This post may be a bit of a departure from my normal style, but I figured that unusual times call for unusual postings. With all the questions that have been coming my way, and all the people who have been asking my advice, I decided to gather together a good bit of my research and thoughts here. I apologize as this may be a bit long-winded. With that in mind, I’ve broken things up into two separate posts. This is the second post in this series. The first post covered what this Coronavirus is and the symptoms. This post will be about prevention and some possible herbal support.
If you haven’t read the previous post, you can find it here. It goes into more detail about the virus itself.
Though I have a general disclaimer on this blog, I just want to reiterate that I am not a medical doctor. I do not work in the medical field. I am an herbalist and have a background in nutrition, not infectious disease. If you feel you may have become infected, please call your medical service provider to ask for further advice.
Once again for those in the back...If you are sick and think you may be infected, call your doctor for advice and testing.
Now, with that out of the way, lets move on to something that may be of use.
What can we do to prevent infection?
This virus is new to our species. Unfortunately this means that our immune systems are confused by it. So what can we do to try and perk up our immunity and make it a little bit more ready to fight back?
Don’t over do it on the quarantine cocktails!Excessive alcohol use can dampen general immune function. While yes, alcohol can help to kill the virus, we’re not talking about sanitizing our hands here. When you consume alcohol it slows down your responses, including immune responses. That isn’t saying that having a glass of red wine at night is a bad idea, it may help you get better sleep. Maybe just don’t consume the whole bottle out of boredom.
Take it easy on those quarantine snacks!Sugar is not the best of things for your body in the best of times. It, like alcohol, when consumed in excess, can reduce immune function. So maybe limit yourself to 1 Little Debbie snack a day. Maybe stock up on fruit instead. After all, you’re home right now, so why not go for that home made smoothie?
Cut out the smoking (not just tobacco people).This virus attacks the lungs. Smoking, in general, weakens them. We are all aware of how dangerous tobacco can be for our lungs, but most of us aren’t aware that cannabis can be almost as bad when smoked in excess (not that it isn’t a great medicinal). So while you’re sitting on the couch, maybe only hit that joint a little bit (or switch to edibles for the time being) and don’t over indulge..
We are all aware of this next tip, but just to make sure… WASH YOUR HANDS!This virus can survive on a number of surfaces for hours. You never know what you’ll pick up on your supply runs. Washing your hands can go a long way.
Eat right, drink often, get some sunlight, and get some restVitamins D and C, as well as Zinc are great for improving immune function. Make sure you are getting enough of these valuable vitamins and minerals either from your food, or from sunlight. Staying hydrated is also super important. When we are dehydrated, our immune function is compromised. Drinking enough water can help you stay healthy.
Herbs and other recommendationsDrinking herbal teas is a great way to stay hydrated. So why not choose some herbs that boost your immune system and that tone your respiratory system. Chai is a great blend of herbs, all of which help to boost immunity and most of which help to improve the respiratory system as well. Also consider using peppermint, thyme, mullein, licorice, marshmallow, chamomile, and lavender. You can also drink teas made from adaptogens, such as tulsi, to help you manage the stress you’re experiencing right now. Also, since you are likely eating more home-cooked meals right now, consider adding some extra spices to it. Culinary spices such as thyme, oregano, garlic, onion, ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric (as well as blends such as herbs de province or garam masala) can be great immune boosters.
Let’s talk Hand Sanitizers for a moment.In general, hand sanitizers are antibacterial and not specifically antiviral. Not to say that it’s not good practice to use them, just that they may not be as effective as most people believe. Granted, the viral envelope (the cell walls of the virus cells) of COVID-19 are susceptible to alcohol, you have to have a minimum of 60% alcohol in your sanitizer for it to be effective at all. Studies have shown that this virus is actually more susceptible to regular soap and thymol. Thymol is the active chemical found in the herbs Thyme and Oregano, and is extracted in the process of making essential oils. If you’re going to make your own soap and/or hand sanitizer, consider adding in a few drops of Thyme or Oregano essential oils to make it more effective. The EPA, FDA, and CDC all recommend that any homemade hand sanitizer be made with high proof alcohol (rubbing alcohol or everclear), and if you want to include essential oils, you want to use one that has a minimum of 0.25% thymol. Essential oil of thyme has around 30% thymol while essential oil of oregano has about 5-10%, so you may have to use more of that if you choose to use oregano. Also, concentrations of thymol can vary from batch to batch, Benchmark Thyme attempts to standardize these concentrations.
