***Read the whole blog through if you’re reading it the first time. I’m going to put a list at the bottom of this post of all the new information I’ve added. As a former Registered Nurse and current Herbalist, I’ve been posting a lot on Instagram and Facebook as I learn about the coronavirus. A big part of my job as a nurse was translating scientific jargon. I thought it would be helpful to give you a synopsis of what I’ve learned. What we know right now. The virus is here in the US and spreading. The most interesting article I read was called “Flattening The Curve”. The idea was to reduce the number of people who become infected at the same time. This keeps the health care system from being overwhelmed. If protective measures are taken early, there won’t be a big spike in the number of infected people. Instead, the rate infection will take place over a longer period of time, fewer people become infected at once, all will have access to health care providers and there will be fewer deaths. If you look at the chart below of how the virus can spread, you see a big spike of cases when protective measures aren’t taken vs a smaller, spread out curve when protective measures are taken. If everyone does their part, this is possible. 3/15/20 How can you tell the difference between a cold and the coronavirus. I called the NYC Department of Health last night and as of now, these are the symptoms you have to have in order to be tested.
Fever, Dry cough, Difficulty Breathing.
If you have these symptoms, call your Healthcare Provider and they will tell you where to go to be tested. As of now, you can’t just drop in and be tested, you have to be referred by a Healthcare Provider. However, if you're experience respiratory distress, call 911.
When you go for you testing, wear a mask, stay 6 feet away from people, wash your hands frequently. You can now make other people sick so it’s essential to prevent that if possible.
If you have a runny nose, watery eyes, do NOT have a fever, according to the Dept of Health, this is just a cold and not something you should be tested for.
Here are some of the protective measures you can do today.
Social Distancing: Most of us are thinking about how we can keep ourselves and family from becoming infected. The young and healthy don’t need to worry as much because their immune systems are generally in better shape than older people, (over 60). But if you’re young and healthy don’t be cavalier about the virus. It’s possible for you to be infected, not know it because your immune system is keeping it in check, be infectious and able to spread the virus to others just by being near them. This virus is new but it seems to be transmitted by breathing, coughing and sneezing on others. Breathing, sneezing, and coughing sends droplets, with the virus in them, into the air. If anyone is nearby, those virus-filled droplets can land in their nose and mouth. And they’re infected. Here’s the tricky part, those droplets can also fall on surfaces and live for a long time. When someone touches those surfaces, the virus will be on their hand. If that person then puts their hand on their nose and mouth, they’re infected. So the lesson here is to try to limit your contact with others until the virus has run its course. Keep yourself from being infected and don’t infect others. Social distancing is the following; avoid crowded spaces like the subway, areas where there are a lot of people, try to keep a gap of 6 feet between you and others. Limit the chances of spreading the virus, keeping those who are vulnerable from becoming sick.
What if you can’t avoid being around others? If you live in a city, have to use the subway, have to go to the grocery store, need to be around others for some reason? How do you keep the virus from spraying out of your nose and mouth and how do you keep the spray of others from landing in yours? Masks: We have a huge crisis with disposable masks at the moment. Our health care professionals don't have enough because the supply chain has broken (most were made in China) and people have hoarded them. The N95 should be reserved for those who cannot avoid being in very close proximity to those with the virus. (Doctors and Nurses are putting tubes in mouths, handling their bodily fluids, spending time in rooms with people who are actively infected.) If you have a stash of disposable masks, please call the hospital and arrange to deliver them ASAP. If our health care professionals don't have the right protective gear, they will become ill and will not be able to take care you, your loved ones or anyone else who needs them. More people will die. I like reusable cotton masks. I sent two to everyone in my immediate family about a month ago. You can wash the viruses off of them between uses. I have two so if one is wet, I have a reserve. If I have to go to the grocery store or to the mailroom store to send my herbal remedies to folks, I pop on my mask. Be sure not to touch the inside of the mask before you put it on, your hands could have the virus on them. Only touch the outside. If you only have one mask, keep the inside of the mask as clean as possible - don’t touch it between uses. Fold it over between uses, don’t touch the inside, wash it every night before using it again the next day. Of course, this isn’t ideal but it’s better than nothing. Wash daily. The idea is to create a barrier between you and others so droplets from your mouth and nose don’t make it into anyone else’s nose and mouth and other people’s droplets don’t land in yours. Is this 100% effective against getting the virus? No. Is wearing a mask better than wearing no mask at all? This study says yes - but they emphasize that the masks need to washed after each use. You also have to make sure you don’t touch the inside of the mask. Make a mask if you can’t find one. Click the link to find a video on how. Worst case, wear a scarf around your nose and mouth and wash it before you use it again. Remember, the virus could be on the scarf after you’ve been out amongst other people. Here is different shape that might fit better than the one in this video. Wash between uses, don’t touch the inside of the mask when applying it.
