April 12, 2020 Update: Reports from those using the prevention and/or treatment protocols described below continue to arrive, and although the number of people reporting back is relatively small, approximately 20 people at this point, the success rate is 100%. Those who have used the treatment protocol have been able to resolve their illness within 3-4 days, with most people reporting feeling 80-90% better after two days on the high dose program.
Last updated April 04, 2020
The COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus pandemic has been spreading very rapidly throughout the world. As of this writing there have been over one million people known to have been infected with the virus, close to 65,000 deaths, and the number is expected to grow over the next few days and weeks. It is important to keep in mind that approximately 95% or more of people who have been infected with COVID-19 will recover, some after a relatively brief period of discomfort of a few days, and some after two or more weeks of pneumonia-related suffering. At highest risk are the elderly and those who suffer from a serious concurrent condition, such as emphysema or heart disease.
The Chinese have the most experience dealing with this epidemic, and at the moment appear to have turned the corner with the illness, having learned how to both effectively treat COVID-19 and prevent its spread. Given that the antiviral medications available in the Western medical arsenal are not effective in combatting COVID-19, the success in China is apparently due to a number of other factors, including isolation, hygiene, and the use of gloves and masks. But perhaps the most influential factor in overcoming the illness has been the widespread use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a fact that has been underreported in the non-Chinese literature.
Expert medical panels made up of some of the top Chinese Medicine doctors in China have been convened in order to arrive at treatment and prevention strategies for dealing with the current epidemic. The success rate using Chinese herbal medicine to prevent COVID-19 progression is greater than 90%, according to analyses conducted by Chinese medical personnel, and as a consequence, Beijing has ordered entire provinces to use Chinese herbal medicine to treat both those who are ill as well as anyone suspected of being infected. Herbal treatment protocols have been published by various Chinese authorities, and have been revised and updated over the course of the past two months as data has been collected and analyzed.
The TCM treatment of COVID-19 is a bit complex and is not something I will go into in this paper. Suffice it to say that the use of TCM herbal strategies for COVID-19 is differentiated according to at least four and sometimes up to nine different stages of the illness, each person being treated with an herbal formula that is appropriate for the current stage of the illness in their particular body. In other words, someone who has just begun getting symptoms will receive a different herbal formula than someone who has mild symptoms, and likewise with moderate, severe, or recovery stage symptoms. Each herbal formula may be modified according to the physical constitution of the patient. An additional factor which is taken into account with the COVID-19 herbal formulas is the time of year during which they are prescribed, meaning that herbal formulas prescribed during the beginning of the epidemic, in the depths of the winter cold, were replaced with different formulas as the season progressed towards spring. (There is a COVID-19 broad -spectrum herbal formula that has been used to good effect by the Chinese during all stages of the disease, which undergoes some modifications according to symptom presentation. This formula is called 清肺排毒汤 Qing Fei Pai Du Tang.) As I noted earlier, treatment of COVID-19 by Chinese herbal medicine is complex.
But this paper is concerned with presenting prevention tactics. Given that most people in the West do not have access to Chinese herbal medicine, or to expert Chinese Medicine clinicians who can prescribe the appropriate formula for them, what can be done to prevent getting sick, or to ameliorate symptoms and speed recovery for those who do get infected with the virus? Beyond the recommendations from the infectious disease experts—hand washing, not touching our face, and avoiding crowded places, are there things we can do to increase our chances of remaining healthy during the pandemic?
The answer is yes, and I will outline actions that can be done by almost everyone who has access to a few simple, key substances. There are two fundamental principles underlying the recommendations here: 1. any degree of help can make the difference between preventing/overcoming the illness, or succumbing and, 2. the substances listed here are very strong medicinals which can help to rapidly resolve viral and bacterial issues.
The recommendations that follow are based on the Chinese Medicine literature currently coming out of China, in combination with my personal experience of over 30 years as a doctor of Chinese Medicine. With the exception of the essential oils, all the recommended substances have been used by me personally to treat very ill people over the years. I have attempted to translate and adapt the successful strategies used in China into techniques people in the West can make use of easily. (Practitioners of Chinese Medicine can contact me for more precise acupuncture, moxabustion, and herbal recommendations for COVID-19 prevention and treatment.)
