Author Archives: Nicole Newman

Physical Distancing

Finest Greetings on the day!  

Every day is a new beginning- a day for a new plan and new action. If today, in conscious awareness, you choose the same plan as yesterday, you are wise. If you choose a different plan, you are equally wise. Whatever you choose, choose with intention.
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Physical distancing

I’ve heard it expressed that the term “physical distancing” should replace “social distancing.” I like it. The clarification in verbiage emphasizes that we can stay connected even when we are so physically restricted from each other. It may be just semantics, but I like the idea. It’s more accurate. We can pass a masked stranger in a store and step away from each but share a gesture or a word of encouragement that socially connects us even though we are physically remote.

We might be doing this for a while.  We might as well rename it every now and again.

Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Let’s face it. The next couple of years are outrageously uncertain. While optimism is a undeniable source of power, and nothing can be done without hope and confidence (as Helen Keller said), we need to prepare for the possibilities that uncertainty brings.

Emergency preparedness kit

While facing the possibility of unprecedented global shortages, we will want to have used this exact moment to get ready. In normal times the American Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and CDC all recommend you have a home emergency preparedness kit for disasters such as hurricanes, fires, floods, a solar flare, etc. We all have somewhat started this process with what we have been through this Spring, and my message for you today is to get serious on your preparedness now.  Here are some thoughts on emergency COVID preparedness.

Pre-pandemic, a few days of supplies may have made sense, now 6 weeks is smart and even longer is better if you are able. Many people have it as a policy to store a full year’s supply of food. I never thought along these terms until now.

Food. We want to have a big supply of food. Canned foods are the obvious items to have. Don’t forget staples like sugar, salt, pepper. (You may want to store special foods such as pet foods.)

•Water. Red Cross recommends one gallon per person per day. A two week supply would be a minimum.

Medicine You may want to have a several month supply of any prescription medications if it’s possible to acquire them.
Also worth having are over-the-counter pain relievers, antacids, cough and cold medicines (zinc), and vitamins (especially D).
Razors and shaving cream, extra eyeglasses and contact lenses (as well as contact lens solutions) and heavy duty garbage bags (for personal sanitation) are among FEMA’s other suggestions.

First aid kit. Gauze bandages, antibacterial ointment, antiseptic wipes and non-latex gloves are among the items recommended by FEMA and the American Red Cross. Include masks, hand sanitizers and cleaning supplies.

Lights and power sources. If you don’t have a generator you might consider getting one now. Have flashlights and extra batteries (for the lights and other products including hearing aids), the CDC suggests. Other worthwhile items include car chargers and adapters, jumper cables, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, and a surge protector strip.

Medical and personal identification records. The CDC also recommends you collect important medical and insurance records and other items such as living will documents. You can also prepare an emergency plan with important contact information and personal information. Copies of important records kept in a resealable bag and in your backpack could be invaluable should you have to evacuate because of a flood or fire.

Other items. Remember a can opener, scissors and perhaps a multipurpose tool. Also likely to come in handy are matches, blankets and rain gear. Set aside some actual cash for emergencies.
You can compare your emergency kit with the American Red Cross survival kit.

Home protection plan. You don’t have to own a gun to be smart about protecting your home. Pepper spray, a security system, adopting a guard dog, and even a stun gun are nonlethal options to protect yourself and part of being prepared for the possibility of an uncertain future.

Start somewhere. Ask for help if you need it. Preparation is the key to success.

Back to school

Now I want to switch gears and share a picture from my med school days. That’s me in the top row, next to the man in the jacket and tie:

Ok, that’s not me, but we are fascinating bunch, aren’t we?

Post mortem report: Is it corona? Or poor health? Or environmental toxins?

“Five doctors and the wise Paracelsus stood around a dead person contemplating the reason for his death due to cholera at an early age. The first doctor said the patient definitely died from the cholera infection – as he saw many people die of this. The second doctor said: I do not think so for I have seen many people survive this illness – he did not follow healthy life rhythms in eating and sleeping, work and stillness, causing a weakened immune function. The third said: Oh no, a good healthy immune system depends on clear positive thoughts and healthy relationships – he was lacking in positive thoughts. The fourth said: I know many people who have survived through horrible circumstances and still have positive thoughts – it is the character of personality and constitution that matters – he must not have cared for or could not identify with himself and was not yet centered in his personality. The fifth said that this all sounded rational, but he had learned about destiny and divine guidance and some die young and some die old – as destiny is God’s will – he must have been called home. The wise Paracelsus said: You know, dear colleagues, you are all right, there are many aspects of illness. If you isolate your reasons you will never understand the cause. The human body is complex and it is wise to reflect on all aspects of life.”

It’s wise to reflect on it all.

Stay whole.
Wishing you all the best.

Dr Cooney and staff

We‘re All In This Together

Greetings Friends!

Have you noticed the unofficial slogan of the Pandemic?

“We are all in this together.”  This definitely has been ubiquitous during the shut down, even though we would acknowledge that people’s experiences have been vastly different.