What herbs and preparations should you take if you show symptoms?
Once again, I am not a medical doctor. If you believe you are infected, please call your doctor for advice and testing.
The following recommendations are all things I might do before calling my doctor, but once I talk to my doctor I recommend following all of his/her instructions and leaving off these herbs if that is what they recommend. If you follow these recommendations, make sure you tell your doctor about them so that they are aware of what is going on.
BidensThere are 230 to 240 known Bidens species, the two most commonly found in Florida are B. alba and B. pilosa. Bidens is best known as a weed, but it’s one of my favorite herbs. Not only is it super nutritious, and tasty, it’s also my go-to herb for dry coughs. That’s why I immediately think of Bidens when I’m thinking about COVID-19. It’s most distinct symptom is a dry cough. It’s also an excellent mucus membrane tonic as it not only removes pain, but also heals the tissue. Which is another point in it’s favor for use against this virus. It is also a great anti-malarial herb. Granted, malaria is not a virus, but it does have a lot of the same symptoms. Also, a few of the most promising medications that seem to have an effect on the Coronavirus are malaria medications, so there may be another connection.
When I take Bidens for any length of time I try to use it as a tincture (alcohol), with a small amount of black pepper to help act as a catalyst. I use a 1:5 ratio (dry herb/menstruum) using 9 parts Bidens and 1 part Black Pepper (if you have gastro-intestinal issues you might want to leave out the pepper and just use bidens). For dosage, I recommend starting with 2 ml, 3 times a day when you start showing symptoms.
Cautions and warnings: Bidens is generally considered safe, however this herb does effect your blood pressure and blood sugar. So use caution if you have issues with either.
TulsiOcimum tenuiflorum, or Tulsi is another herb I think about in regards to this illness. However, this herb is not so much for the virus as it is to help mitigate the stress you are under. I recommend this herb to absolutely everyone. It tastes great and helps us manage our stress so much better. Just holding a warm cup of Tusli tea can help calm me down on a high-stress day. However, it also has benefits that may work specifically against COVID-19. Tulsi is a respiratory herb, helping to relieve symptoms of typical colds and flu. It also helps to reduce fevers. All around it’s a great herb for Coronavirus.
I recommend drinking tulsi tea often (1-2 tsp of dry herb in a coffee mug full of hot water, allow to steep, covered, for 20+ minutes). At least 1 cup an hour, warm is best but not 100% necessary.
Cautions and warnings: This herb is generally considered safe, however this herb does effect your blood pressure and blood sugar. So use caution if you have issues with either.
MarshmallowNo, not the candy. Althaea officinalis, commonly known as Marshmallow, is one of my favorite demulcents. Demulcents help to moisten and soothe dry, inflamed tissues. COVID-19 is characterized by starting off with a dry cough. This leads me to think that a demulcent may be a great herb. This herb is also specifically great for dry cough.
I recommend preparing a cold, overnight infusion (put 1 oz of marshmallow root in a quart of cold water and allow to sit, at room temperature, 8 hours or overnight) with this herb and drinking the infusion throughout the day and as needed for cough. You can also make a cough syrup using marshmallow root and raw honey.
Cautions and warnings: Talk to your doctor if you’re taking other medications before starting marshmallow root, as it’s been found to interact with lithium and diabetes drugs. It can also coat the stomach and interfere with absorption of other medications.
WormwoodI recently read that some current studies have been showing that Artemisia annua, or Sweet Wormwood, may be effective against COVID-19. The only thing I can think is that it is also effective against malaria, so this may be a good herb to fight the symptoms, since COVID-19 and malaria do have some similar symptoms, including fever.
I would recommend taking this as a tincture. 1:5 ratio (dry herb/menstruum), drop 10 drops into a glass of water and drink 3 times a day.
Cautions and warnings: The FDA lists wormwood unsafe for internal use due to the toxicity of thujone oil. However, it’s considered to be safe when taken by mouth in the amounts commonly found in food and beverages, including bitters and vermouth, as long as these products are thujone-free. Using wormwood for longer than four weeks or at higher than recommended doses may lead to nausea, vomiting , restlessness, insomnia, vertigo, tremors and seizures.
