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HERBAL SUPPORT for COVID-19 PREVENTION

HERBAL SUPPORT for COVID-19 PREVENTION

Earth always follows the seasons. Nature is the seasons. Untouched by our challenges during this pandemic, crocus is greeting the crisp spring air, red winged blackbirds and song sparrows are practicing their mating song, ferns and mosses are poking through the leaf litter and the creeks are rushing with the last melting snow.

Yet here we are, in the middle of a global health crises, full of uncertainty and worry about how the story will keep unfolding. I am going to share easy daily self care rituals and medicinal plants that can help protect you from the corona virus and keep you grounded and resilient. 

We still know little about the novel corona virus and there is no available cure. But more and more information is emerging every day and medicinal plants offer a wide range of properties that can support your immune system and counteract the energetics and symptoms of COVID-19, just like other flu-like conditions.

 

WASH YOUR HANDS AND DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE

Wash them often with soap and/or use a hand sanitizer if there is no sink near by. Novel corona is an enveloped virus that is susceptible to soap, alcohol and thymol. With hand sanitizers flying off the shelf, know that you can make your own hand sanitizer at home with just a few ingredients:
 
DIY ALCOHOL-BASED SANITIZER

💧 65% alcohol – do not use NOT vodka, you need isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) with at least 91% alcohol, Everclear alcohol works as well  

💧 35% aloe vera – this is mostly to safe your hands from being shredded by the constant alcohol use on your hands. It will still dry your skin and you might want to have a deep nourishing hand cream around for afterwards
 
Whisk the alcohol and aloe very together, fill in small spray bottle and add:
 
💧 a few drops of your favorite essential oil – it is not the low dose of essential oil but the alcohol that will kill the virus so you can choose what you like – lavender, frankincense, lemon, thyme, oregano are all good
 
 
DIY THYMOL-BASED HAND SANITIZER 
 
This recipe is alcohol-free and much gentler on your skin. The FDA approved active ingredient is thymol, derived from thyme essential oil. I recommend Benchmark Thyme as it has a standardized high thymol content, to make sure your sanitizer really works. If you use another thyme essential oil brand, simply use a little bit more.

💦 120 mL filtered water  

💦 2g gum arabic gum or acacia gum (about a teaspoon) – acts as a dispersant and also saves your hands, you can find it in the bulk herb section of your health food store or online
 
💦 3.2mL Benchmark Thyme essential oil – 3 ½ droppers full
 
Make a paste from the arabic gum and the essential oil first, then whisk it into the water.  Fill into spray bottles and use as needed.
  

QUARANTINE YOUR GROCERIES

 

Leave your non-perishable groceries in the bags for a couple of days before you put them away. The virus can live viably on some surfaces for up to 72 hours. Wash your produce throughly, you can also add a drop of mild soap (Dr. Bronner's unscented liquid baby soap) and rinse well after.

 

Drink Warm/Hot Liquids All Day 

This keeps you well hydrated and the mucosa in your mouth moist which helps to keep the virus from entering your body through the oral cavity.  Fresh ginger tea with thyme, lemon and/or a touch of cinnamon and a little bit of honey is great. If you don't have anything else available, hot water is good.
 
See more beneficial herbal tea recipes below.
 
Gargle with a cup of warm sage or thyme tea a couple of times a day, especially if you need to be around people for work. If you don't have sage or thyme in your spice shelf, warm lemon water or warm salt water works as well. Gargle, swish and spit out, don't swallow!
 

