Omicron and the Vaccine Conundrum

Omicron and the Vaccine Conundrum

With record levels of Covid cases at an all-time high since the onset of the pandemic due to the latest highly transmissible Omicron variant[1] ,people across the globe are increasingly fed up with ineffective methods to control the transmission by lockdowns, mandates and inoculating the planet. As we head into the third year of the virus, it’s time for governing bodies to change the strategy for living in a post-pandemic world.

Recently, a leading Israeli Immunologist, Professor Ehud Qimron, head of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Tel Aviv University declared, in an open letter to the Israel Health Ministry regarding COVID-19 policy [2]: “The truth is that you have burned hundreds of billions of shekels to no avail – for publishing intimidation, for ineffective tests, for destructive lockdowns, and for disrupting the routine of life in the last two years.” He goes on to say: “In the end, the truth will always be revealed, and the truth about the coronavirus policy is beginning to be revealed. When the destructive concepts collapse one by one, there is nothing left but to tell the experts who led the management of the pandemic – we told you so.”

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Pilgrimage for Freedom

“The glory of God is the communion of all things fully alive”
~ The Irenaeus’s axiom

The Popes and Martin Luther King's dream - Vatican News

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., an American Baptist minister, had a gift for capturing the hearts and minds of people with his homily-like discourses. His speeches—considered some of the most iconic of the 20th century— had a profound effect on the national consciousness.

In his book Strength to Love, published in 1963, King wrote: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

As individuals, we all have challenges in life. The question is, how will we respond?

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Vaccines No Match for Omicron and a Look at COVID-19 in Africa

Vaccines No Match for Omicron and a Look at COVID-19 in Africa

We’ve been living with COVID-19 now for more than two years, and questions continue to

The Observer view on the Omicron variant | Observer editorial | The Guardian

arise about the best approach for prevention and treatment. I have never been asked about anything as much as the COVID-19 vaccines and never have I seen so much doubt and confusion among so many people. The emergence of the Omicron variant has made the issue more confusing and raises more questions about the efficacy of vaccines against COVID-19. Interpreting the reality of the effectiveness of these vaccines is complicated, especially when some of the new data is not robust and is often murky. Patients and doctors looking to the CDC for guidance in decision-making receive low-quality or outdated information. All too often, straightforward relative data – such as the benefits of normalizing vitamin D and zinc levels – is ignored. Please see my earlier blogs on Zinc and Vitamin D for more information hereZinc the Most Important Nutrient for Immunity” and “There’s No Substitute for Sunlight: The Essential Influence of Nature’s Sunshine Vitamin on Health

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Reflections on Christmas and the New Year

During this Christmas season, as I meditate on the image of the innocent, vulnerable baby Jesus, I am reminded of the opportunity for spiritual renewal. I think most of us can relate on some level, even those who do not identify themselves as Christians. Perhaps it is simply the idea of birth and a chance to begin again that calls to us, that gives us hope as this year comes to a close and a New Year beckons.

At the surface there is really nothing glamorous about Christmas. Do you ever wonder what courage, trust and faith Mary and Joseph had? We have Joseph breaking the law, knowing what he should do with a seemingly “adulterous woman,” but he doesn’t divorce Mary as the Law clearly tells him to do, even though he has no direct way of knowing that the baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit [Matthew 1:18–24].[1]  Think about the fact that they were homeless – born in a stable surrounded by unknown Shepherds and animals. What is the meaning of all  this? And what does this have to do with me?

Inspired by the purity of the baby Jesus, I reflect on the scripture from Matthew 18:3, where Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Of course, as we mature, we must take on the responsibilities of adulthood. But all too often, along the way we become focused solely on worldly life. Our behavior and our choices are influenced by the people who are most important to us. In the past, it was parents, friends, and teachers. Today, we have a great many more connections through social media and the internet. These influences mold us into who we are. Along the way, we are prone to losing our innocence, and if we are not aware, we can also lose our potential for divinity.