In order to facilitate understanding of the recommendations below it is useful to have a very basic understanding of COVID-19 behavior. The virus has a very strong affinity for attacking the Lungs and the Spleen systems (yes, I know most of you have no idea what the Spleen system is [it’s not the anatomical spleen], but I told you I was going to approach this from a Chinese Medicine perspective…so you may wish to read up on the Spleen system according to Chinese Medicine.)
It can take a few days for symptoms to begin appearing in someone who has been exposed to the virus, usually somewhere between two to fourteen days according to both the Chinese and Western research that I’ve seen. The virus can stay alive on hard surfaces for up to three days according to information available as of this writing, which means that someone carrying the virus can sneeze, breathe on, or touch an object and presto, that object may now have the COVID-19 virus available for easy acquisition.
The upshot of this is that for a huge portion of the population in places where the virus is known to exist it is almost impossible to not come in contact with the virus. Which leads us to what we’ve all been waiting for, how to protect ourselves from COVID-19.
Prevention Strategies for COVID-19
Prevention fundamentally involves two components: 1) increasing our ability to overcome the virus, meaning strengthening the body’s defensive capacities (what people call the immune system in the West), and 2) making use of substances or techniques which will directly render the virus ineffective or kill it outright. Both strategies can be used together for an enhanced preventive approach.
We can divide prevention strategies into two categories, the “do’s” and the “don’ts”. Let’s start with the “don’ts” since they are relatively few and straightforward:
Follow basic health ministry advice--avoid contact with anyone who is sick, especially if you are older or have a moderate or severe pre-existing health condition
Reduce intake of raw foods and cold drinks
Avoid antibiotics, they are ineffective against viruses, and more importantly, from a Chinese Medicine perspective they damage the Spleen and strongly interfere with the very first stages of immune system formation
Reduce or avoid sugar
The “do’s” can be divided into two major categories: those things which anyone can do, and those which require a professional. While the professional help path makes use of specific tools to strongly enhance your defensive capacities, one can take effective preventive actions without professional help. Regarding getting help from professional medical personnel, I am only able to comment on and recommend the usefulness of Chinese Medicine for preventive purposes, including acupuncture and moxabustion, since this is my sole area of expertise. I’m certain that naturopaths, homeopaths, orthomolecular medicine practitioners, etc. have developed their own protocols and ideas of how to prevent or treat COVID-19, so please check with your qualified local practitioner for professional level help.
Actions which people can do to help prevent getting sick from COVID-19 are fairly simple, affordable, and uncomplicated. There are a number of substances that can be used to effectively combat the virus and help the body fend off infection. As noted above, the Chinese literature discusses the use of Chinese herbal medicine for both preventive and treatment purposes, and here I will be presenting substances and techniques available to Westerners based on some of the Chinese Medicine concepts. Anyone with a strong pre-existing condition, including pregnancy, is recommended to consult with a qualified professional before beginning any of the following recommendations.
1. Oregano Oil
Oregano oil is a very strong antibacterial and antiviral substance (yes, the research is there, you just need to get past the online disinformation campaign against anything natural to find it). Oregano oil should be purchased already diluted in olive oil, not the straight essential oil. The P73 Oreganol strain is a very strong formulation of wild oregano, but the regular oregano oil should work just fine. It is important to get the oregano oil in a liquid solution, not in a capsule, pill, or tablet. This is because we want the oregano oil vapors to get to the lungs, which as noted above is one of the two primary areas COVID-19 attacks. Using it in pill form will be less effective for the lungs, although it will work very well for the digestive tract. Make sure you can strongly smell the oregano when you open the bottle of oregano oil, as you don’t want to use something that is a cheaply produced weak substance.
Oregano oil is the first choice in our attempt to prevent or mitigate COVID-19 because it treats the two systems that this coronavirus primarily attacks, the Lungs/respiratory and Spleen/digestive systems.
In order to maximize the effectiveness of the oregano oil you must administer it correctly. Place 3-5 drops on the middle of the tongue and hold it there without swallowing. As the vapors from the oil start to release, breathe in deeply through your mouth and hold the breath in your lungs around 5 seconds, then slowly breathe out through your nose. Repeat this process 10 times, then slowly swallow the oil. This will maximize the oil getting to your lungs on the inhalation and passing through your sinuses on the exhalation.
