Over the past few weeks, our lives have continued to be radically altered by the current pandemic. Many of us have been staying in our homes and adjusting to the “new normal.” Either through self-quarantine or as ordered to by state directives, the nation is coming together to help flatten the curve and prevent asymptomatic and symptomatic spreading of the virus. (source, source) Throughout this life-altering event, I’ve been providing you with updates and self-care tips that I use personally and with my clients as a naturopathic doctor. It is my intention to do my part to assist you in maintaining more serenity and calm during this upheaval.
In this article, I continue with providing you information on emerging facts of the latest pandemic. By delivering to you these past weekly summaries with the latest updates in one spot, I hope to decrease the time you are feeding your brain with negative news streams and scaring the health out of yourself.
I also have decided to continue my series on using essential oils to calm anxiety, stress, and lower cortisol by highlighting a study or two about them with my updates. I have found in my naturopathic and functional medicine practice that essential oils assist my clients in remaining more calm, sane, healthier, and more content during times of crisis. For this reason, I will discuss several clinical trials using essential oils blends to help decrease blood pressure, stress, and frequency of headaches. These research articles were specifically chosen to highlight how these plant metabolites provide support to our frayed nervous systems.
Finally, I have been providing resources throughout the week for my e-subscribers. On March 2nd, I will be releasing a FREE webinar. The webinar is entitled: Naturopathic and Functional Medicine Tools for Stress and Mental Health During Trying Times: Essential Oils for Resiliency & Mind-Body Medicine. If you’d like the link, and aren’t already subscribed, you can sign-up for free here.
Now, onto the latest developments from the past week.
The Top Ten Stories During the Emerging Infoedemic
Below are the latest updates in the health sphere on COVID-19 developments from the previous week. The situation evolves rapidly. I have stated the facts and have a few personal opinions and comments in parenthesis.
- With the United States now surpassing cases from China and Italy, many are now hunkered down and waiting it out. Daily counts of those infected are being flashed on the news channels. Still, supplies are scarce, and the U.S. healthcare system continues to be overwhelmed. This Saturday, the HHS began investigating complaints of ventilators being rationed by states, further fueling the fire. (source, source, source, source, source, source, source)
- The numbers continue to spike as additional people are being tested and kits become available and make for more rapid diagnosing. The CDC reports that the United States has over 120,000 cases and 2,112 deaths as of March 29th. (source, source) Some believe America may be in the apex of the growth curve. A new antibody test is being developed that may have promise in decreasing the burden. (source, source, source, source, source, source, source, source, source, source, source, source, source)
- New York has been hit the hardest with the most cases and increasing deaths with close to 60,000 cases as of March 29th. (source) Various temporary hospitals are being erected and military personnel have been called in to assist with developments. Several hospitals in the state are launching trials for potential drugs and treatments, including IV Vitamin C. (source, source, source, source, source, source)
- Regardless of the state, treatments are a “hot” medical topic fueling controversy in our nation. Internationally, some doctors have published commentaries and case studies on using nutritional support and repurposing different drugs for symptom control of COVID-19. Various experts deem caution on these preliminary results, while others say that the promise of success is enough in a moment where time is a luxury that we do not have. Developments continue. This most recent was this weekend. On Saturday, March 28th, the FDA approved emergency use of convalescent plasma for seriously ill patients with COVID-19. (source, source, source, source, source, source, source)
- Recently, the government passed a massive economic stimulus package, “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or the “CARES Act,” in order to help with the financial ramifications of closing down businesses, schools, and community gatherings. It has been estimated that one in five Americans have lost their jobs as a result of shut downs. This $2 trillion bipartisan agreement is the biggest economic package ever made in history. (source, source, source, source, source)
- There continues to be many of the same disagreements and caveats among my colleagues regarding natural immune support strategies that I discussed in my previous article. Specifically, the elderberry “cytokine storm” topic has exploded in the blog-o-sphere. This safety caution was based on its effects using a theoretical, in vitro study. Many experts are defending this herbal that has well-founded clinical research to support the immune system in those NOT exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms and should be continued. Other physicians are warning to steer clear of certain herbals, or all of them. (source, source, source)
- Along with the gut symptoms and neurological impacts discussed in my last post, (source) loss of smell has emerged as another indicator of a viral infection. (source, source, source) Panic and fear are also commonly experienced in those with COVID-19 (and the whole world). (source) (My opinion: The emergence of new symptoms will continue, as everyone has a different “sweet spot” of vulnerability based on genetic variations, lifestyle, and health history.)