Steam your Lungs and Sinuses

 

This is easy to do, very effective and feels wonderful. If you haven't steamed before here is how it's done:

🌱 Choose your steam herbs: they can be dry or fresh, if you don't have anything else use the ones from your spice rack. You need about a handful of fresh herb or two large tablespoon of dried thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano, lavender, fresh pine, fir or spruce needles and twigs. Use what you have, even just one of these alone will be beneficial. 
🌱 In a medium size low cooking pot bring 2 quarts of water to a boil
🌱 Prepare your steam place: you will need a thick placemat for the hot pot on your kitchen or dining table, a bath towel, something to keep your hair out of your face
🌱 Move the pot with boiling water to your steam station, throw in the herbs and immediately lean over the pot with the towel over your head.
🌱 Be careful the steam will be very hot in the beginning, lift the towel to regulate the temperate. Take SLOW DEEP BREATH through your nose (to steam your sinuses) and also through your mouth (to steam your oral mucosa). 
🌱 Your nose might start to run and you may start to cough up some phlegm as the steam begins to soften and move mucous. This is normal and desired. 
🌱 Continue until there is no more steam to inhale, for about 10-15 minutes.
Your lungs will thank you. The corona virus does not like a hot and steamy environment and the steam works right where the virus likes to attach in your nasal passage, throat and lungs.
 

Herbs To Help Strengthen Immunity

ASTRAGALUS

Astragalus is a deep immune booster, increasing the amount of white blood-cells produced in the bone marrow, which will mature to a variety of immune players, such as macrophages and T4 killer cells. These help to detect and keep intruders out and are our strong guards and allies.
 
You can take astragalus as a tincture or buy the root in bulk and make a strong tea that has been steeped overnight. You can also add astragalus to your bone or vegetable broth or add the brothy, sweet and earthy tasting tea to soups and stews. Take a lot every day. 1 teaspoon 3 x daily of the tincture or 2-4 cups of astragalus tea/broth daily.
 
Do not take astragalus if you have an auto-immune condition as it might increase your immune-response too much.
Stop taking astragalus while you have a fever and resume when fever period ends.
 
 

MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS 

Reishi, turkey tail mushroom, maitake, lionsmane, shitake, cordyceps, chaga.
 
Medicinal mushrooms work wonders on your immune system, modulating your immune response to the appropriate level and are also safe for people with auto-immune diseases. Just like astragalus, mushrooms such as reishi, maitake, turkeytail and lionsmane can be added to a broth or other foods, or taken in tinctures or capsules.

mushroomharvest.com is a good source for mushroom powders, with the medicine readily bio-available.

 

LICORICE ROOT

Licorice root, not Twizzlers! Licorice is a moistening sweet herb with excellent anti-inflammatory properties. Use it in small doses and for shorter periods of time as tea or in tincture form. 
 
If you have high blood pressure and/or are taking blood pressure medication stay away from licorice altogether as it can raise your blood pressure and lead to edema.
 
 

GARLIC and ONIONS

These warming kitchen herbs support the lungs with their anti-microbial and warming properties.
 
Use lots of onions in your everyday cooking.
Eat your garlic! Raw garlic has the most medicinal benefits, some of which get lost when you cook with it.
A good way to eat raw garlic is to chop it up really fine and let it sit for 15 minutes for the medicine to leak out of the cells. Mix with a tablespoon of raw honey and swallow.
 
Fire Cider is a great remedy right now, packed with warming and anti-inflammatory herbs and roots.
Make some yourself if the stores are out.
Here is Rosemary Gladstar's Fire Cider recipe.
  
 

ELDERBERRY 

There has been much discussion about if elderberry is the right herb to fight the corona virus.
 
Elderberry has anti-viral activities that make it harder for the virus to attach to your receptors. It is also loaded with Vitamin C and bioflavonoids to support the immune system.
 
Since elderberry increases the inflammatory reaction to an infection, there is a possibility that elderberry could worsen a so-called “cytokine storm”, a deadly symptom that can occur in the very late stages of a COVID-19 infection. Please remember that a cytokine storm cannot be elicited by just elderberry or even COVID-19 alone. It usually requires a combination of circumstances such as a generally high level of inflammation in the body or an underlying conditions such as an auto-immune disease.
 
Herbalists agree that elderberry is a still a good ally to take as a preventative. If you start to show any symptoms of an infection, such as a fever or dry cough, it is better to switch to other more appropriate herbs.
 
I enjoy a cup of elderberry hot toddy: mix two tablespoons of elderberry syrup with a cup of hot water and add raw honey.
 