Repeat the oregano oil treatment twice a day. If you are in a high-risk environment or exposed to those who have COVID-19, using the oregano oil three times a day will provide greater protection. You can also dab a drop or two of the oregano oil just below your nose on the “mustache” area, or put a drop on your hands and bring the hands up to your nose to inhale the vapors a few times an hour. No, it doesn’t taste good, and it may burn a bit as you swallow it, but you’ll get used to it. If it’s absolutely unworkable undiluted you can try putting it in a small amount of water and then following the above instructions. The oregano oil treatment can be administered anytime, although 30-60 minutes after eating will be easier for those who have sensitive stomachs.
April 04, 2020 Update
1. The pandemic is continuing unabated in many locations, and no one has any real idea of how long it may carry on. The 2-3 times per day original oregano oil recommendation was indicated for people in areas of highly active infections. If you are in a relatively low-risk situation you can reduce the oregano oil to once per day, adding an extra dose if you feel you may have been potentially exposed to the virus.
2. Newer reporting of COVID-19 symptoms is coming in from various locales around the world, and digestive disturbances including diarrhea is being reported more prominently. Oregano oil, as mentioned above, effects primarily the respiratory and digestive systems, something which confirms it as a top choice for preventing and treating this illness.
2. Vitamin C
The Chinese have used high dose Vitamin C to good effect in the battle against COVID-19. Very large doses are given intravenously in a medical setting when treating ill people, but preventatively one can take less intensive doses. Recommended dosage is 4,000-6,000 milligrams per day, broken up in 3-4 servings. Larger daily doses have been and are currently being used effectively by people in higher risk situations. There does seem to be evidence that liposomal Vitamin C is better absorbed than other forms, but it is much more expensive than the old fashioned Vitamin C. Large doses of oral Vitamin C can be challenging for those with sensitive digestive systems; the buffered version (sodium ascorbate or calcium ascorbate) may be easier on the stomach, and taking with food may also help. If you get diarrhea, decrease the dosage until it no longer causes diarrhea.
3. Diffusing Essential Oils
The diffusing of essential oils in your home or work environment can help you prevent infection. It’s not so much that the essential oils will kill the virus in the environment, although that may in fact also happen, it’s more that you will be breathing the essential oils as they are dispersed in the atmosphere and they will then exert their effect on your body from the inside. Remember, COVID-19 has a very strong affinity for the lungs, so diffused essential oils with antiviral properties which are breathed in are a very appropriate delivery route to deal with this virus.
The question is which essential oils to use. There are many different oils available to choose from, but based on researched use of essential oils for their antiviral properties, especially in regards to coronavirus, a combination of Eucalyptus, Ravensara Aromatica, Tea Tree, and Bay Laurel (Laurus Nobilis) should work well to help prevent or mitigate against COVID-19 infection.
Place two drops of each of the above oils in a diffuser device and diffuse into your environment twice per day. It is easy to rig up a diffusing set up, so there is no need to buy a special diffuser. Simply put some water in a bowl, add the essential oils, and set up a lit candle under the bowl. The heat from the candle will warm the water and the essential oils and they will start to vaporize and diffuse. No need to stand near the bowl and breathe in the vapors, just go about your business and breathe regularly as the vapors fill the atmosphere of the room. If you are treating a large space you may need to set up two or more diffusers in different parts of the space.
If you are unable to set up a diffuser device, you can apply a drop of the oils to the palm of one hand and rapidly rub your palms together until the oil becomes vaporized from the heat, about 15 seconds. Then bring your hands, cupped together but partly open, up to your face and breathe in deeply a few times, holding in the breath for 5-10 seconds. As the strength of the vapors wanes rub the hands together again and repeat the process, 5-10 repetitions are sufficient. It is best to close your eyes as you breathe in since the essential oil vapors are very strong; likewise it is best to avoid touching any mucous membranes directly with the oils.
If you can only get three of the above oils, use three. If you can only get two or even just one oil, use what you can get. Remember, a little bit of help could be just enough to help your body’s immune system overcome the virus. Imagine driving a car or riding a bike, where one little adjustment on the steering wheel or bike handle can make the difference between a crash and a close call.
As I mentioned above, there are other antiviral essential oil formulas available for purchase; if you are going to use a different formulation make sure its antiviral action has been used effectively with other strains of the coronavirus and that the oils have a primary affinity for the lungs.
Garlic has been used to some good effect by the Chinese. Le Lu County in Shandong Province, whose residents are known for producing and consuming large amounts of garlic, did not report a single case of SARS infection during the epidemic of 2003-2004. The Chinese doctors themselves, who worked directly with patients during the SARS epidemic, would eat raw garlic before going in to see patients in order to prevent becoming infected.
