Month: August 2020

Eliminate Dampness with the Changing Seasons

Eliminate Dampness with the Changing Seasons

Dampness continues to be the pathogen on everyone’s mind this year, as an ever-increasing body of research shows the links between Covid-19 severity and Autoimmunity, Blood sugar problems and obesity.

When treating these conditions with TCM the first thing we always regulate is the body’s water metabolism. Are you feeling swollen, fatigued, or lethargic? When you change to a healthier diet do you initially lose water weight? You’re not alone.

The human body’s methods of regulating its fluids are robust and many, but they’re vulnerable to damage. And while we often feel like we are “dehydrated” and have to force ourselves to drink water, what’s really going on is that we are water logged, and our natural feeling of thirst is suppressed.

Would you rather drink from a clear alpine spring, or a tepid muddy pond with an algae bloom? Just as in nature, water in our bodies is cleanest when it is moving. When it sits still it is more prone to the growth of infectious pathogens, and it harbors toxicity from the environment such as microplastics, pesticides and heavy metals.

All of this is treated in TCM as pathological Dampness. And when we’re fighting a Damp Plague like Covid-19, pre-existing dampness can put our lives at risk.

Just as in nature, seasonal changes affect the ways our bodies hold, move, and release water. In Spring and Summer when the trees and plants are growing, blooming and fruiting, we tend to move more, sweat more, and move the circulation of gases, water and blood more into our muscles, skin and extremities. And in Autumn and Winter, we sit more, sleep more and rest; this is when gases, water and blood move back into our core.

The Water Cycle

As above, so below, in Traditional Chinese Medicine and High school biology.

What this means is that, if our bodies are not clean and our waters are dirty, it’s harder to eliminate that toxicity in the colder parts of the year. Yes, you can (and I would argue, you must) still move and sweat. But you can’t do it as much when it’s cold outside or you risk nasty things like new viruses moving in through your open pores.

So as we are now seeing the seasons change from Summer to Autumn, it is the Best time to eliminate dampness from your body. How to do it?

  • Sweat! Get outside and exercise. Walking, running, cycling, Yoga, martial arts, and many other activities are safe to practice while socially distanced. Enjoy these waning days of Summer and move your body. I’ve become a big fan of my friend and colleague Fabrice Piche’s Qigong YouTube channel.
  • Fix your digestion. If you’re prone to a sluggish gut, up your intake of fresh, gently cooked vegetables; especially seasonal Zucchini and squash. Spices such as ginger and Sichuan Peppercorns can boost gut motility and fight overgrowth of Candida-type yeasts that contribute to Dampness. Regular, complete bowel movements are one of the best ways to clean the body’s water metabolism. If you’re prone to bloating or post-meal fatigue, consider digestive aids such as Microgard Plus and abdominal self-massage.
  • Consider cutting your carbs. While we think of salty food as being the thing that makes us retain water (and it can definitely do this), we often forget that sugars do it just as well. Most of you know my story with obesity and blood sugar, and that I usually eat Ketogenic. I’ve been making exceptions for fresh Summer fruit, but now that blackberry season has passed I’ll go back to it for the Yin time of the year. You don’t always have to go that far, but reducing or eliminating grains and refined sugars can go a long way towards getting your body to shed extra water weight and feeling light and agile as the year cools off.
Sichuan Peppercorns from Crawford Wellness

Sichuan Peppercorns add spice to your life and flavor to your meals! You can make them into a delicious condiment easily at home.

 

Botanical medicine can supercharge all of these lifestyle tweaks, and we’ve made the most commonly used formulas available through the clinic’s Online Store. Here’s a quick guide:

  • Blood Sugars elevated: consider Aquada and Microgard Plus with your meals, in addition to suggestions above.
  • Working in close proximity with others, having a difficult time maintaining social distance, or vulnerable to infection: Huo Xiang Zheng Qi tea is the most commonly used formula in China for prevention of the “Damp Plague.”
  • Waking up foggy-headed (does your spouse tell you that you snore?) with a low morning appetite: Warm Hearth tea and a Tibetan Foot Soak is an awesome start to your day.
  • Tending to sluggish bowels and constipation? A few sachets of Peak tea can usually get you moving.

