Covid-19 Was In The House
TCM & COVID-19
Our skills don’t just benefit our patients, but our families as well
Amy Mager, DACM, L.Ac., FABORM, Dipl.OM
In December 2019, we were all hearing about COVID-19 in China and Europe. On March 1st, the first case arrived in Westchester, NY. My Mom’s elder community went into immediate lockdown. Upon hearing that news, my husband and I spoke of retrieving 5 of our 6 children who were in school or working in NY, Boston and Philadelphia. We knew it was a risk to bring them home and that one or more of them more than likely had been exposed to COVID-19 despite me sending them N95 masks to wear on the subways and when out in public. All of my children were given Yu Ping Feng San to take to build their Wei Qi. They each also had Xiao Chai Hu Tang if they started to experience symptoms and were taught when and how to use it. In the words of my father, of blessed memory, “It’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.”
As acupuncturists and practitioners of TCM, we were dutifully watching videos from all of our teachers, particularly from John Chen. Learning, ordering herbal medicines (some of which were already out of stock), and planning for what we knew was coming. In mid-March, as many states shut down, COVID-19 was in the HOUSE – our house. Two of my sons had the version that began with a huge and sudden chill, then came fever (no one fevered over 101.5 in the house due to TCM and other supportive tx), cough, nausea, diarrhea and severe headache. Jia Jian Xiao Chai Hu Tang as needed until the symptoms shifted. Shortness of breath was the biggest challenge with the fever. We switched to Jia Jian Qing Fei Tang for their specific symptoms of cough and shortness of breath – Jia Jian with the herbs listed below. My goal was to keep them out of the hospital. So along with TCM we used oregano oil, Vitamin C 1,000 mg 4x/day, Vitamin D3 in a gelcap 4,000 iu/day, Zinc 30 mcg day, NAC, N-acytlcysteine both long and short acting and Kali Bichromium 30C to open the lungs. The NAC and Kali Birchromium both do what Tian Hua Fen does: thin mucus and break up phlegm obstruction.
The shortness of breath experienced in this virus, due to the tenacity of the phlegm, made me want to address the phlegm from different directions. Dr. CS Cheung, Founding President of ACTCM, drilled into us that we have diagnosis, treatment principle and treatment grids in TCM. When we know the functions of a drug or herb or supplement, add it to the grid. This phlegm is thick and tenacious. To open tubules I added eucalyptus chest rub which resolves phlegm and opens tubules and added Sang Bai Pi, Pi Pa Ye, Xing Ren, Tian Hua, Jie Geng and Ban Xia to my herbal formulas. Instead of the typical 1-2x/day, my children (ages 16-27) received 6-8 doses/day.
Goals: keep them 1. out of the hospital and, 2. keep their fever under 103 (if possible), to make their recovery as easy as possible. We were pushing electrolytes all day. We kept the boys separated upstairs on the third floor.
The first two young men to go down responded well. Two days later, one of their sisters presented with a profound earache and throbbing headache behind her eye. Two days later, it was my other daughter. I addressed their symptoms with a different variation of Jia Jian Xiao Chai Hu Tang and later a variation of Qing Fei Tang. We took temperatures with an infrared thermometer and found the last pulse oximeter to be had in Springfield, MA in early March and monitored their pulse oxygenation rates. The girls’ oxygen levels dipped as expected and went down to 93/94 which we could coax up by putting them on their bellies and percussing their backs. Meanwhile, I was having symptoms and was still taking care of the children because my husband did not know the difference between the formulas, or how to take them. Each of my children was unwell for 7-10 days. Two of them got better and then got worse, with significant shortness of breath. Just like when children have whooping cough, sitting with them, breathing with them, in through their nose and out through their mouths, and not panicking matters. Eyes were on the prize which was keeping all of us out of the hospital.
I treated all of the children as I treat patients: by determining diagnosis, treatment principle, and guiding formula. Can we use a patent? Do we want to? Knowing what form of herbs the patient is willing to take does matter. I have patients who would willingly take herbs in the following formulations: as a tincture, granules as tea, granules in capsules and those who would take patents only.
As we were preparing for Passover in the time of COVID-19, child number 6 went down, and child number 3 came home. He came home later than everyone else, was mostly quarantining but had seen his best friend, whose roommate ended up in an ICU to treat COVID-19 by the time he came home. Number 6 had severe headache, fevered for 9 days, was treated appropriately and recovered more easily than those who had cough and shortness of breath. My husband and child number 3 were either impervious or asymptomatic. Neither of them expressed any symptoms.
All of them recovered (although some did have some tachycardia when standing up too quickly for a few weeks and weakness with activity) for several weeks. They did not think they were doing too much too soon but it was too much for their bodies. I liken it to postpartum. Many women want to get up and start to do too much too quickly. In postpartum care, womens’ breasts and their lochia/post birth bleeding are their barometers. Do too much, you bleed more. Do too much, you will get clogged milk ducts. Really don’t pay attention, you may develop mastitis. COVID-19 recovery is a process, not an event. Treating what we see with TCM if we cannot physically get to our patients makes a difference. Knowing what we know and using our skills and the medicine to treat our family? Priceless.
*The information provided here is for healthcare professional practitioners only. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.