Category Archives: Uncategorized

August 14th

8/14
Warm Summer Greetings!

I have a treat in store for you today!

AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE ABOUT MASKS

I have a few things to tell you about masks. They are an important tool, but if used without discrimination one can experience harm!  This is a fact that is under-represented out there but is my main message for today.

Read on and I will tell you FIVE essential facts about masks that will make you more in the know that anyone confined to what the Mainstream Media seems to be able to convey. It’s crucial to get it right because the MASK MANDATE is definitely here.

Eat your Porridge

Today we are seeking something we could call the “just right.”
Goldilocks was one of our first teachers of this. No extremes for that little girl:

  • not too hot, not too cold-
  • not too hard, not too soft,
  • not too big, not too small- – but just right.

Whatchu looking at, Bear?

The Middle Path

Harmony and health are born out of the middle. It is more difficult to avoid living with an extreme position or a reactionary one, but there is a richness when one learns to move about freely in the middle zone.

The two extremes create a vacuum between them where something entirely new can come in to being. This is a noble task for each of us- to occupy this middle place.  There is a whole schooling in Mindfulness which points in this direction. Attention and precision certainly are key.

The clinician knows about the middle path. Medication dosages need to be just enough to be effective but not too high as to have untoward effects. The dosing has to be right on the point. Someone else’s way is not necessarily yours. Yesterday’s answer is not necessarily today’s.

In diagnostics, the same principle holds true. There are errors at either extreme. There is the error of inaction on one side and of over-instrumentation, needless intervention on the other side. A path in the middle which is neither too conservative nor too aggressive comes into view and invites the patient and clinician to explore it. Trust between a doctor and patient is indispensable for proper navigation. Trust comes from relationship!
Icarus

My favorite Greek myth is the tale of how Daedalus and his son Icarus set out to escape from the labyrinth that Daedalus had been forced to build and that then became his prison.

The maze was alive and would shift, so there was no simple formula to escape.  The walls were high and Daedalus knew his only chance for freedom was to go over them. He built wings which were held together with wax. His famous instructions to his son were to seek safe passage through the middle zone.

If they flew too high the sun would melt the wax in the wings and the wings would fail. Flying too low and too close to the water the wings could get wet and heavy and their weight would carry them into the ocean. The tragedy of Icarus was not being able to hold the middle. We all have Daedalus’ wings. We all access freedom and our highest goals through finding the delicate balance of the middle.

When errors happen, learn to examine them thoroughly and kindly. They are our greatest teachers.

 

 

Bringing it home

With the PANDEMIC we have a rock and a hard place. It’s easy to have the middle squeezed out!

  • Horrible outcome from isolation and shutdown on one side.
  • Terrible losses from massive amounts of illness on the other.

The middle is there. You can see it, right?
Persevering and going forward with the right amount of sensible planning and preparation and just enough caution.

I’m writing to tell you that masks need a middle ground as well.

New Englanders generally don’t underuse masks. We seem to know that indoors and in crowds where physical distancing isn’t possible that masks make sense. We have more of a tendency to make the mistake of not recognizing the risks of masks.
What I am saying is there are two tiers to protective interventions. The first tier of interventions to greatly limit the risks of contact with others is:

  • physical distancing
  • inhabiting well ventilated spaces or staying outdoors
  • hand-washing with soap and water

These are low risk. Ok, zero risk. Use these indiscriminantly, early and often.

Masks provide additional protection when these first tier aren’t possible. They are an important part of our COVID response but because of their risks I put them in a second tier category (along with alcohol based hand sanitizers, as discussed in a previous bulletin).

When distance can be maintained outdoors please consider breathing freely. It’s important.

Masks are PPE which DO interfere with normal air exchange. They traditionally required training to understand proper use, risks and limitations. Why? Because they can cause illness in the workplace when used! Not in everyone, but in some for sure. This is getting no air time in our national discussion.

Here are my 5 points to consider:

First, realize the correct time for a mask is when you are in a poorly ventilated area, where physical distance cannot be maintained. If possible don’t spend a lot of time in these types of settings, no matter who you are.

Second, realize that when in well-ventilated areas and not around other people you shouldn’t wear a mask. Don’t exercise with a mask on. I’ve heard that occupational safety and health consultants limit mask use to 5 hours in a day and take extra precautions when the temperature is hot. Implement these ideas.

