Ready, set, or panic? We’re all faced with the unknown every day, but it’s rarely been more evident than now, with the appearance of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.
I just got over the flu, so I have a recent reminder of what it feels like to be ill. It is hard to have your body taken over by a virus. It is uncomfortable, but it also passes. And oddly, it can have its benefits.
I have avoided the flu for over a decade by using the tips in my flu guide. I am reposting them here for you, and also sharing an essential oil protocols created by a colleague (see my note below).
How should we prepare for the coronavirus? I have been scouring the news and science reports daily for months, trying to get my head around this outbreak to answer my own questions.
I have been watching my neighbors panic-shop, my friends either in total freak-out mode or the opposite: disbelieving anything bad will happen.
What is the truth? Who is at risk? How do we prepare for the unknown?
I cannot claim any authority on pandemics, or any ability to predict the future. However, I can share with you what I do know from my reading and from practicing medicine for years.
I know this pandemic could shift at any moment and become more or less intense. It is likely the new virus will be with us into the future, and the pandemic could have more than one wave.
There is an increased risk of illness, but luckily, for most of us, it’s not a deadly one. We can take care of ourselves and use best practices to avoid severe illness. Fortunately, children seem to be having the easiest time with the virus. Elderly adults with heart and lung conditions are at most risk for the really intense version of the virus, as are health care workers and frontline emergency workers.
What I want is for all of us to feel confident and ready, and not to live in fear unnecessarily. Be prepared, yes, as we should for any potential emergency. Then relax!
I think the easiest way for me to break this down is into three sections: personal, local, global.
These three steps will make a HUGE difference in your health. I am guilty of not following my own advice and thus getting sick. (See step 2: I ignored the signs and treated too late.)
Keeping your hands washed (and teaching your kids to do the same) is HUGE in stopping any illness from spreading. The virus was found in stool in patients in Wuhan, China, so it may be spread not just through respiratory droplets but also in feces: WASH YOUR HANDS.
Immune support: Eat good-for-you foods, stay rested and hydrated, and manage your stress. Which includes NOT freaking out unnecessarily about the virus! I know it can be challenging :-). Truly, we have so much power to affect our susceptibility to getting ill in the first place!
Remember, our immune system is in our gut too! Supporting your body with good pre- and probiotics can really boost your immune system. In Wuhan, China, the patients who were treated with a multidisciplinary approach—conventional medicines, probiotics, and Chinese herbs—seemed to do better!
Immune boosters: I put essential oils on my hands before I leave the house and use them as my hand cleaner when I am out and about. I use an immune-supportive blend throughout the day. A colleague of mine has created a protocol for immune support, which I’ve attached to this email. If you need high-quality essential oils, reach out to our clinic—we can help you: [email protected].
I diffuse oils in our home and clinic. Since we tend to get sick via respiratory droplets, breathing essential oils gets the anti-infective oils where we need them.,
I am running my IQAir purifier in my clinic. It is a medical-grade device that I love, as it removes viruses, mycotoxins, smoke, VOCs from paint, etc. We invested in this unit over a decade ago, and it has served us well!
This is a great time to use your essential oils! They are very powerful antimicrobial agents, and diffusing them and using them as cleaning agents is very helpful. I have a diffuser running in my clinic and home with immune-supportive oils in it. For instance, FLOOMA is a powerful essential oil blend to diffuse this time of year! The recipe is in the attached PDF.
If you are feeling stressed and anxious, diffuse some lavender, geranium, and/or wild orange to calm your nervous system.
If we were to get it, the coronavirus would be like a regular flu or cold for most of us. However, IF you are at higher risk and have a compromised immune system or lung or heart disease, then I would consider more aggressive support and avoidance of places where you might become infected. In the most severe cases of coronavirus, people are dying from pneumonia and organ failure. If you are ill and have a hard time breathing, get immediate medical help. Call the hospital before you arrive so they can be prepared to receive you in a quarantined room and test you for the virus if necessary.
At this time not all ill people will get tested. It is a frustrating reality of trying to adapt to a new situation. The country still has only a limited supply of tests, and the CDC has strict guidelines as to who will be able to get tested. Find the latest updates here. I expect we have a lot more positive cases than we realize in the United States. The CDC is working on an antibody test so we will be able to see who has already had the infection. It is likely that if we have antibodies for it already, we will have immunity in the future. None of this is known for sure, but it is how viral immunity has worked in the past.
Should you wear a mask? The general consensus is “no”. Germs get around the gaps, they are uncomfortable and most people don’t know how to use them. However, if you are ill and seeking medical care, a mask may protect those around you. Or if you are taking care of ill loved ones, it may offer some limited protection. The mask needs to be properly fitted and dry to work. They are meant for ‘single use’. Once they are used they are a cess pool of germs and need to be disposed of immediately. Personally, I missed the boat on this one, I wanted to up my stock in my clinic but they were all sold out!
Will there be a widespread quarantine in the United States? Maybe, but it’s unlikely.
People in Portland and Seattle were in a panic this weekend, buying toilet paper and food. It’s always interesting to see what people are afraid they will run out of: beer and Oreos seemed to be high on the list! I think it’s great to have supplies in case of any emergency. And I highly recommend everyone has enough water, food, and first-aid supplies for a few weeks.