The biblical creation story in the Torah (Old Testament) states, “Let us make humans in our image” (Genesis 1:26). The plural pronoun is the first hint that we are going to be brought into a relational, participatory, and shared life. The secret is planted within our deepest identity and slowly reveals itself. Then, for the most part, we turn away until our life as we know it comes close to the end.[2]

Father Richard Rohr views religion’s purpose as reminding us of who we truly are: “The essential work of religion is to help us recognize and recover the divine image in ourselves and everything else too. Whatever we call it, this ‘image of God’ is absolute and unchanging. There is nothing we can do to increase or decrease it. It is not ours to decide who has it or does not have it. It is a pure and total gift, given equally to all.”[3]

Contemplation Leads Us to Truth

Contemplation teaches us how to observe our own small mind and, frankly, to see how inadequate it is to the task in front of us. As Eckhart Tolle says, 98% of human thought is “repetitive and pointless.” 

“Why do you look to one another for approval instead of the approval that comes from the one God?” (John 5:44). So many of us accept our self-image from within a system of false images. Whether we describe ourselves as smart, strong, good looking, or a loser—all are just words created by humans. This will never work. We must find our true self hidden within—that Divine image we are made in. St. Teresa of Ávila envisioned God telling her, “If you wish to find Me, in yourself seek Me.”[4] 

The one who is spirit took on flesh for all eternity. As C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity, “It is really, I suggest, a timeless truth about God, that human nature, and the human experience of weakness and sleep and ignorance, are somehow included in his whole divine life.” Jesus had to be made like us in every way (Hebrews 2:17). His body is not insignificant.

Transformation through Love

So, I ask the question, “Why? And what does this have to do with me?” We all have some kind of image of God, but how do we know these are not false images? I believe we cannot begin to find the answer until we are willing to be reached by an all-transforming movement of love. This is based in trust, to be willing to let go and let be. As Meister Eckhart says, “For the person who has learned to let go and let be, nothing can ever get in the way again.” 

Whether you are Christian or not, we can start with an image of the baby Jesus, the ultimate expression of God’s humility, and let go of all the garbage we carry. Christmas to me is a reminder that God became human so that we may become Divine. Our DNA is divine, and the divine indwelling is never earned by any behavior, group membership, ritual, or hiding from it (“Hiding from God” Genesis 3:8, “How did you know you were naked?” Genesis 3:11).  When we don’t see ourselves as Divine, we can easily instead experience nakedness, vulnerability, guilt, shame, and rebellion. We must rise above, recognize, and realize (see Romans 11:6; Ephesians 2:8–10) and thus fall in love with the God within and share it.[5]

Our Lady of Vladimir: The Virgin of Tenderness

Our Lady of Vladimir, my personal favorite icon, also known as Vladimir Mother of God, and the Theotokos of Vladimir, is a 12th-century Byzantine icon depicting the Virgin and Child.

Icons are images of a sacred person or scene used in the Eastern churches of the Christian world. True icons are the culmination of a long period of prayer, meditation, and fasting undertaken by the artist. In this way, the artist is brought close in spirit to God. Thus, icons are often called “a meeting of heaven and earth” or “windows into heaven.”[6]

This icon, depicting the Virgin Mary with the infant Christ nestled against her cheek, is also known as “The Virgin of Tenderness.”[7] From antiquity, Mary has been called Theotokos” or “God-Bearer” (Mother of God). The Theotokos is the most elevated human being in the Eastern and Western church. She is the ultimate example of the human capacity to surrender, trusting in God and following that trust.[8]

May each of us begin again and truly live, believing that we are made in the image of God. Let us manifest selfless love, let us be the Light in the world, and with joy in our hearts, let us be of service to others. Let us truly reflect the birth of Christ in our souls. This Divine heart within is a spiritual portrait of the heart of the universe: strongly aglow with the divine fire, beaming light in every direction, and at the same time open because it is wounded.[9]

Wishing a Joyous Christmas, Winter Solstice, belated Chanukah, and a Happy New Year to you all and our world. May our prayers be our words in deeds, and may our earth be made very peaceful because of each of us.

Donnie and Jen


[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, “The Great Embodiment,” homily, December 25, 2015. 