Third, certain medical conditions would raise a flag in the workplace and require extra fit testing to determine safe and healthy mask usage (anxiety disorders, pregnancy, PTSD, cardiopulmonary disorders, kidney disorders, cancer history, stroke history). If you are one of these people, limit your time in settings where you will need a mask. Don’t wear them in settings where you don’t need them. Mask exemption requests will make sense in some scenarios. Rely on your top tier interventions!

Fourth, know the symptoms that an come from mask use, the possible side effects. Headaches, lightheadedness, nausea and fatigue are possibly from wearing your masks and should be watched for with vigilance. Take mask breaks by going to sparsely populated, well ventilated areas and removing your mask!

Fifth, surgical masks optimally shouldn’t be used over and over. They filter the particles in the environment and hold on to them. Cloth masks should be boiled in hot water to clean them.  Avoid the perfumes in fabric softeners, for example.  It’s not good to breath that in.


 

Parting thought

If you see someone in an aisle not wearing a mask, maybe they have a medical indication to not wear one. Stay cool. No judgment. Give them some distance. All will be ok.

And if you’re outside and it’s not crowded and people are around without masks: join them. They are seeking the middle, like we all should!

Be safe, Be judicious, Keep striving!

Dr Cooney and staff

July 3rd

7/3

Warmest July Greetings!  
    

This week we saw the virus’ spread accelerate. It seems to be never ending, but it will pass. One medical official postulated that by January we will be mostly through it. It’s tough to know, but in the meantime, we need strategies to remain sane…and healthy.

A greater understanding connects us to solutions. The more understanding we can weave around the problem the more likely we will find meaningful actions. School is in session! 

Today’s lesson, class, is on cutting edge viral theory that will remind you of your capacity to remain whole at every moment during any situation.

Who wants a little lesson to help you through the Pandemic?

Very well! So, you probably have been given the idea that viruses are tiny, beastly, foreign invaders that highjack our cells to make more virus then release their progeny by killing the cell in some sort of self-serving (psychopathic) manner.

Suspend that narrative for a minute, take in these three facts about viruses, and let’s see where we arrive.

#1
All living cells have viruses, even down to the one-celled organismsNo cell is free of viruses. We should wonder as to why we consider their presence abnormal. It is better to see viruses as part of the normal machinery of the cell. That’s different!

Viruses are ubiquitous in the environment. Millions of airborne viruses are wafting around you each day, and billions more microbial travelers are descending everywhere on Earth, after riding air currents around the world.

The soil, our oceans and our bodies also contain massive amounts of viruses.

#2
Viruses are little non-living packets of genetic (DNA & RNA) information. They enter and leave cells in a highly regulated fashion. Sometimes they cause disease, but many times they don’t. Viruses leave behind a piece of their genetic sequence. After recovering from an infection there will always be a piece of that virus encoded within your DNA.

A large percentage of the human genome is actually viral in origin. 50% of the human genome is said to have a viral etiology! The genome insertion can cause disease or can bring important benefits. 

Professor Luis P. Villarreal, the Founding Director of the Center for Virus Research at UC Irvine, says it like this: “So powerful and ancient are viruses, that I would summarize their role in life as ‘Ex Virus Omnia’ (from virus everything).” 

#3
We have barely begun to understand viruses. They are invisible to microscopes and weren’t discovered until 1940 when the electron micrograph was invented. 99.999% have not been described in detail. The origin of viruses is unclear.

Much to ponder

Putting this together raises the possibility that there’s more going on than meets the eye. Who’s getting what I’m saying?

Excellent! Let’s tie this in to 2020 goings on.

On to SARS CoV-2

On a couple of occasions, before the Pandemic, a doctor named Zach Bush MD lectured that the Hubei Province in Central China (where Wuhan is) was rife for the next pandemic. Why? Because they use more pesticide and other unnatural farming techniques than anywhere else in the entire world. Amazing, right?

Stress to the environment stimulates nature’s adaptive responses. Bush postulates genomic information is being passed in this novel virus to the host which learns an important advantage. This virus is a nano-communication, just like any other virus. The majority of people don’t even know they are incorporating it, but a minority get quite ill in the process.

Why do some people get sick?

So why do some people get sick and even die from these things we used to think of as invaders, but now think of as communicators?

One major factor is pollution.