Garlic has been widely studied for its vast array of antimicrobial and purifying capacities and can be used effectively for many health purposes. For use against COVID-19 it should be taken raw, chewed well or cut into small pieces, and held in the mouth for a minute or two before swallowing, breathing the garlic vapors into the lungs.
Garlic is the most economical of all the preventive remedies, and the most widely accessible. It is known to lower blood pressure, so if you already have low blood pressure, garlic may make you feel tired and run down, and potentially light-headed if the blood pressure becomes too low.
5. Colloidal/Ionic Silver
Colloidal Silver is such a fantastic antibacterial and antiviral substance that it should perhaps be at the top of the list. The reason it isn’t is because there is a question as to its appropriateness given the way COVID-19 manifests.
COVID-19 was found by the Chinese to originally be, during the winter season, an attack of Cold and Damp, which would often transform into Heat and eventually other pathogenic manifestations as the illness progressed. The herbal treatment during the cold and damp phase made use of herbs which dispelled and warmed the cold and transformed, dispelled, and dried out the damp. (This language may seem slightly technical and unfamiliar, but stick with me for a few more sentences.) The use of medicinal substances, or foods for that matter, which are cold or damp-inducing would be highly contraindicated (not recommended) at that stage of the infection, as these things would only strengthen the pathogenic process and weaken the body’s ability to defend itself. This is why antibiotics--which are cold and promote dampness in the body (such as candida), raw foods--which are cold, and sugar--which promotes dampness, are all undesirable.
Colloidal Silver is a substance with a relatively cold nature. As such it is very appropriate for conditions which are hot, and is extremely useful for many bacterial and viral conditions. I have used it with many patients over the years with great success both internally and topically, treating dangerous infections such as MRSA, pneumonia, and sepsis conditions. I have also found it very useful in the treatment of acute illnesses in animals, again both topically and internally as required by the condition in question.
Nonetheless, at this stage it is not clear to me that Colloidal Silver should be used alone as a preventive substance for COVID-19. Neither is it clear that it should be used as a stand alone treatment for COVID-19 infection if the illness is manifesting as an initial stage attack of cold and damp. (If there is a relatively thick, white coating on the tongue this is an indication of cold and damp.) That having been said, it is an excellent antiviral and antibacterial, and should be in everyone’s medicine cabinet. And certainly if someone were to become ill with COVID-19, and not be manifesting cold and damp, colloidal silver would be a strong choice as part of a treatment strategy. As the weather changes and we get deeper into spring COVID-19 may manifest differently, even in its initial stages, and colloidal silver may become appropriate as a preventive strategy. Unfortunately I don’t have enough information yet to make this recommendation.
April 04, 2020 Update
6. Vitamin D
Vitamin D was not originally part of the COVID-19 prevention recommendations, since it is more useful for longer term immune system strengthening and less useful for the acute need presented by the current pandemic. But at this point, reflecting on the trajectory and of the disease and the possibility that the virus may be with us for a while, that it may come back in waves as happened during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1920, or that it may mutate, I thought it best to recommend people start taking a proactive approach which helps build the immune system in a more fundamental way.
Recommended dosage of Vitamin D is 5000 i.u. per day. Daily exposure of a significant area of the body to sunlight, without sunscreen, can cause the body to produce its own Vitamin D in sufficient doses. Those who live in colder climates, or who do not get out into the sun, will likely need to use a Vitamin D supplement.
In summary, you now have a number of tools which can be helpful in warding off infection by the COVID-19 virus, tools inspired by the experience of the Chinese in successfully dealing with the epidemic, adapted to what is available to people in the West. There is no need to panic, and one needn’t go crazy and use all of what has been listed above in the idea that more is better. Use 2-3 of the items listed, get enough rest, eat well, get some exercise, reduce stress levels as possible, and live your life.
Treatment Strategies for COVID-19
This paper was originally only geared towards prevention of COVID-19, but given the rising international statistics of people becoming infected by the Coronavirus and the numbers of people in Italy, Spain, the United States, and other countries dying from the pandemic, it has become necessary to also address treatment strategies.
