The 2019 Novel Coronavirus: Thoughts on Prevention and Care

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was first identified in the Wuhan province of China late in 2019. Genetic analysis of 2019-nCoV is in process to confirm the origin of this virus, likely from animals. Historically, SARS, another coronavirus, originated with civit cats. MERS, which also impacted humans, arose from camels. There has also been noted person to person spread of these various Coronaviruses.

For the current germ, symptoms vary greatly from mild respiratory illness, fever and cough, to more severe symptoms like difficulty breathing and death. According to the CDC, symptoms can develop 2–14 days after exposure. There is currently no vaccine for 2019-nCoV.

Here are basic concepts to help avoid exposure and exposing others to any virus including this one:

Avoid large crowds and places with poor ventilation.

If you cannot avoid such places, use a properly fitted mask, though research on some more commonly used masks lacks efficacy. Regardless, if using a mask, change frequently as they harbor bacteria.

Prioritize handwashing, more often, with soap and water for twenty seconds, especially before eating.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Use hand sanitizers, alcohol-based, when handwashing is not possible.

Limit handling doorknobs and other public surfaces without gloves. If in the midst of a severe epidemic, consider using gloves whenever outside to limit contact. Wash glove daily.

Avoid people who are sick.

Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and discard or sneeze into your bent elbow.

Please stay home if you are sick!

Photo by Zohre Nemati on Unsplash

To optimize your reaction to exposure should it occur and prevent or mitigate symptoms:

If you are feeling run down, take a day off, for rest and healing.

Eat a diet that supports optimal immune function including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats. Ingest food and drink that are cultured to support an active and robust microbiome which in turn supports proper immunity. Include high fiber foods is essential for that process, too.

Avoid sugars, alcohol and refined, overly processed foods.

Remember to keep up exercise, which helps support immune function.

Insure adequate sleep, essential for a well-functioning immune system.

Decrease or discontinue smoking as any viral-like symptoms will be worse in smokers. You also help protect loved ones from the impact of second-hand smoke.

Try to reduce your stress level. As stress increases, cortisol levels go up, which negatively impacts immune function.

It’s also essential to continue to address underlying illnesses and chronic disease. Often it is those who are chronically ill, the very young and the very old who have worse outcomes with various influenzas or viral infections.

The following natural medicines and other approaches foster enhanced immunity while helping to create and maintain healthy mucous membrane tissue, essential for fending off germs.

Research has shown there are botanical medicines known to help prevent flu including licorice root, North American ginseng, elderberry, echinacea, and garlic.

Likewise, nutritional supplements can be taken to help insure optimal immune system function. These include: zinc, selenium, vitamin C, probiotics, and seaweed extract.

Use a humidifier as a higher air humidity reduces virus survival for other viruses and may well decrease transmission here.

Recall approaches that can be comforting during acute illness and help with recuperation:

Place 1–2 cups of Epsom salt in a warm bath for a good soak. This helps to draw out inflammation and decrease muscle soreness and joint pain.

A hot water bottle can be a welcome presence if patient is chilly and sore.

Vegetable or chicken broth will help to replenish electrolytes and has other health benefits.

If you think you have been exposed to 2019-nCoV or that you have symptoms of the virus, be in touch with your medical provider. It will be important to follow quarantine guidelines and to get appropriate conventional care alongside naturopathic approaches. Addressing specific symptoms of 2019-nCoV will be individualized to the patient, and the type and severity of symptoms that arise. These are only guidelines; if you suffer from other, unrelated chronic disease, consult your licensed naturopathic doctor or other health care provider.

American Association of Naturopathic Physician’s 2017 Physician of the Year. Teacher, writer and advocate for healthy living.

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