Air Pollution

Remember the link between COVID case mortality and air pollution? A Harvard study from the end of April showed us that each incremental increase in measured air pollution in a city effects the death rate in a big way!

A recent study showed that heart related deaths, the leading cause of death in older people, are also connected to poor air quality.  Are we dying for our industrial enterprises?

The implicated particles are produced by combustion sources such as car engines, fireplaces and coal-fired power plants. They’re small enough to be breathed deep into the lungs where they can cause chronic inflammation.

Got me, class?

Good.  Here is a refresher on helpful measures:

  • Eliminate tobacco smoke
  • Reduce your use of wood stoves and fireplaces
  • Don’t burn leaves, garbage, plastic or rubber
  • Use HEPA air filters and air cleaners designed to reduce particles
  • Drive less: carpool, use public transportation, bike or walk
  • Keep car, boat and other engines tuned
  • Inflate tires to the recommended pressure
  • When refueling: stop when the pump shuts off, avoid spilling fuel, and tighten your gas cap
  • Use low-VOC paint and cleaning products, and seal and store them so they can’t evaporate
  • Choose energy saving appliances
  • Set thermostats higher in summer and lower in winter
  • Turn off lights you are not using

 

Death rate

We can have hope that the fall in pollution from the shutdown, when our cars and airplanes were in the garages and hangers, will weaken the death rate. Pollution levels are certainly lower. It is uncertain as to whether previous exposure will count too heavily.

It is Interesting to know that winter is a time of poorest air quality. Bush postulates that this is why we get flu season when we do. Interesting to think in those terms.

Conclusion

What remains clear is improper care of our environment stimulates disease, death and suffering. And, disconnection with nature stimulates novel viruses.

Remembering our connection with the world is the Healing Step!

Steps to mitigate it: Easy as 1,2,3

ONE!
Consider the earth as a part of our larger human body and treat it with utmost respect.  We win when every part of us is well.

TWO!
Consider societal structures and the environment to be the most fitting arena for intervention. Clean our air, water and soil and our understanding of the world and our role in it. Our deepest research shows that advances in sanitation and hygiene account for far more of the improvement in life expectancy over the last 120 years than does the creation of vaccines and antibiotics.

Let’s avoid the trap of tinkering with the world and when it makes us sick tinker with the body because it cries out in protest. Respect the vast intelligence in the body. Support natural cures that keep the body whole.

THREE!
Viruses are communicators. Supporting careful, considerate, loving communication in your life supports careful, considerate, loving communication everywhere. Let’s model peaceful communication. Ghandi said to be the change you want to see in the world.

One must first create peace in himself if he desires to see peace in the world; for lacking peace within, no effort of his can bring any result. 
Bowl of Saki, July 2, by Hazrat Inayat Khan

Everyday we cast a vote for how we want the world to be.  We cast it in the way we talk to others, in the way we talk to ourselves, and also in the way we choose to spend our money and the type of industry we support when we do so. Let’s line it up.

Struggle isn’t the problem, not learning from it is.

Committing to expanding our understanding, lovingly, is the first step to being blessed by illness.

Here’s to all your bright ideas.

In loving support and solidarity,

Dr Cooney and staff

May 15th

5/15
Good Morning
 Friends. Time to rise and shine!

As the warmer weather again graces our days, I have some important updates and reminders about vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin. We are so fortunate to have ready access to the green pastures and forests here in the Berkshires…and the Sun. As we seek to mitigate the risks of our time, experts are arguing that it’s time to think about how to move more activities outdoors — including socializing, eating, shopping, attending school and holding work meetings. Today we will check in on the Sun’s role in all this.

But first an announcement from Fairview Hospital and BMC. Any elective procedure done at either of the Berkshire Health System hospitals will require a COVID nasal swab done several days prior. To that end Fairview Hospital has set up a testing tent at the old Condor Chevrolet, next to Agway at the junction of Rte 7 and 23.  It houses Fairview Physical Therapy now. A doctor’s order is needed.  Anyone having a procedure at Fairview Hospital will need be tested first, and I assume testing will be available there for other indications as well.