On one hand  life was simplified by the shut down, the family dinner made a comeback (Norman Rockwell would approve) and introspection was the “in” thing.

Long-term isolators no longer felt guilty that they weren’t participating in society. Heck, they had company now!  Germ-o-phobes were vindicated, and there was even a feeling of protection as strangers masked up and stayed behind plexiglass. Our boundaries were secured.

On the other hand, a lot of people have suffered massive financial strain.  Bills and rents go unpaid. Prospects for meaningful recovery remain uncertain. It doesn’t get more stressful than not being able to make ends meet.  Oh yeah, did I mention thousands of deaths and enough fear to last a lifetime? Anxiety, separation, substance abuse, despair.

If we reflect on the situation, as this past week makes us do, we find the polarities we find are a microcosm for our own lives and society as a whole.

There are two sides, and we are all in it together.

Whether you are healthy or sick, young or old, black or white, rich or poor, — we are in it together. And it’s not that one way is right or the other is wrong. The point is how we orient to each other and ourselves.

Whether you are in pain or free from it, whether you have an asymptomatic case or a cytokine storm, whether you are part of the solution or even part of the problem you are in the one human community. And you belong.

How else would we be able experience the love in giving if there was not those who needed help? And the love in receiving deliverance if we didn’t suffer? Pain isn’t the problem. It’s the mandate. It’s not what you have that matters, it’s what you do with it. Pain transforms with love and recognition.

Yes, we have a long way to go, but all the pieces are here.  It’s not broken, friends. The dysfunction is waking us, and that is the goal.

Bright Future?
The big news from NYC was the report this week of the first day since the outbreak with no new Coronavirus deaths!

Reports out of China and Italy are promising as severe problems aren’t rebounding as time goes on and society loosens restrictions. These countries are the leading edge and could predict what the future holds for us.

  • Officials in central China did a massive 2-week campaign to test asymptomatic citizens. 10 million people were tested with nasal swabs. They only found 300 positives!
  • Italian doctors say the virus they are seeing now does not have the same virulence. They aren’t seeing the same level of mortality and morbidity.

The way I see it there is the front edge to the Pandemic. It meets no resistance and rips through the population. You are never as vulnerable as you are during that initial phase.

We know that with Mindfulness in our day and with time set aside for meditation or prayer or self-reflection stress is not able to stack up as it would otherwise. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction programs have made a study of it. I’m hopeful our social distancing programs might be as potent of an intervention. It was like a global meditative pause.

And, it somehow seems to fit that phase one of our recovery is accompanied by protests and demonstrations. Fever detoxifies. It makes whole what has been separated.

I’ve long sensed that to be healthy you have to go against the stream of the standard. That stream is toxic. We are born with a situation that needs to be changed, with steps we have to take. We create our future together .

Sincere Best Wishes on your day,

Dr Cooney and staff

Local Update

Late Spring Greetings!

June arrives this week! The summer solstice is just around the corner. We are now in a seven week run of the longest days of the year. The daylight lingers on into the evening and brightens our evening walks. The finest moments of the New England outdoor exercise season have arrived.

So get out there, and remember, we are most resistant to respiratory viruses when our exposure is in the open air. Concentrated exposures are where the risk lies. Outdoor recovery wards were hugely helpful in the Spanish Flu pandemic. During the Civil War, giving up the tents hugely changed the rates of respiratory illnesses amongst the rank and file. Enjoying nature squashes pandemics!

Local Update

At the beginning of the week I talked with a colleague who works at BMC with the sickest COVID patients.  I’m happy to say that she reported a drastic reduction in the case load as far as COVID goes! At Berkshire Center for Whole Health, we are seeing zero people with concerns for active infection. Our testing is connected with the support around reopening of businesses, and nothing else right now.

Shrinking Numbers Globally

UK researchers are thinking it might be tough to expose their vaccine volunteers to the virus because of the drastically receding case loads.  Central China finished a two week campaign to test nearly 7 million people with nasal swabs! Guess how many positives they found in the population without symptoms: only 200! Out of millions of people!

Some scientists are talking about how the clearance of pollution levels, a striking consequence of the global coordinated economic shutdown, might be a sleeper factor in the shrinking numbers and have surprising implications for the future! Makes you want to ride your bike on your errands today.

Clear Skies

Remember that exposure to pollution is the strongest correlation to COVID cases faring worse.  Could clearing skies open the door to a best possible outcome? I think so.

Of the many possible scenarios, let’s not forget that there are best case ones.  Let’s do more than that.  Let’s picture the best case scenarios with joy and expectation in our hearts.

Let’s hope and pray for such outcomes, even as we prepare for and protect against the whole spectrum of possibilities.

The best case scenarios

Some things to bravely hope for:

  • the virus weakens as it mutates and takes on the intensity of a common cold
  • it disappears as mysteriously as it appeared

Besides these prayers for the world there are other elements we can expect to see, with the understanding that we don’t know for sure, but still are likely based on how other coronaviruses have acted:

  • immunity after exposure will be found to last
  • exposure to other coronaviruses might mitigate the syndrome caused by this one
  • the amount of time it will circulate with intensity will be limited.

