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Empty streets in London

I am reaching out to you today because many of you are asking about my thoughts about the COVID-19 pandemic. As a member of the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) community, I have had the benefit of a several week head start on this crisis. TCM doctors in Wuhan and other parts of China, where tens of thousands of patients have been treated concurrently with Western medicine and TCM, have been extraordinarily generous in sharing what they’ve learned about how to prevent and treat this illness and, with their help, I have been preparing for the spread of COVID-19 since mid-January.

I’m sure that you’re already sick of being told to wash your hands for at least 20 second and to stop touching your face. A few additional things that you can do include to reduce your risk of infection:

  • According to respiratory disease transmission expert Dr. Bruce L. Davidson, lower respiratory infections like COVID-19 take hold when we aspirate small amounts of saliva that contains viral particles into our lungs during sleep. Things that you can do to reduce your risk of aspirating infectious particles into your lungs: Avoid taking sedatives or drinking alcohol before bed (sleeping too deeply increases your risk for aspiration). Before bed, use soap and warm water to wash your face and hands and then use your fingertip to clean gently about a quarter inch inside your nostrils, brush your teeth and tongue, and then rinse and gargle with antiseptic mouthwash. Avoid using Neti pots or other sinus irrigation devices, as they may carry viral particles from the nostrils higher into the sinuses and into the back of the throat. If you use a CPAP machine or a nebulizer, step up your cleaning routine and make sure that it is stored in a place where people will not cough or sneeze on it.
  • My UK colleague Dr. Peter Deadman recently posted a video on YouTube of an easy exercise routine that you can do to strengthen your lung function and enhance your immune function. One of the silver linings of spending more time at home during this time is that we have more time to engage in proactive self-care routines such as this type of exercise!
  • Part of the beauty of Chinese medicine is that we have a systematic approach for identifying people whose systems tend to be more hospitable to particular illnesses. Read more here about a constitutional type extremely common among Americans that TCM doctors in China have found is at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness, as well as dietary and lifestyle advice that you can follow if you fall into this group.
  • Leave shoes at the door of your home (research shows that when sick people cough or sneeze infectious droplets settle to the floor and remain potentially infectious for three days). Clean objects that you frequently touch when you are out in public (like your cell phone, your keys, your wallet, and your steering wheel) several times a day with disinfectant wipes.

Please know that the doors of my clinic are open and I intend to keep them that way unless and until health authorities advise otherwise. Although I am not treating anyone with signs of respiratory illness, I am here to help you with treatment to strengthen your immune resistance; ease your anxiety, sadness, fear, worry, and insomnia; proactively address underlying conditions that might place you at higher risk for viral illness (such as allergies, sinusitis, autoimmune disease, and others); and keep you moving forward with the treatment plan in which you have invested your money and time. We have a limited number of appointment times available this coming week – please call 254-741-6030 or email to schedule.

Although we encourage everyone to abide by their personal judgment and intuition when it comes to determining where they should go during the pandemic, we want you to know that we are taking every possible step to make our clinic a place where you can feel confident spending time. In an effort to maintain our clinic as a safe space, starting nearly three weeks ago, we have been directing patients with a history of travel to areas where there is community transmission of COVID-19 and/or any indication of respiratory illness to not come to the clinic. During this same time we stepped up our usual stringent cleaning practices by asking patients to sanitize their hands as soon as they enter the clinic, cleaning all high-touch surfaces on at least an hourly basis, sanitizing treatment rooms and replacing all linens on tables/recliner chairs between each patient (sheets are sanitized by a medical laundry service), and disinfecting floors and all furniture each evening. The bottom line: our clinic is safer than just about any public space I can think of and may even be safer than your own home.

Please keep an eye out for more emails in the coming days and weeks. I have lots that I want to share with you, including tools and insights for managing anxiety and fear, breathing exercises to enhance your lung health and reduce your risk for pneumonia, ideas about how we can all use this time of crisis as an opportunity for personal and spiritual growth, and a lot more.

In closing, I want to remind you that, even though things feel scary and uncertain for many of us, human bodies and hearts are resilient and there is so much that is still right with the world. Yesterday I came across this poem by Richard Hendrick, a priest-friar in Ireland, and I want to share it with you.


Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,

Please feel free to reply to this email with any questions that you have or topics that you would like me to address in future emails.

Take good care and be well.