Disproportionate Burden of Illness

We have all heard that Black/AfricanAmerican persons are overrepresented among COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. In NYC death rates among Black/African American persons (92.3 deaths per 100,000 population) and Hispanic/Latino persons (74.3) were substantially higher than that of white (45.2) or Asian (34.5) persons.  The CDC’s website lists several factors as being major contributors to the high death rate amongst minority populations. Living conditions, work circumstances, and access to care are high on the list. Other people are talking about taking vitamin D insufficiency into consideration.

Sunshine vitamin 

The body makes D when it is exposed to Ultraviolet-B rays from the sun. Fair-skinned individuals and those who are younger convert sunshine into vitamin D far better than those who are darker-skinned and over age 50. Older people and people with darker skin need more sun to build up levels. Older people and people with darker skin? Sound familiar? These are the high risk groups with COVID.

Dark skin and low D

Why the association of dark skin and low D? It has to do with the melanin content of the skin. Melanin is a brown-black pigment in the eyes, hair and skin. Melanin causes skin to tan. The darker your skin, the more sun exposure is needed in order to get sufficient vitamin D from the sun.
Studies are in!

At the start of the Pandemic many people speculated D was helpful because it has known beneficial effects on the immune system. It has long been recognized as a protection against many conditions and a possible help in treating them. These conditions can include:

  • Heart disease and high blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Infections and immune system disorders.
  • Falls in older people.
  • Some types of cancer, such as colon, prostate and breast cancers
  • Multiple sclerosis

The enthusiasm for it’s role in the pandemic was a little muted because we just didn’t know. Well, now the data is coming in and there is a strong association with low D levels and worse outcomes. The data is striking.

In a study from the Philippines of over 200 people 85.5% of patients with sufficient (>30ng/ml) Vitamin D had mild cases while 72.8% of patients who were deficient in Vitamin D (<20ng/ml) had severe or critical cases. 

In a second study from Indonesia of almost 800 people, patients with Vitamin D insufficiency (between 20 and 30 ng/ml) were 12.55 times more likely to die and patients with Vitamin D deficiency (<20ng/ml) were 19.12 times more likely to die from the disease than patients with sufficient Vitamin D.

In a third small study 100% of ICU patients less than age 75 were found to have low vitamin D. We need more good studies, but in many people’s minds it’s a good idea to understand how to get your D levels up.

Natural vitamin D

As always natural ways to build your body’s forces are best. There are some foods that have a little bit of D in it. Fish is really the main food source and is the reason why cod liver oil is a staple in the healthiest households. The gut can be an important secondary way of getting adequate D, as can supplementing. A word on this later. However, getting outdoors and getting some sun is the primary way we get vitamin D. Exposing at least 30% of the skin to sunlight for 15-20 minutes daily is the way you do it (longer time is needed with darker pigmented skin). I recommend as much skin exposure as you can get away with, just don’t mention my name to the police if they question you.

Like building any skill, the key is consistency.  A little bit of sun every day builds your levels safely. 10am to 1pm is the time frame when the sunlight is strong enough to effectively convert steroids in the skin to vitamin D. After you get your 20 minutes of exposure it’s best to cover up to avoid skin damage. You can’t make up for lost time by spending several hours out there.  It doesn’t work that way. Slow and steady wins this race too. The Yogis recognized that receiving the Sun with intention intensified the reception of its helpful benefits. Soak it up with gratitude and awareness. Make it a 20 minute meditation.

Skin cancer

Melanoma is on the rise, right? Right, but only in indoor workers. Indoor workers receive 3-9 times less UV exposure than outdoor workers and trade in natural light for narrow-spectrum, electric light. I’m not sure which is worse, not seeing the sun or bathing in fluorescents or LEDs all day. Our senses and our skin are quite sensitive to the quality of light in the environment.  What a shock to the system electricity has been and continues to be. Patients in hospital rooms with natural light do better. Interesting, right? When we have to be exposed to artificial lighting, it’s OK. We are up for the challenge. Overcoming challenges define us.So I’m not suggesting we try to go back in time, but you must know that getting outside everyday is a great balancer.

