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"Philosophy teaches us to feel uncertain about the things that seem to us self-evident.

Propaganda, on the other hand, teaches us to accept as self-evident matters about which it would be reasonable to suspend our judgement or to feel doubt.”

Aldous Huxley

 

A simplistic view of the measures taken to counteract the effect of the SARS-CoV-2 virus might give the impression that they were meticulously organised based on unquestionable “scientific evidence”, and necessary because we were dealing with a super-virus with unfathomable power for destruction.

  1. Organisation was, and still is, far from meticulous or coordinated. In the initial phase the focus was on hand-to-nose/eyes transmission. Masks were discouraged while panic buying of hand sanitiser became essential. This came out of the assumption that SARS-CoV-2 behaved like the flu virus. It was later agreed that aerosols were the most likely main transmission route, yet masks are still looked upon as less relevant than handwashing and distancing. This is not just illogical, it is impractical: In a normal life situation, wearing a mask is a lot easier than keeping a 2 metre distance, even when aware of distancing and the strict handwashing protocol!
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  3. The “science” behind the measures is based on ONE statistical model (from Imperial College London) which was never openly challenged by other models. Yet, in order to create a statistical model it is necessary to make numerous projections and assumptions. Projections are based on actual figures gathered initially, but without much perspective, such as how quickly the virus was spreading, while assumptions are necessary in terms of human behaviour and the elusive starting date of CoV-19 with patient zero. It is now fairly well documented that SARS-CoV-2 was already amongst us in late 2019 and that patient zero was not, as was assumed, in January/February 2020. This changes everything about the rate of spreading, the number of immune amongst us and the mortality rate. Yet, the initial model has not been revised and we are continuing to release lockdown based on the assumption that only a small percentage of us are immune and a high percentage of Covid-19 sufferers die. 
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  5. After a short appearance that started in January 2020, Covid-19 was dropped off, on March 19th, from the list of High Consequence Infectious Disease (HCID) on the Government’s website. For reference, lockdown in the UK officially started on the 26th of March, a fact that puts total lockdown in question: an unprecedented measure with extreme consequences! Lockdown measures were taken to control the rate of hospitalisation and reduce demand on limited life-support facilities but it was later agreed that delaying invasive oxygen support was more effective. Even at the most critical time of the pandemic, at no point did the NHS run out of ventilators. This is despite a current shortfall of 7100 apparatus below target.

Was total lockdown necessary by the time it was put in place?
Was continuing with it, for over 12 weeks, worth the damaging cost to our human psyche and societal fabric?
Was the “science” even accurate?
Did “The End justify The Means” in this social experiment?
Or simply demonstrate how easily our personal agency can be hijacked and manipulated!


Going forward we have acquired solid information about:

  • Viral transmission: The main dissemination of the virus is through aerosol. Those are tiny droplets which are formed and expelled when water or body fluids are under pressure. They stay in suspension for a number of minutes before settling. Under certain conditions, the lighter droplets can evaporate quicker than the time it takes to settle and they remain suspended for longer. When coming from a virus carrier, aerosols carry viral capsules that can settle on surfaces. Those can be picked up and transmitted from hands to nose or eyes. But, if you are on the slipstream of an aerosolised viral sneeze, they can be breathed directly into your lungs and bypass immune tissues in the nose and throat.
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  • Viral load: This is a fundamental concept to contagion. A few virus particles will not be enough to mount an infection. Additionally the load threshold varies considerably from one individual to another depending on their immune resilience. Also relevant is the site of delivery. The skin and gut lining are more impermeable and resistant than the lungs which are designed to absorb small gaseous molecules straight into the bloodstream. It follows that viral loaded aerosol breathed directly into the lungs will more likely lead to infection than any other method of picking up the virus.
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  • Contagion and asymptomatic carriers: There is much debate about SARS-CoV-2 and its exceptional power to survive, travel and replicate leading to theories about this super virus hiding where there is no symptom and making those asymptomatic carriers potential super spreaders.
    This theory is in fact an amalgamation of two different situations: pre-symptomatic (not yet aware of symptoms because very mild) and asymptomatic (never develops symptoms).
    Viral load spreading is greatest at the beginning of symptoms when the immune system has not yet started to organise its counterattack. Those symptoms start as vague and diffuse and are often un-detected until the 2nd or 3rd day, yet those first three days are the most contagious.
    Pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic are not the same. Asymptomatic carriers have been shown to be very low spreaders while the pre-symptomatic that is not yet fully aware of the problem can be particularly contagious especially if he shouts, sings, sneezes, coughs or has diarrhoea.
    Being vigilant really means being attentive to how we feel and our symptoms, even if they are mild.