Hand Washing: I mentioned above that droplets full of viruses can fall onto surfaces and stay alive for a long period of time. If someone touches that surface, the virus can transfer to their hand. If they then touch their nose and mouth, they can become infected. Washing your hands with warm water and soap (for 20 seconds per the Center for Disease Control) washes off the virus. Then if you inadvertently touch your nose or mouth, you won’t transfer the virus. After you’ve washed your hands be careful to not recontaminate them by touching dirty surfaces. This means cleaning the surfaces of your home, computer, phone with disinfectants. Wash your hands frequently during the day. If you’re using a public restroom/sink, don’t touch the handle of the toilet - use your foot - if you do touch the handle, be sure to wash your hands. Don’t touch the sink handle after you wash - use your elbow or use the paper towel you used to dry your hands. When you’re leaving the bathroom, use that same paper towel to turn the door handle. Then toss it.
Hand Sanitizers: Use these when you can’t wash your hands. (Washing off the viruses is more effective.) According to the CDC, hand sanitizers need to contain 60% alcohol. This kills the viruses on the surface of your hands. You can make your own if you can’t find it. 151 proof vodka is 75.5% alcohol. The CDC recommends 60%. The state of New York is using 75% for its hand sanitizer. I worry that anything over 75% might be irritating for your skin, so do the math if you find something stronger. You only need 60% according to the CDC. Add some peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree essential oils if you wish, which are also antiviral (15 drops per 1 oz bottle) and some vitamin E to keep your hands from being completely dried out.
Prevention is a great strategy. A healthy immune system can prevent or limit infections. How do you keep your immune system healthy? 1. What you put in your body can affect your health. Remember the adage, “You are what you eat”? What is considered a good diet? I pulled this off of The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) website:
A variety of vegetables: dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy and other vegetables.
Fruits, especially whole fruit.
Grains, at least half of which are whole grain.
Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages.
A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), soy products, and nuts and seeds.
Plant oils: canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower. Nuts, seeds, seafood, olives, and avocados.
Limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg per day
Less than 10% of your daily calories should come from saturated fats
Less than 10% of your daily calories should come from added sugars.
*** Check out my blog post about the Microbiome - #40 (scroll down) - it’s an in-depth list of ways to bring your gut health into balance and that is a big factor in immune health. 2. Exercise: at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week for adults. Go outside, go for a walk. (Unless you’re infected. Then stay inside.) If you’re stuck inside because you’re being quarantined - open your window. During the Influenza pandemic of 1918, health professionals found that moving patients outside to tents dramatically improved their symptoms. The same happened with the TB epidemic. Get some fresh air, if you can sit in the window and get some sun, that Vitamin D is great for your immunity. Find an online yoga program or an app to help you ground and make you sweat. 3. Water - drink 6-8 cups a day to keep your body hydrated and functioning well. Drinking fluids also helps to flush any pathogens out of your body. 4. Sleep - Try to get 7 hours of sleep a night. Sleep is when your body has a chance to produce cytokines, which are the part of your immune system that targets infections. 5. Don’t Smoke. Smoking is a stress on your lungs. This makes you particularly vulnerable to respiratory viruses. 6. Limit your alcohol use. Excessive alcohol decreases the production of important disease-fighting properties in the body. 7. Manage your stress: Sustained stress can cause your body to produce the hormone Cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone that puts you in fight or flight mode. Your body is on high alert, as if you were facing a physical threat, This redirects your energy for a fight or to run. It’s a matter of prioritizing. If you’re about to be eaten by a lion, a microorganism is no big thing. The problem with Cortisol is that it also lowers your ability to produce White Blood Cells, which are the cells that destroy microorganisms once they enter your body.
