Originally, I started my series on using essential oils to calm anxiety, stress, and lower cortisol to help my clients and readers balance hormones and deal with our high-speed, fast-paced society. Things have shifted significantly since then. Now, a new kind of chronic, palpable, stress and fear has emerged.
Life as we knew it has changed. Substantially.
In order to prevent the spread of contracting coronavirus disease (COVID-19) too rapidly and continue to overwhelm our healthcare system, today, all around the world everyone is being asked to hunker down at home. (source) In order to flatten the curve, sanitation measures have skyrocketed, human contact is sparse, panic buying has led to hoarding, and the toilet paper apocalypse has ensued.
The adjustment to mass changes in such a short period of time is intense. The ability to stop by someone’s house to say hi, jump in the car to go somewhere, travel, and/or meet up for a coffee with a friend is now a fond past memory. Employers and employees are scurrying to adapt to working from home, homeschooling is being implemented, disaster relief for paid sick leave, unemployment, and insurance are being issued, healthcare is getting stretched, and hospital beds and supplies are scare. (source, source, source)
It is a time of uncertainty.
Life as we knew it has ceased.
I don’t have to tell you this. We are all experiencing it.
So, how do we cope with it?
In an attempt to help you all deal with this overwhelming uncertainty, I have decided to continue to keep you informed with the latest facts. More importantly, however, my goal is to be here for you and help you move away from panic and toward self-nurturing practices, both physically and emotionally.
In this post, I will cover ten key updates on the current pandemic and then discuss eight ways to nourish yourself as you remain housebound.
The Scare of the Unknown- The Top Ten Emerging Facts
The main issue I see with the panic of the pandemic is that we are uncertain with what we are dealing with. My naturopathic association has put together a great resource page, and it continues to evolve. It’s a full-time job keeping up with the science! Thankfully, you don’t have to!
Since I last wrote my article on how to not panic over the pandemic, some things have shifted regarding what we know. Below are ten key things that we have learned so far, as COVID-19 spreads in the United States. Sources to scientific articles and podcasts are provided for those who want to go deeper into the details.
1. The most vulnerable population remains the elderly with pre-existing conditions. The younger people in America are being reported to have higher rates than expected of hospitalizations, but not higher mortality rates. What seems to be a common thread is that those most susceptible to complications are already compromised. There is conjecture that underlying inflammatory and immune disorders are the common predisposing factors. There is also speculation that smoking or vaping in the young may be why it is hitting them more aggressively in States.
It is still true that the majority of people, over 80%, who contract the virus seem to fare quite well. Children rarely show symptoms and are largely not that effected. (source, source, source, source, source)
FYI, some good news in China. It appears that the death rate is lower than originally thought. (source)
2. The Stats: Until we have a better understanding of how many people test positive for coronavirus, because many are asymptomatic and/or not getting tested, comparing COVID-19 to the flu is like comparing apples to oranges. Here’s why: As of March 22, 2020, there were 344 deaths and 27,021 cases in the United States. There are probably many more cases that are not fatal, as most people with symptoms who do not need respiratory support have been told to stay home. This means that many people may be walking around with mild or non-existent symptoms, making mortality rates appear higher. Case numbers have jumped as testing becomes more available.* In comparison to flu-like illnesses, from October 2019 to March 2020 there have 38 million to 54 million flu illnesses and 23,000 to 59,000 deaths according to the CDC. Therefore, without confirmed cases counted, the mortality rate of COVID-19 at 1.2% and flu at .06% cannot be adequately compared. (source, source, source, source, source, source, source, source)
*Currently, the population of New York City alone is around 8.4 million and New York State is 19.4 million. With this dense population and more kits available, New York has the highest number of confirmed cases.
