Thursday 19 March 2020

Surviving This Virus : Some Herbal Approaches.

We are living in very strange times; very scary times. How do we manage something we can’t control? I have put together a few ideas you may wish to consider.
Sleep well: When you are worried, a good night’s sleep is often elusive. Think about the activities which help you sleep. Don’t eat at least two hours before bedtime. Prepare for sleep by turning off electronic devices an hour before bed. Practice “pottering” before bedtime. Don’t stay in bed if you can’t sleep but get up and do something boring, then return.  
Herbs which can help sleep are chamomile (tea), lemon balm (tea), lemon balm and lime flower (tea) , skullcap (tincture) for “stopping the mice running around inside your head”
Eat well: Try to consume a nutritionally balanced diet full of good protein, fruit and vegetables
Make soup: Whenever I’m worried, I make soup. There are lots of recipes on this blog.
Discover what makes you laugh: Whether it is Fawlty Towers or a thirty second video on Facebook, cherish the incidents which make you smile and preferably laugh out loud. Laughter lifts your mood and helps you feel better. Playing board games or computer games with others online will help you feel connected and less isolated and take your mind off anything worrying.
Embrace fresh air and movement Getting outside and moving about stops your body feeling stiff and also helps your mood.
Discover what you have available already in your home. E.g. Sanitisers, spices, fruits, herbs, homemade medicines. You may be surprised what is hiding in your cupboards which may be helpful now.
Plan what you are going to do when someone is ill Make a list of all your medicines and fruit and vegetables. Which ones will you use when?
Information: What is a virus? How does it spread. How does it replicate and infect/overwhelm? This is a useful website. 
                        What is special about Covid-19? It likes cold and damp. It is destroyed by heat. It is stopped by barriers.
Why use herbs?
Lots of them have anti-viral properties. They can help support your body do what your body knows how to do to fight the invader.
How does your body fight?       
It raises your internal temperature to kill off the virus. The raised temperature will often give you headaches, make you feel either hot or very cold, make your body ache (this may be from the shed, dead virus tissue which has to be removed) and other, difficult symptoms.
It makes you cough to get rid of invader or by products – either a dry, unproductive cough or a cough with mucous/phlegm (be aware of the colour – clear = ok, yellow= infection present, green = nasty infection) The greater the amount of mucous, the deeper it is probably being drawn from in the lungs. You need to aim to enable the mucous to move easily.        
What can you do to help?
Use hand washing protocols and diluted bleach to wipe down appropriate surfaces (but not anywhere there is food)
Keep warm and rest.
Rest, rest and more rest.
Starve during the fever stage (don’t ask the body to waste energy trying to digest food)
Drink lots of hot/warm drinks to coat the throat and keep hydrating (every 15 minutes, new drink every hour)
Gargle with cider vinegar or sage tea with salt or just salt and water to move the virus out of the throat. Preferably have the water as hot as you can tolerate but don’t burn yourself!
If the fever is too high, use sponge baths to reduce body temperature using tepid, not cold, water.
Easily digestible food (broth/soups) once the fever stage is past.
Rest, fresh air, sunshine.
Support your major organs
Lungs – hawthorn (tincture, tea, leaf/blossom/haws, eat the new leaves emerging now) Deep breaths moving from chest to stomach and back again, mindful breathing, relaxation breathing.
Heart – hawthorn (unless you are a thin, elderly male with low blood pressure, when hawthorn tincture is not recommended). If you suffer with palpitations from anxiety or menopausal symptoms, mix equal parts of hawthorn berry and motherwort tinctures and take 1tsp during an event or 1 dropperful (half a teaspoon/30 drops) three times a day whilst feeling anxious. Hawthorn berries infused in cider vinegar (1 or 2 tsps in water with honey once a day) can be a gentle alternative to the tincture.
Liver – dandelion, burdock and milk thistle seeds(1tblsp a day ground fresh over cereal or salads).
Kidneys – dandelion, nettle seed tincture, fresh nettles
Herbs for supporting the various stages of viral infection
NB Do not use echinacea if you have any auto-immune conditions.
Immune system
Elderberry (tea -1 cup, tincture, elixir – 1tsp a day prophylactically) and
Astralagus root
Burdock root
Shitake and reishi mushrooms
Bone or mushroom broth,
Drink these several times a day and other immune enhancers beforehand
Vitamins C and D
Turn off the news and social media
Talk to people, play games
Find something that makes you laugh and makes you feel happy
Do something outside (preferably in sunshine!)
Engage in “escape” activities e.g. read a book, play an instrument, craftwork (knitting, spinning, crotchet, sewing, colouring, woodworking, etc.) watch non-stressful TV, play online games.
Use lemon balm, chamomile or IDGAS tea (equal parts of chamomile, lemon balm and vervain)
Flower essences e.g. agrimony and vervain.