I know there are a lot of options and combining these remedies or making custom blends can seem daunting. You can always schedule an appointment with me to get clear on your best path to health.

I hope you are enjoying Late Summer and staying well. As always, feel free to reply with your questions and feedback!

To your health,

Brehan and the Crawford Wellness crew

Covid-19 as a Damp Plague

Covid-19 as a Damp Plague

When Covid-19 first hit Wuhan, TCM doctors in China gathered to discuss it.

As soon as China recognized that an epidemic was beginning, many senior doctors who had worked successfully with infectious diseases such as SARS in 2003 began discussing this new virus. What effects was it having on the bodies of infected patients, and how could it be best treated to prevent loss of life?

Academic debates are always frought with disagreement

But one thing stood out about this new virus: everyone agreed it was to be classified as a form of 湿瘟 Shi Wen which translates best as “Damp Plague.”

I’ve been trying to describe this in more western terms for the last few months here in the newsletter and with patients in the clinic; I know that aside from “mucus-heavy” and “don’t eat sugar” this can be somewhat difficult to understand. But we now have such a replete body of evidence on the way that SARS-CoV-2 aka Covid-19 affects the human body, that I can try to give you a more complete picture.

Dampness is more than one microbe.

While Coronaviruses alone have immense affects on the human body on their own, Covid-19 as a damp plague is especially nasty because it is a polymicrobial condition marked by the presence of multiple viruses, fungi and bacterial infections, each working in tandem to colonize the human body and shut down our natural defense mechanisms. Take for example these two articles on mold and fungus as coinfections of Covid-19:

Dampness as Covid-19 thrives on sugar-rich environments

When we talk about Dampness we almost always mean mucus: a complex of proteins and sugars that are naturally present in the body, produced to levels of excess. You need mucous in the right places and amounts to survive, but too much can harbor latent infections and be a sign of excess sugar consumption.

One of the best ways to get Dampness out of your body is to eliminate extra sugars from your diet. Consider a low-carbohydrate diet, a ketogenic diet, or intermittent fasting. These are some of my favorite strategies to use in the clinic, in conjunction with formulas like Aquada and Microgard Plus to balance blood sugar levels and engage lipolysis (the dissolution of excessive sugar intake stored as body fat). There may be some benefit to doing this preventatively as well.

Dampness can affect many areas of the body, for a long time.

As we’re seeing with Covid-19, it is much more than a respiratory disease. It is causing strokes, skin problems, digestive upset, neurological problems and tremendous postviral syndromes.

As many of you with chronic fatigue will understand, there has been a substantial body of evidence pointing to this as a postviral sequelae of Epstein-Barr virus for many years. While this often gets ignored or downplayed by the conventional medical world, I am hopeful that the body of evidence produced as a result of so many skilled doctors looking at the long-term effects of Covid-19 will validate the stories told by patients of how a simple virus (and whatever critters come along with it) can be detrimental to health. This is one of the major focuses of my clinical practice as TCM has a long and successful history of helping people recover from lingering viral attacks.

So What is there to do!?

The answers for prevention and success are largely simple and based on healthy lifestyle.

Yes, you should wash your hands a lot and wear a mask when out in public. You should reduce or eliminate your intake of refined sugars and any excess carbohydrates. Intermittent fasting *may* be helpful, but some people should not engage in this without medical supervision so please, talk with your medical provider first before beginning any of these things.

Herbs have been safely and successfully used in China to prevent and treat viral damp outbreaks.

To be clear, I am not promoting anything as a cure for Covid! But we are stocked with the most commonly used formulas in China, and we are hearing great reports from our patients working in high-risk scenarios for exposure, or who have contracted a virus and need support to get through it or past the post-viral fatigue etc.

You can begin by visiting our Online Store. Huo Xiang Zheng Qi tea remains our favorite “anti-dampness” lifestyle tea, and as I mentioned above we have many products to restore healthy blood sugar metabolism and mucus levels.

Any questions? Just respond to this email and I’ll be happy to answer.

To your health,

Brehan