[2] Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See (Crossroad Publishing: 2009), 22; https://store.cac.org/collections/all/products/the-naked-now?&utm_source=cm&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=cm&utm_content=reference

[3] Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope for, and believe (Convergent: 2019), 59, 60–61. 

[4] Teresa, “Seeking God,” in The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, vol. 3, trans. Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Rodriguez (ICS Publications: 1985), 385.

[5] Rohr, R. Finding Ourselves in God, Monday, November 29, 2021, https://cac.org/finding-ourselves-in-god-2021-11-29/?utm_source=cm&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dm&utm_content=summary

[6] https://stlukes-parish.org/the-icon-of-our-lady-of-vladimir

[7] https://russianicon.com/our-lady-of-vladimir-the-most-valuable-icon-in-russia/

[8] https://www.catholic.org/mary/theo.php

[9] David Richo, The Sacred Heart of the World: Restoring Mystical Devotion to Our Spiritual Life (Paulist Press: 2007), 5–6, 8, 21, 22–23, 99. 

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Is Omicron the “Scrooge” or Could it be the “Ideal” Variant to Put an End to the Pandemic?

Although Omicron is now 73% of all new cases in the US[1],  I don’t feel we need to press the panic button. I have some hypotheses on the emergence of the Omicron variant that could put the brakes on the doom and gloom scenario we are all being fed.

Photo from the Hollywood Mirror

According to a study published on December 16th, authored by more than 20 scientists at Columbia and the University of Hong Kong, a striking feature of the Omicron variant is the large number of spike mutations that pose a threat to the efficacy of current COVID-19 vaccines, vaccine boosters and antibody therapies.[2] The scientists express concern that the variant’s “extensive” mutations can “greatly compromise” the vaccine, even neutralizing it. The report said the booster shots prevent some of the neutralization, but the variant “may still pose a risk” for those with their third shot. “Even a third booster shot may not adequately protect against Omicron infection,” the study said.

Omicron is spreading faster than previous variants of the novel coronavirus with the virus now in at least 90 countries since it first appeared in South Africa last month. Therefore, the Omicron variant could “out compete” other variants, including the more dangerous Delta variant – thus becoming the dominant variant. However, Omicron infections seem to be less severe and hospitalization and death nowhere near the rates of the other variants. Early reports suggest South Africa were reporting that people testing positive are presenting with mild symptoms: “In fact, they said, most of their infected patients were admitted for other reasons and have no Covid symptoms.” In other words, most of these patients had evidence of infection with SARS-CoV-2 but did not have COVID-19.[3]

What about Africa and Omicron?

There is something “mysterious” going on in Africa that is puzzling scientists, said Wafaa El-Sadr, chair of global health at Columbia University. “Africa doesn’t have the vaccines and the resources to fight COVID-19 that they have in Europe and the U.S., but somehow they seem to be doing better,” she said. Fewer than 6% of people in Africa are vaccinated.

“I think there’s a different cultural approach in Africa, where these countries have approached COVID-19 with a sense of humility because they’ve experienced things like Ebola, polio and malaria,” Sridhar said.

In past months, the coronavirus has pummeled South Africa and is estimated to have killed more than 89,000 people there, by far the most deaths on the continent. But for now, African authorities, while acknowledging that there could be gaps, are not reporting huge numbers of unexpected fatalities that might be COVID-19 related. WHO data shows that deaths in Africa make up just 3% of the global total. In comparison, deaths in the Americas and Europe account for 46% and 29%.

In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, the government has recorded nearly 3,000 deaths so far among its 200 million population. The U.S. records that many deaths every two or three days.[4]

Why Some Viruses Can Be Good

Not all viruses are bad, and perhaps the Omicron variant could actually help us to overcome the pandemic. Omicron, like some viruses, can actually fight against more dangerous viruses and more dangerous COVID-19 variants such as the Delta variant. Keep in mind that viruses typically evolve to become less lethal over time. Like wolves domesticated into dogs, disease-causing viruses seem to become tamer in an effort to survive. The reasoning goes that, sooner or later, SARS-CoV-2 must “lose its fangs and become as boring as the common cold”.[5]

Generally, like protective bacteria (probiotics), we have several protective viruses in our body. I am a believer in hormesis and building adaptive response/immunity. For example, viral infections at a young age are important to ensure the proper development of our immune system.  Yet, we keep believing we should vaccinate against everything that poses a threat, even if the threat is mild. We should vaccinate when we have a real threat, and we have proven, non-leaky, and safe vaccines. But this should still be a personal decision and based on a multitude of factors; such as the frail and elderly. Elderly individuals are the most susceptible to an aggressive form of COVID-19, caused by SARS-CoV-2. 

