July 20, 2020
All through the Covid-19 period, patients have recounted conversations and stories of mysterious aspects of the virus. Today a patient told of the previous evening spent with a friend who works for a giant health insurance company. “It was awful. He told me that people can have antibodies and two weeks later the test can show that they have NO antibodies. They could get infected again! But the research doesn’t show that, so nobody knows what’s going on.” Another patient spoke about some friends—two couples—where one partner has antibodies and the other, none. Many stories I’ve heard during Covid have been about one person in a house becoming very ill and the others in the house symptom-free and not even testing positive later. Even people isolating perfectly can contract it. Others with Covid infection might only lose their sense of smell or have an annoying sore throat for a few days. One patient is fascinated by the story about the teenager who unknowingly contracted the virus in Florida, then went to a big graduation party in Westchester where there was no social distancing and very few tested positive. “All this news,” he said, ”and I have to tell you, I’m in touch with thousands of people, literally, and I can count on my hand the number of people I know who’ve been tested. Nobody wants to be tracked. If 8% of people tested are positive, then we might have 27 million cases in the States that we don’t know about! What’s your take on all this?”
My take is that so much of our energy is directed at not getting the virus, but our attention is better focused on our foundational health so that we can clear it easily if and when we are exposed. We know that people with pre-existing conditions are those that are have the greatest difficulty with the virus. (These are the so-called co-morbidities, but we would do well to use language with more finesse.) These conditions include mainly: high blood pressure, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, diabetes, hepatitis B infection, lung disease (COPD), kidney disease, and cancer. All have this in common: they are diseases where Wei-defensive Qi—the very category of Qi needed to process the virus—is weak and suppressed.
Wei Qi is a fascinating phenomenon. I call it defensive-moving-receptive Qi.
- It defends the body against the aftermath of a pathogenic infection.
- It enables movement of the connective tissues so that we can move away from danger.
- It gathers information to the sensory orifices so that we can be conscious of our environment and then respond to information from it.
- It is the aspect of Qi that enables movement in the smooth muscle.
The last point is the key. Smooth muscle is present in the heart, lungs and blood vessels.
Wei Qi is a product of the Kidneys’ Yang (moving) aspect together with the fluids of the Stomach which are managed by the Spleen. Wei Qi is then distributed by the Lungs and the Liver. All the diseases named as principal co-morbidities in Covid are diseases of insufficiency of Wei Qi, since either its manufacture or management is impeded.
The standard Chinese Medical approach to the reconstitution of Wei Qi is two-fold: rest enough so that Kidney Yang can be restored, and hydrate enough so that Stomach Fluids can be afforded for Wei Qi manufacture. This does not mean drinking tons of water (an essential cleansing and flushing agent) but it does mean eating a lot of wet, ‘sloppy’ food—essentially fluids that flow slowly through the gut, maximizing their opportunity for absorption.
In our culture we eat processed, dried, convenient food, instead of what we were eating before the 1960’s: soups, stews and various porridges.
If we are to lower the death rate and the number of severe cases, this is the way. There is no alternate route to the immune system other than rest and the dense, rich fluids of simply cooked food. Juices and raw foods, while tantalizing, marvelous and exhilarating in the summer, if over-consumed will cool the gut down and weaken digestion. And sugar is out of the question. Sugar turns the immune system off in the first place. Sugar and sugar substitutes alike.
Viruses cannot be avoided. Every single person will have some exposure to the coronavirus. The vast majority will experience no symptoms. Nearly all the rest will have mild symptoms. Some will have severe symptoms and some will die. People will react to the virus in vastly different ways depending on their weaknesses, both inherited and resulting from their very individual health history and lifestyle habits.
Even with reliable testing (which we do not have) many with Covid will test negative as the virus has been put into latency by the Divergent Channels. These channels conduct the virus at the Wei (exterior) level and deposit it into the Yuan (deep constitutional) level, not the Ying level (blood). Another option it can use—the Luo Channel—brings blood-borne pathogens to the constitutional level, again out of the realm of Blood. Blood tests measure what is in the blood, but the body has a marvelous capacity to shift pathogens to places of latency, far away from blood and, importantly, from the organs. At the time of a blood test the body could be at any stage of its brilliant response to the pathogen. Some Wei Qi (including antibodies) engaged in the effort will go inward with the virus, rendering the blood not only clear of the virus but sometimes even clear of the antibodies. In many people, the pathogen may be undetectable in the blood and remain so perhaps for decades.
