It’s been longer than we have expected since our last newsletter. As with almost everyone else, it has been an extremely challenging environment to navigate these past few months. We are happy to report that the clinic has been functioning wonderfully. Our heartfelt thanks for being able to support everyone through this challenging time.
As we continue to move forward into what looks like uncharted waters, we want to remind people to look to past events for clues about what is likely to happen next and how to conduct ourselves. Currently, we see two extremes of conduct in our society. We have, what I will call, the “Ostriches”, who are putting their heads in the sand pretending that we have nothing to worry about while avoiding any information that might suggest otherwise. At the other end of the spectrum are the “Chicken Littles” who are so paralyzed with fear that they can’t seem to do anything. In today’s environment, paradoxically, the Ostriches are the ones moving about too much and not paying any attention to Social Distancing guidelines, etc. and the Chicken Littles don’t let their children outside to even run around the yard.Both extremes are ignoring our modern understanding of how viruses spread and the ancestral wisdom that humanity has been using for generations to keep us healthy and safe.
In the clinic, we have worked to strike a balance between the two extremes - a sort of middle way. On the one-hand, we stayed open during the epidemic and yet are taking the possibility of accidental spread very seriously.
I mentioned that the clinic has been doing well this year, in spite of these being difficult seas to navigate. This is due in no small part to the fantastic team we have at the clinic right now. Let’s take a moment to introduce you to them:
1) Lung Qi Formula:
This Classical formula has been used for over 2000 years to strengthen and restore lung health and is a formula that we normally incorporate into larger more specific tailored formulas for our patients. In its stand-alone form, this formula has been effectively used to prevent symptoms in the hospital staff during the current outbreak in a hospital in China. We are offering this formula to as many people as possible as we feel this is most effective and most affordable herbal formula people can use in the current environment.
This formula is available to anyone. The cost is $50 for a 10 day supply for an adult.
2) “Triage” Kit:
This kit contains the three most important formulas that match the symptoms of the current outbreak. These formulas have been part of the core strategies for first-line defense against epidemics for 2000 years. We selected these formulas as the ones your family will most likely need in the critical first hours aft the onset of symptoms. Based on our experience treating during the H1N1 outbreak in 2009 as well as the experiences with our colleagues in Asia and the United States treating these symptoms.
This kit is only available to current patients. If you would like to become a patient and receive our “Triage” Kit, please click to become a patient.
The cost of each kit is $60.
If a patient with the Triage Kit shows symptoms, follow these directions:
The "Triage" Kit contains three formulas with enough herbs to start treatment until you can contact your Primary Health Provider, then call Red Earth immediatly so we can continue to monitor your situation.
As a values driven clinic, all of our decisions are passed through the filter of how can we best fulfill our mission, which is: We exist to assist our patient’s natural ability to heal. Imbedded in this value is our promise to always put the patient’s best interest above the clinic. Please know that this is the standard that we are applying as we move forward into territory that is, for most Americans alive today, uncharted.
I want to take a moment to provide you a quick update on information significant to your health and safety, discuss with you the role our Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic plays in our current environment, and, most importantly, discuss with everyone our plans going forward.
First, a quick summary and update of the information we are tracking and feel is relevant based on the current data we have:
Next, I want to talk about disease progression in terms of Classical Chinese Medicine and what we know about the progression in the body.
Early onset symptoms for people testing positive for Covid19 follow the symptom/disease progression that we have experienced before. In a prior letter (link), we discussed the Taiyang – First Stage- from a self-care perspective. From the Taiyang, there is a systematic progression of disease into the lungs. The main strategy is to minimize the possibility of the virus settling in the lungs by keeping the lung physiology balanced.
