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The situation with the coronavirus and shelter-at-home orders is evolving each day. As our medical system gets up and running, to do testing and manage acute care, more and more data will be coming in. In the coming weeks, we’re likely to see the number of cases increase to a level that both surprises and frightens us. I want to encourage you to stay calm, stay safe, and to stay educated in a very dynamic and unprecedented situation.  

Always wanting to do my best to support my community, I decided to send out an updated list of suggested practices to help you and your loved ones stay as safe as possible at this time. Please feel free to share this with others as well.  

I will cover three different aspects of the situation. It was too much information for one go, so I felt the need to break it up. Please take the time to read the whole thing. I know it’s a lot but this is one of the times that it’s important. 

Part one will focus on supporting the physical health of you and your loved ones. Part two will focus on the range of emotions we’re all facing as a collective right now and how to deal with them. The third part will be the most esoteric and focus on my perspective of what all this “can” mean in the bigger scheme of things. I use the word “can” because it is really up to us to navigate what this experience will mean for us individually and as a society.  

I also want to address a gaping hole in our medical care system. Currently, the basic rule is to not test people who think they have it, to have them stay at home, and to just be sick unless they need acute respiratory support.
While I completely agree that we should all stay at home to slow the risk of exposure and hopefully not overwhelm the medical system, there is a huge gap between staying at home and getting treatment for being sick. 

In my opinion, it’s irresponsible to just let someone just be sick and tell them to deal with it. This is absolutely not the philosophy of Chinese medicine and is completely contradictory to why I practice medicine. Chinese herbal medicine is immensely powerful and can both help protect you and treat you if you get sick. 

If you contract something, please stay at home (unless you need to go to the ER because you can’t breathe) but also, please contact me immediately to start getting treatment. I’ll explain more about why this is so important below.

To start let’s talk about protection:
The virus is most likely to enter in two ways – either you will inhale it into your sinus cavity by being around someone who has it or you will touch something that has it on it and then touch your mouth, eyes, or nose. Following the guidelines for social distancing will help reduce the risk of aerosol exposure (not 100% but greatly). Wiping down packages with sanitizers and regularly washing your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds (with regular soap) will help reduce the second risk.

That said, some of the predictions that we’re seeing for the percentage of the population that will be exposed to and contract the virus are very high. This is even assuming we follow the shelter-at-home and proper hygiene guidelines. For this reason, I feel it’s important that everyone actually be prepared to be exposed to and contract the virus at some point in the coming six to twelve months. I don’t say that to promote fear though. Rather, I’m just trying to be realistic and overly cautious in how everyone is prepared.

It’s very important to know that getting exposed to and contracting the virus doesn’t have to mean we’ll get sick, be hospitalized or die. This virus is not like Ebola or the Black Plague and it’s good to remember that the majority of people who contract it will only have mild symptoms. This is exactly why it has spread so much in the last few months and is why we need the shelter-at-home rules right now. 

In my opinion, it seems like our goal right now is to be one of the many who will have minimal to no symptoms upon being exposed to or contracting the disease. We can’t stay locked up forever and it will be sometime before there is a vaccination available. My hope is to support my community in ways to be part of that demographic.
So how can we operate from the space of assuming we’ll be exposed and still protect ourselves. There are two steps here:

First – keep your immune system as strong as possible.

Second – be extremely pro-active in treating potential exposure or any symptoms as quickly as possible so the disease doesn’t have time to penetrate more deeply in your system.

We’re all exposed to a multitude of viruses and bacteria in our daily lives. Not all of us get sick all the time, and when we do, not all of us get sick in the same ways. Disease always starts as a relatively mild infection. Some viruses/bacteria are more virile and are able to get deeper into our systems more quickly. But even then, there is often a small window of time before the pathogen has truly overwhelmed our immune system.  

To protect ourselves as much as possible we want to proactively treat any exposure as rapidly as possible and before it has a chance to get in. To do that, we need to be prepared and have some tools at our immediate disposal (a.k.a, in our daily medicine cabinet). I’ll be listing my suggestions below. To keep our immune system strong we need to take the right supplements, eat the right foods, and do the right exercises.

Of course, none of these things can guarantee you won’t get exposed or won’t contract the virus. Rather, these tools are things we can all do to minimize the risk of contracting the virus or having complications. 

None of us can control the outside world,all we can do is control how we respond to it.

Essential Oils – Essential oils are one of the most cost-effective and powerful medicines we can easily incorporate into our self-care. They are strongly anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and also have the ability to strengthen our natural immunity at the same time. Not all companies are the same and I am listing links to the primary company that I use. I have no business affiliation with them. They are just a great company with great products. 

Brushing your teeth – One of the places the virus can end up is in our mouth through putting our fingers there. Once there, it will try to set up camp in your throat. This is a common location for many viruses. Using some essential oils on your toothbrush and gargling with it at the end of brushing will help to minimize your risk of any exposure progressing to illness. This is the oil blend I have used for years. One bottle will last a long time as you only need one drop each time you brush your teeth. 

Showers – Essential Oils absorb into the skin much more efficiently in water. You want to apply the oils around your neck/throat/ears/collar bones while in the shower. These are the areas around your lymph glands where they can penetrate and help fight a potential infection. You only need a few drops per shower. A little goes a long way and more is not better.   

I suggest getting two or three of these blends and changing them up throughout the week. Over the years in my practice, I’ve treated countless patients with cold and flu and have never gotten sick from them. I give these oils part of the credit for that. I suggest using these every day for at least the next few months but changing the oils you use regularly.  