Meanwhile, fear of skin cancer probably drives the epidemic of vitamin D deficiency and even melanoma incidence. Melanoma occurrence has been found to decrease with greater sun exposure, and conversely can be increased by sunscreens. The skin is a barrier but also a sensitive point of entry.  We need to be mindful of anything we put on our skin. Sunscreen is full of chemicals and can have its own toxicity apart from blocking the helpful effects of the Sun. Sunscreen contributes to D deficiency, and is not proven to help prevent skin cancer.  The smartest beach-goer doesn’t use sunscreen.  She naps or covers up during the peak hours and drinks up UVB rays in the off peak hours careful not to burn. To be sure, sunscreen has its place just not all day every day.  Clean products are preferred as are sunscreens that block UVB and UVA. Sunscreen is a tool to protect from skin damage from the sun.  Its the UVA rays that sets a person up for photoaging, wrinkles and certain non-melanoma skin cancers. Skin damage comes from prolonged exposures. The solution is smart daily exposure in the time of the year when the sun is strong enough for us to increase our D levels, and smart supplementing during the winter (and pandemics).

What about windows

Most windows block out UVB rays, but allow UVA rays to penetrate through which is not beneficial as far as vitamin D is concerned because it’s the UVB that helps your D levels. You have to go outside!

(As a review, UVB rays cause burning and some skin cancers and convert steroids in the skin to vitamin D. They are blocked to a large extent by sunscreens. UVA can cause cancer and also skin damage but not burning because they penetrate deeper in the skin.  UVA rays are not filtered by ozone and can go through windows.  Not all sunscreens block UVA.)

Supplements

Always second best but sometimes worth the risk. Risk? Yes, taking a supplement that contains too much vitamin D can be toxic in rare cases. It can lead to hypercalcemia, a condition in which too much calcium builds up in the blood, potentially forming deposits. It may also predispose you to kidney stones. Supplementing is helpful when sun exposure is not possible or there is a resistance to its effects, like in the higher risk categories we discussed above. For the prison populations, elderly (over 50?), nursing homes residents its a no-brainer. 4000 international units is considered to be the upper limit of safe supplementation by conservative groups. That’s a pretty decent range to consider right now. We can also check levels to make sure you are minimally above 30, and better yet above 50.
Sun bathing

When you use consistent careful Sun exposure to drive your D levels you get the balance that comes with nature. There is no risk of kidney stones or hypercalcemia. Humans have a long history with the Sun. In fact, in our bodies lies a reflection of the whole solar system. The sun has a mystical connection to the heart, which rays forth its warmth to every cell in the body. There are many mysterious qualities to the natural light from the sun. I’ve long recognized that vitamin D levels are a good marker for other immeasurable beneficial effects of being outside. Those are not realized when we supplement and stay indoors. The Sun is the original source.  Put on some shorts and a tank top today and sit on your porch. It will keep you healthy and resilient!

 

Many Blessings on your day

Dr Cooney and staff

April 8th Bulletin

4/8
Greetings Everyone! And Happy Birthday to my wife, Jess!

I may look like a Crusading duck, but I’m just playing it safe as I prepare to perform a test in the parking lot. We test outdoors to minimize exposure to the building and our staff. We have a tent to deal with whatever weather conditions we might face. We have also performed urgent office visits in the parking lot and are starting to perform phone visits for routine follow-ups as the social distancing continues.
This Week

In speaking to colleagues at the hospital, the beginning of this week was a little quieter. Calls to my office for testing are not surging.  We are all readying for a possible increase in cases in the county, but we are hopeful that our efforts in distancing decreases the case load. There are models hinting at a promising shift downward in fatalities and the possibility that the death total nationwide could come in below 100K.

Did you know that 2.8 million people die in America every year? That comes out to almost 8000 deaths per day. It’s helpful to keep that in mind when viewing some of the statistics. It keeps it in context.  For example, nearly 2000 Americans yesterday died from suspected COVID.  The number of deaths in NYC from COVID was over 700 yesterday.  The typical number of deaths from NYC in any given non-pandemic day is around 500.
Testing: What We are Learning

I want to discuss some of the challenges we as a scientific community are finding with testing and the direction this points us.  Imagine yourself walking out of the mobile rapid-testing unit after being told you have a negative COVID test. Your anosmia and fever and shortness of breath must be from something else?  We find most likely you still have COVID with this presentation, even with a negative test. And, you might as well know that we don’t have reliable rapid tests or mobile testing centers. In the early days of this pandemic I bought into the idea that a lot of testing is the only way. Only then can you know who gets reassurance and who needs extra attention. It helps identify who needs to be quarantined. Accurate, accessible, and fast testing would be our #1 tool.