Diaphoretic HerbsThis classification of herbs includes a number of herbs that help to induce sweating. This generally helps to break fevers. Some diaphoretic herbs include Yarrow, Peppermint, Ginger, Fennel, and Chamomile. However I think I would, personally, choose a combination of Lavender and Catnip. Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia or Lavendula officinalis) will help reduce pain and inflammation as well as providing some much needed calm. It will also help you sleep and sleep is one of the best things you can do when your sick. Catnip (Nepeta cataria) has a long history of use in breaking fevers, but in addition, it is also great at gently easing muscle aches. Both of these herbs are also in the mint family, which is a family known for their use in respiratory conditions, which is another thing in their favor for use against Coronavirus.
I would mix these herbs with your other preparations. For instance, I would put Lavender and Catnip in a tea with Tulsi.
ExpectorantsExpectorants help to open up the chest and expel the mucus that may collect in the lungs. Many of these are warming and spicy, such as ginger, fenugreek, thyme, and fennel. I mentioned above that this virus seems to be susceptible to thymol, which is found in the herb Thyme. Thyme and Ginger would be the two expectorants I would choose to fight against COVID-19. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) will help to expel the mucus and hopefully fight the virus directly as well. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is also a diaphoretic, so it is another dual purpose herb, helping to expel mucus and fight the accompanying fever.
These herbs I would actually recommend to be added to broths (preferably bone broth). Not only would they improve the flavor of the broth, but the broth itself has healing properties. Also, the more liquids you can consume, the better, to keep you from becoming dehydrated. I would add 1 tsp of dried thyme to each bowl of broth, or 2 slices of fresh ginger. Allow the broth and herbs to steep for 20 minutes or more before consuming.
Lymphatic HerbsThe lymphatic system is super important for immunity, so we should not neglect it in times of sickness. I recommend herbs such as Chickweed (Stellaria media), Polyporus (Polyporus umbellatus), and Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) are great herbs to help improve lymphatic function.
I would honestly add at least one of these three to each of my preparations (except the marshmallow, I think that’s best on it’s own). Maybe throw some chickweed into my tulsi tea and make my broths with both of the mushrooms.
Hot Showers and SteamsRoughly 1/3 of the people who are afflicted with COVID-19 are reporting sputum (thick mucus in the lungs) production. Steam helps to keep this mucus from drying out. Add a few drops of essential oils to help open up those airways and soothe the throat. I recommend Peppermint, Thyme, and/or Eucalyptus (avoid this one if you are prone to seizures) essential oils.
Don’t Neglect Your Recovery!
Americans are so ready to go and get things done that they often neglect the importance of the recovery phase, post illness. The most important thing is to be gentle with yourself as you are still weak and feeling the effects of your illness.
Gentle Tonic HerbsTonic herbs help improve your overall health. These are great herbs to call on during your recovery period. Look to herbs such as Astragalus (Astragalus propinquus) and Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) to help support your health during these times.
Lung SupportRemember, this virus attacks the lungs. Your lungs will be weak for a while after your illness. Make sure to support them and help get them back to full health. Herbs that may be great for this include Mullein (Verbascum thapsu), Astragalus (Astragalus propinquus), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), and Peppermint (Mentha piperita).
This is where I will end this series. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them down below. Follow me on Facebook (Bat Lady Herbals) and Instagram (BatLadyHerbalist) for updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!
Coronavirus Alternative Treatments, Can Traditional Chinese Herbs and Treatments Help?: Medicine Net: https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=228775
COVID-19, One Herbalist’s Thoughts on the Coronapocylapse: Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine: https://www.eclecticschoolofherbalmedicine.com/covid-19/?fbclid=IwAR2chq5q82xmxIdCDGbtwE1I77_E1vQoPJOTDJEsQ041LSuSLjjYs3GC6W4
COVID-19, 5 Reasons to be Cautiously Hopeful: Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/covid-19-5-reasons-to-be-cautiously-hopeful
List of Personal Things You Can Do To Stay Well in a Time of COVID 19: Rupa Marya, MD: https://medium.com/@radiorupa/list-of-personal-things-you-can-do-to-stay-well-in-a-time-of-covid19-cd10ff0df106
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Traditional Chinese Medicine & COVID-19:WVTF Virginia’s Public Radio:https://www.wvtf.org/post/traditional-chinese-medicine-covid-19#stream/0
The World Health Organization Backs Call to Avoid Ibuprofen for Coronavirus: The Jerusalem Post: https://www.jpost.com/HEALTH-SCIENCE/World-Health-Organization-backs-call-to-avoid-ibuprofen-for-coronavirus-621408?fbclid=IwAR1V4lFRjETb_hNgPVR6qmN2Rj0nN1KmSQxqTNCK3rNR9_OL4iud75eqdCM