lungs. When you escape the fire, you are out of the smoke but your lungs are still damaged. The smoke represents the virus in this case. The process of healing can become over-reactive and in turn is what can cause complications.
When a virus invades our body, the immune system comes in to attack the virus by way of the circulation, aka fluid. In the lungs this can lead to pneumonia. For example, sinus infections. The sinus congestion is there because the immune system is busy. We feel pretty crummy because of our immune system but that's a good thing...until it's not. The immune system brings a series of specialized cells that unfortunately can damage the surrounding area, in the case of 2019-nCOV, it's the lungs. This leads to Acute Repsiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and ultimately the lethal complications you're hearing about. Essentially, the continuation of fluid coming into the lungs from an overactive immune system, causes a "drowning" affect. We want our immune system to do it's job but not become what's called a "cytokine storm".
As naturopathic doctors, we have therapies to help modulate the cytokine storm and these modalities must be used in cases of ARDS and most definitely in suspected cases of the 2019-nCOV.
Please see Dr. Paul Herscu's research with a potential therapy to stop the "cytokine storm". There is a promising therapy to look into further for cases of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome.)
As we learn more, it has been advised to listen to outside sources of trends and statistics instead of what's coming from inside China itself. This is mainly due to political reasons and suspicions that perhaps data from inside China may or may not be skewed. I would suggest following information coming from the Centers for Disease Control, Virology, and infectious disease resources as these organizations will be hopefully without bias.
In the meantime, TAKE CARE OF YOU!
If you are into essential oils, pull out your Young Living Thieves. If you are into herbal medicine, start taking Ginger Root or other antivirals. Continue to exercise as that boosts your immune system, eat clean to minimize inflammation, and manage your stress. This isn't the time to run yourself to the ground. Of course this list is not all inclusive as there are tons of immune boosting things you can do. Whatever it is, instead of panicking, be informed and PRO-ACTIVE.
Journal of Medical Virology. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10969071. The 2019-new coronavirus epidemic: evidence for virus evolutino. Domenico Benvenuto, Marta Giovannetti, Alessandra Ciccozzi, Sivia Spoto, Silvia Angeletti, Massimo Ciccozzi.
InnVision Professional Media Education.https://ivpmeducation.com/news/coronavirus-outbreak-in-china-traced-to-snakes/. Coronavirus outbreak traced back to snakes. Dick Benson.
Center for Disease Control. 2019 novel coronavirus FAQ. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html
GlobalSecurity.org. Homeland Security, Flu Transmission. https://www.globalsecurity.org/security/ops/hsc-scen-3_flu-transmission.htm
FDA. Public Health, Expanded Access. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/expanded-access
Paul Herscu, ND, MPH. C1-esterase inhibitor infusion increases survival rates for patients with sepsis. Igonin AA, Prosenko DN, Galstyan GM, Vlasenko AV, Khachatryan NN, Nekhaev IV, Shlyapnikov SA, Lazareva NB, Herscu P. 2012 Mar;40(3):770-7. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0b013e318236edb8.
Paul Herscu ND, MPH. Epidemic Updates. 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCOv). https://paulherscuepidemics.blogspot.com/2020/01/2019-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov.html