In some cases, latent (non-symptomatic) herpes viruses can help human natural killer cells (a specific type of white blood cell) identify cancer cells and cells infected by other pathogenic viruses. They arm the natural killer cells with antigens (a foreign substance that can cause an immune response in the body) that will enable them to identify tumor cells.[6]

Researchers working in Uganda said they found COVID-19 patients with high rates of exposure to malaria were less likely to suffer severe disease or death than people with little history of the disease.

If the Omicron variant is truly as transmissible as the say and significantly less harmful – some reports say 1/10 as strong – should we be afraid of it?

The main part of my personal practice is supporting people with cancer, and there are many situations where approaching cancer with low-dose metronomic chemotherapy yields significantly better results than standard-of-care high dose chemotherapy. In Oncology, systemic chemotherapies typically use the maximum tolerated dose to cause maximum tumor cell death. However, this paradigm has been challenged, particularly in older people and those who have reoccurring cancer, by theoretical models of tumor evolution, which suggest that removal of all cells that are sensitive to chemotherapy permits unopposed proliferation of any remaining resistant cells — a phenomenon called ‘competitive release’. Competitive release applies to viruses and different mutations and occurs when one of two species competing for the same resource disappears, thereby allowing the remaining competitor to utilize the resource more fully than it could in the presence of the first species.

Based on this model, an evolution-based treatment strategy that maintains a residual population of chemotherapy-sensitive cells should suppress growth of resistant cells when therapy is withdrawn, as the drug-sensitive cells have a fitness advantage in this condition.

A 2016 study designed an evolution-based treatment strategy using taxol (paclitaxel) adaptive therapy (AT), and compared this with standard taxol therapy (ST) in orthotopic xenograft mouse models of triple-negative and estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. Two AT regimens were tested: AT-1, which maintains dosing frequency, but decreases paclitaxel dose as a tumor responds, and AT-2, which uses the same doses of paclitaxel, but doses are skipped when a tumor has responded. The treatment algorithms relied on tumor volume measurements determined by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), as this could be used clinically.

In both mouse models, ST initially suppressed tumor growth, but exponential growth resumed following treatment cessation. AT-1 had the same effect as ST initially but was able to maintain a stable tumor burden similar to the initial tumor volume throughout the experiment (∼2 months). This allowed continued reduction of the paclitaxel dose, and eventually treatment withdrawal in some cases. Interestingly, AT-2 controlled tumor volume for longer than ST, but unlike AT-1, tumors treated using AT-2 eventually progressed. A direct comparison between AT-1 and AT-2 indicated that AT-1 provided better tumor growth control.[7]

The failure to trigger an effective adaptive immune response in combination with a higher pro-inflammatory tonus may explain why the elderly do not appropriately control viral replication and the potential clinical consequences triggered by a cytokine storm, endothelial injury, and disseminated organ injury.[8]

Perhaps the best approach would be to implement strategies, such as herbal medicine and nutritional compounds, including Zinc, Vitamin D, Quercetin, Selenium and an immune health-promoting diet, which provides a diverse and robust GUT microbiota.  This would be a sensible, cost-effective, approach that supports and optimizes innate health and the immune response.  

Dysregulation of the gut microbiota (gut dysbiosis) is an important risk factor as the gut microbiota is associated with the development and maintenance of an effective immune system response.[9] The elderly have a significantly increased susceptibility to infections and it has been reported that probiotic bacteria from the genus bifidobacterium can enhance certain aspects of cellular immunity in the elderly.[10] The best places to find this beneficial bacterium are yogurt, probiotics like kefir, or sauerkraut.