3. Some studies are finding that the virus may present with GI symptoms and headaches (central nervous system involvement). Some other research is indicating that there may be a potential fecal-oral route. (Wash your hands people!) The WHO and CDC still use respiratory symptoms and person-to-person contact as the main symptoms and contraction method. (source, source, source)
4. The controversy continues on as to whether if certain blood pressure medications (ACE-inhibitors, ARBs) are helpful or harmful. This is based on how the virus interacts with these receptors. (source, source, source, source, source)
5. French authorities have recommended to avoid NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and others during infection. Some experts agree to err on the side of caution and not use them while others do not. Again, there is no agreed consensus. (source, source, source)
7. Different drugs are under investigation, mostly international. Vaccine trials are underway as well. It is estimated that it will be a year or more for a vaccine. Drugs include chloroquine (an old anti-malaria drug), azithromycin (an antibiotic), favipiravir (a Japanese flu drug), and tocilizumab (an anti-inflammatory). (source, source, source, source, source, source, source, source)
9. During active infection, or a positive COVID-19 test, it may be prudent to avoid high and regular use of the following herbals and immune stimulators. This is based on a theoretical data and not on human trial. For the following, there is a potential to increase the cytokine storm (inflammatory response) that can ensue with the disease:
- Sambucus nigra (Elderberry)
- Isolated polysaccharide extracts from medicinal mushrooms
- Echinacea angustifolia and E. purpurea
- Larch arabinogalactan
- Supplemental vitamin D (source)
10. Wash your hands, be cognizant and sterilize potential contaminated surfaces within reason, but you don’t have to go crazy in sterilizing everything you touch, according to recent research. The main concern is person-to-person transmission. In other words, guard your mental health balanced with diligence. (source, source, source, source)
I urge you to speak with your doctor with any questions regarding any changes in your protocol and continue to follow your states and the CDC guidelines.
Experts change positions on the “facts” as new science emerges and differences are found in how it effects populations globally. The truth is, no one knows anything for certain.
So, What Do We Do with All of This Information to Stay Sane and Safe?
1. First, do not panic.
By allowing this time to be one of more reflection, rather than reactive, you may be able to tune into more alignment with your values and actions.
Sometimes, the two can collide when the world is moving too quickly. You may also notice how grateful you are for what you have and the freedoms you previously enjoyed prior to this.
2. Nothing you need to DO has changed. (Except maybe allowing yourself to go from panic to purpose.)
Other than the fact that you may want to avoid NSAIDs per your health care provider’s advice and/or talk to your doctor about your blood pressure meds, continue to follow the guidelines of your state, CDC, and WHO for social distancing, staying home, sanitizing, and isolation.
3. Stay connected and reach out.
Reach out and take advantage of connecting with those you are residing with, or, if alone, connect virtually. Now more than ever we need each other. Isolation and fear can negatively impact our health. So please be gentle with yourself. Those home with family, take advantage of your time together and perhaps see the gift in it. Consider connecting using Zoom or other apps if you do not have companionship. There are some cool things to do online!
If you are feeling isolated and alone, and are able consider reaching out and helping others less fortunate. This includes shopping for those who can’t get out, making phone calls to those who are scared, and making time to think of someone else to get you out of negative thoughts.
4. Take a negative media fast.
I’m urging you to turn off the news when you have gained adequate information. Work the solution, not the problem. You are likely to get an adequate update on what changes may be happening from 20 minutes a day of the news and your state governmental advisories pages as well as the CDC and WHO websites.
5. Take control of what you can (your own health and actions), and let the rest go.
Facts, figures, statistics are evolving. No one knows for sure, but can only predict what will happen. Focus on the good, such as the positive that may come out of this. I also like to visit the Good News Network daily during trying times of fear-mongering media. Avoid click-bait and unethical fear mongering news.
7. Try to get outdoors, with proper social distancing, and consider a regular schedule.
Try to schedule your day and get some healing nature in.
8. Self-care is a priority.
Taking care of yourself and your loved ones should be your main goal right now.
I’ll update you as things evolve and more is learned but try to leave the science and figuring out the facts up to the medical and infectious disease experts.
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.
In an upcoming post, I’m going to discuss some clinical trials using blends of essential oils that help with blood pressure, stress, and headaches. These can help us to take good care of our nervous system so we can remain more calm, sane, healthier, and happier.
Sending you all my best.
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.