As you know, the clinic does not treat the virus, but the body’s response to any pathogen. The closest analogue we have in terms of symptoms is the H1N1 outbreak in 2009. In 2009, I was just beginning to treat in the Classical Method herbal lineage that I practice today. This outbreak was my first opportunity to see these formulas in action on patients with a high fever and a serious cough. Patients responded exceptionally well and quicker than with the antivirals and antibiotics that they were being prescribed. The formulas used were ones that had been used continuously for over 1500 years and would have been the exact same formulas that Dr. Tian (who we mentioned here) used to treat the Spanish Flu when he was alive in 1918. As we mentioned in an earlier letter, this was believed to be a similar influenza strain to the one we dealt with in 2009. It was the effectiveness of the treatments with influenza at this time that caused me to begin mastering this older system.
After looking at the disease progression through the lens of Modern Medicine and Chinese Medicine and the work those who have used Classical Method in this current epidemic, I am confident was can effectively help keep many people out of the hospital and significantly minimize the impact if people get sick, though the 2009 and 2020 outbreaks are different and will require a different strategy.
To answer how and why the strategy will be different from 2009, I want to share with you the work of one of one hospital in China. This hospital used the Classical Method to keep its staff of over 1000 medical staff healthy while they treated the outbreak. Using our Classical Method formulas, none of his staff became infected. The hospital, I later learned, had consulted with and used the protocol of the first student of my first Classical Method teacher (who is now deceased). First, they put every hospital employee on herbs to keep them healthy, whether they were experiencing symptoms or not, then they employed formulas specific to the progression of disease, just like we do in the clinic.
Based, in part, on this hospitals experience, I am convinced that, if we treat early and effectively according to our system of Classical Chinese medicine, we have the potential to help keep many people healthy and minimizing the damage from this outbreak. The key is to keep the disease out of the lungs and to treat swiftly to minimize the chance of developing permanent lung fibrosis.
Because of the extreme amount of uncertainty in the time ahead, we are taking steps to assure that, even if it is not possible to see patients in person (please know that we will make every effort to prevent that), our patients have the ability to respond quickly if you or a loved one falls sick. Here is our strategy:
Phase I: Lung Qi Formula:
We will be offering the herbal formula to anyone who wants it. Availability projected to be late this week. As you know, we normally do not offer formulas without a consult; however, given the circumstances, we feel comfortable doing this because of the real-world results in China.
Phase II: Triage Kit:
We will be offering a triage kit with the formulas we deem most likely to effectively combat this epidemic, depending on the different ways the symptoms present and progress. It is my understanding that, like our experience with H1N1, if the patient is treated quickly with the right strategies the symptoms will not become severe and the likelihood of requiring hospitalization is significantly minimized.
The Triage Kit will only be available to patients and their families. Please let us know if you are interested so we can try to estimate demand.
One note on this, we have always considered herbal therapies to be an extension of our services and not a product to be sold in and of themselves. Thus, our kits will come vacuum-sealed. If your kit is never opened, you may return it to our clinic in exchange for clinic services in the future.
Our mission, through this difficult time, is to be of service to our community and create a win-win for everyone. This will help assure that Red Earth can remain in business as well as allow us to effectively treat our patients in the face of a fast-moving epidemic.
Please remember: nothing in this article is intended to suggest that people concerned about exposure to Covid 19, or are exhibiting cold or flu like symptoms, should not immediately contact your primary care physician, your local hospital or the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The scope of our practice does not include diagnosing or treating a Western Medicine disease, such as a virus or Covid 19. As always, our medicine focuses on the patient’s body and not on the specific pathogen as identified by Western Medicine.
For additional information about COVID 19, please contact the World Health Organization (WHO), the CDC and/or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In addition to the hot bath strategy, people can drink this Ginger Jujube Date Tea.
Fill a small pot with about three cups of water and bring to boil. Add about 2 scallions, cut into 2” pieces (use the roots as well), 15g of jujube dates, and 6 sliced fresh ginger root about 1/8” thick. Bring to a boil then reduce to a low boil and simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain into a large mug, allow to cool until it’s tea temperature and drink it hot.
The Jujube dates can be easily purchased from an Asian grocery store is it is a commonly used culinary herb. If you would like to stop by the office to get some, we can set you up.
Let’s look at the fastest, easiest things people can do stay healthy and keep the terrain of their bodies as favorable as possible to stay in balance and fight disease.