Ways to manage your stress: a. Meditation. This is a great, quick video about how to do micro-meditations throughout the day as needed. You could also find meditation tutorials and guided meditations online. There are lots of apps for meditation as well. b. Yoga: Take up a yoga practice. Again these are available online and in apps. c. Take a walk outside. Research has found that being out amongst trees, decreases Cortisol levels. In Japan, it is called Forest Bathing. The trees emit an aerosol of calming properties. (How crazy is that.) d. Smile - believe it or not, making yourself smile actually makes you feel happier. Lean into that feeling. Think about the things you’re grateful for. Happy hormones (endorphins) help offset the effects of Cortisol.
8. On a nice day, open your windows and let the fresh air in. If you’re isolating and staying home, you can still get some fresh air. During the Influenza pandemic of 1918 hospital workers moved patients outside to tents and found they made huge improvements. The same happened with the TB epidemic. It’s uncertain what happens when we move outside/open our windows and breathe fresh air but if history is a teacher, this is a good idea. 9. Hygiene - being stuck at home usually means we hang out in our PJ’s all day. Taking a shower, changing into clean clothes, acting like it’s a normal day can help you feel invigorated. (And it’s great for the smells.) Do your laundry, wash away any of the viruses that have landed on your clothes, wash them off of your body too. 10. And of course, there are plants that help with infections, our immune system, and stress. None of the below products have been tested on the coronavirus.
Reishi and Chaga mushrooms have traditionally been used to modulate the immune system and there is some research to support those claims. My Reishi Maintain contains 2 different Reishi Mushrooms (Ganoderma Lucidum and Ganoderma Tsugae) along with Chaga. Modulation means the mushrooms can calm an overactive immune system OR boost the immune system when needed. In Herbalism we have found that herbs are often more effective than using one plant/fungus alone. Reishi has also been used historically for its calming properties.
Super Reishi Plus contains mushrooms that have traditionally been used to boost your immune system. It is only meant to be taken during an active infection. (Unlike the reishi - these haven't been found to modulate.) *If you have an autoimmune disease, do not take this medication.
For controlling stress and helping with sleep, I have several alternatives.
My all-organic CBD has been found to help with anxiety, depression, pain, and sleep. Unlike Marijuana, there is research that shows CBD does not interfere with your ability to have a quality sleep which includes REM.
Ashwagandha has traditionally been used to decrease anxiety which can counteract the effects of Cortisol. If you are pregnant, have a problem with your thyroid, or have an autoimmune disease, do not take this product. Watch your blood sugar if you have Diabetes.
I also can make custom tea blends, if tea is your thing (The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your healthcare professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires this notice.)
Stay healthy, flatten the curve, do your part. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to go to my shop. NYC is shutting things down, (flattening the curve) but today I’m going to start bringing home my supplies so I can ship what I have via the mail. My online shop can be found on my website. Donna Troy Cleary's approach to art is through the lens of caregiver and the traditionally female roles she has embodied during her life - Artist, Mother, Nurse, and Herbalist. A descendant of Irish Herbalists, Donna reclaims Herbal knowledge scrubbed from her familial consciousness and her sculptures reflect on the ways of the ancient Irish Healer.Delving deep into research mode, Donna trained to become an Herbalist for 3 years. Embodying this historically significant woman, she reclaims a powerful position in the community - a realm of the feminine once passed from mother to daughter. Further research included learning more about human-plant and human-microorganism interdependence. Cleary's sculptures contemplate the Anthropocene. She stuffs her sculptures with up-cycled plastic packaging and imagines a reversal in the hierarchy and ratio between the microorganisms that live on and in our bodies. Her labor-intensive, crocheted forms honor “women’s work”, the domestic and unpaid labor. The repetitive gestures of crochet are performances of perseverance and persistence resulting in the unexpected. Copyright © Donna Troy Cleary, All rights reserved Additions: *** Check out my blog post about the Microbiome - #40 (scroll down) - it’s an in-depth list of ways to bring your gut health into balance and that is a big factor in immune health. *** On a nice day, open your windows and let the fresh air in. If you’re isolating and staying home, you can still get some fresh air. During the Influenza pandemic of 1918 hospital workers moved patients outside to tents and found they made huge improvements. The same happened with the TB epidemic. It’s uncertain what happens when we move outside/open our windows and breathe fresh air but if history is a teacher, this is a good idea. *** Hygiene - being stuck at home usually means we hang out in our PJ’s all day. Taking a shower, changing into clean clothes, acting like it’s a normal day can help you feel invigorated. (And it’s great for the smells.) Do your laundry, wash away any of the viruses that have landed on your clothes, wash them off of your body too.