No doubt you’ve been bombarded with information about the most recent health crisis, the “Coronavirus Pandemic.” Do you really need another article on this? Do you have any more room in your brain for more fear mongering, political posturing, startling statistics, or instructions on how to properly wash your hands? No, I didn’t think so.
But what if I told you that this current health crisis is really a turning point—an opportunity to build your resilience and thrive? That is exactly what I’m telling you! Resiliency is the body’s ability to adapt to and recover from the stresses of life. The word crisis has two meanings—danger AND opportunity. In fact, the Merriam Webster dictionary has as its first definition of crisis, “the turning point” for better or worse. So, while this worldwide health crisis brings a moderate amount of danger to those with compromised immune systems, for those of us who are normally healthy, it provides us an opportunity, a turning point if you will, to begin to think of our health differently and act on it in a way that aligns with truth.
What’s so bad about germs?
The first step in this turning point is to change the way we look at germs. Germs don’t automatically make people sick. If they did, we would all be sick or dead! We are constantly surrounded by viruses and bacteria (germs) that could potentially cause disease in a weak, living host. Viruses are the most abundant biological entity on planet Earth. Just one liter of sea water contains more than 100 billion viruses.
Not only are viruses and bacteria incredibly abundant, they are also some of the smartest elements on Earth! When we humans find a way to kill them or vaccinate against them, they morph, change, and get stronger. Should this scare us? Or should we emulate them by adapting, improvising, and overcoming the challenge? Obviously, the second choice is best!
We have nothing to fear but fear itself. These words were made famous by Franklin D. Roosevelt, president during World War II—some of the darkest days this earth has known. Allowing fear to rule our reactions to the stresses of life is a sure recipe for sickness. We have known for several years the power of epigenetics in turning disease processes on or turning them off. We are talking about the electrically charged “soup” that surrounds our genes. This powerful system does not change our gene code, but it controls the expression of it. This is why two people can be exposed to the same germs and one gets sick while the other stays healthy.
What controls this powerful “soup?” This is an important question, because whatever controls this bioenergetic force controls our health outcomes. Thankfully, controlling this force for health and wellness doesn’t take money, smarts, good looks, or any other exclusive factor. Because good health and vibrant wellness are your birthright, healthy gene expression is free to all who are wise enough and willing enough to disregard the negative messages of fear and panic out there. Epigenetics is controlled by three things:
Every moment of every day, your body is changing and adapting according to the thoughts you are thinking, the words you are saying, and the emotions you are feeling. Thoughts of fear and worry put the body in a stress response and keep it there! Now you may be thinking, “Well, we’re all stressed nowadays, so what’s the big deal?” When your body is in a stressed state, several things happen:
Your immune system is compromised.
You have more trouble thinking rationally and making good decisions.
Blood pressure goes up as does heart rate and heart stroke volume.
Digestion and libido take a back seat to hyper-vigilance.
Mutant cells may metastasize and become cancerous.
Blood vessel walls may become rigid and lined with pockets of plaque.
We were not designed to stay stressed for long periods of time without a break. If stress continues for too long, our bodies will seek to balance their functional needs with the need to “stay ahead of the curve.” We call this hyper-vigilance, sympathetic dominance, or HPA axis dysfunction. When the body and brain must choose between sleeping and digesting food or avoiding “danger,” then it has entered a state of chronic stress. Left unchecked, this stress state may lead to an increase in belly fat as the body tries to protect vital organs from assault. It will most likely lead to chronic inflammation where the body begins to attack itself (autoimmunity) or allows for the production and duplication of rogue (cancerous) cells.
So, is it the virus we should be worried about? Or the fear that is being engendered by media coverage of every specific detail of the virus? Statistically we are more likely to die from a dog bite than from this virus. But we would think it silly to spend time and energy avoiding dogs, staying in our houses watching reports of where dogs hang out the most. I say this not to disregard the danger to those of compromised immune systems, but to reinforce the truth that we have nothing so much to fear as fear itself.
The turning point: becoming resilient.
Building resiliency can be done by anyone, anywhere, anytime, at any age. Start where you are and move forward with baby steps creating resilience. One way to get started is what I like to call, “The A-Team of Resilience":
Attitude: a settled way of thinking or feeling…one that is reflected in a person's behavior.
The behaviors we see surrounding this latest viral outbreak—people hoarding food and toilet paper, church services being cancelled, and towns, cities, and even countries being forcibly quarantined—are all reflective of an underlying attitude. That attitude is fear. Fear that there are not enough supplies and food for all of us. Fear that by connecting with other humans (even in voluntary worship) we will somehow worsen the problem. Remember when we talked about our thoughts and emotions controlling our health outcomes? This is where the rubber meets the road. If we want to build our own resilience and increase our odds of vibrant wellness, we MUST adopt an attitude of hope and faith, not blindly accept or fall into one of fear.
Adjustments: In this case regular, specific, spinal adjustments.
Because the brain and the spine are the central command for the rest of the body, it is very important that their communication channels be clear and unimpeded. Likewise, when the brain and spine “talk” to the cells, they need paths of clear communication. Spinal adjustments are what allow all your cells to hear the call to return to homeostasis—that state of balance where true healing takes place. Regular, specific, spinal adjustments are one of the best ways to increase resiliency and boost immune function as well as ensure overall health.
Adaptogens: The 5,000- year old secret for resilience
One of the best ways to shore up your immune system and become more resilient in the face of life’s stressors (including this latest threat) is to supplement with adaptogens. These herbs have been used successfully for thousands of years to help build up human resilience to stress. Out of thousands of herbs, only a handful of herbs are classified to be adaptogenic, meaning that they adapt to what the body needs to bring it back into balance.
My favorite adaptogenic herbs are Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and Cordyceps. Several scientific studies show the power of Ashwagandha in enhancing immune function. It does this by increasing immunoglobulin production in the body, and by regulating antibody production by augmenting both Th1 and Th2 cytokine production. The Vikings depended on Rhodiola to enhance their physical strength, and the Chinese emperors sent expeditions to Siberia to bring back this golden root to be used in treating cold, flu, tuberculosis, and even cancer. Research on Rhodiola was part of the Soviet Union’s great push to compete with the West in the arms race, the space race, Olympic sports, and overall physical dominance. Cordyceps are anti-inflammatory in nature, so they help the immune system, fight oxidative damage in the cells, and stimulate protective cells that keep the body free from infection.
To Recap: This viral outbreak is nothing new. In fact, if you’re reading this right now, you have survived these recent catastrophic scares:
1993 Hantavirus outbreak
2000 West Nile virus
2003 SARS virus
2005 Avian Flu
2006 E Coli outbreak
2008 Cholera outbreak
2009 Swine Flu
2012 MERS outbreak
2014 Ebola outbreak
2015 Meningitis outbreak
2016 Zika virus epidemic
2017 MRSA outbreak
2020 Coronavirus outbreak
If your immune system has been compromised from a medical procedure (like chemotherapy or radiation), or you have some chronic health condition that has weakened you, then you will want to take extra precautions. But for most people, the best ways to increase your resilience is to bring in the A Team: Attitude, Adjustments, and Adaptogens. By focusing on our thoughts, words, and emotions to make sure they are positive and uplifting; by getting regular, specific spinal adjustments; and by regular supplementation with adaptogenic herbs like Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and Cordyceps, you can change the trajectory of your health and give hope and encouragement to a world that has fallen prey to fear. This may be the best gift you could give yourself and others during this trying time.
Dr. Pete, Your advocate of HOPE.
Create resiliency and live your life to its fullest!