Many of you who have been treated for acute conditions in the clinic that in our tradition of Chinese Medicine — Classical Method — know that it is not necessary to identify the specific biological pathogen (virus, bacteria, or heebee jeebee) in order to effectively treat even serious conditions. Many people are surprised to see how we may prescribe the same treatment regardless of how modern medicine would identify it. The reason for this is that the Classical Method Chinese Medicine focuses on the terrain not the invader. This may seem strange, but, if we look at it from the perspective of military strategy, it makes a great deal of sense. Look at it this way:
Let’s talk history.
Though it’s been a little while since we had a serious one, humans have been dealing with epidemics and disease for a long time. The last time we dealt with something on this scale was probably the Spanish Flu (the original H1N1) in 1918, during World War I. However, there are two major differences between the Coronavirus and Spanish Flu.
- We have a much better understanding of disease transmission and vastly better communication as we mentioned above, for bad and good.
- The high risk group for the Spanish Flu was males ages 18 - 24. In fact, the stronger the man, the more likely they were not to recover. You can imagine how men living in close proximity was a public policy health nightmare and was a large factor in making this the worst modern epidemic on the books.
Over the weekend, I talked with my Mom on the phone. My folks live in the sparely populated city of Rexburg, Idaho, about an hour and some change outside of Yellowstone National Park. She is 74 and has a history of chronic respiratory illness — exactly the demographic that we (according to current epidemiological data) should be concerned about. The message to my folks bears broader relevance to our patients and Red Earth, so I want to share some of our conversation. Hopefully this will put things into context and assuage some fears.
A little bit more about my Mom. My folks moved to Idaho about the time I started my training Chinese Medicine. I helped them find a fantastic practitioner in nearby Idaho Falls, which they go to for the routine and month-to-month stuff. However, I have reserved much of the heavy lifting for myself to treat because their Acupuncturist is not “Classically Trained” to modify the herbal formulas and uses pre made herbs rather than recreating the traditional formulas as traditional dosages. Here is a summary of our conversation.
“The News” predictably is shilling fear, boosting ratings to increase revenue and otherwise doing everything they can to capitalize on the current situation — a formula not likely to change. Unfortunately what is getting drowned out by the ratings is the all important “WHY” public health officials are taking steps they are taking, including quarantine and suggesting people modify and limit social interaction. It all basically boils down to slowing the transmission rate. Epidemiologists, experts in the study of how disease spreads, know that the doubling rate of this outbreak is about every four days. Which means that for however many people are infected (whether they know it or not), four days later twice as many people will be infected. If ten people are infected it only takes four days for that number to reach 20 and four days later there will be 40, then 80 and so on. If we have 100,000 infections then four days later there will be 200,000 — you get the picture. As long as this data holds, you can see how people without the context easily become and remain scared.
The fact is that this virus, for most people, is not deadly. So, if the virus isn’t ALL THAT for most people, why are Public Health Officials trying to slow the disease progression? Take away the twitter feeds of parents spraying children down with Lysol before going to school - I kid you not (terrible pun absolutely intended) - and the absurdity of the current run on toilet paper and the dissemination of false information about the virus and how it spreads, and this outbreak has the potential to be an AMAZING triumph of public health policy. Here is why:
All of the public health initiatives are designed to slow the rate of transmission, making it basically a numbers game. Unlike other recent outbreaks, like Ebola (which, despite all the scary news reporting of the time, was NOT a cause for alarm), the transmission rate of COVID-19 is very high. This allows the virus to spread rapidly through the population. The good news is that, even though this virus is highly infectious, the vast majority of people who are exposed experience mild and even largely non-existent symptoms. The bad news is that for a small portion of the population for whom the virus symptoms are severe and life threatening, including people like my Mom, they have a very high risk of being infected by someone who doesn’t know they are sick. This is where public health policy comes into play, given the high infection rate and low risk for almost all people who are exposed, the chances accidentally infecting people like my Mom goes way up. The goal of public health officials is to slow the transmission rate enough so that WHEN (not if) large numbers of this population start to contract the virus, there are enough resources available to handle the number of people that need care critical to their needs. This is true whether they are being treated at a major hospital or a small clinic like Red Earth.