It has been a big disappointment to not have adequate testing in this state and across the country. Now we are facing the fact that testing with the RT PCR swab isn’t straight forward at all. Recently local experts estimate the nasal swab test has a least a 30% false negative rate. This means 30% of the people with COVID will test negative. Take the example of a woman hospitalized with symptoms typical of COVID who tested negative two times before she tested positive on a third try. We don’t have a gold standard which can tell us definitely whether or not the virus is present and against which we can compare PCR results to know how well it performs. This is a problem. Isn’t it fair to wonder whether the test could claim the presence of infection when it’s not there? We have no way of knowing. Last week MA Public Health officials made a precautionary visit to Fairview Commons Nursing Home to screen all of the residents, and five turned up positive. None were symptomatic. We treat them as all true positives of course- and isolate them, but we don’t know exactly what to make of it.

This also begs the question of how you can have large numbers of people with the virus who don’t even know it and a minority with symptoms so severe that doctors have no chance of saving them, even if they were the only patient in the whole hospital. There are rumors of information from China that there may be different strains of the virus, one mild and one causing the severe form of illness. This seems intuitively possible with this range of illness, but needs more study.
Serology

The blood test for antibodies will clear it all up, right?  Wrong. We can look for evidence in the blood that a person has been exposed to coronavirus by checking for circulating antibodies to coronavirus.  The problem is they don’t seem to be able to distinguish between a prior infection with the run-of-the-mill common-cold-causing coronaviruses and this novel one. And to make things more confused consider the example of a group of people with positive nasal swabs who had negative blood tests (undetectable antibody levels).  This turned up in the data from a lab on a recent sample set we helped acquire.  We love to have it black and white, but it’s not.  We love for it to be simple, but it’s not. Coronavirus relating to the global outbreak is defying the rules.  Again.
SARS 2003

In 2003 there was a SARS coronavirus worldwide outbreak that wasn’t as widespread as COVD-19. At the time a front line microbiologist noted, “we are finding some of the best-characterized cases are negative for the virus. So, it’s puzzling. As is the fact the amounts of virus we are finding, when we find it, are very small–only detectable by very sensitive PCR.” Sound familiar?

Tests in one large sample back then “failed to spot a targeted virus in 30% to 50% of infected patients.” Sounds very familiar. This was attributed to inaccurate testing methods, not the absence of the virus. This sounds identical to today.  The 2003 news cycles also sound identical: from wet market discussions to impinging on individual freedoms for the common good.

What is going on? Well, a good scientist will assume nothing. She won’t let the expected outcome frame the results she’s seeing. She won’t get frustrated nor will she stay disappointed too long. She’ll see the phenomena exactly for what they are and will strive to learn what the data is truly saying. This clearly isn’t an open and shut case. There is something here to be learned, about COVID-19, about infection in general, about human nature. A good scientist plays dumb and opens to the truth.
Remember the Whole

Certainly, the virus and the host must not be viewed in a vacuum.  The NY Times reported this week that air pollution is linked to higher death rates with COVID.  This is a huge step. This novel illness must be viewed in the context of the host’s environment, both internal (preexisting conditions) and external (toxins in the environment). There is an article included here from 2003 which talks about industrial toxins and virology in the contest of the SARS outbreak.

There is a line in the article from a cutting-edge biochemist named Howard Urnovitz, who views SARS virus as human genes rearranged by pollution stress: “I do not see a virus. I see a unique and complete rearrangement of genomic elements. For example, when I look at what is believed to be the gene sequence coding for the spike protein of this coronavirus, I see a complicated gene rearrangement of a region of human chromosome. As I did in our studies of Gulf War Syndrome, when I see gene rearrangements like this, I immediately search for an associated catastrophic environmental event that could have caused such genomic rearrangement.”  The author’s conclusion is that SARS epidemics correspond strongly with such “catastrophic environmental events.” The link between toxins and virology is extremely promising, in my opinion. 5G is frequently mentioned as a novel environmental toxin that hasn’t been studied at all but is theorized to be much worse than existing EMF exposures.
Detoxify