    For reference, the following symptoms are associated with Covid 19:

    1. Temperature
    2. Fatigue
    3. Upper respiratory symptoms including sore throat and runny nose
    4. Loss of taste and/or smell
    5. Rash
    6. Skin symptoms akin to chilblains (red/swollen or discoloured extremities)
    7. Diarrhoea

    Fatigue or/and low-grade temperature with or without diarrhoea seem to be the earlier symptoms.

  • Aerosol formation and settling time: Those will form when we talk (the louder the more aerosols produced), puff and pant, sneeze and cough.
    Toilets are another area where aerosols are rife especially when flushing with the lid open.
    The larger droplets settle in a few minutes. The lighter/smaller ones can float for over an hour depending on conditions. The virus has been shown to survive for up to 72 hours depending on surfaces but this doesn’t make it likely to be contagious for that amount of time because viral load is such a critical factor in infection and virulence outside the host will diminish over time.

The most critical aspect of contagion is suspended aerosolised viral particles followed by hand to nose from infected surfaces.

This has led me to put in place the following measures to ensure your security and comfort:

      1. Pre-screening of all clients and therapists before coming into the clinic. Advising to stay home even if symptoms are mild.
      2. Obligatory masks for everyone. Those are available at the clinic.
      3. Hand-sanitising on arrival and throughout the day
      4. Air purifiers in the rooms during treatment for on-going aerosol elimination: those are equipped with HEPA filters (to filter larger particles), UV (shown to kill germs, including viruses) and an ioniser (shown to speed the settling time of aerosols).
      5. Ventilation protocol between treatments.
      6. Longer cleansing time between treatments to ensure that all contact-surfaces are cleansed; those include the toilet area, door handles, chairs, handrail etc.

Despite its confusing mortality rate and the greater threats from global warming, famine, diabetes and autism, Covid-19 has mobilised energy and deployed worldwide actions never seen before in human history.

Estimates of the average death rate for Covid-19 range between 0.1% (based on the control group provided by the Diamond Princess Cruise ship) and 0.5% . 

For reference, the autism rate in the UK in 2013 was estimated to be 1.1% and current projections suggest a doubling of reported cases by 2023.

Yet autism mobilises virtually no funding and no interest from governments or the WHO.

Interestingly, statistics about compliance at the start of lockdown showed that it did not correlate with the level of discomfort imposed. Poor, overcrowded quarters did just as well as the affluent ones, while people in the countryside did their best to resist the urge to seek fresh air and other healthy pursuits with equal determination. Regrettably, this much civic mobilisation was offset by the (minor!) side-effects of increased domestic violence, suicide and alcoholism but the near 100% increase in the demand for food-banks, although regrettable, was largely waived against the obvious benefit: we stayed home and we saved lives! an easy slogan to chant to the cadence of weekly self-congratulatory clapping which could be heard resonating all the way to emergency rooms across the land.

What strikes me the most about the current crisis is that, although the measures imposed may have brought us together and even given us a sense of united purpose at first, ultimately, it has accentuated differences between those who have and those who have not; I am not only referring to financial wealth, but physical health, mental resilience, spiritual faith, social support networks and access to basic rights such as clean water, fresh air and nutritious food.

Those who have will undoubtedly come out of the trauma better off than the less fortunate amongst us.

Predictably, economic necessity is catching up with the severity of the measures imposed; political solutions now have to juggle the obvious contradictions between the initial deadening messages used to get us to stay home and the necessity to break the lockdown to recover essential life-supporting income.