 

Wholeness

Reminder to remember the whole! Think of yourself as part of an ecologic community. Humanity is one organ in the earthy body.  Just as your neighborhood is healthy only when each household is well, so too does the Human Race thrive only when every human’s inherent worth is truly appreciated.

Beyond that, our world community thrives only when:

  • our natural resources (clean air and water and healthy soil) are recognized as our greatest treasures,
  • the animal kingdoms are treated with profound respect and dignity,
  • our medicine is recognized as an avenue for nature’s beings to reach their highest possible end.

 

ZINC

As promised last week a word on Zinc. Everyone has been talking about zinc with COVID.


Zinc is important for immune function. Coronaviruses don’t do well in cells that have a good concentration of Zinc. There is one population that stands out for their low zinc levels: Vegetarians!

True: Plant based diet is best, for sure, as is low sugar and no processed foods. Eat well and your chances of avoiding the hospital are very good. But, vegetarians are more likely to have low levels of Zinc. Certain grains and legumes can inhibit its absorption. Furthermore, Zinc is concentrated in shellfish and red meat. Oysters are the best source.

Beans, nuts, whole-grains, dairy products and eggs are a good source of zinc for vegetarians. Supplementing is not unreasonable for vegetarians.

It’s also important to know that it is difficult for the zinc to get into our cells, even if there is adequate Zinc in the diet.  Proper cellular absorption needs ionophores, agents that facilitate movement across the cell membrane. Important ionophores for zinc are:

  • Quercetin
  • Green tea extract
  • Hydroxychloroquine.  Do any of the studies not demonstrating hydroxychloroquine’s effectiveness have zinc in the protocol?  If they don’t, I’d argue they aren’t relevant.

Have Zinc around. Dosages are low in lozenges but they can be a nice preventative measure.  They work when they are actively in your mouth.  Gloves and mask and a zinc lozenge might be the full defensive outfit when in the grocery store. During an early infection Zinc at higher dosages, 20mg plus, with an ionophore is part of my plan for you.

SAUNA 

There are a lot of studies on saunas and their health benefits.  They might be a part of your 2020 insurance policy plan to prevent COVID.  People who frequently use saunas are 40% less likely to get pneumonia. They make you calmer and more relaxed. In fact, there are good studies that show Hyperthermia is helpful for depression. Even one session shows an antidepressant effect.

There are infrared saunas and dry saunas. There is more research on dry sauna but people swear by their infrared saunas (lower temps).
Results from sitting in a sauna mimic the benefits that we get from working out: BP goes down, heart rate variablility improves, cardiorespiratory fitness improves.

I’ll leave you with a quote I came across this week.

“Don’t shrink what’s possible to fit your mind, expand your mind to fit what’s possible”
-Brain coach Jim Kwik 

Thinking of you all and wishing you the best!

Dr Cooney and staff

May 22nd Bulletin

5/22
Good morning, All!
Greetings on the start of the Memorial Day Holiday!

Today’s factoid: having type O blood has been shown to decrease the likelihood of contracting SARS-coV-2. That’s a little bit of good news for the nearly 45% of Americans who have type O blood.  It is thought to be related to the antibodies that type O people make in response to the configuration of antigens on their red blood cells. It’s at least a small part of the variability in presentation of this illness that we see. A central factor tied to poor outcomes is the presence of environmental pollution! More on this in a bit.


Nature‘s Brilliance!

Why is everyone still talking about the Pandemic and not talking about Nature’s brilliance?  Just joking, but I would like to say that we should not let a day go by without marveling at nature’s magnificence.  Your garden will not only save you money if the vegetable prices surge as they predict but will provide the raw material for your practice in appreciation.


Nature knows best

Last bulletin I talked about Vitamin D’s strong performance against poor outcomes from COVID in early studies. VitD has long been proven to be helpful in supporting lung function and respiratory function; and, unfortunately it is commonly low, with as much as 70% of people insufficient in D. When you study how it works it’s amazing to see how in certain circumstances it can up-regulate certain processes of the immune system and in certain others it will down-regulate those same processes.

This is the aspect of nature that I dare say is impossible to reproduce in the lab.  Life has an innate intelligence that responds to what is needed in the moment.  When we rely on a medicine we are using a much more limited intelligence.  The effects are preset and unidirectional.  We need our medicines at times but we should always be looking to be in tune with Life. We would do very well to review all the areas where we can be in step with natural wellness.

CDC Promoting Natural Health?

How many times have we heard from the CDC or FDA or the Pandemic medical team on the importance of good sleep and exercise and a healthy, whole food, plant-based diet without processed foods which helps your microbiome during the pandemic?  I personally think it’s odd that we don’t hear about any of this from any central agency….almost at all. They aren’t giving us well rounded information but others are; and it’s helpful.  Here’s a little on Vitamin C to add to what we read last week on vitamin D.

