Some thoughts on keeping healthy in the time of COVID-19.

In Chinese Medicine, COVID-19 is presenting largely as what we call a “wind-damp” sickness. When dampness gets “lodged in the lungs” it can cause pneumonia and lead to complicating factors that we see in the worst cases. I have been reading reports from acupuncturists on the front-line in China, and it is very helpful to have some idea of what we may expect to help prevent serious illness.

To help boost our immune systems and “Wei Qi” (usually translated as Defensive Qi), here are some things we can all do: 

Perhaps the most important is to try to get good SLEEP. Being in bed by 9:30/10:00 pm and sleeping as deeply as possible gives us the building blocks for strong & healthy Wei Qi. Practicing sleep hygiene like pulling ourselves off of our screens by 9 pm and not doing or watching stressful things at night can really help. Meditating or spending quiet time with a loving pet or a good book can help to quiet our system down to help us sleep deeply.

AVOID “sticky” foods like sugar, dairy, and any known allergens (our body produces phlegm when we eat foods we have sensitivity to). Also limit fried foods and refined flours, as these are damp-producing. (I know for many in our culture these are “comfort foods,” but if you have other things that bring you joy it’s worth it to find other means of comfort right now!)

Limit over-stimulating and dehydrating drinks & treats like coffee, alcohol and chocolate, as staying hydrated is key. DO drink lots of room-temperature water daily.

Eat regularly and take your time. Our Wei Qi is supported by meals of cooked, warming foods like soups and stews, cooked veggies, and healthy proteins. Adding some ginger into your cooking is a great idea too. Ripe fruits like pears and nuts like almonds are also great for our lung qi.

Avoid overeating, and limit the amount of cold raw foods and juices you consume to help your Wei Qi stay strong.

It looks like it will be a damp and breezy week or so in the Triangle. So when you go outside be sure to stay dry and keep from getting a chill and giving your immune system an unnecessary challenge. Keep yourself warm and dry. Use a blow dryer when you get out of the shower and keep comfortable layers close at hand when going outside or exercising. Particularly keep the throat/neck area covered (wear a scarf!) and be sure to stay dry (use raincoats and umbrellas if you have to be out in the rain). 

Slow down & EXHALE. Remember that to allow full exchange of air we need to gently let the “stale air” out first. Exhaling quiets our nervous system and allows fresh air in. Think of it like opening a window to air out a room. Yes, please do be mindful of where you are and who is around!

Find at least one thing a day to do to bring yourself a little joy! Having a laugh, or a ginger tea, or a cuddle, or a cry—whatever it is that helps you connect to the deeper joy within.

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