Understanding and Preventing Covid-19 in CM

In CM, diseases may arise from internal or external causes. Internal causes include things like overstaying one’s welcome in an emotion, over or under eating, or preexisting organ or channel dysfunction. These tend to be long-standing disharmonies in comparison with shorter-lived exterior conditions, but, they may also be disorders that became chronic as sequelae to an initial bacterial or viral agent. This understanding of disease is “physiological” in that it looks at the condition of each individual’s body (balance/lack of balance across channels and organs, qi and blood, etc), focusing on how a disease agent is impacting that preexisting balance.

Diseases may also arise from exterior causes, which may either interact with individuals’ prior constitutions leading to more individually-tailored treatments, or, have a more or less uniform course of progression across individuals, leading to more one-size-fits-all treatments.

Generally speaking, acute respiratory ailments – aka “colds” or disorders of the lung and nasal/respiratory passageways, and including the novel coronavirus – in CM are thought to arise from exterior triggers. These triggers include normal climactic elements, such as wind, heat, cold, dryness, and dampness. CM classics call the lungs “the delicate organ” because of how easily environmental excess, or rapid fluctuation, leads to lung dysfunction. Frequently environmental conditions bond together, creating wind-heat, or maybe even wind-heat with dampness (all three of these – wind, heat, dampness – present strongly in covid-19 patients, according to case studies and reports written by Chinese physicians). The proportions by which these qualities combine gives them relative strength, and a way to be related to other similar conditions. This understanding of disease is more “ontological” in that it focuses on the disease agent itself; and the more specific the disease agent, such as “covid-19,” the more “ontological” the understanding of disease, even while things like “the flu” (any number of strains of the influenza virus) are understood more through the havoc they create in the human body than thru a specific lab diagnosed strain.

If I haven’t lost you yet, the important thing to recognize is that *both* of these (physiological/person-focused and ontological/disease-focused) understandings are important in understanding how to treat disease in CM, but the former – the physiological understanding – is more useful in cultivating wellness, or disease resistance. By balancing a preexisting physiological dynamic, the patient’s overall health improves. By supporting the organs that build immunity, the patient’s body is strengthened, which offers both greater resistance against invading pathogens and faster/less-complicated recovery if they do manage to invade. This last bears repeating: covid-19 is frightening because it spreads more easily than a common cold (and in earlier stages, before people necessarily know they are infected). Because of the ease with which it spreads, it is likely that no amount of immune-boosting will prevent it from taking hold. The key then becomes making one’s body a landscape in which immunity has a home court advantage, rather than being hobbled from the outset by poor infrastructure/supplies (preexisting imbalance, lack of nourishment, etc).

Now, obviously the scary thing about covid-19 is its novelty: since researchers have not had significant time to study it, we do not yet know all of the factors at play in whom is badly impacted and why. We can, however, settle upon a few facts in broad strokes: older people are likelier to suffer severe complications, particularly anyone with a history of restrictive lung disease (COPD, emphysema, possibly but maybe not asthma). These western diagnoses are likely mirrored in physiological imbalances diagnose-able in CM – and my wager is that the younger individuals whom have become severely sick from covid-19 have likewise suffered from some preexisting imbalance. So, treating these imbalances is one way to mitigate risk of severe complications from covid-19. Again, full disclaimer that I am not a physician on the front lines of this epidemic, so this is largely my academic/theoretical speculation extrapolated from years treating other “exterior conditions” (colds and flus) in patients.

Preventing Covid-19, from an Ontological Perspective:

These recommendations range from obvious things to less obvious things. Many will be familiar to you by this time (if in doubt, look at the CDC recommendations here).

Preparing Your Body to Fight Covid-19, a Physiological/CM Perspective:

  • Follow the above steps, since it is always a good idea to minimize risk when/where possible
  • Eat well-balanced meals at regular times. Why, you ask? Immunity is based on both supply and flow of qi in the body. Think of an invading pathogen like an invading army laying siege to an old-timey walled city. The city is your body. The better supplied your body/city, the longer it can hold out against the pathogen/army (unless the army has like, really good weapons to breach your city wall).
  • Directly support your lungs and the “defensive qi” related to them (the soldiers who patrol the city wall, who shoot arrows at the invading army).
    • Eat foods the lungs “like” (more below)
    • Breathwork: things like qigong, taiji, meditation, slow yoga
    • Cardio: running, cycling, fast-walking, fast yoga, dancing
  • Secondary support of your lungs, by supporting the digestive process:
    • Healthy digestion makes lots of qi (of all types, including digestive qi)
    • Unhealthy digestion creates by-products (dampness) which gets sent to the lungs for storage. Dampness obstructs the lung function, eventually turning into visible phlegm and causing problems like coughing, sinusitis, etc.
    • In CM physiology, the lungs are “metal” which is produced by “earth” – digestion is earth, meaning that digestion is the “mother” of the lungs, so if you want to support lung function, supporting their mother (who naturally will nourish her own child) is seen as the best way to do that.