While the conditions of our release are being crafted to reconcile the dread of the outside world with our human needs for exploring and connecting, the younger population is feeling the strain of an open-ended social sacrifice essentially aimed at the elderly.

The time has come to step out of fear into our future but strict adherence to the rules has been replaced by confusion, and mistrust of social interactions whenever venturing outside the safety perimeter of home.

As I am preparing to return to a semblance of pre-Covid life and planning my post lockdown practice, I am confronted by a few home truths:

  • Extreme uncertainty is forcing me into the present. Uncertainty is one of the hardest things to accept. The brain is wired for action and finding solutions to problems: survival depends on it. When faced with uncertainty we can rebel and fret or we can let go and let God (trust). We all have an individual tolerance threshold for inaction. The ultimate surrender is when stress is so great that we can neither fight nor flight and we freeze. For the past few months, un-able to look forward to those punctuating events we need to create fresh memories, we have been flirting with our freeze response and we had to dig deep into creative resources, trusting they will keep us safe. Practising peaceful surrendering has helped me become more present.
  • Mental resilience is as much about cultivating healthy thoughts as it is about physical care: the connection between discipline and self-care has been brought to me into sharp relief in those chaotic times; nonetheless self-mastery is the foundation for meaning in life no matter the level of confusion and pain. There is no small victory when it comes to those acts of discipline and self-care!
  • Love casts out Fear: Fear has become the new ruler of our lives and added a layer of social suspicion I find profoundly disturbing… yet the love that has also poured in to support me is nourishing my hope that love overcomes no matter the level of unrest and discord around me. Love in action heals the wounds previously made by our fears and I am not short of opportunity to practise love in action at the moment :-)

Immune resilience 

Without question some pathogens are more dangerous and virulent than others, but regardless of the pathogen, number is highly relevant. Also called pathogen load, there needs to be enough individuals to damage vital function and/or for our immune system to have failed at keeping things in check. Additionally pathogens can join forces making their effect more lethal, while our resident microbiota can produce anti-viral and anti-biotic substances that will largely contribute to reducing the pathogenic effect of an intruder. It is all about balance and interactions which is why we must look at immune resilience from a system perspective rather than focus on the pathogen only.

In the case of SARS-CoV2, a number of theories are being postulated to explain how a fairly banal viral infection can suddenly and catastrophically trigger collapse of vital functions. Whatever the mechanism, the immune system is involved in the collapse not just the virus. 

A healthy immune system is not an aggressive one, it is a vigilant and coordinated one that can modulate localised response to the required level for the degree of threat.

It is worth noting that Covid-19 not only has the potential to trigger mass immune over-reaction and collapse, it can, and in fact already has, triggered mass political response with equally catastrophic consequences on our economic and social systems. The anthropological symmetry is striking; we can take heed in the fact that not all who have gone close to immune collapse have died... even if recovery takes longer before resilience can once again prevail.

"What doesn't kill us can make us stronger" but in my experience, only if we are prepared to re-assess our ways and acknowledge personal responsibility in our recovery. 

Immune health

Diet and maintaining weight largely control immune health. Do not be tempted to over-eat or to binge on alcohol or high sugar comfort foods. All are pro-inflammatory and suppress your immune system.  Instead go for all those colourful and seasonable foods: herbs, spices and healthy fats, nourishing protein, green tea and home-made fermented foods such as kimchi, kefir or kombuccha. All have direct and indirect benefits on immunity and some even have been shown to exert antiviral activity such as garlic, thyme and oregano.

Vitamin D deficiency is a major contributing factor to poor immune resilience. Make sure that you are keeping your vitamin D topped up by taking at least 3000IU a day and getting in the sun as frequently as you can without burning. Vitamin K is best taken at the same time as Vitamin D to avoid imbalance. They are often combined in one supplement.
Zinc deficiency is another common cause of reduced resistance to colds and flu; early signs of deficiency are loss of taste and smell. Interestingly those are also common symptoms of Covid19 infection. A preventative dose for zinc is 25mg/day but, at the first signs of infection, you can safely increase to 75mg/day for a month or so; best split through the day. Zinc picolinate is a good form but also available are zinc lozenges to use in case of sore throat.
Selenium is required for healthy zinc balance and often depleted from our foods. It can be found in generous amounts in Brazil nuts. A strong mineral/vitamin supplement will also cover requirements.
Magnesium is an important mineral required for many functions including immunity. It is frequently deficient from our foods. Dairy produce and stress will deplete reserves. I recommend 800mg/day of magnesium glycinate. It is best taken with a B complex or a strong multi. Magnesium baths and magnesium oil are additional ways to improve magnesium status. 