We have to think outside the box. Innovation never comes from the majority, status quo does. Wrestling with dissenting opinions is critical. There’s no such thing as one medicine that is good for everyone. Optimal health never comes from the top down, which is generally one size fits all. Healthcare is best individualized and personalized. Be informed. Take your health into your own hands. If you follow the standard American diet, you will live with higher risks. A plant-based diet will help you detoxify.  Eat greens every day this week if you want to take one thing away from this bulletin. If toxins correlate to viral problems, then let’s detoxify naturally with smart and safe dietary measures- green smoothie, anyone? Re-commit to a low sugar diet. Live cleanly. It’s potent.
Stay present

The other area for detox is not giving in to fear. With knowledge, fear fades. With mindfulness, calm expands.
.
“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”  Buddha

It’s always been true that every day has something brand new to it, something that has never been seen or felt before.  This holds true for today but seems amplified a millionfold.  The whole world has one thing on its collective mind. Researchers, doctors, manufacturers, citizens are united in concentrating efforts to come through the pandemic intact. Let’s protect against being burdened with lasting limitations. Let’s keep as a goal to have advancement come out of it too.

Warm Regards.
Let me 
know if we can be of support in any way,

Dr Cooney and staff

March 20th Bulletin

3/20
Equinox Greetings!

It’s a waiting game for us doctors right now.  For you too.  And it’s challenging.  It’s not easy to know that there is something on the horizon but to not be able to start engaging with it.  When we started testing last week at the office, it felt great.  We were doing something!

We have all scrambled to prepare and hunker down.  Now there’s a bit of a lull.  Japan is the same. People are wondering where the surge of cases is.  We keep hearing that we are on a part of the curve where things will accelerate soon, that it’s the calm before the storm.

In any case all this studying and learning we are doing creates an intellectual picture of the illness. It’s induces anxiety to have only this and no experience of it.  It’s all head and no heart. This changes once we know one person who gets it and hear their story directly.  It’s harder in many ways to have an intellectual relationship with no experience.  The beginning is coming.  Don’t fear it though.  Just prepare. Outwardly and inwardly.  We are going to find a way through it together by helping each other.  And we will come out having learned and experienced so much and having grown immensely.
Cases and Testing

As of yesterday the DPH reported 18 cases in Berkshire County and 328 in the state.  Testing still lags.  BMC still doesn’t have a fully opened outdoor testing site yet.  It is testing hospital employees, but that is it.  I am willing to test your friends and contacts, if they can’t get tests.  Have them call us.  It’s important to know that we had 8 or 9 patients with cold symptoms and they all were negative. We are still seeing the normal colds.  Everything is not Corona out there right now.  But they are not all negative and it’s really good to know who’s got it.  So my opinion is to test every excuse to test.

Ibuprofen = Bad

We don’t know exactly why or if it will pan out to be true, but many scientists are getting behind the apparent association of NSAIDs (Aleve, ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, Mobic) and increased risk of severe disease from Coronavirus.  If you can, let them fall out of your repertoire.  Definitely don’t take it for the sole reason of treating symptoms of Corona virus if you contract it or a cold that could be it.  If you take it for a chronic condition, don’t stop it without reviewing with me, but the idea is the least amount that you need is the right amount.  Golden milk, an anti-inflammatory drink, might be an alternative to consider.  It can, for example, help with pain from osteoarthritis if taken regularly:

  • Heat 2 cups light, unsweetened coconut milk (or almond)
  • Add 1/2 tablespoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
  • Add 1 tablespoon peeled, grated fresh turmeric
  • Add 3-4 black peppercorns
  • Heat all ingredients in a saucepan
  • Stir well
  • Bring to a simmer and simmer covered for 10 minutes.
  • Strain and sweeten to taste (if desired).

Drinking that daily might help you get off the ibuprofen.  It’s even better with an anti-inflammatory diet.  For fever and aches if you do get sick, the standard recommends (acetaminophen) Tylenol if you want to lower the fever or try to feel better.  I don’t like Tylenol any more than ibuprofen, but it’s safer with coronavirus.  Apis Belladonna (homeopathic from Uriel) or lemon calf wraps are good fever interventions.

Hydroxychloroquine

This is also known as Plaquenil. It’s a malaria pill that is used in Rheumatoid arthritis.  It has shown activity against Corona in the lab.  A short course when you are diagnosed with it might become the norm in Corona cases.  I don’t recommend stockpiling it because we will hurt everyone’s access to it if we all storm the pharmacy….plus it’s experimental.  But, it’s good to know there are medicines out there that can make a difference.