- Many associations are putting together resources and packages for their members, such as the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. The American Nutrition Association also recently released a series on personalized nutritional interventions to support the body during times of crisis.
- To wipe or not to wipe? The study that surfaced regarding that COVID-19 could stay on certain surfaces has many people in a cleaning, concerned frenzy. The most important thing to remember is to wash your hands, social (physical) distancing, to stay home, and to be cognizant and sterilize potential contaminated surfaces within reason, but you don’t have to go crazy. The main concern is person-to-person transmission according to leading experts. In other words, guard your mental health balanced with diligence. (source, source, source, source) This article goes into more detail of potential contamination, precautionary avoidance, and the evidence and the current guidelines from the CDC.
- According to experts, the CDC, and the World Health Organization (WHO), there is still no approved standard of care treatment, cure, or preventative for COVID-19. Supportive measures and containment are in full force as a result. The CDC website and your state’s website contain more information and updates on how to properly social distance, sanitize, and self-quarantine or isolate. They also state when one should contact their physician based on symptoms, travel history, and exposures. Recently, the CDC also launched an online COVID-19 symptom checker to clarify when to stay home and to lessen the strain on medical personal.
Take a breath.
More Lavender Oil Blends for Cortisol, Calming Anxiety, Balancing Blood Pressure, and Improving Mood
Now onto some happier news, the topic of essential oils.
Here is my highlighted study on a lavender oil blend to support our nervous system after trying to digest the infoepdemic and pandemic news above.
In one small trial with 83 prehypertensive and hypertensive patients, the effect of a blend of lavender, ylang ylang, marjoram, and neroli (20: 15: 10: 2) on salivary cortisol and ambulatory blood pressure (BP) was evaluated. Over 24 hours, the experimental group inhaled the blended oils, while the placebo group inhaled an artificial fragrance. The control group received no treatment. The study was done over a course of seven months.
The participants’ systolic (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) was measured at home. After ten minutes, it was found to be significantly decreased in the experimental group as compared to the control and artificial fragrance groups. The daytime ambulatory SBP and DBP also shared a similar pattern. Furthermore, the experimental group demonstrated a decrease in cortisol levels. Interestingly, a subgroup analysis found DBP was only reduced in hypertensive subjects, demonstrating the “innate knowledge” of essential oils. (source)
The authors’ rational for use of these oils are reported as:
Lavender alleviates cardiac excitation, lowers BP, and is effective in hypertension and palpitations. Ylang-ylang lowers BP, alleviates palpitations and nervous system excitation, and promotes emotional relaxation . Marjoram lowers sympathetic nervous system activity and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, resulting in vasodilatation to reduce cardiac strain and decrease BP. Neroli brings forth emotional soothing and comfort and is effective in cardiac palpitations secondary to shock or fear .
How I Use Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Marjoram, and Neroli to Alleviate Stress in my Naturopathic Clinic
For my naturopathic clients with neurological stress impacting hormonal symptoms, I have used a blend of a few drops each of lavender and neroli to be applied twice daily with a carrier oil and diffused before bed.
Ylang ylang is my go-to essential oil for those with symptoms related to elevated heart rate, anxiety, and balancing an over-stressed nervous system. It is an oil that I am using currently myself in various blends and diffusing at night.
Marjoram is an essential oil that I often recommend in combination with my immune supportive protocols and to help with easing tension. Oftentimes, topical application is best.
You can learn more about essential oil applications and safety on my essential oils database here.
I will continue to update you on emerging facts as I see fit and the story unfolds. I will also continue to provide you resources to soothe your soul and mind using essential oils and other self-care tips.
Please share your thoughts, comments, your own favorite essential oils for anxiety, and self-care tips below and on my Facebook page.
I am here for you and we are in this together.
If you need extra support, I’m offering low cost essential oils consults and am available virtually.
My Disclaimer About Immune and Wellness Balancing Measures
The above suggestions are for overall health only.
According to experts and the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no approved standard of care treatment, cure, or preventative for COVID-19. Supportive measures and containment are in full force as a result. Please see the CDC website and your state’s website for more information and updates. They also state when to contact your physician related to symptoms and travel history, exposures.
Please read my more detailed article on this subject here.
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
For additional safety and medical information, visit my essential oils database. It includes a full category on how to use essential oils safely and potential drug interactions that can occur.
Please be extra cautious and be sure to check with your doctor if you have a seizure disorder. The Epilepsy Society of the UK lists certain essential oils implicated for their antiseizure effect as well as those that have stimulating properties.
If you and/or your physician are interested in consulting with me to assist with supporting the integration of essential oils safely into a therapeutic protocol, essential oils consultations are available.