VITAMIN C

Vitamin C has been shown to stimulate the burning of fat, reduce inflammation, and improve cough. It is a very nice aid in balancing the immune system which is why it is helpful with cancer care. Clinical studies are underway with COVID in other parts of the world but not so much in the US.

The important history of VitC must include Linus Pauling and his work with high dose intravenous and oral vitamin C for cancer in the 70s. His work produced very promising data, namely decreased rates of cancer mortality with the higher doses. Subsequent studies with Vitamin C by the Mayo clinic, which were done with lower doses, did not show the same results and created a false narrative against the enthusiasm for the use of vitamin C as a medicine. There is data now showing less respiratory illness and quicker recovery from colds, in a dose dependent manner. The dose has to be over 1000mg.  Pushing to 2-3000mg daily if tolerated (watching for loose stools and backing off the dose if they come) is recommended right now as we prepare for the world to reopen.
What about eating oranges?

A typical blood level of vitamin C in someone who doesn’t eat a lot of fruit or veggies might be 50 mmol/L.  This lies in the normal range. Someone who has 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies will generally increase the level to 70-80 mmol/L.  A vitamin C supplement of 200mg daily can raise it to 90. This level hasn’t been found to be helpful against the common cold.  1000mg (which is best spread out tover three doses) is decent against colds and raises the level (up to around 130).  3000mg of VitC brings the blood level to 220 mmol/L- which turns out to be the max level one can get from oral supplementing. Multiple doses throughout the day are required with higher oral doses because the level drops after 5 hours.

Vitamin C intravenously is what is being studied right now with COVID.  There already exists quite robust data that IV Vit C improves sepsis. IV vitamin C at 10g per dose generates a level in the blood of 18,000!  This is a almost a different medicine.  The levels actually generate hydrogen peroxide- a product normally made by white blood cells.  This is involved in the mechanism to kill cancer cells and certain viruses. A trend I see in these natural cures is that they don’t harm healthy cells.

More next time on supplementing with Zinc and using a sauna to stay in tiptop shape!


Virology and Pollution

If you’re like me, you’re pretty interested in detailing what we really know about viruses. It’s my belief that scientists have a relatively tiny and isolated piece of the knowledge of our biology, the study of Life.  This is a topic that is as vast and as expansive as the universe. We need to constantly test our conclusions, like a pioneer MD named Zach Bush does. Last year he predicted the next pandemic would happen in central China.  He told this to an audience at a conference, and based it on following the spray map of glycophosphate (Round Up).  Central China stood out as the heavy user in Asia.

How did he draw his conclusion? He did it by not settling for yesterday’s ideas.

The theory of us against the bugs won’t carry us any further.  Dr Bush describes a cutting-edge view that viruses are part of a vast web of information sharing that happens amongst all living beings. Every second we exude different RNA-messages to the organisms around us. All living cells do. Viruses and other similar nano-communications (called exosomes) are the way genetic material is shared. Viruses and exosomes can be carried far distances when they become airborne. They literally circle the globe and are present in unfathomable numbers in every breath we take. We share genetic material to aid in adaptation and the successful propagation of life. He is describing here a new theory that removes us from the role of victims of the bad bugs.  We are not at war but are members of an ecologic community. We have work to do to reconnect to the proper care for our earth’s soils and animals. Improper care for our ecosystem causes a rebound effect and plays a role in the viral illnesses we see.

It makes you wonder why our national medical leaders only talk about drug remedies and vaccines. Maybe they don’t see the larger task. Maybe it’s not for them to do. A part of any robust treatment plan is care for our earth and the continued search for bigger perspective and deeper truths. We, the people, have the power unless we give it away. The power to effect our situation lies in every dollar that we spend.

“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
Anna Lappe

Each and every one is supposed to do his or her part to make the difference. We wouldn’t want it handed to us. We are supposed to wrestle with it.

I am wishing you much strength and courage on this beautiful day. I couldn’t ask for a better group with whom to be working together on our task. I’m referring to the world wide community of people who care about their fellow Man (and Woman). We have all the tools and the support we need to begin our first steps. Let’s get going!

Here’s to today’s work!

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

May 8th Bulletin

5/8/20
Greetings and Happy Friday!

I’m honored to share a few thoughts with you as we approach one of the finest holidays of the year. To Moms everywhere, we literally would be nothing without you! We owe you our existence and so much more! Thank you!

Fauci vs Pompeo

How bizarre was it to see these two polar opposites human beings clash this week?  Pompeo (the bull) on Sunday saying there is big evidence that the virus came from the Wuhan lab and Fauci (the bird) on Monday saying there is nothing to suggest it did. I haven’t seen such perfect timing in a routine since Laurel and Hardy. And then Trump on Wednesday say he’s going to release the evidence soon. What is that all about?

Danger Ahead!

Meanwhile, a big Pandemic crossroads has emerged. Danger to the left: stay closed and people die.  Danger to the right: open up and people die. What to do? There is a middle path here. We need to find it. Open, with caution, and with a plan. The Public Health sector says States should meet these criteria:
1) Two weeks of declining numbers
2) Rapid testing available and ready to test all people with symptoms, even mild, and people in essential roles
3) Healthcare is ready, and PPE is sufficient
4) Tracing capacity is in place

One thing I’d add to the plan.