New Corona facts 

A study published in NEJM this week examined the virus in five environmental conditions (aerosols, plastic, stainless steel, copper, and cardboard). It was found the virus can live on surfaces in a lab for up to 72 hours. Plastic and stainless steel saw the virus last longest- up to 72 hours.  It could stay on cardboard for 24 hours and a copper surface for only 4 hours. The virus is aerosolized (remains in the air) for 3+ hours. The study was only 3 hours long though…so we don’t know how much longer.. It’s quite contagious and the aerosolized nature sheds some light perhaps on why to is so contagious.  Do your social distancing.
We also learned that the average incubation period is 5 days (range 2-14).  (97.5% were symptomatic by 12 days).  This supports the 14 day quarantine idea for after high risk exposures.

Good Ideas

Some of the grocery stores (including Guido’s) are opening an hour early for senior citizens, certainly fresh from a good cleaning.  This is a good time for the most at risk to tend to needed tasks.  Nice thinking!
We have a small panel of folks who have volunteered to help.  If you want assistance let us know and maybe we can let someone do their good deed of the day and help you at the same time.  Home is the safest spot for the vulnerable.
Communities are doing nice things and we are seeing reports of this.  I’ve read of a young person circulating her contact to elderly neighbors via flyer so they could have a chat.
And these suggestions from a member:

“Pay it forward: If you are able, consider giving an “advance” on 5 or 10 sessions to your trainer, massage therapist or any other friendly vendor whose life was more disrupted by this virus – maybe to your cleaning person or even hairdresser. Many people have quickly been thrown into dire straights and can use the help now.
Also, if stuck at home but have a yard – go outside and prepare the garden (many greens can do in really soon, like probably now). Not only is it more revitalizing than you can imagine until you actually stick your hands in the dirt, smell Spring’s life in the air, and realize that in a few short weeks you will be eating your own fresh greens, with an abundance of peas right behind. Maybe you can skip a few grocery outings if you grow your own!
I called my local garden center, who will take an order and credit card over the phone, then leave the flats of plants, seed packets and bags of compost (or whatever) at a designated time and place in the parking lot, and I can pick up with gloves in safety.
Never gardened before? It is REALLY easy. Look it up up beginner tips on the internet, and prepare for much needed pleasure, and more than a bit of self-sufficiency.
This year, I am buying extra packs of lettuce, chard, kale (etc.) right now – so in a week or two at most I can start picking copious baby green salads from the outer leaves while new leaves appear almost overnight for the next salad. Nature’s quick regrowth is a miracle that brings optimism!”
We are lucky to be able to go outside and get some fresh air.
Pulse oximeter
You know the oxygen saturation measuring device that you put on your finger?  I’ve been thinking that it might be a good idea to have one of these in the home stockpile. A cheap one runs for under $15. Consider getting one to help monitor yourself or family.
Cold Arrest
And you have to listen to this one. A man wrote a book in the 80s in pursuit of the cure for the common cold.  It’s relevant here.  He points out that coronavirus is wimpy.  We know it washes away and can’t last very long on surfaces compared to other bugs.  We talked previously about how an ambient temp of 77 degrees makes it more difficult for it to stay on surfaces. Several people replied with a question as to how it was that the virus survives in the body at 98.6.
The answer is: separate from a living organism they become more susceptible. They still don’t love the heat in the body and they enter through the coldest part of the system: the respiratory tract and aim for the sinuses and lungs- more airy and less blood saturated.  Our blood carries our warmth.  This book (Cold Arrest) presents evidence that if our sinuses and respiratory tract are warmed up the virus can’t survive- even if established, even if you become symptomatic.  The author finds that the respiratory tract has to be warmed by ambient temperature of 133 degrees Fahrenheit.  Think sauna or a hot dessert… or hairdryer!  The book lays out a preventative technique and a treatment regimen with a hairdryer and a water spray bottle.  Check it out:

https://future-world.com/mcatalog/stop-covid-19-now/

He’s been around with this idea for decades and has compiled all sorts of experiences with it.  I like things like this that have a low potential for harm and that can empower you to help yourself.  It’s strengthening. It’s calming to have ideas and tools at your disposal.  And the world benefits from a calm and strong YOU.  What are you doing today that builds you up?  It’s important.  The world wants more of your good ideas and kind actions.

See today as an opportunity!

In solidarity,

Dr Cooney