Part 2 in a 3 Part Series
Until a vaccine becomes wildly available, Dr. Chen has done the tedious job of sifting through piles of research from China and the west to find a viable treatment for prevention, mild to moderate cases, and recovery phases.
We know that COVID-19 is about 96% similar to the previous SARS virus that appeared in 2003. We also know that COVID-19 attaches to receptor sites on human cells that are called ACE2 receptor sites. Here is where the virus anchors itself and enters our lung cells to replicate itself and further infect the rest of the system. We also have ACE2 receptor sites on the cells of our digestive tract and major organs like heart, liver, and kidney.
This is why COVID-19 is a SARS virus (sudden acute respiratory syndrome) as it primarily attacks the lungs but will occasionally infect deeper to the digestive system causing vomiting and diarrhea. The first line of defense is using heat to kill the virus, which is experienced as fever, but since this is rarely enough our immune system will aggressively attack using cytokines and degranulation that are like the body’s own grenades that result in killing not only the virus, but cells that are infected and some other healthy cells may get caught in the fray.
This causes phlegm, pus, and mucus to develop in the lungs as a by-product. This aggressive attack mixed with the cells that die during infection lead to vascular damage in the lungs and compromise the blood flow returning to the heart. The mucus that forms begins to pile up in the lung sacs, which is why people will continuously cough in a vain attempt to get the mucus out. This aggressive muscular contraction of the diaphragm and ribs accounts for more vascular damage, pain, and weakness of the lung.
The next stage leads to a ventilator as mucus creates plugs that cover where oxygen crosses from breathed in air into our red blood cells. Ventilators try to forcibly get oxygen to pass through the membrane, however, this is not always successful. Patients are then required to be put into medically induced comas so they can be flipped consistently and have IV injected drugs to try and keep oxygen in the blood stream, so the organs of the body do not suffocate.
If the patient is lucky enough to make it off the ventilator, they are simply discharged and sent home to recover. However, the aftermath from all this trauma in the lungs is similar to the remnants of a large-scale war. Fibrosis or scarring has taken place inside the lungs which leads to the patient feeling very fatigued with permanent vascular damage that leads to or worsens heart disease.
Furthermore, we also know COVID-19 can infect our T-Cells which are strong component to our immune system. This leaves the patient’s ability to fight off the virus limited, hence why it takes some patients a great deal of time to recover, or possibly get re-infected. Luckily COVID-19 cannot replicate inside an infected T cell so it will not be as dangerous to our overall immunity as HIV, but it can leave those who battled the virus in a compromised situation where they can easily catch an opportunistic bacterial infection that can prolong their misery.
Knowing the structure of the virus and the stages of progression we can formulate a way to combat the virus. Chinese Medicine of course cannot replace a ventilator or keep a patient alive at a critical stage, however, it is extremely useful in the prevention, mild to moderate, and recovery phases. This is especially important as there is no other treatment currently for mild to moderate cases, patients are simply sent home and wait to see if they’ll get worse, and those who recover quickly find there is no other treatment available other than “go home and rest.”
As we’ve mentioned before, there is a very high likelihood a majority of the planet will come into contact with this virus directly. Until an effective antibody test or vaccine is created, social distancing, hand washing, and coverings are the best prevention. However, as shared by Dr. Chen, there are several Chinese herbs that are showing promise in not only boosting the immune system to prevent infections, but also herbs that stop replication of the virus if it makes it past our defenses. Dr. Chen uses the Ben Franklin quote, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
In April’s blog we covered a known herbal formula that was used with a very high rate of success against the previous SARS virus, a slightly updated formula is currently undergoing clinical trial to see rate of effectiveness against this virus that should be concluded in the next few months (we can theorize since they are 96% similar the formula should still work).
The most important immune boosting constituent of this formula is the herb Huang Qi or Astragalus. It can boost immunity by activating T Cell response as well as inhibit the ability of virus that has infected your system from replicating itself. Another study also found that astragalus will begin working to increase T Cells within a week of starting a regimen. Dr. Chen also backs up my previous contraindication that astragalus is not suitable for patients already having a strong immune response to COVID-19 or for persons who already have an auto-immune disease that could have a hyper-inflammatory response if their immune cells are further activated.
Two herbs that have been added for the COVID-19 formula are Ling Zhi or Ganoderma and Yu Xing Cao or Herba Houttuyniae. These two herbs have been found to have compounds that inhibit SARS-CoV replication. That means even if some of the virus make it past your immune cells and infect some of your lung cells these herbs prevent the virus from making more copies of itself to infect the cells around it, so the cell dies trapping the virus inside. Ganoderma is seen as influencing RdRp which is similar to the effect of the anti-viral drug remdesivir which is being used in trials and certain cases to fight COVID-19.
The remainder of the formula includes mulberry leaf, chrysanthemum flower, apricot seed, and isatis leaf which we will cover in part 3 as they directly inhibit the virus.References on Astragalus & Ganoderma:
Jason Gauruder, RAc