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Coronavirus and the Fear of the Unknown

In Chinese Medicine the Coronavirus is just like any other cold or flu; that is, it primarily affects the respiratory system.  But left unchecked, and depending on your overall health, it can soon work its way deeper into the body, causing more problems as it goes.

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The symptoms vary, but generally they relate to the Lung and Spleen in Chinese Medicine.  As the whole world knows by now, the main symptoms are fever and/or a cough, but some people have also experienced difficulty breathing, confusion, headache, and in a few cases, sore throat, runny nose, chest pain, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.  Or more worryingly, no symptoms at all.

Carrying on as normal?

While the government advice is to employ social distancing and self-isolation, there is equally a lot of pressure to carry on as normal.  We find it hard to be threatened by something that we cannot even see.   The argument to carry on as normal is strong of course.  On Radio 4’s Today programme, yesterday, I heard that in China an estimated 50,000 people have been saved from air pollution related deaths because some factories shut down during the peak of the epidemic.  In Venice the fish are returning to the canals.  And, of course, there are lots of other things out there that are more deadly than COVID19.

What has captured my attention is the emotional damage caused by the hysteria surrounding the Coronavirus.  The virus, or the hubbub around it, promotes fear, which is arguably more deadly than the actual virus itself.  But fear of what?  Fear of catching it, or worse, dying from it?  Or is it the fear of not being able to work or losing one’s job?  I would say, more than all of these, it is fear of the unknown.  And rightly so.  Who isn’t afraid of the unknown, an invisible enemy that has the potential to kill us, and at the very least totally disrupt the way we live our lives?  It sounds like a sci-fi horror film!

Fear is a fundamental emotion and essential for survival.

It is hardwired into us; we couldn’t have survived as a race without it.  Fear prompts the ‘fight or flight’ response within us, giving us the ability to flee from a marauding sabre tooth tiger by shutting down non-essential functions such as digestion, sending all the blood to the muscles so we can fight or run away.  Or simply freeze you to the spot like a rabbit in headlights.  In more recent times, if the harvest wasn’t sufficient there is a real risk of starvation in the winter months.   Are there enough supplies to survive winter? Wood and fuel, warmth and a safe place to retire? Better buy as much toilet paper and pasta as possible.

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The power of the word

Coping with this hysteria and panic is not helped by the language used by the media and governments.

“We are in a war against an invisible killer” Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

“We are at war…The enemy is invisible and it requires our general mobilization.” President Emmanuel Macro

With the talk of wars and an invisible enemy, who wouldn’t be scared?  But more importantly, this rhetoric is confusing.  The Blitz spirit being invoked involves pulling together, street parties and hunkering down together while the war rages above our heads.  But simultaneously we are being asked to self-isolate and keep away from each other because we are all potential carriers!  It sounds more like the KGB rather than the NHS.

Fear Descends Qi and it affects the Kidneys

In Chinese Medicine the emotion of fear is related to the Kidneys.  Fear, like any emotion, affects our Qi.  More accurately, however, it descends it.  In severe cases, such as sudden fright, this could mean the opening of the bowels.  But in more chronic cases it can affect breathing, so not good if your respiratory system is then affected by Coronavirus.  This is the case regarding all types of energy.  Look at how fear and panic has affected the global financial market – it has plummeted.

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When all is flowing within us, we have these deep reserves to draw on and our deep inner drives can be fuelled with the force of the waters that fill the reservoirs in winter.  Water gives us our drive, will and courage. (Debra Katz, Characters of Wisdom, 2005)

People with strong Qi will avoid the worst effects of COVID19 despite the fact that everybody, no matter their age or gender, may be affected.  Because each individual has a different physical constitution, the manifestations of the disease will vary, and so a single prescription cannot be universally effective for every patient (despite the race to produce a vaccine).   A strong constitutional Qi will also protect you against the pervading fear and panic, allowing you to sort the good information from the bad.  Acupuncture is conducted with patients on a one-to-one basis, and so is more oriented towards providing symptomatic relief than the generic medicines applied during this period.

Strengthening your own Qi

Well, fortunately there are many ways you can do this.   Here are links to some of my earlier blogs that will help you boost your Qi and protect it.  And over the coming days and weeks I will be posting lots of information to help you get through these challenging times!

Rest well

Eat Well

Exercise well

If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.

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Coronavirus Statement from Steve Coster Acupuncture

Let me begin by stating that Acupuncture, Tui na and Qi Gong are all excellent for boosting the immune system and therefore protecting you against viruses such as Covid19, or at least lessening the symptoms you may experience.

However, please do follow the NHS guidelines re hand washing.   Should you contract the virus, or you suspect you have it, again please do follow the NHS guidelines.

My clinic is open as usual but if you have any flu-like symptoms please call me before attaining your appointment.

Until further notice I will be

  • providing hand sanitizer to all my clients as they enter the building
  • wiping down the treatment couch and face hole after every client
  • couch roll is always changed between clients anyway
  • all surfaces will be cleaned daily

If you have any questions about Coronavirus and Acupuncture, please do contact me.

