Dr. JoAnn Yanez, AANMC executive director, joins KCAA’s NBC LA affiliate On the Brink to discuss what is known to date about COVID-19 and natural therapies.
Full Transcript of Interview Below.
- The implications of a novel virus
- Review of current literature and knowledge, including Traditional Chinese medicine and natural therapies
- Tips to support a healthy immune system
- How to show appreciation and support for those working on the frontlines of providing care
- Tips to keep your mental health positive in the face of COVID-19
Erin Brinker: Welcome back. I’m Erin Brinker.
Todd Brinker: And I’m Todd Brinker.
Tobin Brinker: And I’m Tobin Brinker.
Erin Brinker: And We are On the Brink, the morning show on KCAA AM 1050, FM 106.5 and FM 102.3. We are joined by Dr. JoAnn Yanez. She is the Executive Director of the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges and the past chair of the Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health. She also serves on the Integrative Health Policy Consortium Education Committee. Weaving a passion for illness prevention into her professional life, Dr. Yanez’ career has spanned advocacy, academia, patient care and public health. She joins us monthly to talk about all issues related to naturopathic medicine, health, wellness and just overall well-being. Dr. Yanez, welcome to the show.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Good morning, folks. I hope that you are all well.
Erin Brinker: Yes, going a little stir crazy, but other than that we’re really great. So, one of the things that’s come up throughout this growing crisis is people with their, and I’m going to use air quotes, you can’t see me, but I’m using air quotes, their natural cures for this virus, for the COVID-19. I think most of that is probably bunk, but you are the expert, so what do you do from a naturopathic standpoint do to combat this disease?
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Thank you so very much for bringing that up. So, first off, COVID-19 is a novel virus. What that means is that we’ve never seen it before. So if we’ve never seen it before, we never run any clinical tests or trials on it. Therefore, nobody should be claiming anything is a cure, or anything is specifically preventive for COVID-19. I want to be really emphatic about that. I was actually on the record in Newsweek because there was somebody making claims about cures for coronavirus. And so what we’re seeing is that there is nothing at all indicating that anything is, nothing has been tested. This is all brand new. Some of the trials in China are actively going on right now. They are testing Traditional Chinese Medicine and testing things like intravenous Vitamin C, but that is all going on right now. We have no data, we have no information. We don’t know. So, I think at this point anybody claiming to have a cure should not be doing so.
Erin Brinker: You know, they say that, they point to Chinese medicine and say that naturopathic medicine has been there for thousands of years. I say naturopathic, homeopathic or naturopathic, has been there for thousands of years, and that they have the right cure. But like you said, that may be true that this has been going on, that they’ve had this kind of medicine thousands of years, but this particular virus hasn’t been around for thousands of years. It’s new.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yes. This particular virus is brand new. Traditional Chinese medicine is not the same as naturopathic medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine has been around for many thousands of years and has clinical trials, has studies regarding many, many types of conditions. And if can be very efficacious in those types of conditions. But like I said, this is new, so we really don’t know specific to COVID-19 what is going to work.
We’re seeing interesting things with this virus and virus progression, from a microbiological standpoint of how it works. And so, we’re just trying to understand how the virus works, how it infects tissue, how it’s different from other viruses and other Coronaviruses. Most Coronaviruses will cause very minor symptoms or a common cold. This is obviously not the case here. And so people in the natural products industry are definitely speculating what could work based on what we know about the microbiology of this virus specifically, but we have no, it’s all speculation at this point. Does that make sense?
Erin Brinker: It does. It does. Where something may look promising, but we don’t have any studies to prove that it will indeed be promising, or that there might be some other issue down the road.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Exactly. There are no studies because it is novel. Novel means new.
Erin Brinker: So, what should people do to, I mean we know about the social distancing.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yes.
Erin Brinker: Are there supplements that people can take to boost their immune system? I know that there’s a lot of people, there’s a lot of nonsense out there. And so the consumer says, “Well if I take this, this and this then it’ll help me.” But I don’t know because everybody seems to say that they have the cure for everything. So, how do you cut through the muck?
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: There are definitely things that help support a healthy immune system. And we’ve talked about that on this show before. Making sure that your vitamin D stores are adequate. Vitamin D is a supplement or it’s a vitamin that increases from sunlight. So, we have higher levels of it in the summer time, lower levels of it in the winter time. So, making sure that your Vitamin D stores are adequate. Understanding that those respiratory droplets, they stay longer in colder air. And so there is a thought process, again, it’s all speculative, that having more humidity in the air, not having as much cold and dry air, may contribute to a lower spread of that respiratory droplet. But again, you don’t really know.
The key takeaways, stress, keeping your stress down. Stress will lower your immune system. And also very, very important to have adequate sleep, to make sure that you’re getting long restful sleep in the middle of the night as much as you can, keeping stress down. We’ve talked about mindful meditation, gratitude before, I know all of those things that are really helpful. That we know helps to mitigate our risk. Making sure that you’re eating a really well balanced and nutritious diet, keeping the sugar down low to a minimum. And you know, all of the basics that we’ve talked about, Erin, before on this show about staying strong and keeping your immune system healthy.