KEEP YOUR BODY WARM  

 

The energetics of a COVID-19 infection are described as “cold and damp” symptoms, such as thick wet mucous in the lungs that is hard to expectorate and makes breathing difficult.
 
This virus creates, and then thrives in, cold and damp conditions in the body. We need to keep the center of our bodies warm and our digestive tract and skin open to help discourage the virus to take hold, release pathogens through the bowels and support a healthy fever (if you get infected) while being able to regulate your temperature within a healthy range.
 
Drinking hot teas of warming diaphoretic herbs (plants that open the pores of your skin and promote sweating) achieves this. A lot of common kitchen herbs have all the properties you are looking for and most likely, you can still find them in the grocery store or online. Even just a spice jar of thyme or rosemary can be very helpful.
 
Here there are. Use dried or fresh. You can combine them in a tea in any way you like and also use them a lot in cooking:
 
thyme
rosemary
sage
oregano
ginger (preferably fresh as dried ginger is more heating)
lemon
cinnamon (just a little bit, also very heating and drying)
fennel seeds
fenugreek seeds
orange peel (eat LOTS of oranges or grapefruit for Vitamin C, keep the peels, cut into small pieces, dry and add to tea)
black cumin seeds/black caraway seeds/nigella seeds (many names for the same spice)
cayenne
 
Yummy warming combinations that are beneficial to the lungs and moving to the GI tract:
 
fennel, orange peel + ginger (especially for an stomach upset)
thyme, rosemary + sage
ginger, cinnamon, lemon + honey
 
Be creative and try something new every other day.
    
 

HOW TO MAKE A MEDICINAL STRENGTH HERBAL TEA  

Good quality loose herbs are key, although if tea bags is all you have that is OK as well.

🌿 Place 3 tablespoons of loose mixed herbs from the list above in a one quart mason jar or other vessel

 🌿fill to top with boiling water

🌿close lid lightly and let steep overnight or at least 2-3 hours

🌿strain and pour back into mason jar

🌿drink 1 quart of tea daily – you can add hot water to ½ cup of the tea to get it nice and hot, add a little honey if you like

 
Avoid cold foods and drinks. Remember you want to keep your center warm and protected.
 
Eat less dairy and bread as both of these increase mucous production in the body.

 

IMMUNE TUNE BROTH RECIPE

Here is a wonderful recipe for a warming immune broth packed with powerful herbal allies to strengthen your immune system and support the elimination of toxins through your digestive tract (courtesy of Herbal Academy)
 
IMMUNE TUNE BROTH
Ingredients:
fresh burdock (Arctium lappa) root, sliced (or 2-3 tbsp dried burdock root)
½ bunch celery
1 carrot
1 red or yellow onion

1 parsnip
1 leek
5 garlic cloves
1 lb fresh or 1.75-2.5 oz (about 50-75 g) dried mushrooms (a combination or single of reishi, shiitake maitake, lionsmane, cordyceps and/or turkey tail. If you just have one of them, use that!
10 slices dried astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) root
1-inch piece fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) rhizome, sliced (or ½ tsp dried ginger powder)
Small handful fresh parsley
Fresh or dried sprigs of sage, rosemary, and/or thyme

1 teaspoon turmeric powder
4-5 quarts water
Salt and pepper to taste

 
If you only have some of these ingredients available, make it with what you have and it will still be great!
 
Directions:

🥣 Coarsely chop the vegetables. Don’t worry about trimming off the ends, just throw it all in the pot—even the onion skin and carrot top!

🥣 Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot or slow cooker and cover.

🥣 If using a stovetop, bring to a boil, then reduce to lowest heat and simmer for at least 2 hours; allow to simmer up to 12 hours, if you like, for a deeply flavorful and nutritious broth. Add more water as needed.

🥣 If using a slow cooker, heat on low for 12-24 hours, adding more water if needed.

🥣 After cooking, season to taste, and strain and discard solids.

🥣 Store broth in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or freeze in smaller portions, such as ice cube trays, for single-serving use.

