COVID-19: A Chinese Medicine Perspective from Brendan Kelly

Posted by – June 04, 2020
Categories: Guest Post Health & Healing

By Brendan Kelly, acupuncturist, herbalist, and author of  The Yin and Yang of Climate Crisis

There’s lots of worry about the coronavirus and how it could affect our individual health and that of the people around us. Here are some Chinese medicine-based ideas on how to promote health and limit the likelihood of developing symptoms. 

  • Get Lots of Rest and Sleep. If you’re really worried about the Coronavirus, increasing sleep to 9-12 hours nightly is a very reasonable response. From both a western and eastern perspective, lack of sleep can weaken the immune system, making us more susceptible to the virus. And increasing sleep is an easy, low-tech, no-cost, very accessible way of increasing energy and strengthening immunity.
  • Drink Enough Water. The reports we’re reading from both China and the US are that symptoms from the virus can include a dry cough and phlegm/mucus in the Lungs. One way to deal with both dryness and mucus is to have enough healthy fluids internally. Drinking half your body weight in ounces of water daily helps keep us hydrated and also provides us the fluids to flush things out of the body.
  • Eat Well. Emphasize warm, cooked foods, which are easier to digest and create more internal energy/Qi. There is a direct connection between the energy we get from digestion and the strength of our immune system. Also eliminate all white, refined sugar, as it suppresses immune function for several hours. Eat as much local, organic, seasonal, and natural food as possible. And eating slowly and chewing well also increases the energy we get from food, which again helps with immunity.
  • Slow Down / Do Less. We have an epidemic of busyness in our country. We’re encouraged to believe that being busy—constantly going from one thing to the next—creates a good life. In many cases, the opposite is true, where being too busy can not only make us tired—which weakens immunity—but can also lead to a less satisfied and meaningful life.
  • Breathe Fresh Air. For Chinese medicine, the lungs are responsible for surface immunity, called the Wei/Protective Qi. Breathing fresh air helps with the functioning of the lungs, which strengthens our immunity.
  • Unplug Regularly. During times of stress, a tendency can be to get caught up in the constant cycle of news reports and information. Being informed is fine, but checking your phone, computer and TV constantly for stories about the next possible crisis can create stress—which can weaken our energy, again possibly weakening our immunity.
  • Fear Less / Care More. For Chinese medicine, regularly being afraid contracts the energy throughout the body. Part of immune health is the expansion of our Wei Qi/immunity which protects us from things like viruses. Rather than relying on fear to motivate us, we can direct our energy towards caring for our own well-being and the well-being of the people and communities around us. This focus outside of ourselves can help enliven our Qi, which again can help strengthen our immunity.
  • Where the Mind Goes the Qi Follows. Central to Chinese medical thought is the understanding that our thoughts and emotions affect us physically. The Five Element tradition describes how each of our organs is affected by what we think and feel. Any excess of emotion—including fear and anger, both now common with the virus—can affect the lungs in particular, again possibly weakening immunity. 
  • Chinese Medicine Can Help. For several thousand years, Chinese medicine has treated a very wide range of conditions, including all kinds of viral infections. With US and international health agencies declaring the Coronavirus a pandemic, it’s good news that there is a tradition in Chinese medicine that was created to treat similar, fast-developing, wide-reaching conditions. This School of Heat has several hundred years of clinical application and development in treating conditions similar to what we are now experiencing. If you can receive acupuncture at a clinic, they can be very effective at clearing things out as well as strengthening energy in general and immunity in particular. If you can’t make it in person, it’s possible herbs can be sent to you. 

For more about promoting health and treating sickness, there’s information below about classes I’m offering, both in-person and online

Wishing you, your family, and your community health, balance and strong immunity. 

Yours in Wei Qi.

Brendan Kelly, author and acupuncturist/herbalist

About the Author

Brendan Kelly is the author of The Yin and Yang of Climate Crisis, which looks at the bigger and deeper issues of climate change through the lens of Chinese medicine. The co-founder and co-owner of Jade Mountain Wellness, where he currently practices acupuncture and herbalism, he has also been actively involved with environmental issues for 25 years. For more information about Brendan, his book, recent articles, and classes visit