If I were in charge for a day, I would put my best resources at the Nursing Homes. I’d have temperature checks for all employees on their arrival to work and screen them for symptoms.  I would clearly define social distancing for the workers and I would make it absolutely mandatory.  I’d educate them up and down, and I’d make sure the entire staff is capable and committed to staying true to the plan. And, I’d compensate them well. I’d test everyone in those facilities regularly. Our nursing homes are trying but are so vulnerable, and they would do better with more resources.

Who’s Ready to Open?

No one. Apparently, not one State is ready to re-open based on their ability to meet those four basic public health criteria to safely navigate the reopening, so testified a scientist from the famed Johns Hopkins Public Health Center to Congress this week.

 

Powerless

There is a lack of power that many of us feel in this time. Not just in that there is not a centralized plan. Doctors and nurses, especially in the hosptials during the surges, have higher rates of fear and overwhelm. We want to be able to help patents, and the situation seems helpless at times. A fellow health care worker and friend said, “Of course the ER doctor in New York killed herself. Of course she did.”  You might have heard her story, she was head of the ER at a big NYC hospital. It seems like she was a casualty of the sheer volume of tragedy that she faced. The situation seemed hopeless. The Pandemic does resemble war in the hot spots. And leaders aren’t shy to use that type of language.  We are waging a war against the virus, they say.

But, it isn’t war.

The virus is not our enemy. “It would be much more fruitful to speak of the virus as a necessary condition for certain diseases, just as a predisposition in the host organism is a necessary condition” (Nature Institute). So I say let’s leave out the word ‘war.’ We don’t battle bugs. We fall ill. In a holistic view, we strive for a deeper understanding of what we can do to come through any trial better for having done so. We look to stay whole in health and in illness.

“Man and earth with its animals, flowers, rocks are a single, indivisible community; …natures kingdoms are part of our very being, genetically linked with us belonging to us in mutual dependence.”
-Rudolf Hauschka

As humans, we are in the largeness of the cosmos and in the smallness of the virus. I want for us that we speak out of a vision of wholeness rather than the imagery of war. From this perspective we strive to heal the whole planet as a result of this tragedy rather than to kill a capsule of RNA.

Looking on the bright side

Here’s the thing: you can never be as unprepared as you were the first time you face a new challenge. Think parenting. Parents are never as lost as they were with the first kid. With the second child they don’t sneak over to the sleeping infant with the same anxiety to make sure she is still breathing. The question of ‘can I do this?’ has already been asked and answered.  There is more experience, more confidence. We will do better if we have to face future surges. The first wave of the 1918 pandemic was barely recognized as a phenomenon. We know a lot better than then what we are up against.

Compared to February, people on average will continue to be a lot more careful. I know a lot of people who aren’t planning on coming out of isolation anytime soon. And it’s the right thing for those at highest risk. Hospitals have some clearer options for the sickest folks: Remdesivir (repurposed Hepatitis C drug) has a new touted study. It didn’t have a clear demonstrable effect on mortality, but patients in the study on the drug recovered faster (from 15 down to 11 days). The IL-6 inhibitor (Tocilizumab) apparently has a promising study behind it now. It’s reportedly coming out soon.  Mortality improvement was shown. Those are the blockbusters for ICU level care. Many other drugs are being looked at for prevention and treatment- from Pepcid to Flomax and even Viagra. I don’t think they tested Plaquenil all that wisely and it likely has value, especially when combined with Zinc. It will be interesting to keep an eye on the progress with a monoclonal antibody and convalescent serum as well.

Hospitals have learned a lot, even though in places they went through a very dark period. At Berkshire Center for Whole Health we are working hard to accumulate some good resources for us all in the event we face more challenges. I have successfully built up testing supplies and am working hard to have solid outpatient interventions that stand out as the best options- from ozone injections to protocols for blood thinning during the illness to herbal antivirals (licorice stands out).

We can hope

I hope we come out of this knowing a lot more about viral infections and how a person gets sick. I dream that this revolutionizes how we view illness.

I hope we emerge with a more humane economy.  I dream that Good, and Universally True and even revolutionary ideas can take hold.

Together we stand, divided we fall

It’s hard not to think of our country’s history whenever we see this sentence. It applies so strongly ever since Lincoln’s time. But Aesop wasn’t thinking of our seemingly perpetual interest in dysfunction when he first coined this phrase. I find if you apply it just to yourself it opens up something new. In true understanding about yourself, you have your power.  When you yourself are ‘together’ you stand strong. There is cohesion in the light of understanding yourself and you are solid and steadfast. Without understanding (divided) you are powerless.

If struggle makes you think somehow less of yourself- an incomplete philosophy- you will fall into pain. But if you live in realization that life has challenges but you can remain whole during them then you have coherence. If you realize your adversity fills your tank in some way- to live authentically, to be in service of others, to live with the goal of development, and if you remember your highest end is love, then we stand in our power, no matter what.