Fortunately, the way we treat and the standard of care we currently follow naturally puts our patients visiting the clinic at lower risk for accidental transmission than other venues and clinics.
Here is a summary of our current practices:
Air Filtration: For the past 10 years, we have used an air filtration system in the clinic that removes, not only moxa smoke from the air, but also airborne viruses and bacteria.
Surface Sanitation: After each patient, we perform a wipe down treatment surfaces and supplies that are non-inserted. Hard surfaces and treatment tables and place freshly laundered sheets on treatment tables.
Needles inserted are single use and properly disposed of.
Practitioners wash hands after leaving the treatment room and before entering treatment rooms.
In addition we are implementing the following additional measures to keep the clinic as safe as possible:
Patients will stop off in the bathroom and wash their hands upon entering the clinic.
Change to sanitation agent: We are changing our surface cleaning agent to one that is clinically shown to kill Corona Viruses with in one minute of contact on hard surfaces.
Increasing the frequency of wiping down surfaces, including the checkout counter and door knobs.
We will offer tea in disposable cups.
We are watching developments very carefully and we urge everyone to be prudent to slow the rate of transmission down to levels sustainable for our healthcare system.
As we mark our 11th year effectiveness the clinic opened, I can say that I have never been so grateful and blessed to have the opportunity to work with such wonderful patents. We have patients now that have literally been with us for the entire 11-year journey.
During the Thanksgiving break, I travelled with my son Ethan to visit schools in Japan, where he has decided he wants to study after High School. This trip involved direct parental involvement for the first half and some strategically placed neglect during the second half. After our school tours were done, I left Ethan and his friend to their own devices and headed to Northern Japan to study with my teacher. The goal was to be close — just in case the boys got in trouble — but no so close that they couldn’t get a feel of what it’s like being on one’s own in another country. The trip was a huge success and Ethan came back with a renewed sense of confidence and enthusiasm in his choice to study abroad. Reflecting on the trip, I am reminded of the countless conversations I have had with patients over the years where information, tips nuances and painful parental failures were shared making mental notes as needed. Locked in these moments were countless nuggets of wisdom that formed a library of parenting tips and advice that I have had available to me over the years at those critical parenting moments. To all of you who shared — Thank you!
The second part of my trip marked the first time I had stepped foot in my acupuncture teacher, Iwashina Sensei’s, clinic since I set up shop in Peachtree City in 2008. Though I have continued to study and assist him practically every year during his seminars in Oregon, California and more recently in Texas, there is nothing like observing a master in his own workshop. In 2008, I remember watching him treat and saying to myself “I am not leaving (Japan) until I master such and such a technique.” Ten years and 14,000 plus treatments later, I can honestly say, I am well on the way. As powerful and impactful as the techniques I witnessed were in 2008, it pales in comparison to what I observed this time around. If the last experience was marked by awe of the techniques, this go-around was marked by awe at the complete lack of specific techniques. My teacher was just treating each person at their root, and they were getting better.
To help prepare your digestion for the over eating that comes with Thanksgiving, we will offer this tea in the clinic this week:
- Shan Zha, aka Hawthorn Berry, 12g
- Mai Ya, aka Barley Sprout, 15 g
Boil both in water for 15 minutes, then pour into cups and drink warm as a tea after dinner. Serves four and can be reboiled for a second cup after the cheesecake. Unsweetened, this tea is quite tart, so feel free to add a little honey to taste, but it will balance very well after a sweet dessert without any sweetener.
You are welcomed to stop by the clinic at anytime Wednesday (11/21-11/22) to try a cup. We will also have the herbs available in little bags to take home and cook for your family and friends. If you are hosting a big party, please call ahead so we can make sure we have enough prepared for you. That said, these are culinary herbs and are available at most Asian groceries, if you do not have time to hop in.