Managing fear and health in times of covid-19

This is a picture of my bridal shower some years ago, a beautiful event that marked a transition in life. When I was preparing for it, I remember wishing so strongly that the occasion would highlight the sisterly bonds of family and friends, and it really did. Reminiscing on times like these, from the not too distant past, deepens my sadness of what we are missing and what more could be lost due to how we are confronting this global crisis. I am not referring about numbers of fatalities, which to me becomes ever less congruent in relation to the wider context of the matter. These are challenging times. Our health is at the forefront of world affairs. As a health professional I feel both compelled and obligated to at least put forth my thoughts on the issue. I am not impressed with the lack of voice and open-hearted expression coming from the body of holistic practitioners as whole, which in my eyes, reflects badly on us. It is a shame to keep quiet when some people rely on and seek our expertise to help guide them during situations like these.

Often, when I am confronted with difficult and scary situations, where I cannot find an immediate source of help, I reflect upon my ancestors. This is not because I have strong cultural links to my heritage, which I do not, and not because I have always done this, I have not. I was not raised either religious or spiritual, but tough situations in life have led me to seek out and hold on to something, anything that could serve as guidance. Like a scoundrel turning to prayer in desperate times, as Lisa Lisa Simpson once contemplated.

And this is the message I have recently gotten.

My main ethnicity is Mapuche, an Indigenous South American people. They have a long standing and strong tradition of medicine that is intricately associated with their cosmology. Amazingly, it is still alive and kicking today headed by Mapuche health authorities who practice unique forms of healing. In Mapuche medicine, a distinction is made between illness that the Mapuche have known since time immemorial and the illness of the winka, the white people. One such is illness is infectious disease, meaning that infectious diseases did not exist to them before colonisation. In current times, when a person becomes infected with a microbe, the Mapuche healer instructs her client to seek a winka doctor, as the condition has no place in Mapuche medicine. To me this signifies, firstly, that there is no standard reality in medicine that anyone must conform to, and that disease is very much open to interpretation. Secondly, that the Mapuche knew they were not separate from nature, including microbes, which is something that modern science “discovered” within the last 150 years or so. There is so much to know and so much to share to enrich our understanding of wellbeing.

Of course, as naturopath I hold a holistic perspective on health and the current “us vs our germ enemy” approach of our public health systems is not nearly sophisticated enough to convince me that we, as a society, are handling this episode well. Even though I feel that in my investigations I have merely scratched the surface of topics such as infectious disease and immunity, it has become clear to me that the matter as far more complex than the messages currently on repeat in the media. I am grateful to all the curious and committed individuals who have dived deeply into topics such as the microbiome, the mammalian virome, the health benefits of physical connection and the dangers of toxic exposure. Due to their achievements, I feel more informed, less fearful, and more in control of my health and life. This is important. To reject fear and hysteria and embrace knowledge and wisdom.  Of course, I already intuited this. As a holistic practitioner, who has for many years rejected obsolete and quite patriarchal tenets such “us vs. the other”, I just already new, I just needed validation. This widespread fear, and fearmongering, is a good reason to come together and to share, because it is easy to become overwhelmed and carried away. I hope I can help you regain your bearings.

Instead of me summarising all that I know, I would like to offer some links and let experts speak for themselves. It is not my purpose to convince anyone of anything. I prefer to share, help spark curiosity and facilitate indagation and let you decide for yourself. My main desire is for you to hold on to your autonomy, your social and bodily autonomy, and the best way to do that is to be informed. Please accept this invitation, the door is wide open.

  • Video: “The mammalian virome in genetic analysis of health and disease pathogenesis” ~ Herbert W. ‘Skip’ Virgin IV, M.D., Ph.D. (National Institute of Health) highlights findings of recent research into the mammalian virome.
  • Website: “Questioning covid-19” Clinicians, researchers and health experts from around the world interrogating the mainstream media around the pandemic

There’s much more information available if dig deep enough. Best wishes in your journey of discovery 😊