Winter Immunity Blend Shower Magic 1 Shower Magic 2 Shower Magic 3

Nebulizer/Breathing treatments – Nebulizers are different than your normal aromatherapy diffuser. They are more “medical” per se in that they do not dilute or alter the oils. The oils can be diffused in a room and, more importantly, you can actually stand over the nebulizer and inhale the oils into your sinuses and lungs. The goal is to get an anti-viral oil or blend into the area that the virus will try and set up base camp as quickly as possible. Inhaling oils is one of the strongest ways to get the benefit of the oils into your system quickly. 

My suggestion is to do a short breathing treatment (say five minutes or so) after going out and just assume you’ve been exposed. Realistically, this is probably overkill and not truly necessary, but with all that is happening, I’d rather be overly cautious. 

You will add about 30 drops or so to the nebulizer, turn it on, and then lean over it to inhale the oils while breathing normally. If it feels too strong, just move back a few inches or so it’s less concentrated. You can also let it diffuse in your house for 30 minutes or so once per day if you’d like.

Nebulizer – this is an example of a nebulizing diffuser. If this specific one isn’t available just get a similar model. They’re all relatively similar. Shower Magic Blend 1 or 2 (see above) Respiratory Magic

Herbal Medicine

Chinese medicine has a very rich history of using herbs to strengthen your immune system and protect against infection. I strongly encourage everyone to include this as part of your regime for the next few months while we see how this all plays out.  I’ll be happy to order some herbs for you and have them delivered to your home. If you’re an active patient of mine, you’re also welcome to pick them up at the office, though I strongly suggest going the route of mail order to help minimize your outings right now. 

I have several options to support you but we should chat to know which is best for you personally. If you just need a basic formula I can just have the herbs shipped to you directly after a quick chat or email. If you have any ongoing health issues then we should probably do a personalized herbal consultation first. I normally charge $75 for a personalized herbal consultation for my existing clients but will reduce that to $50 while we navigate this crisis. 

If you’ve never worked with me directly as a patient, then please fill out my Acute Health Concern paperwork and we’ll set up a time for a telemedicine conference call and get you taken care of. 

Please email me at justinehrlichlac@gmail.com or give me a call at 619.535.1876 if you have any questions.

Supplements

Data remains mixed around various supplements and seems to be changing as time goes on. What seems to be clear is that the supplements that support your immune system to protect against infection, shouldn’t be used in high doses if you contract the disease. Mega-dosing, the typical Western approach, seems to increase the risk of complications in some scenarios so I encourage you to not go the route of more equals better. 

My past suggestion of using EHB from Integrative Therapeutics still stands. However, I recommend only taking 1-2 pills per day on the days you’re out and about. If you’re staying in at home on the shelter-at-home routine, there’s no need to take this formula. 

You can get your medical-grade supplements here

What if I get symptoms of a cold or flu?

This is THE big concern right now for all of us. I know someone who actually got the regular flu along with the coronavirus (he’s recovering well FYI). Remember that all the regular bugs are still out there too so getting sick doesn’t mean you have coronavirus necessarily. However, due to the nature of the pandemic, it’s probably wiser to assume you have it and treat it accordingly. 

My advice… contact me immediately. Time is of the essence. We will need to do an herbal consultation and get you a custom herbal formula ASAP. For those of my clients in the San Diego area, I will do my best to get medicine delivered to your doorstep with instructions on how to use them within 24 hours. This might not be possible in all cases, but I will do my best to support you.

In the interim, start doing the breathing treatments with the essential oils above every couple of hours. Apply the shower oils around your neck and lymph glands every couple of hours as well.

Also, call your regular doctor immediately as well. They will most likely tell you to stay at home and quarantine (which we should all be doing anyway). They will likely tell you to only go to the ER if you’re having acute breathing problems and then suggest you just wait out the storm. If you’re having acute shortness of breath while sitting/resting, go to the ER. Many people with coronavirus will have shortness of breath but won’t need to go to the ER. Please try your best to not overwhelm the system while still being safe and getting care if you need it. 

If you’re sick, monitor your temperature and your breathing. Watch how quickly you get out of breath, how long you can hold your breath and for any signs of dizziness or lightheadedness. The virus seems to produce a lot of mucous deep within the lungs creating the respiratory problems we hear about. While the symptoms I mentioned above don’t confirm you have coronavirus, they are a practical way to follow how well your lungs are working when you don’t have access to the ER. Some of the cases of this disease that have been sent home and NOT needed hospitalization were down to only being able to hold their breath for four seconds.  I give that number as a reference so that if you get any symptoms and can’t hold your breath for very long you have something to compare your numbers to. 

Obviously, I can’t decide for you if you need to go to the ER, and you should always err on the side of safety. My goal here is just to give you some data and ways to stay educated and empowered as we navigate this pandemic. Again, if you have symptoms and are concerned, please contact me.

Although many people will be fine just being sick and waiting it out, I don’t encourage this strategy as it gives a higher chance that the virus can penetrate deeper into your system and cause more severe problems. Please don’t wait, this virus means business and it seems better to be overly cautious at this point. 

Tomorrow’s email will focus on some of the psycho-emotional components we’re facing individually and as a society. I hope to be able to provide some perspective and tools for what we’re dealing with. Just like the physical health side of things, the emotional health challenges were all face are quite serious as well. 

Stay well, stay connected, and remember I’m here if you need me,

Justin

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