An illness or a family crisis or a pandemic knocks us off our generic desire for pain-free perfection. Now what. Fall? Stay down? No… keep your head up. Seek a true collection of thoughts- a true philosophy- that will allow you to be whole, intact, and on your path even when adversity comes, because of course it will come. And of course a path with trials is how you cut your teeth. And just by living with the peace that comes from knowing you are whole no matter what, you give a gift to the world.

 

Inner Fire

If you recognize you’ve been Forged in the Fire of Life and you’re better off for it, then we come from the same clan.

Stay with it. Realize you are a great and powerful Being connected with the whole cosmos with an important contribution to make.

And if you want to start today with one simple yet profound thought that my wife gave me the other day, try this:

“When the gratitude starts, the suffering ceases.” 

With Gratitude for You and Belief in Who You Are and Your Vast Potential,

 

Dr Cooney and staff

April 29th Bulletin

4/29
Greetings Aspiring Mayflowers!

I have compiled some updated coronavirus thoughts and musings for your perusal. I hope you find them useful.

Have you ever heard of the Precautionary Principle?  It forms a cornerstone to a healthy approach to health and illness.  It recommends caution when operating in an incompletely understood system. It advises to take steps that limit risk and harm. We should acknowledge that the vast cosmic intelligence that pulses through our living body and the universe, the same intelligence which runs the billions of billions of chemical reactions in our body every second, is incompletely understood.  Unless really compelled, stay with low risk interventions. Always start with the basics. Eat real food. Drink clean water. Exercise. Do something good for someone. These are universally true. Nobody will ever decide after a deeper look that they actually aren’t safe and sound.
Shifting Understanding

One thing to add to that list of simple, good things especially during a pandemic: Stay out of the hospital at all costs. Right? Not necessarily. What was right yesterday might not be what’s right today.

At the onset of the pandemic we taught ourselves that the world was not safe, and rightly so.  Certainly, we were right to cancel any routine appointments including medical appointments.  And, many people also deduced that dealing with anything that comes up including a serious symptom was smartest to be done at home too.

Well, the world is changing. The surge in the Berkshires has passed. Hospitals are quieter. Risks are lower.  Institutional policies are smarter.  It makes no sense to take on medically risky things alone. I think it’s important to consider that our hospitals are likely as safe as a grocery store, and if you are dealing with the possibility of a serious medical condition be informed that hospitals are serious about keeping non-COVID people safe. Our hospitals are working very hard to not spread the infection. Please seek medical attention for possible emergencies in exactly the way you would before the pandemic started. Get seen. Don’t sit on symptoms that you wouldn’t have in times past. Call me and I’ll guide you. The message is use the ER if you need it. We will start to consider more routine medical appointments and  over the next few weeks as well. Everything is in flux and each moment has its precise right move. Keep you ear to the tracks.

Speaking of Change….

My daughter said this whole thing is changing her.  She was talking about how her sense of humor is deteriorating by being around my wife and me so much, but there is more.  I think we could make the case that she will be different because our family life is stronger due to the society shut down. This period will shape our kids’ lives. Other people have remarked that the family dinner is back. Work schedules from home for many parents has brought an extra dose of humanity back into family life. On the other side of things, however, 9-1-1 calls are up everywhere and 300% in Great Barrington.  Many are related to domestic issues. It’s the light and the dark. Both are amplified by the same process and battling for the upper hand.
Rocky Balboa

Picture Rocky in his grey sweatsuit running up the museum steps in Philadelphia preparing for his opponent, a whole mass of his fans running behind him cheering him on. Buba baaaa! Buba baaa!  We could use that enthusiasm everywhere!  Imagine what it must feel like at Baystate hospital in Springfield when they play Rocky’s theme song over the speaker system any time a COVID patient is discharged.  Nice, right? Reminds one of the cheers of grateful citizens at shift change for the medical heroes in hospitals around the world.

We are taking it on, trying to figure it out.  It’s a time of little victories, challenging losses, and big questions.
New presentations

You’ve probably seen the lists of expanding symptoms for COVID. The elderly can have atypical presentations like fainting or confusion. There is also the scary report of strokes connected with mild COVID presentations. A couple dozen case reports from 3 different institutions are being reported. Many were young people without a lot of symptoms.  It’s rare, but notable.  The tendency to clot is a part of this syndrome for some.  We are not sure if blood thinning is warranted in even modest cases, but it makes sense to consider it.

More numbers

We are getting more numbers from the antibody tests. Incidence of antibodies in NYC residents on one sample was 20%! Greater New York was 14%. That’s a lot of people with antibodies. Most things I am reading support the idea that the antibodies will be protective. That’s the way it is, at least for a year or two, with other coronaviruses. Other parts of the country are collecting data and more will pour in over the next days. Incidence of the presence of antibodies will vary by geographic region, of course. Some places out west are estimated at 2-3%. I might speculate that we in the Berkshires could be in the 4-6% incidence having had early community spread due to our relationship with NYC. That’s 5-7000 cases. It certainly puts the 31 deaths in the county in perspective. It’s all speculative. It’s difficult knowing that speculative data will have to be used to make these decisions about the path forward.

