6 simple ways to help your immune system before you are exposed to the coronavirus (COVID-19)

(updated March 23., 2020)

Not everyone who comes in contact with this virus gets sick or becomes gravely ill. There are things that you can do that may make it less likely to be a serious health problem, so that even if you are exposed to the virus that you may remain symptom-free or experience a milder illness. It is especially true if you are now confined to your home. This is a great excuse to right now focus on taking better care of your health. 

  1. Get enough rest. Go to bed a little earlier if you need to arise early, and avoid overly long hours of work. avoid those all-nighters. Each person’s sleep needs may vary, but often 7-8 hours nightly is the minimum one should get.

  2. Eat well. Minimize fatty food, refined sugar, excessive wheat and dairy. Eat a balance of foods, including fresh fruit, cooked vegetables, soups. try not to over-indulge on alcohol or caffeine. Try to eat without watching the news to focus on the nourishment before. Supplementing with plenty of vitamin C and some vitamin D can be helpful too.

  3. Drink plenty of water. Water is a natural detoxing agent, and is needed throughout our body. Drink 2-3 liters per day of fresh water, preferably filtered or spring water if that’s practical. Our bodies are composed mostly of water.

  4. Breathe fresh air. Most people I know are now confined to their homes. Though this may be a challenge, this is important. The novel coronavirus has its strongest effects on the respiratory system. Get those lungs working well and flushed out with fresh air, and the virus will less likely find a home in your body. If possible, get outside once a day (maintaining your social distancing) and breathe fully, as if you are feasting on the air. If you can’t get outside, open a window. Take big, full, and relaxed breaths using your abdomen.
    Exposing yourself to sunshine is also important as it also boosts healthy immune function.

  5. Move your body. Get exercise or at least take vigorous walks, to get the entire body circulating, to allow the blood vessels and lymphatic system in your body work best to defend itself against invaders. Movement and exercise are also good for the heart and lungs, and can help you sleep better.

  6. Manage stress. When we have prolonged stress diminishes our body’s ability to fight when it’s really necessary. Like is full of stressors, but try to reduce our exposure to unnecessary stress. Other strategies mentioned here are important to manage stress, such as good sleep and exercise. Practicing meditation, yoga, or qigong can help. 
    The worry about getting sick from this coronavirus can add to stress, so taking care of yourself in these ways could help to reduce that added stress.

  7. Be good to yourself (and to those around you). I had to add one more. Although there is a lot to pay attention to these days, avoid watching or reading the news obsessively.. Give yourself a chance to forget the coronavirus if even for a minute. Do something that makes you laugh and smile at least once a day. Give yourself a break if you made a mistake in protecting yourself and loved ones, as we all do.

To reduce exposure to the coronavirus, there are several things one can do. A very effective prevention against contact with any bug is one of the simplest: frequently wash your hands with soap and running water. Do this when arriving at home or the office, or when otherwise they get dirty. When that’s not practical, hand sanitizer is ok, although less effective. Also avoid touching eyes, mouth, and nose with unwashed hands.

Also, minimize close contact with people who are sick, sneeze into a tissue that you immediately discard, and stay home if you are feeling ill.

Some people have asked me what is a good herbal formula to have on hand if one gets ill. That is a difficult question because there is not a single answer. There are several that have been used in China with some success, but which one depends on the seriousness of one’s reaction. Sickness affects us all differently, and with this virus symptoms range from mild to life-threatening. Thus, if you do get ill, (I hope not!) a medical professional would need to assess your case individually. If I am treating such an illness I would tend to choose a formula specific to that person and the stage of their condition.

Spring is Here

You probably have already been feeling spring’s arrival. As the crocuses and daffodils are coming out, our bodies are awakening from the winter slumber. In winter, we tend to be less active, huddled inside from the cold or weighted down by layers of clothing. In spring, we fill the streets, clean out our homes, and usually become more physically active. 

In Chinese Medicine, spring is associated with new growth, like the flexible green twigs that spout from trees. For better health, we can emphasize this quality in our own bodies, to be flexible and free-flowing. This is a challenge amongst the demands of modern life, which impact us both physically and emotionally.

Pain and injury affects our tendons and ligaments and muscles and joints, and we may have other health problems which challenge the ability to enjoy spring. And then there may be the pressures of work, relationships, politics, and urban life in general which affect us emotionally and physically. It’s not uncommon to become more easily aggravated during the spring. We also can do plenty now to improve our well-being.

Here are a few ways that you can optimize your health this spring:

  • Take an easy walk, at a moment when there is no haste to reach a destination, and breathe in the air as it nurtures the entire body.
  • If you are just beginning to exercise, take it on gradually as you allow your body to adapt.
  • If you are having trouble getting motivated for exercise, avoid getting stuck wondering what is the best activity for you: Just do something that you enjoy that incorporates moving your body.
  • Wherever you go, open your eyes and really look around, up and down, far and near. In Chinese Medicine, the spring favors the eyes, and they too need some exercise.
  • Avoid unnecessary conflict. Conflict is part of life and sometimes unavoidable, but too much anger can impact the smooth flow of spring energy and affect our health.
  • Go to a farmer’s market and see what is in season. Many young green plants, like pea shoots, leeks and green onions are beneficial in the spring. By integrating these things into what we eat, it brings our bodies more into harmony with the spring season.

This is also a good time to come in for acupuncture, to address any pain or health issues, to relieve stress, or  to get a tune-up to better prevent illness. I believe that the best medicine is how we treat ourselves. Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can facilitate this, by opening blocks and encouraging homeostasis, allowing your body to better heal itself. Helping you feel better so that you can better achieve your goals.

To schedule your next appointment, please call 718-302-2123 or send an email to mikekacu@gmail.com

How to apply moxibustion

Moxibustion (aka moxa) is a great way that patients can treat themselves. This is a great option for when you cannot get acupuncture, for example due to the current coronavirus situation. There are a few safety precautions to take, but this video explains simply how to treat yourself and how to do it more safely. To make sure you are doing it as safely as possible, and to learn how to get the best results for you, contact your acupuncturist.

To make a appointment for a video telemedicine session, where I can help you best use moxibustion for your health concern, or as part of your COVID-19 prevention, please email mikekacu@gmail.com