However, at this point it seems unlikely to me that whole cities will shut down at once. Right now we are considered low-risk for the illness. The sanitation practices and medical care we have now are so much better than they were in past epidemics that we won’t need to have a widespread shutdown.
I expect the more likely scenario will be rolling shutdowns/quarantines based on where we have people with positive infections. A school or business may close for a week to deep-clean and stop the spread of an infection.
If this happens, it’s a great opportunity to offer a hand to those in need. Staying home from work is a privilege some cannot afford. If a child’s school is closed but her parents still need to go to work, it can leave a family with some tough decisions to make. For many, not working for a week means not eating. This is a time when we may be able to help out a neighbor in need. Thinking ahead about what you are willing to do to help others, while still keeping yourself safe, will mean you’ll be ready to act should the time come.
If we have widespread illness, the biggest risk is the potential impact on urgent medical care or other emergency services. This is where I do think being as responsible as we can for our own health by using preventative measures and keeping ourselves as healthy as possible (don’t eat the Oreos!) is helpful. The fewer people who are ill, the easier it will be on the medical system.
We live in a global economy, and the impact of the outbreak could be wide-ranging. If factories around the world continue to be shut down, we may begin to see a shortage of items. Most of us can do with less for a period of time. However, IF you are on certain medications, please make sure you have at least a 30-day supply at your disposal. This is good practice anytime! Otherwise, we get to be creative with what we have. There is no way of predicting how long the pandemic will last, how widespread it will become, or the impact it may have on our daily lives.
In the face of so many unknowns, it’s easy to feel anxious. Some great tricks for the anxious mind: Remind yourself of what is true now. Any fear we have of the future is just your brain pretending it knows. It doesn’t. Remind yourself of what is NOW. Your breath is now. Look around the room and see what brings you joy: this is also NOW.
It is easy to fear illness. Yet, oddly, it can provide a chance to stop and detoxify. I don’t advocate getting ill, but if you do, there can be a silver lining. I know I got ill because I did not follow my own advice! I also think on some level I needed the time to stop and just let a fever get rid of some toxins in my body. I feel better than I felt before I got ill.
Also, we fear the unknown. Yet there is so much we can do to be prepared for any emergency. I believe it’s always better to be prepared and then get back to living in the present. We can bolster our own immune systems with natural remedies, have our emergency stash of supplies, and be in ready mode without needing to be in so much fear!!
I hope my musings have helped you. Of course, none of this information is meant to diagnose or treat illness. It's important that you talk to your providers about what is the best match for you.
Please let me know any of your thoughts. I love hearing from you! I wish you and your family the best of health!
~ Dr Jenny Tufenkian ND
PS: Note on essential oils: I love the power of essential oils and believe they are key in preventing and treating illness! In this day and age they are a central part of my personal health ‘tool kit’. I usually don’t talk about brands, but in the midst of this pandemic I realize you may want to know what I use. I use doTerra essential oils due to their rigorous testing and socially responsible business practices I respect and trust their products. If you want to purchase doTerra oils you can get an account through us, or through any other wellness advocate. If you want a wholesale account, or to purchase oils retail through us we would be happy to help you. You can reach out to Erin at [email protected] to discuss your needs or sign yourself up online with this link http://bit.ly/3cCrAho. FYI the resource guide created by my collegue on FLOOMA is referring to doTerra products. :-)
 Qun Li, Xuhua Guan, Peng Wu, Xiaoye Wang, Lei Zhou, Yeqing Tong, Ruiqi Ren, Kathy Leung, Eric Lau, Jessica Y. Wong, Xuesen Xing, Nijuan Xiang, Yang Wu, Chao Li, Qi Chen, Dan Li, Tian Liu, Jing Zhao, Man Li, Zijian Feng et al., “Early Transmission Dynamics in Wuhan, China, of Novel Coronavirus–Infected Pneumonia,” The New England Journal of Medicine (January 29, 2020), https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.
 K. Xu, H. Cai, Y. Shen, Q. Ni, Y. Chen, S. Hu, J. Li, H. Wang, L. Yu, H. Huang, Y. Qiu, G. Wei, Q. Fang, J. Zhou, J. Sheng, T. Liang, L. Li, “[Management of corona virus disease-19 (COVID-19): the Zhejiang experience],” Zhejiang Da Xue Xue Bao Yi Xue Ban (February 21, 2020), https://www.ncbi.nlm.
 K. Xu et al., “[Management of corona virus disease-19],”
 M. K. Swamy, M. S. Akhtar, and U. R. Sinniah, “Antimicrobial Properties of Plant Essential Oils against Human Pathogens and Their Mode of Action: An Updated Review,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2016): e3012462. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/
 M. Valdivieso-Ugarte, C. Gomez-Llorente, J. Plaza-Díaz, and Á. Gil, “Antimicrobial, Antioxidant, and Immunomodulatory Properties of Essential Oils: A Systematic Review,” Nutrients 11 (2019): 2786, https://doi.org/10.3390/
 “CDC Test Kits for COVID-19,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last reviewed February 25, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/
 Richard Gunderman, “Ten Myths about the 1918 Flu Pandemic,” January 12, 2018, https://www.smithsonianmag.
 Hayley Miller and Arthur Delaney, “What Would Happen If U.S. Schools Close Because of Coronavirus?,” February 27, 2020, https://www.huffpost.com/
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