 

Best Plans

We take it one day at a time. We keep going without knowing exactly where we are heading. It’s going to be someplace new, everyone agrees.We know there is the potential for it to be better or worse for all of us. I would argue that this is a fact of modern life anyway, even in times not dominated by the Pandemic, but we are just asleep to how much the world depends on us to shape it. It’s undeniable now.

We are best to be on guard against the emergence of ideologies that go against our fundamental character as humans or have a potential to be abused. You have to ask: who are we fundamentally?

For one thing, we are the rightful architects of our own lives. We have to claim the space that we have been given. Our selves. And claim it fully.  Nature abhors a vacuum. If we aren’t conscientiously awake to our choices then we leave space for competing interests.

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”
-Jim Rohn

 

Freedom

How do we claim our lives? What should be the basic focus?  It starts with pursuing habits that encourage our alertness, wakefulness, and gaining knowledge. All in the name of advancing humanity’s best interest and preserving humanity’s freedom. Not freedom to do as we please, but freedom to learn the truth and to live life in connection with it.

Being congruent with universal principles of being a whole human in its fullest sense.

I’ll leave you with this quote by Hafiz given to me this week by a dear friend.

“I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the Astonishing Light of your own Being.” 
-Hafiz

In solidarity

Dr Cooney and staff

April 20th Bulletin

4/20
Greetings on the start of the new week!

Manic Monday

There’s chaos in the air. Do you feel it? We look for answers and all we get is information overload. Do we open the country and risk second waves of illness and death? or do we stay in quarantine and risk being run over by poverty and despair? There is more angst as time goes on and the steps become less straight forward. The honeymoon of the quarantine has ended, if there was one.

Chaos opens a door, however. We can’t leave what’s Safe and Comfortable and not experience Chaos.  And we can’t find New and Good things without leaving our comfort zone.
“Chaos is nothing more than beauty about to dance.”   

A.D. Posey

It helps to remember that discomfort and chaos are part of a bigger movement towards higher reordering.

Self-Reliance

You might know the story about Albert Einstein giving the same exact final exam to a group of students two years in a row.  When questioned about why that was done, Einstein said the questions were the same, but the answers had all changed. The answers we arrived at last year or last week are basically irrelevant to the answer available in this moment.  THIS moment. We need to learn how to find answers for ourselves as opposed to being told an answer because today’s answer might not be right tomorrow. Emerson’s essay Self-Reliance comes to mind. We have access to the lessons of the moment. Important steps are to believe in your innate power, practice honing your attention, and learn to recognize chaos and discomfort as harbingers.

Simplicity

I’ve talked to many people who describe less guilt in their lives now that society doesn’t put a constant demand on their lives to do so many things, to keep so many balls in the air. What was the point of some of that? Whose directives were those, anyway?  Simplicity is an important door too. When we emerge let’s make a pact to do more of what arises out of calmness and simplicity as authentic to us as free individuals in service of our truest purpose and decline all else!

Dogs vs Robots

Last week I told you Artificial Intelligence could reportedly distinguish a COVID cough from a non-COVID cough.  Well, I’ve heard reports from Great Britain that an effort is underway to train dogs to sniff out coronavirus. Canines are already used to detect malaria and Parkinson’s.  They also have the ability to detect seizures or heart attacks. We know we need COVID identification strategies as a part of the return from distancing.  Let’s get all the help we can.  It begs the question, though. What makes you more comfortable? Hearing you have the pandemic flu from a dog or a robot?

Another odd symptom

A leg rash should be added to your list of possible symptoms connected with COVID. Nurses and doctors are reporting a rash on the thighs that is accompanying COVID sometimes.  It can be itchy.  It often shows up in a lacy pattern across the skin.  Like anosmia and the toe blisters they are not always there, but offer a clue when they are.
 
 

More testing

Starting this week I have access to serology testing for previous exposure to COVID. This involves a blood test and is going to be an important tool. The CDC has rolled it out recently and is testing large numbers of people in DC and NYC to measure the rates of exposure and possible immunity in a large population.  We hope this will give us a good approximation of a true Case Fatality Rate. I hope the rate of infection is high! It would mean that it’s moving through. The test is not yet widely available but will be. To be clear, I have access to it effective immediately if we think it will help. We can review if you have questions. There is still much to learn about its performance characteristics. We know it has some inconsistencies, but that’s usually the case. I don’t think the issues will greatly interfere with our ability to extract very helpful information from using it. 
 
Convalescent plasma

One exciting thing the antibody test does is it expands the number of possible donors eligible to give convalescent plasma. The idea here is that the recovered patients can donate their blood to help the current critically ill patients. BMC is now accepting healthy donors who previously tested positive for COVID-19, who are 28 days symptom free and meet all the other blood donor requirements.  Blood donation is easy and only takes appropriately 35-40 minutes.  Those who are eligible can call (413) 447-2597 Option #2 to make an appointment to donate in one of their two locations.  They tell us that the donations always stay local.