Discussing treatment strategies for COVID-19 entails a couple of problematic issues. The primary issue is that the infection has a number of different manifestations, which are each treated differently according to Chinese Medicine. A quick glance at the Chinese Medicine COVID-19 treatment literature (which is now significantly available in English) demonstrates some of the differentiation strategies used by doctors who successfully treated the COVID-19 epidemic in China.[i] What does differentiation mean? In this situation COVID-19 is manifesting, in the language of Chinese Medicine, as either cold-damp, damp-heat, damp-toxin, epidemic-toxin, etc., each of which is treated differently. Putting together a treatment strategy for Westerners who lack access to both the Chinese herbs and the professionals who know how to use the herbs correctly is a challenging task.
Be that as it may, given that many people are ill, and some are dying, it is my opinion that attempting to put together a broad-spectrum treatment strategy that is uncomplicated and straightforward, and is accessible to people in the West, is an urgent necessity. As is true of the prevention strategies I outlined above, the following treatment recommendations are broadly based on the symptom patterns outlined by the Chinese Medicine doctors who successfully overcame the current Coronavirus in China.
Due to the fact that so many people are ill, that the allopathic (Western) world is not trained in the use of non-pharmaceutical approaches, and that there are currently no effective medications available in the allopathic pharmacy to treat COVID-19, I think it is safe to assume that the recommendations I am outlining here will be carried out primarily by lay people. That being the case, I am providing some basic treatment principles to keep in mind when you are administering the treatments.
Treatment of acute situations must always be stronger than the pathogen. This most often means that the quantity of herbs and other substances given to combat the illness must be in a high enough dose, and with enough frequency, to overcome the illness. In the case of someone who is seriously ill with the current Coronavirus this may mean waking the person up to administer the medicinal substances on schedule, around the clock.
The person being treated should be observed on a regular basis. If the treatments outlined here are working one should notice improvement fairly rapidly, within a day or two of beginning treatment. (In China, the Chinese Medicine doctors prescribed three days as a course of treatment for the herbal formulas, at which point the formula would be continued or adjusted, although reports from doctors in the field noted positive changes in the patients’ symptoms already after the first day of treatment.) Signs of improvement that are relatively easy to note include: decrease in fever, improved breathing including a decrease in phlegm, increased appetite, change in facial color, stronger voice, etc. If there is no improvement at all after 2-3 days the strategy should be reevaluated, preferably with some professional help.
Treatments should be continued at the high dosages recommended here until the person is clearly out of danger. If you decrease the treatment dosages and notice that the person begins to deteriorate, immediately increase the dosages to the original effective levels.
After successful resolution of the acute stage, it is very important to follow up with a rebuilding stage, particularly with elderly people or those who have other coexisting illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, lung or kidney disease, etc. Reports emerged from China of people with coexisting chronic illnesses, who having been cured of the Coronavirus infection, nonetheless passed on after being discharged from the hospital. It is of utmost importance to slowly but surely nurse the recovered back to full strength, and not to simply send them on their way now that they no longer have an active infection.
Using food as medicine to help people rebuild is essential for those who do not have access to professionally trained herbalists. Broths and soups, particularly chicken soup and meat broths, cooked with leafy greens and root vegetables, are desirable. The soups should be cooked for long periods of time in order to extract the desirable elements from the chicken or meat and the vegetables; the patient need not eat the meat and vegetables, and in fact they may be too weak to chew, but drinking the hot broth will deliver most of the necessary nutrients. Avoiding salads and raw foods, as well as cold drinks, sugary items, and fried and overly oily foods is still recommended at this point. Hot tea is almost always a good idea.
Be careful, when feeding those who are very weak, to only give small amounts of food to swallow or chew with each spoonful or forkful. These people are at risk for aspirating the food, meaning the food goes down the airway, and they will start to cough and choke when this happens. If they start coughing and choking, sit them up straight and pat them on the upper back to help them dislodge the offending item.
Basic COVID-19 Treatment Protocol
The following recommendations should be used together for best effect. As of this update (March 28, 2020) reports have begun coming in from the field of people successfully using the protocol to resolve their infection. There are also reports in the media of hospitals in the west beginning to use high dose intravenous vitamin c to successfully treat patients with the coronavirus.
It is of utmost importance to begin a treatment protocol at the very first signs of illness. This illness advances very rapidly to a critical stage, so intensive, early treatment can be what makes the difference between hospitalization and a quick recovery. If one has even just one sign or symptom of COVID-19 immediately begin the treatment protocol.