I wish you all good health.



If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.

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Life in a World of Imbalance

We live in a world that is out of balance.  The planet itself is not out of balance of course, it just does what it has always done.  The imbalance I’m talking about is within us; we just project that on to everything else.

Did you know that between the war years of 1940 and 1945 there were no bananas in the UK.  When the banana returned to Britain on 30 December 1945, it was the first time some children had ever seen one.   It’s hard to believe in our modern age, when everything is available all year round, that something as commonplace as a banana wasn’t available.  I suppose it must sound just as crazy to a teenager when we tell them that we grew up without mobile phones or the internet, or that there were only three channels on the TV.  How did we ever survive without looking at Instagram every two minutes?

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Imbalance and disconnection

It is near impossible to live a balanced life in a society that is anything but balanced.  Many of the people I see in my practice tell me the same story:  they are working long hours, eating on the go, punishing themselves in the gym and not getting enough rest.  And then that’s when I see them, when they are exhausted.  Sometimes they are ill or have an injury that won’t clear up on its own.  Or they just don’t feel good; they are not sleeping well, have digestive problems, anxiety, depression, fertility issues….

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Having whatever you want whenever you want it comes at a price.  Not just to the planet, which is well documented, but to the health of every one of us living on the planet.    We have lost our connection to nature.  When something like Coronavirus comes along it just highlights this disconnection.  We see ourselves as something other from the planet, as if we just dropped here a few hundred years ago, like the Conquistadors arriving in South America to plunder the land.   We speak of fighting disease and a war against germs, finding a cure to kill the enemy.

Imbalance on Mars

The world we live in now positively encourages this disconnection with nature.   We treat the planet like it is an inanimate object, here simply to be exploited, stripped bare of all its natural resources.  Now we are even planning to colonize the Moon and further afield, when we all know what colonization really means.  Exploitation.

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Our reductionist worldview encourages the belief that we live on a rock where everything is for the taking and what isn’t, is simply out to get us and must be destroyed.  We apply this view to the macrocosm as well as to the microcosm.   Germs and viruses are part of the same planet we exist on.   They are not Aliens that have found their way to earth intent on destroying humans.  Coronavirus is not a ‘new’ virus, it’s just the usual suspects repackaged.

What has changed, of course, is our ability to live with such viruses.  As the planet’s Qi has weakened, so too has our own.

Absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence.

Man has created false daylight and a summer with no end.  Energetically this means we are always in Yang mode, always growing and expanding.  This goes against the universal law that Yang cannot exist without Yin.  The world is changing so rapidly that we can’t keep up with it.  5G is being rolled out even though we don’t understand how it might affect our health.  The one thing that is certainly harmful to our health, above COVID19, is fear.  As I have explained previously, the root of all illness is emotional.  Any emotion that is persistent or intense will have a negative effect.  So, just because we cannot see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

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Before the Industrial Revolution life was different.  Work was dictated greatly by the sun and seasons.  We ate according to the seasons and to the greater extent, locally.  More exotic food stuffs were a rare treat, not staples like they are today.  As foods weren’t available all year round, it’s storage and preservation had to be managed skilfully.  Now, as all food is available, it feels normal eating salads and smoothies in the winter.

Tuning into the Seasons

The naturalistic philosophy behind Chinese Medicine gives us some idea of how we should be living in rhythm with the seasons.  At the moment Nature is telling us to rest.  We are still in the Yin time of year (at the time of writing this anyway) when all living things are conserving their energy ready to burst forth in the spring.  Winter is also when the Water energy is at its strongest, so it’s a time when the reservoirs are able to refill.  Without this opportunity to do so the reservoirs would be empty for when they are most needed, in the summer, the Yang time of year.  How can we fill our Qi reservoirs if we never stop?

Societies that rely on the land to exist have an intimate relationship with the seasonal energies, and they have a genuine sense of what it means to be in harmony with them.  If the farmer fails to plant the seed in the springtime, he would have missed the moment when the summer arrived.  Without the growth of the spring (wood) and the maturity of the summer (fire) there would be no harvest (earth).

Reconnecting with nature

Although simply washing your hands regularly is effective, here a few other things you can add to your daily routine to not only reconnect to nature, but also boost your immune system:

  • Sleep.  We need more of it in the winter and less in the summer, so don’t feel guilty if you would rather be in bed on a cold winter’s night.
  • Exercise.  As for sleep, we need more rest in the winter.
  • Eat well.  Try to have a colourful diet with many different flavours.
  • Don’t have a tv in your bedroom.  If you do, then cover it up at night.
  • Leave your phone and ipad in another room
  • Turn the Wifi off when you go to bed.  This is becoming difficult as many things in the home are now controlled via wifi.  Or you just forget to do it.
  • Have a few moments of silence in your day.  Resist the temptation to put the TV on at home, or the radio in the car.
  • Try not to carry your mobile on your person.  Put it in your rucksack or handbag.
  • Use the earphones instead of holding your phone close to your head.
  • Leave the car at home when you can. Go for a walk.


If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.