Defend yourself against coronavirus, Covid-19 – help from Chinese medicine

Chinese medicine has a recorded history of over two thousand years of combating epidemics in China and beyond, with acupuncture playing a vital role alongside herbal medicine. Today in China it is used alongside Western medicine in most hospitals and evidence from Wuhan and elsewhere suggests it still has an important part to play.

Chinese medicine understands the health effects of an infection by a virus such as coronavirus in terms of the balance between your own energy and constitutional strength and the potential harmful effects of the virus. In other words, we should not only focus on the virus itself but also on our own general health, in terms of body, mind and spirit. This is why the virus has different effects in different people. It means that although we cannot change the virus, we can reduce the harm it does us by building our own vitality and health. We are not passive victims, but can mount our own defence. Although here in the UK, Chinese medicine practitioners such as myself are at present unable to treat people who are facing infection or recovering from it, I would urge all of us to heed the following self-care advice . It is taken from a blog by Bryan McMahon, ( . It is based on the theories underlying Chinese medicine, in which terms such as ‘damp’ and ‘stagnant’ have a particular meaning.

Adjusting your diet.

A virus must find the appropriate terrain within which to take hold and replicate. This particular one seems to prefer damp, stagnant conditions. This means adjusting dietary choices by eating lighter, easy to digest, mostly warm, cooked foods.

Cut back on or completely avoid processed foods, sweets, beer, and any cold and frozen items from the refrigerator. Augment meal preparation with plenty of fresh herbs and fragrant spices (such as cumin, cardamom, nutmeg etc).

If juicing is part of your daily health regimen, stick mostly to vegetable juices and supplement with fresh ginger, turmeric, pepper, parsley, coriander and small amounts of garlic.

potager re covid-19

Maintain appropriate daily exercise. 

Exercise helps alleviate all forms of stagnation, dispel constrained heat through sweating and keep the surface open to alleviate pressure on the respiratory system. Exercise according to your ability – there are plenty of ideas available on YouTube, including seated exercises. Do not overdo vigorous exercise – avoid pushing yourself to your limit and feeling exhausted.

Make time for at least one extra hour of sleep every day.

Sleep is the foundation of immunity; aim for 8-9 hours of good quality sleep each night, and schedule in a short nap period during the day. Adjust this advice to suit your own sleeping patterns.

Lastly, remain present and grounded in the face of generalized anxiety and unrest.

When we are calmly present and attuned to our life situation, immunity will flourish. Our body will clearly distinguish what is you from what is not and your immune system will take action accordingly. The clarity of this integration of mind and body is badly disturbed by the adrenal stimulation brought on by fear and panic. News and social media rely largely on a negative emotional response in order to keep their audience engaged; try not to get caught up in this circle of fear and frustration.


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