Selenium is a trace mineral which is deficient in many people. It plays an important role in free radical scavenging, targeting oxidative damage, a major factor in the COVID-19 “cytokine storm,” which is the immune response with an overproduction of cytokines and other immune cells that can lead to a rapid multi-organ failure and damage to the lungs, heart and kidneys.[11]  Animal studies show that selenium with ginseng stem/leaf saponins increase the immune response against infectious bronchitis causes by a live coronavirus vaccine.[12]

This may provide all those infected by SARS-CoV-2, to develop a milder disease and help them to clear the virus through an efficient adaptive immune response. With a milder form of COVID-19, being infected by the Omicron variant could be the path to building natural immunity which builds effective immune memory that can persist for decades and typically results in enhanced responses and accelerated pathogen control, and a generation of robust and durable T and B cell alike;[13] and this goes beyond the detection of antibodies. The absence of specific antibodies in the serum does not necessarily mean an absence of immune memory.[14] 

Wishing a Joyous Christmas, Winter Solstice, belated Chanukah, and a Happy New Year to you and our world. May our prayers be our words in deeds, and may our earth be made very peaceful because of each of us.


[1] https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19/96309?xid=nl_covidupdate_2021-12-21&eun=g1065123d0r&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DailyUpdate_122121&utm_term=NL_Gen_Int_Daily_News_Update_active

[2] Lihong Liu, Sho Iketani, Yicheng Guo, Jasper Fuk Woo Chan, Maple Wang, Liyuan Liu, Yang Luo, Hin Chu, Yiming Huang, Manoj S. Nair, Jian Yu, Kenn Ka-Heng Chik, Terrence Tsz-Tai Yuen, Chaemin Yoon, Kelvin Kai-Wang To, Honglin Chen, Michael T. Yin, Magdalena E. Sobieszczyk, Yaoxing Huang, Harris H. Wang, Zizhang Sheng, Kwok-Yung Yuen, David D. Ho; Striking Antibody Evasion Manifested by the Omicron Variant of SARS-CoV-2, preprint doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.12.14.472719

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Glossary, Principles in Epidemiology in Public Health Practice, Third Edition, reviewed July 2, 2014, accessed December 17, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/csels/dsepd/ss1978/glossary.html.

[4] MARIA CHENG and FARAI MUTSAKA, November 18, 2021·6 min read, Cheng reported from London. Rahim Faiez in Islamabad, Pakistan, and Chinedu Asadu in Lagos contributed to this report. https://sports.yahoo.com/why-double-mask-prevent-covid-235151606.html?utm_source=spotim&utm_medium=spotim_recirculation

[5] https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/covid-19/do-bad-viruses-always-become-good-guys-end, Jonathan Jarry M.Sc. | 18 Dec 2021, COVID-19, Do Bad Viruses Always Become Good Guys in the End?, McGill University

[6] https://theconversation.com/viruses-arent-all-nasty-some-can-actually-protect-our-health-117678, 08/2019, retrieved 12/16/2021

[7] Seton-Rogers, S. Preventing competitive release. Nat Rev Cancer 16, 199 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrc.2016.28

[8] Cunha LL, Perazzio SF, Azzi J, Cravedi P, Riella LV. Remodeling of the Immune Response With Aging: Immunosenescence and Its Potential Impact on COVID-19 Immune Response. Front Immunol. 2020 Aug 7;11:1748. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.01748. PMID: 32849623; PMCID: PMC7427491.

[9] Chen J, Vitetta L, Henson JD, Hall S. The intestinal microbiota and improving the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccinations. J Funct Foods. 2021 Dec;87:104850. doi: 10.1016/j.jff.2021.104850. Epub 2021 Nov 10. PMID: 34777578; PMCID: PMC8578005.