As I see it, the masks and distancing serve us in three ways. Firstly, it lowers the viral load. You don’t need a lot of virus to be served by it. A high viral load makes greater demands on Wei-defensive Qi and some people are too weak, tired or dehydrated to finance that response. Second, the distancing slows the rate of contraction down and the virus will weaken in an inverse proportion to the number of encounters, as global immunity (saturation) approaches. The other way masks and distancing help is by soothing the populace. They stem the fear to a degree. Adrenaline and cortisol (Kidney Yang) are less taxed and therefore capacity for immune response (the manufacture of Wei Qi) is increased. Fear is more deadly than the virus in this sense—another co-morbidity.
So if it really is a foregone conclusion that everyone will encounter the virus, what extra things can we do to boost the body’s capacity for response? Typically, a viral encounter will elicit a release from the body. Because the function of viruses is to create change in consciousness, the physical glue that was holding the old view solidly in place must be evacuated. This is why the common cold (also a type of corona virus, incidentally) produces a great deal of mucus. Certainly much of this mucus is created as a vehicle for the eradication of the pathogen, but some of the phlegm has been resident long-term. As we sneeze, sweat, defecate, vomit or urinate out phlegm and pathogen, we are letting go of an outdated way of being. This is what it means to heal—to be freer in one’s views and in one’s body. This process is utterly impossible if that body is containing something that impedes its evacuations, or if the body is being subjected to practices or substances that confuse or suppress the immune system.
Foods that suppress the immune system are: sugar, sugar substitutes, cheese, milk, gluten, cold foods, and too much raw food, including juices. Sugar turns your immune system off quickly, and thickens the blood, making it sticky, a precursory condition for diabetes. Cheese, milk and gluten very often create phlegm that then traps the pathogen and holds it in the sinuses where it is constantly irritating and calling upon immunes responses. Cold foods and too much raw food and juices cool down the gut, resulting in incomplete digestion, leading to inflammation and then phlegm as a response to inflammation in the gut. The resulting mess prevents the creation of “pure fluids” (Jin-thin fluids) which are the cornerstone of the immune system—the very fluids for evacuation. Non-food substances that weaken the immune system include pesticides, glyphosate, preservatives, and any medication at all that suppresses Wei Qi responses, including sneezes, coughs, itchiness, sinus congestion, etc. Wouldn’t it be beautiful to see this virus bring its change without unnecessary loss of life? A large part of the answer may well be at the table, and before that, at the store, where we decide what will go in our mouths.
A virus is not alive. It’s just a package of instructions: “Hey, can you take this and make copies? And by the way, it’s going to alter your genetic code and ultimately the genetic code of all humanity, but it’s high time.” What we see in Covid is the response to the virus, not the actions of the virus. A fine, but crucial distinction. The body will engage with the virus, adopt the change, and then turn its attention to clearing out the debris. The corona virus seems to require the body to perform from a selection of several things in the clearing process: burn it up (fever), cough it out, vomit it out or defecate it out. But what if a person is taking a lot of anti-whatever drugs and their immune system (their Wei Qi) is depleted? These evacuation efforts will commence but fall way short. Instead of the required fever there’ll be a mild one or none at all. Instead of a productive cough, there’ll be a weakened, dry cough and a sore throat. Instead of free flowing clear mucus as a vehicle for the evacuation, there’ll be congestion. Instead of vomiting there’ll be nausea. All those symptoms then become erroneously classified as symptoms of the disease. Meanwhile, most people—those who do have sufficient Qi to push it off or out—will not even know they have encountered the virus, or may only have mild symptoms.
While we’re at it, why is it that the United States is so deeply affected by this virus? This is my take, and I’m sure it will sound strange to many. I think the answer lies in the Declaration of Independence, to this clause in particular: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. The Covid period, from so many angles, brought into stark awareness that we are not living according to our own purported values as a culture, or that we haven’t quite been on our respective paths as individuals. Now, the changes are all around; they are happening, but are by any measure long overdue. Countless people (including me) have done major reassessments of the way they are thinking and living. Countless people are beginning to take a much deeper look at systemic racism and its subtleties of privilege and oppression. So many people were living without being focussed on what they really wanted to do. And on top of it all and underneath it all, the country is not operating according to its own foundational premise. The truth is out: America is living a lie. But with Covid comes a reckoning. Viruses have one job only: to create change both in individuals and in global consciousness. The country that is affected the most is the country that is most capable of change. There is now more spoken and written thought on change than perhaps in any period in history and most of it is coming from within the most diseased country. We want change and we have an agent for it. The losses are tragic, yes, but the future is tremendously bright.
New York City