In Chinese Medicine the Coronavirus is just like any other cold or flu; that is, it primarily affects the respiratory system. But left unchecked, and depending on your overall health, it can soon work its way deeper into the body, causing more problems as it goes.
The symptoms vary, but generally they relate to the Lung and Spleen in Chinese Medicine. As the whole world knows by now, the main symptoms are fever and/or a cough, but some people have also experienced difficulty breathing, confusion, headache, and in a few cases, sore throat, runny nose, chest pain, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. Or more worryingly, no symptoms at all.
Carrying on as normal?
While the government advice is to employ social distancing and self-isolation, there is equally a lot of pressure to carry on as normal. We find it hard to be threatened by something that we cannot even see. The argument to carry on as normal is strong of course. On Radio 4’s Today programme, yesterday, I heard that in China an estimated 50,000 people have been saved from air pollution related deaths because some factories shut down during the peak of the epidemic. In Venice the fish are returning to the canals. And, of course, there are lots of other things out there that are more deadly than COVID19.
What has captured my attention is the emotional damage caused by the hysteria surrounding the Coronavirus. The virus, or the hubbub around it, promotes fear, which is arguably more deadly than the actual virus itself. But fear of what? Fear of catching it, or worse, dying from it? Or is it the fear of not being able to work or losing one’s job? I would say, more than all of these, it is fear of the unknown. And rightly so. Who isn’t afraid of the unknown, an invisible enemy that has the potential to kill us, and at the very least totally disrupt the way we live our lives? It sounds like a sci-fi horror film!
Fear is a fundamental emotion and essential for survival.
It is hardwired into us; we couldn’t have survived as a race without it. Fear prompts the ‘fight or flight’ response within us, giving us the ability to flee from a marauding sabre tooth tiger by shutting down non-essential functions such as digestion, sending all the blood to the muscles so we can fight or run away. Or simply freeze you to the spot like a rabbit in headlights. In more recent times, if the harvest wasn’t sufficient there is a real risk of starvation in the winter months. Are there enough supplies to survive winter? Wood and fuel, warmth and a safe place to retire? Better buy as much toilet paper and pasta as possible.
The power of the word
Coping with this hysteria and panic is not helped by the language used by the media and governments.
“We are in a war against an invisible killer” Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
“We are at war…The enemy is invisible and it requires our general mobilization.” President Emmanuel Macro
With the talk of wars and an invisible enemy, who wouldn’t be scared? But more importantly, this rhetoric is confusing. The Blitz spirit being invoked involves pulling together, street parties and hunkering down together while the war rages above our heads. But simultaneously we are being asked to self-isolate and keep away from each other because we are all potential carriers! It sounds more like the KGB rather than the NHS.
Fear Descends Qi and it affects the Kidneys
In Chinese Medicine the emotion of fear is related to the Kidneys. Fear, like any emotion, affects our Qi. More accurately, however, it descends it. In severe cases, such as sudden fright, this could mean the opening of the bowels. But in more chronic cases it can affect breathing, so not good if your respiratory system is then affected by Coronavirus. This is the case regarding all types of energy. Look at how fear and panic has affected the global financial market – it has plummeted.
When all is flowing within us, we have these deep reserves to draw on and our deep inner drives can be fuelled with the force of the waters that fill the reservoirs in winter. Water gives us our drive, will and courage. (Debra Katz, Characters of Wisdom, 2005)
People with strong Qi will avoid the worst effects of COVID19 despite the fact that everybody, no matter their age or gender, may be affected. Because each individual has a different physical constitution, the manifestations of the disease will vary, and so a single prescription cannot be universally effective for every patient (despite the race to produce a vaccine). A strong constitutional Qi will also protect you against the pervading fear and panic, allowing you to sort the good information from the bad. Acupuncture is conducted with patients on a one-to-one basis, and so is more oriented towards providing symptomatic relief than the generic medicines applied during this period.
Strengthening your own Qi
Well, fortunately there are many ways you can do this. Here are links to some of my earlier blogs that will help you boost your Qi and protect it. And over the coming days and weeks I will be posting lots of information to help you get through these challenging times!