Reaching out for targeted anti-virals at the first signs of infection

lapin roseVitamin C is a proven anti-viral.

Protocols include 500mg/day as preventative dose. I prefer getting my daily vitamin C from foods such as berries, acerola cherries, kiwis and lemons.

However, vitamin C truly shines at the first signs of infection when it will assist the work of the immune system. Take it frequently and keep topping up. Bowel tolerance is usually the upper limit but this varies with the type of vitamin C. 

I recommend liposomal vitamin C; take 250mg of vitamin C every 30 minutes (some say 100mg every 10 minutes especially if symptoms are severe). Keep going until symptoms noticeably reduce/disappear.

I have personally done this successfully on numerous occasions. It usually takes a few hours but less than a day. Once the symptoms are substantially reduced you can move to a less restrictive schedule of 1000mg x4/day.

Propolis is my favourite anti-microbial.

I use it in liquid form (alcohol-free) otherwise a tincture might be easier to get. As much as possible I aim to use it topically. If my nose is the problem I squirt a few drops diluted in salty water up my nose or if it is my throat I gargle. Also great for mouth ulcers and skin infections.

Oxygen Therapy: Hydrogen Peroxide and Ozone (H2O2) have been shown to kill corona-viruses (a group of viruses known to cause cold and flue symptoms)

Both could be regarded as cheap semi-medical treatments and have shown efficacy within the health service in some countries like China, Cuba, Italy and Spain. However, and to my incomprehension, they remain largely rejected by conventional medical thinking and the WHO. 

Ozone would require a professional setting and might be useful once pathogens are circulating/translocating.

In the initial (entry points) phase it is in the nose, sinuses, throat and possibly digestive tract/colon that (current) corona-virus is gaining acces. This is when mild symptoms might be felt and when home treatments are at their most valuable.

Home and safe use for hydrogen peroxide is at a dilution of 0.5% volume (this can be achieved by buying it at that concentration or by diluting a 3% dilution 1 part H2O2 to 3 parts pure water).

It should be used four times per day to kill pathogens where symptoms are felt and where corona-viruses might gaining access to your body:

  • In the throat: gargle
  • In the bowel: use as enema
  • In the nose: rinse using a "neti" pot  (available on internet) or a nebuliser (see below)
  • In the lungs use a nebuliser  (cheap and suitable devices are available on internet)

 References:

Cambridge.org on the use of H2O2

Reframing the stress response by activating the Vagus Nerve

The only thing we have to be afraid of is fear itself” Franklin D. Roosevelt

As days of lockdown run into weeks of duress, the mood of the nation is evolving in great surges of emotional tirades: all relayed on my mother’s radio from which I cannot escape because it is all that is connecting her still with the outside world. In contrast, the official messages that regularly intersperse such passionate outbursts are very carefully worded and seem delivered more to control and anticipate our misbehaving than to inform us.

I am struck by government’s officials and their spokespeople’s ever-evolving syntax. The commanding tone, clearly borrowed from NLP, has become more admonishing as lack of preparation is surfacing. Creating a nation of meek and obedient citizens while figuring out how to lead us out of the blind alley of confinement is easier than to take a systemic and more long-term view of the crisis. As John Major allegedly once said “when your back is against the wall you have no choice but to turn around and walk”.

There is solid evidence from research conducted over the past 15 years that our brains are losing their ability to plan ahead and invest in the future. This has come as a result of bite-size information delivered through social media, the culture of meaningless relationships designed to boost dependence and the overabundance of instantaneous gratifications. The resulting disconnection from the fundamentals of (our) nature has contributed to the dizzying rise of prescriptions for antidepressants. In the UK alone those have almost doubled between 2008 and 2019.