[10] Chiang, B. L., Sheih, Y. H., Wang, L. H., Liao, C. K., & Gill, H. S. (2000). Enhancing immunity by dietary consumption of a probiotic lactic acid bacterium (Bifidobacterium lactis HN019): Optimization and definition of cellular immune responses. European Journal

[11] Chen C, Zhang XR, Ju ZY, He WF. (2020). Advances In The Research Of Cytokine Storm Mechanism Induced By Corona Virus Disease 2019 And The Corresponding Immunotherapies. Zhonghua Shao Shang Za Shi (Chinese Journal of Burns), 36(0), E005. doi: 10.3760/cma.j.cn501120-20200224-00088. http://rs.yiigle.com/yufabiao/1183285.htm

[12] Ma X, Bi S, Wang Y, Chi X, Hu S. Combined Adjuvant Effect Of Ginseng Stem‐Leaf Saponins And Selenium On Immune Responses To A Live Bivalent Vaccine Of Newcastle Disease Virus And Infectious Bronchitis Virus In Chickens. Poult Sci. 2019;98:3548‐3556. https://doi.org/10.3382/ps/pez207

[13] Jarjour NN, Masopust D, Jameson SC. T Cell Memory: Understanding COVID-19. Immunity. 2021;54(1):14-18. doi:10.1016/j.immuni.2020.12.009

[14] Cox RJ, Brokstad KA. Not just antibodies: B cells and T cells mediate immunity to COVID-19. Nat Rev Immunol. 2020 Oct;20(10):581-582. doi: 10.1038/s41577-020-00436-4. PMID: 32839569; PMCID: PMC7443809.

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Essential Oils with Anti-Viral Properties

Spices, herbal medicines, essential oils, and distilled natural products provide a rich source of compounds for the discovery and production of novel antiviral drugs. The determination of the antiviral mechanisms of these natural products has revealed how they interfere with the viral life cycle, i.e., during viral entry, replication, assembly, or discharge, as well as virus-specific host targets.[1] 

[2]

A number of essential oils exhibit anti-viral and anti-influenza activities. These include Cinnamomum zeylanicum leaf oil (cinnamon), Citrus bergamia (bergamot), Cymbopogon flexuosus (lemongrass) and Thymus vulgaris (Red Thyme).[3] In studies, a blend of essential oils has been proven to inhibit the infectivity of influenza virus via inactivating viral binding ability and viral protein translation.[4]

Eucalyptus essential oil has been shown to improve the innate cell-mediated immune response and can be used as an immunoregulatory agent against infectious diseases.[5],[6] Tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil are capable of inactivating influenza virus A.[7] Geranium and lemon essential oils downregulate ACE2, a SARS-CoV-2 spike receptor-binding domain in epithelial cells, and are valuable natural anti-viral agents that may contribute to the prevention of the invasion of SARS-CoV-2 into the human body.[8]

Tea tree essential oil inhibits influenza during the early stages by preventing intracellular processing of the viral particle. When introduced into cell culture media, tea tree oil prevented viral uncoating by interfering with the acidification of the endosomes and membrane fusion. The ability to prevent endosome acidification was ascribed to the tea treeessential oil constituents terpinen-4-ol, α-terpineol and terpinolene. Tea treeessential oil, when actively diffused with a nebulizer for two seconds, cleared nearly all airborne influenza viruses at 10 minutes, and showed zero virus at 15 minutes post nebulizer treatment. Eucalyptus essential oil showed zero virus at 15 minutes following a 15 second period of active diffusion with a nebulizer.[9]

Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis) Leaves

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) essential oil has been used extensively to prevent HSV infection and to inhibit influenza viruses. Lemon balm essential oil has been shown to prevent attachment of the virus to host cell surface cell receptors.[10] Studies show that viral induced autophagy was effectively inhibited by clove bud (Eugenia caryophyllata) essential oil and eugenol in cells infected with 8 separate flu viruses. And a blend of clove bud and sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) essential oils has been shown to inhibit viral protein production.[11]

Essential oils are complex mixtures of compounds and several essential oil components may act synergistically to inhibit the virus.[12] For example, a study evaluated the in vitro antiviral effect against influenza type A (H1N1) of commercial essential oils that included cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), bergamot (Citrus bergamia), lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), and lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). The oils were tested in the liquid phase at a concentration of 0.3% and in the vapor phase. The oils of cinnamon, bergamot, thyme, and lemongrass displayed 100% inhibition of H1N1 in the liquid phase, while the inhibition for lavender essential oil was 85%. However, in the vapor phase, 100% inhibition was observed only for cinnamon leaf essential oil after 30 min of exposure. The bergamot, lemongrass, thyme, and lavender essential oils displayed inhibition rates of 95%, 90%, 70%, and 80%, respectively.[13]

Limonene is a terpene compound found in many citrus oils. It may be a possible agent or adjuvant against infection, immunity, and inflammation in COVID-19.