This recipe combines the immuno-modulant benefits of powerful mushrooms and herbs in a simple, nourishing broth. Use this broth as a base for miso or chicken soup, or sip a cup or so a day to keep the cold and flu at bay… and your immune system humming year round!

 

Herbs that Soothe the Nervous System

These are stressful times, full of uncertainties and fear and it is up to us to hold our hearts and the hearts of others in a gentle and kind way and to support our nervous system with nourishing nervine herbs.
 
Here is a list of herbs that are soothing, holding, calming, building and strengthening to our heart center and nerves so that our precious energy, otherwise spent on anxiety and stress, can be directed to the immune system where it is needed most.
 
Wonderful herbs that can be combined in any way way to create beautifully nourishing, calming and supporting teas:
 
tulsi (holy basil)
lemon balm
oat straw or oats milky tops (also eating oatmeal is very nourishing for your nerves and adrenals)
rose
lavender
wood betony
passion flower
hawthorn berry, leaf + flower
skullcap
linden
chamomile
blue vervain (very bitter, best as tincture)
 
ashwagandha (to make ashwagandha milk)

I like to buy herbs from organic small scale herb growers if we run out of our own harvests. These are my favorite top quality herb farms:
 
Healing Spirit Herb Farm  (call to order)
Zack Woods Herbs (email to order)

Raven Crest Botanicals still has a fully stocked apothecary with immune system  supporting herbs in our Immunity Collection and soothing tincture blends like
A Good Night's Sleep and Calm Mind.  We can also make custom made tea blends with the herbs above if you like.
Please email me to order: susanna@ravencestbotanicals.com
 
 

CBD

CBD oil can be very helpful to keep you calm and centered and feel less overwhelmed. It can also be a gentle and very effective sleeping aid. I am currently using Sol & Spire CBD oil. There are many brands to choose from and you might already have a favorite. 

 
 

PRACTICES TO STAY CENTERED AND BALANCED

More than ever, this is the time for self care of body, mind and spirit. Eat well, make herbal teas, go outside and take deep breaths.
 
Stress and lack of sleep weakens the immune system. Sleep and good rest is essential to stay grounded and strong during these times. Get lots of sleep! Now you have time to get that extra hour of rest if you are working from home.
 
WIM HOF breathing is the perfect way to protect your body from an infection simply by practicing these powerful breathing exercises. If this video is too fast for you and you tend to get dizzy just watch the video first and then go slower at your own pace until your body gets used to it.
 
Take epsom salt baths or epsom salt foot baths if you do not have a bathtub. Add some dried lavender and one drop of your favorite essential oil such as rose or lavender to help release tension. Magnesium in epsom salt will calm and soothe your nerves. 
 
Cook a healthy meal. Heidi Swanson's food blog is full of delicious recipes, substitute or leave out what you don't have available. Stews and warming soups are great for this time and easy to make.
 
Find a park or a quiet place outside where you can sit alone under a tree.
Take off your shoes. Let your hands and feet touch the earth and feel the deep connection and support she offers to us in these times.
Sit with the daffodils and crocus and place yours hands on cool, beautiful moss and know that spring is coming in all her glory.
Get up and out early and listen to the song birds returning in your area. Become a birder!
 
Meditate. Take online yoga classes. Keep moving even when you are cooped up at home.
 
Plant a garden. Learn how to grow your own food, even if it is just a container with kale and lettuce. Get your hands into the soil and get dirty.
 
Take an online herbalism course, this is a great opportunity to take your health back into your own hands, connect to the earth and learn how the plants can support you and help you heal.
 
Join an online community to learn spiritual practices.
 
Take this precious opportunity and turn away from the news and into your Self and find ways to feed your spirit and soul. I highly recommend books like
 
Robin Wall Kimmerer “Braiding Sweetgrass”
Sherri Mitchell “Sacred Instructions”
Bill Plotkin “Soulcraft”
 
to receive guidance on how to connect to the essence of your being and the Earth during these times.


We were born to endure these times and cope with the challenges we are faced. Educate yourself in natural ways of healing and learn new lifestyles to support a healthy body and mind.
 
The time is NOW.

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