As we are confined to an open-ended and uncertain future we have no choice but to limit our planning to the day-to-day. This lack of perspective in an already fragile and socially isolated population can feed into a pattern of stress that will increase the longer the lockdown, and with the inevitable spread of economic consequences on financial security.

Yet systemic analyses, creative problem-solving and forward thinking all depend on our nervous system’s equilibrium which is why it is so important to actively maintain it while we are sitting out the current social experiment.

Neurologically the stress response can take three different pathways depending on our nature and the intensity of the stress. We can fight, we can run or, if we are unable to respond because the situation limits possibilities, we can freeze. Physiologically, the fight/flight response is the result of stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system (a collection of highly responsive nerves ). 

The freeze response however is similar to shock and is a primitive response that immobilises and shuts down bodily functions by inhibiting the activity of the para-sympathetic nervous system.

The main portion of the para-sympathetic nervous system is the Vagus Nerve: a long and wonderous nerve with a complicated relaying system.

The Vagus Nerve is a major regulator of nervous system homeostasis (a balance which influences how the body heals and maintains health). It is positively activated by non-threatening social engagement, touch and other healing modalities. It is connected to feeling safe.

Learning to connect with the Vagus Nerve is how babies develop the ability to self-soothe having learnt safety and vagal activation from the variety of soothing activities on offer from their parents such as cuddling, rocking, lullabies, facial games and so on.

As we grow up and our interactions with the world expand, our perception of safety becomes the product of our experiences, each being meshed into the resulting tapestry of our body, mind and spirit: the looser the weave the more flexible and adaptable we are; the tighter the weave the deeper the stress and traumas will be trapped.

An effective root of disentanglement is to enhance and nourish our sense of safety and security by engaging in creative hobbies (painting, knitting, writing, etc.), by improving our immediate environment with meaningful touches and by nurturing authentic relationship(s).

More specifically we can (re)activate safety signalling from the Vagus Nerve by stimulating the relevant pathways. The Vagus Nerve has two main branches: the Ventral Vagal and the Dorsal Vagal. The former enervates structures in the face, neck, and upper chest that relate to social engagement, the latter enervates the gut, lungs and heart and is also involved in the freeze response.

Partaking in activities that engage the Vagus Nerve in a soothing way will have an immediate stress-busting action. Doing it regularly will strengthen the response and increase our resilience to stress.

Activating the muscles connected to social engagement (muscles of the face, eyes, throat, jaw, tongue and inner-ear) and those of the gut, diaphragm, lungs and heart can be done in a variety of healing ways even if alone.

The feeling of safety, induced by activation of ventral and dorsal vagal, is reinforced by hormones and neurotransmitters that are triggered as a result. One of those hormones is oxytocin which is stimulated through intimate touch, loving and sharing.

Gratitude (especially when we focus on the feelings of our heart) is a way to increase oxytocin when we are not able to physically connect with our loved ones.

Activate soothing from the Vagus Nerve by:

  • Singing
  • Gargling (use bicarbonate of soda)
  • Swishing (use coconut oil)
  • Laughing
  • Yawning
  • Massaging your face and skull
  • Reading aloud
  • Meditating (listening to certain vibrations such as bong can enhance)
  • Petting (cat, dog, and rabbit, anything alive and cuddly!)
  • Developing peripheral vision by letting sight ahead go soft and focusing on what we can see from the corner of our eyes
  • Listening to classical music (Bach and other baroque music is the best for this)
  • Smelling essential oil (lavender, frankincense, marjoram, pine and many more - use your preference)
  • Belly breathing and slow breathing and other breathing techniques such as “Cardiac Coherence”
  • Shaking and gentle bouncing (could be extended to dancing to your favourite track)
  • Gentle, slow stretching exercises
  • Barefoot conscious walking (preferably on damp grass or wet sand)
  • Cold showers and cold water plunge (can be combined with sauna/hot bath or shower)

If you are holed up with someone willing to share your well-being enhancing effort, you can experiment with:

  • Playing games (any as long as not dangerous or overly competitive)
  • Exchanging a massage (foot, face, whole body) and/or intimate touch
  • laughing and sharing jokes
  • Preparing and sharing food
  • Reading to each other
  • Singing or playing music together
  • Ballroom dancing
  • Praying

Dear Friend,

Like so many, I have been caught in a whirlwind of shocking news and difficult decisions. I am only just beginning to get the measure of what is happening to me personally and to the rest of the world collectively.