[14]

How to Use Essential Oils

There are a variety of ways to use essential oils. For optimal results, I recommend using a blend of oils. To use essential oils therapeutically:

  1. Treat face masks by sprinkling a few drops onto the outer surface;
  2. As an aerosol disinfectant or a surface sanitizing agent, combine 5% essential oil blend,  60% alcohol and 35% distilled water in a spray bottle;
  3. Add essential oil to a diffuser;
  4. Mix with a carrier oil and rub on hands and neck area. Use 5% EO blend to carrier oil (a blend of coconut and almond oil is very nice);
  5. Add to a bath with Epsom salts and mustard powder (I like Dr. Singha’s Mustard Bath with essential oils). Use 1-2 cups of Epsom salts, 1 tablespoon mustard powder, 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 10-20 drops of essential oil blend. Taking this bath before bedtime with a diaphoretic tea blend is wonderful for helping with fevers, chills, and body aches.
  6. Inhalation steam: Add 3-5 drops to a bowl of hot water, lean your head over the bowl, put a towel over your head and bowl, and breathe in the vapor.

Surgical masks are helpful for preventing virus spread into the air and transmission to humans. However, after mask removal, the virus remains on the mask and is probably re-aerosolized, increasing the risk of human infection. Coating the mask with a few drops of essential oil, or spraying the mask with an aerosol spray of essential oil blend as described above, may be helpful.

Lavender

Along with antiviral activity, there may be some relief of symptoms of COVID-19 provided by essential oils including relaxation and mood enhancement. For example, a systematic review and meta-analysis (65 RTCs) review paper on the effects of lavender essential oil found lavender to be very effective at reducing anxiety.[15]

There are nondrug therapeutic strategies targeting inflammatory and immunological processes that may be useful for reducing COVID-19-induced complications and improving patient outcome. For example, vagal nerve stimulation has a wide field of therapeutic benefit for patients and could easily be combined with the best current medical strategies. Vagus nerve stimulation attenuates inflammation both in experimental models and preliminary data in people. The development of non-invasive vagal nerve stimulation, a non-pharmacological adjuvant, may help reduce the burden of COVID-19 and could be investigated more thoroughly.[16]  Continuous vagal tone monitoring in patients with COVID-19 could be used as a predictive marker of COVID-19 illness, as well as a predictive marker of response to COVID-19 treatment such as VNS or others.[17]

Activation of your vagus nerve counteracts your sympathetic nervous system. Stimulating the vagus nerve is a quick and easy way to relieve anxiety and  is the “yin” activator that can reduce heart rate and blood pressure and stimulate digestion.

The vagus nerve functions in the service of awakening (sub or super) consciousness and in immortality – the connection to Spirit. This system is described in the Tibetan Inner Fire meditations as well as in the Taoist, “shen” breathing practices.[18]

When you stimulate your vagus nerve, it releases an array of anti-stress enzymes and hormones such as acetylcholine, prolactin, vasopressin, and oxytocin. Vagus nerve stimulation is associated with benefits such as improved memory, immune function, sleep, and higher levels of growth hormone. It can also help to regulate immune function – buffering inflammation, allergic responses, and even tension headaches. Increased positive social connections are also beneficial for your overall wellbeing. Positive emotions, positive social connections, and physical health influence one another in a self-sustaining upward-spiral dynamic.[19]

Repetitive meditation or prayer, often with beads or knotted ropes, and controlled deep breathing are other relaxation technique that can have health benefits.  

In these challenging times, when we’re constantly confronted with uncertainty, one of the most beneficial things we can do for our emotional and physical wellbeing is to practice being present, calm, and grateful. I recommend preparing a relaxing candlelight bath with lavender essential oil and reading and reflecting on something you find spiritually nourishing to relieve stress and lift the spirits. 


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