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:
Herbs To Help Strengthen Immunity
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.
GARLIC and ONIONS
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:
ginger (preferably fresh as dried ginger is more heating)
cinnamon (just a little bit, also very heating and drying)
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)
Yummy warming combinations that are beneficial to the lungs and moving to the GI tract:
fennel, orange peel + ginger (especially for a 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
🌿 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
IMMUNE TUNE BROTH
fresh burdock (Arctium lappa) root, sliced (or 2-3 tbsp dried burdock root)
½ bunch celery
1 red or yellow onion
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!
🥣 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.
Herbs that Soothe the Nervous System
PRACTICES TO STAY CENTERED AND BALANCED
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.