There are some folks that are looking at various different approaches with vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin D. There are natural anti-inflammatory herbs and natural antiviral herbs. But again, we don’t know what is going to work in this case.
Erin Brinker: So, I think about things that people do to clear their minds and to reduce stress and many of them involve being around other people, and we can’t do that right now. And so what do you recommend for, you’re going to get a little, people are going to get cabin fever.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Yes.
Erin Brinker: What do you recommend for keeping that peace of mind?
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: You know, that is a really important component of this because we are by nature social beings. My son is home from school, and we’ve been trying to make the best of it. And I’ve been really heart warmed at all of the afterschool activities that have managed to go online. Yesterday my son did his taekwondo practice online in the living room.
Erin Brinker: Oh.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: He got to wave to all his friends and everybody was there and they had this little mini group taekwondo class and the master was watching them all on their screens, checking their forms, correcting them when they made mistakes. And it was just like they were in class except they were all on their screens. And so I think you know, as much as we can, try and check in with your loved ones every day if you can. If you’re home, if you’re not in the car commuting, you shouldn’t be any way, unless you have a job that is essential to be going into. And so go and connect with folks. You know, we Skyped yesterday with my son’s cousins, and he got to wave at them and talk to them for a little bit.
I think, that human connection, we are so fortunate. I’m just thankful that this didn’t happen 30 years ago because I would be sitting drinking Tang and watching Inspector Gadget soap operas or something. I’m so thankful for those who do have technology now. That is something that is, there’s a disparity there, not everybody has technology and has enough bandwidth to be able to be on with folks constantly. So that is something to be considerate of. And I know that there are some internet companies that are starting to make concessions with people who are low income to up their internet now because they understand that this is the only way people are staying connected. So you know, I do just want to be mindful of that and recognize that not everybody is that fortunate. But I will say that try as much as you can.
You can get outside, within reason it, keep that six feet of distance between you and other people. Go take a walk, go get your bike out. Yesterday my son took his scooter out and I jogged alongside of him. You can still get outside. So, I think people need to recognize they don’t have to necessarily be housebound. You just need to be social distancing. Does that make sense?
Erin Brinker: It makes total sense. Tobin actually talked about how therapeutic it was yesterday for him to run.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Sure.
Tobin Brinker: Yeah, I did the LA Marathon a week ago, and I did not intend to get back to running quite as quickly. I like to give my legs a couple of weeks off, but I was going stir crazy. So, I just did a short two-mile run, and it completely changed my perspective.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Absolutely. I’ve seen friends of mine going out and going for hikes in the woods. You can get out, go out into the desert, just don’t be around people. So, I think people need to recognize, connect with nature, connect with your families, and connect with yourself.
Erin Brinker: So, the final question that I have for you, and I know we’re running a little over, but the final question that I have for you, it has to do with our first responders and our, hospital staff, people who are working longer hours, in areas that have been affected. What can we do? Is there a fund to support them so that they, or is there something that the average person can do to show our appreciation for people who are putting themselves in harm’s way?
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: You know, I’m not exactly sure of existing things. I would imagine that that would be a local jurisdictional type of thing that, maybe call up the non-emergency line of your fire or the police department to ask them what they need, how you can help. Call up the non-emergency line, the hospitals are pretty packed right now. My husband is a hospital administrator as you know here locally, and has been working around the clock all through the weekend, and through the week trying to get the hospital prepped and ready for what they’re anticipating will be increased volume, and also dealing with the emotional state of healthcare workers. So, what I could say on a personal level if you know healthcare workers, check in on them, make sure that their mental health is okay. They’re going to be working hard for the next bit here.
Erin Brinker: They are. And it’s working long hours in a high-pressure situation, and we’re all very grateful for the work that they do.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: I know. So, I’m thinking like this is, we’re basically at war. I feel like we’re at a war time in our country, like this is a war against the virus. We’re being called to do our civic part. Stay home, stay out of crowds, stay safe ourselves, and rather than the army being our infantry, our health workers are our infantry right now.
Erin Brinker: Indeed. Indeed. And that will be our final note. How do people find and follow you on social media and learn more about the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges?
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: So, if you don’t want to leave your house, next week we have a virtual fair. You can stay home, log in on your computer, and join us on our virtual fair. There will be folks from all of the colleges there. We are on social media, on our website at aanmc.org, and we’ll see you online. I hope that folks stay healthy and safe.
Erin Brinker: Well, Dr. JoAnn Yanez, thank you so much for joining us. As always, it was informative and interesting, and we look forward to our next conversation.
Dr. JoAnn Yanez: Thank you folks. Talk soon.
Erin Brinker: Talk soon. Be well. So, with that, it is time for a break. I’m Erin Brinker.
Todd Brinker: I’m Todd Brinker.
Tobin Brinker: And I’m Tobin Brinker.
Erin Brinker: And we are On the Brink, the morning show on KCAA. We’ll be right back.