Bruce Lipton

He’s a name many of you know, and all of you should.  He’s a biologist who left his post at a medical school decades ago when his research diverged from what the school was teaching.  The popular theory was that genes would tell your fate. His work shows that the environment around the cell, both from natural influences as well as from emotional and other internal stimuli are so vital that they can turn on or off the disease or healing potential of the cells. For example, he found that the same gene blueprint coding for a particular protein can make thousands of different versions of the same protein depending on the culture medium and other environmental factors. He found that the Mind controls the biology. Just a reminder to Be Strong! Don’t Fear! Ponder Your Great Potential!

Reach out if you need anything.
You know how to reach us.

Dr Cooney and staff

April 15th Bulletin

4/15
Greetings, Friends and Neighbors!

I hope everyone is hanging in there. We are getting through this. Slowly but surely. I promise. I would venture to say we have seen the worst days of it and are seeing the first bits of the other side. I’ve collected a few thoughts over this past week that I hope you might find helpful.

Photo project

I’ll start with my favorite bit of news. Stanford and UMASS are resurrecting a campaign called the PPE Photo Project. Imagine being ill in the hospital and separated from loved ones. Your caregivers come in and out in space-aged protective gear including eye shields, masks, gowns and gloves. Who are these people that are supposed to be helping me? It is alienating and scary for patients. We need connection with our care-providers. It matters a lot. In the Photo Project, caregivers have a photo taken of themselves showing the smile they wish they could give to their patients. A fairly large photo of their best smiling face is then worn on their jacket over their heart.  Transformational team-building accomplished!  I emailed the article about it to the Fairview Hospital management team this week.  It would be nice to have the whole health system take that on!  Great care, good press!
Standing Ovation

You might have heard that NYC applauds the hospital workers (like they do in certain areas in Italy) every night at 7pm. Many workers report leaving a shift and hearing the cheers. They find it really heart-warming.
Against the Odds

Doctors are finding that they can’t seem to help people in the ICU with COVID the way they are used to. The numbers of people that don’t do well are astounding. The ventilators aren’t helping like they usually do. We just don’t know how to save these people. It’s one of the many puzzles with this illness. But the most tragic. So, doctors are doing different things. Many are waiting longer before intubating, trying to avoid it. Some are reporting small case series using blood thinners more aggressively. This approach seems to be helping some. I hear different theories as to why people get starved for oxygen and ventilators are not making a big difference. The theories are promising and could open up treatment options. Godspeed, to the researchers!
On Your Stomach

Another beneficial trick being used in the hospital is to turn a patient stomach down. Other parts of the lung are engaged. This is not a new technique, but it appears to be helping people, ventilated or not.
Medicines

We are building our repertoire.  There are some decent options.  Studies are ongoing.  We may not have found the big breakthrough, but there are many things that chip away at it. I will do my best to bring you in contact with the best that is being offered.  For example, I’m investigating Ozone injections about which I’ve heard some remarkable case studies.
Anosmia meets Toe Vesicles

There are some case reports of small blisters on the feet or toes being associated with COVID. It’s another possible clue. I’ve seen the lack of smell be a reliable predictor of a positive swab. I’ve never heard a patient report the foot blister, but it’s good to know. Keep your eyes peeled.
Artificial Intelligence will see you now

There are many symptom-analysis programs to help you see if you likely have COVID.  Buoy Health is one company behind an AI program that screens your symptoms for the likelihood of COVID and will make recommendations to you based on your interface with it. I checked it out, and I must say, it’s pretty good. I heard that an AI program can detect COVID based on the sound of a patient’s cough.  It’s getting real, like it or not.
The Bug vs the Terrain

I, like many, have dived into immunology, virology, and infectious disease like never before. There has to be something we can learn to make the difference. The biggest area of intrigue for me is the vast range of disease presentation. One person might not be able to smell their coffee one morning and have no other symptoms. Another might have nothing(!) but test positively.  Other cases can be relentless and lethal.

You know something, in the study of infectious disease this is common.  We see this broad range of presentation with many viruses! Considering this and the fact that viruses are not alive, the answer to the riddle as to who gets really sick really must lie mostly in the individual constitution and makeup and not as much in the infectious agent. The approach that keeps that in mind is interesting to me.  We should be looking at each individual as deeply as we can just as much as we study the virus and its characteristics, etc.

Along these lines, there is one main question: why do we get sick? Illness is an inevitable human experience. Illness as an enemy ignores the deeper reality of human illness. There is wisdom in illness.  The darkness of pain and disability never comes without light. They come in one package. Chaos and unrest demand our full and undivided attention. They heighten our consciousness. And that, my friends, is the point.

We are going to beat this thing.  It will drop off in May.  We have put in the hard work.   There are already too many people that have gone through it for it to regain any serious momentum. Be smart! Stay safe! Be optimistic!

You know how to reach us. Don’t hesitate to call.

Best Wishes

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