|Shared with permission from Rosemary Gladstar
Dearest Friends & Herbal Students,
Warm spring greetings. What a world we woke up too! And yet, spring comes irrevocably, with a thousand seeds beneath the ground getting ready to thrust upwards. Tree buds are bursting forth as they’ve done for millennia, flowers are blooming and birds returning in great flocks to the northlands. In spite of all of the sorrow, chaos, and uncertainly in the world right now, the world moves on ~ and we with it.
I am not immune to the suffering going on right now, but am very much immersed in it ~ as well as my own personal suffering. But I also know the best way forward is to keep moving forward. In times like these we are often asked, “what should we be doing”? And the answer that always comes to me is to continue doing what we do best ~ which is to do our work, be kind to others, to love one another as best we can, to reach out and help others, to make our herbal medicine and make enough to share if we have extra, to grow our gardens and grow enough to share if necessary, and to do what we can to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and healthy. As one wise friend said, “The most important thing is to keep your inner state calm and stay present in yourself. Nothing can really inhabit you or take hold of you if you are filling yourself. Fear opens doors. Stay present. Make good choices” ~ Dr. Robin Dipasquale
While none of us really know much about this novel virus or what will actually keep us healthy and disease free, there are things that people have been doing for centuries to keep their immune systems healthy and their spirits high. I recently sent a note to my family with these suggestions with an offer to make up care packages for them if they wished. Of course, no one can do all of these things, but read through them and see what you have on hand, do a little more research on your own ~ I’ve provided some great links where you can go for more information ~ and decide what is best for you and your family. Remember, stay safe, keep healthy and remain calm and positive.
Here we go ~
1) Daily servings of probiotics in any of your favorite forms: sauerkraut and other fermented foods, yogurt, kefir, miso, etc. *If you’ve not made your own sauerkraut this is the time! It’s so fun and easy, and a great food to be eating right now.
2) Fire Cider. I knew there was a reason fire cider took center stage in the herbal community: it was meant for these times. It is rich with immune and respiratory supporting herbs: garlic, onion, ginger, horseradish, lemon, turmeric, cayenne. Add a big handful of fresh rosemary, thyme, oregano and sage to your batches and you have a super tonic for the times. *You can purchase all of these herbs fresh in the produce departments of most natural food and grocery stores.
3) Garlic, garlic, garlic. 3-4 cloves a day; raw and chopped fine or mashed. Can one get too much garlic? Yes, some people don’t tolerate it well, so go easy on it until you find your dose level. Chop and mash fresh garlic and let it sit for a few minutes before ingesting as this allows the garlic to oxidize and activates the anti-viral compounds. Always take raw garlic with food or it can upset your stomach. Its great mashed, mixed with plain yogurt and served on rice. This is one of my Mother’s favorite foods, an Armenian specialty. My Mom is 96 years old and still in amazingly good health and when she’s visiting me, we eat it almost daily for breakfast. Yum! * Remember, in the olden days people would wear cloves of garlic around their neck to keep the plagues at bay. Great for ‘social distancing’ as well.
4) Don’t forget, some of our most medicinal herbs are in the kitchen closet: Clove, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Oregano. (See Suggested Herbal Supports for Influenza/Influenza Like Illness in the Event of a Pandemic by Lora Kroll RN and this blog post by Helen Ward, Education Director of the Science & Art of Herbalism.)
5) Eat Seaweed daily. Aside from the fact that it’s unbelievably nourishing (seaweed contains more minerals and trace minerals than any land vegetable!), seaweed is very immuno-protective and a great aide in building and protecting our immune system. For excellent information on seaweed and COVID-19 write to . Great sources for seaweed: Ryan Drum at www.ryandrum.com and Larch Hanson theseaweedman.com/
6) High doses of Vitamin C. 1-2,000 mg twice a day as preventative. Use buffered C for ease on the stomach, or liposomal C, which is more easily absorbed
7) Vitamin A – 25,000 IU. We aren’t hearing much about supplementing with Vitamin A these days, but it was always a favorite supplement I used when people had attacks of asthma, allergies and severe respiratory issues as it helps strengthen and rebuild the cilia or tiny hairs lining the lungs. According to everything I’ve read, COVID-19 attacks the cilia, so this might be a good measure to add as a preventative.
8) Daily doses of medicinal mushrooms: there are many choices available to choose from but a few of my favorites are: Nancy Scarzello nancyscarzello.com, Marie Frohlich www.mariefrohlich.com/ , Healing Spirits www.healingspiritsherbfarm.com and Real Mushrooms www.realmushrooms.com
9) Elderberry, in syrup, capsules or tincture. Especially useful for young children and the elderly (and anyone in between) because they’ll love the flavor. Hard to get now as people are selling out; but my very favorite is made by our own Helen Ward at Three Springs Farm of Vermont. *Please note, there has been some discussion about whether or not to use Elderberry during the flu, see more info here.
10) Astragalus (Astragalus propinquus) this has been shown to be effective against the H1N1 influenza and is used by herbalists worldwide to support to overall immune health. Great to add powdered astragalus to smoothie and blender drinks, nut butter balls and adaptogen candy, and the herb to soups and stews. .