Relentless fires, massive storms, droughts and dying polar bears had failed to call us into action; millions of displaced people massing at borders, running away from oppression, wars and cruelty had failed to shame us into sharing. Instead, what is shaking the world and forcing unprecedented changes is FEAR! No matter the privileges or ideologies, clear, present and invisible danger is dwelling amongst us all. Nothing else could have forced the ultimate sacrifice of renouncing individualistic choices and accepting lock-down, despite the cost and consequences.

I am writing this newsletter from Paris. I arrived over a week ago as France was slowly coming to terms with its nationwide “confinement”. I responded to my mother’s plight and volunteered to become her full time carer while she is nursing a broken arm. She lives alone with irreparable grief and Parkinson’s disease. It’s tough to accompany her on her solitary journey.

I observed how the now locked-down French people were strangely mirroring my own struggles to accept the repudiation of my personal liberties together with the loss of reliable gratification for the sake of safety (and the illusion of stability).
Routine sends us to sleep.

“Beware of the settee!” exhorts Pope Francis.

If both predictability and comfort are the enemies of self-actualisation, enforced self-sacrifice is a quick way out of complacency. Resistance is futile!

Giving up My Life to care for my mother is challenging. Doing it without a timeline makes me question if I will ever be able to gather my old life back to safety. Day by day, I grieve a little less and forgive a little more. Along with the other 67 million people forcibly locked-down in France, I am pushed into the moment.

Competition is only really possible when the environment is not uniformly and immediately threatening. In the current ubiquitous health threat, it is a luxury we can’t afford to indulge in. The menace spares no-one. The virus might spare us but the possibility of imminent demise is made universal by the exponential death-toll our governments intone at the end of each day.

Whatever our views on the handling of the health crisis, it has precipitated a paradigm shift from individualistic behaviour to mutualistic strategies. For better or worse, we are forced to stay at home and give up our pleasures for the sake of others.

It took me days to understand that lock-down was an act of civic engagement; that I was not taking care of my-self by (loosely) following the rules but taking care of my community (including my mother) by sticking to the rules. Initially, frequent trips outside for fresh air seemed a good idea but by the time we entered the second week, measures became more drastic: cycling was proscribed, exercise reduced to 1 hour (or 1 kilometre) of jogging around the block. Supermarkets had to enforce queues outside to limit the number of customers at any one time, while shopping with someone else (even if you were locked down together) was forbidden. I was incensed at the infringement of my liberties. Hard-earned freedom was being quashed! The police were given permission to assign increasingly punishing measures for infringements. The pain drove deep; nonetheless, I had to relent: rebelling wasn’t revolutionary, it was plain selfish.

All this altruistic surrendering doesn’t come cheap; in just two weeks the social dance of civilised interactions has been shattered into a confused and silent hustle of masked beings battling it out at the supermarket while laboriously respecting the prescribed two metres distance!

France is now entering its third week of social suspicion and fear-driven exclusions. I feel sure the consequences on human relationships will take longer to heal than perfecting a vaccine against Covid-19.

Social distancing could well leave deep scars in our collective consciousness. Fear may be what has brought the world to its senses but it is our individual responsibility not to let fear be our guiding force as we rebuild our communities. I hope that lessons will have been learnt and that we can create a future based more on respect, friendship, kindness and the willingness to share than competition. I believe our survival actually depends on it.

I will update you when I have a better idea of my whereabouts.
Rest assured I am more than ever committed to serving and supporting my community: initially, by sharing useful and relevant information; later by offering remote consultations.

I hope to be able to re-open the Whole Health Centre and my colonic practice as soon as the government allows it. Until then I am preparing myself by keeping abreast of research and working on a strict sanitation protocol to enforce between treatments to ensure that we are all kept safe and well.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with your comments or questions.

With my best wishes,
Anne-Lise.

 

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