11) Echinacea (Echinacea purpura or E. angustifolia): take this old friend each time you leave the house and each time you return. It is one of our most renowned immune enhancer and has been known to be effective against various times of influenza. If you can get whole plant Echinacea (made from root, flower, stem, and seeds), even better.
12) Japanese Knotweed: We’re not hearing much about Japanese Knotweed yet, but it’s a very powerful antiviral and could be incredibly useful in this situation. Tincture available from Marge Keough at www.faystonforager.com/
13) Essential oils are potent and contain many antiviral properties. I’ve been keeping a small bottle of clove oil in my pocket; I dilute it with a little veggie oil and put a drop or two on the tip of my tongue if I’m going out in the world and when I return home. Also, consider Essential Oils of Eucalyptus (has been shown to be effective against influenza viruses (Price and Price, 2007), Lemon, Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, and Peppermint all of which have antiviral properties. How to use: mix into hand sanitizers (see our recipe below); use 2-3 drops on face masks and refresh hourly; can also use in an oil diffuser, room humidifier or the old fashioned way, a few drops in a pan of water place on the stove on a very low heat.
More great Information:www.studiobotanica.com > Excellent easy to follow information on Herbs and herbal remedies for COVID-19 written by my dear friend and fellow herbalist, Carol Little.selfhealschool.com/coronavirus-covid-19-information/ > excellent information on which herbs to focus on as well as practical information on how to avoid getting the virus.7song.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/An-Herbalist’s-Notes-the-on-COVID-19-Virus.pdf > A handout that well known practicing herbalist and educator, 7Song, provided. Contains good information on which herbs to consider. > Great handout with lots of good information on herbs, homeopathics and practical advice for keeping healthy written by Dr. Robin Dipasquale.www.stephenharrodbuhner.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/coronavirus.txt.pdf > from the brilliant Stephen Buhner. He gives his usual brilliant description of the morphology of the virus, the progression of the disease, and then a very fine list of herbs that could possibly be helpful. flusolution.net > excellent information on homeopathic solutions for COVID-19. They offer a complete flu kit that could be quite useful and informative online classes that are very reasonable ($10 per class).Thomas Easley wrote a great article here >www.eclecticschoolofherbalmedicine.com/covid-19/Danielle Cohen has some great resources and support for homebound families www.danielle-cohen.com/covid-community-support. Provides a list of things to do for children, as well as at home learning opportunities for adults as well.John Gallagher’s programs for children are phenomenal. You may find more information here: learningherbs.com/herbs-for-kids/This is a free newsletter I enjoy getting and appreciate its short informative updates about corona virus as well as other health topics. www.peoplespharmacy.com/subscribehttps://botanicwise.teachable.com/p/covid19/ > excellent podcast with Guido Mase’, Charis Lindrooth, Deb Soule, Tammi Sweet. As the title suggests, ‘herbalists we can trust with information important to know.’
What can we do to keep our spirits high in a time of mass hysteria and fear?
Don’t buy into the fear. We can wake up each morning and give thanks for another day of living. Even when it seems particularly difficult or challenging, giving thanks and gratitude evokes gratitude. I believe keeping our spirits high and our hands and minds busy is another way to build immunity. In fact, science has proven this to be true, but I knew it to be true even before science agreed with me ~ it just made sense. Don’t listen to the news too often if it depresses you (and how couldn’t it?). Depression won’t help anyone right now. Listen to those podcasts and shows that are uplifting to you, that bring you joy, that make you laugh. Spend as much time in nature as you possibly can; breathing in fresh air, feeling the wind on your face, talk to the trees and the plants, walk on the sweet earth… all of these things fill us with life and light and help us to move through or face whatever challenges are in front of us ~ and there are a lot right now. Nature heals.
One of my elder teachers who has long since passed ~ Brycee Buchanan, aka the Wild Weed Woman of the West ~ use to say to me, “in an emergency situation there are three basic rules: 1) Don’t Panic; 2) Don’t Panic; and 3) Don’t Panic”. This is most definitely an emergency situation. How do we remain calm and centered when the world seems to be falling apart around us?
As Rumi said so many years ago, “Bring out your musical instruments and begin to play….There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth’. For some it is yoga and meditation practices. If you’ve always wanted to do this but haven’t had the time, now is the time to start. For some it’s movement and exercise. There are countless yoga and mediation, exercise, dance and movement videos available on line, literally something for everyone’s taste. Again, rather than panic or wonder what to do, use some of your time each day to do these things you’ve been longing to do but just haven’t had enough time. Now is the time. For many of us it’s our herbal work. What a great time to jump into your herbal studies. To make more herbal medicine. To clean out your herb closet. Or to read some of those herbal books you’ve been meaning to. What more positive and nourishing thing to do now then to spend time with our healing plants. They are so empowering, ancient and wise, and that healing energy infuses into us as we work with them, be with them, study them, and grow them. It’s these daily practices of what we choose to do with our time that helps us stay centered.