During the illness
Stop taking the immune enhancers
Don’t take ibuprofen or neurophen for pain (try to do without aspirin and paracetamol as well if you can) This is now WHO guidance.  
Day 1 Elderberry every 2-3hrs. Gargle with cider vinegar or sage tea with salt or hot water and salt to remove virus from your throat. Have the gargle mixture warm. Take 2tsp of fire cider vinegar with honey to taste as a drink at least three times a day. Increase Vitamin C intake
Day 2 onwards  Use the heating febrifuges and anti-inflammatories - elderflower, ginger, turmeric, yarrow plus demulcents for the throat - marshmallow, plantain plus the usual sage and thyme.
Make elderflower tea and serve hot. Elderflower is a diaphoretic which will make you sweat and kill the virus. This is especially useful for children.
If you have a fever which won’t break, give vervain tincture – half a tsp or 30 drops.
Elderflower and Yarrow is a good combination for fever and anti-inflammatory

Fever pain remedies
Boneset tea or 1 tsp boneset tincture is also useful remedy for bone-aching fevers.
Crampbark tincture – 1tsp 3x a day or every 2-3 hours if very bad. Works with kidney pain and any cramping pain
Chamomile tea – relaxes all smooth muscles. Drink half an hour before bed or when sleep is required.
Wood betony for headaches, especially headaches caused by inflammation of brain tissue e.g acquired brain injury or meningitis. 1tsp tincture in a shot glass of water. Sip.

Before deciding what herb to use, you must be sure what kind of cough you are dealing with.

Dry, irritable coughs: cherry bark, ginger

Cold, hacking coughs: angelica, fennel seed, fenugreek seed, New England Aster

Wet, green, mucous laden coughs: elecampane root (especially good for children and people who suffer with asthma) This can be made into a tea, added to syrup or use a tincture. Very good for bringing up mucous

Deep seated infected chest infections: mullein (make sure to strain tea or decoction thoroughly so tiny hairs from leaf don’t irritate throat tissue)

Ordinary coughs: sage & thyme, white horehound/hyssop/marshmallow leaf or root.

Unproductive coughs: put yourself inside a steam “tent”. Put boiling water in a bowl with aromatic herbs (sage, thyme, white cedar or juniper twigs) or a tsp of Vicks vapour rub (don’t use this if you are asthmatic!). Place a towel over your head to keep the steam in and inhale the steam for at least ten minutes. Do this four times a day if possible. Take great care if doing this with children.

To sooth lung tissue irritated by coughing add plantain leaves and/or marshmallow leaves or roots to a tea. Flax seeds or chia seeds, soaked in water and simmered with cinnamon and orange juice can be used as an alternative.

Onions can be really helpful in warming and expelling mucous. See this article by Kiva Rosethorn Hardin.

Starve during the fever phase but make sure there are lots of hot drinks since this helps get rid of the virus. Don’t allow dehydration as this can bring on kidney issues.
Once the fever has broken
Drink warm, nourishing broths and soups. Continue with the cough herbs and spices e.g. sage, thyme, hyssop, white horehound, golden rod plus soothing herbs and seeds adding in elecampane in whatever form you prefer for any deep seated mucus plus mullein if things are really bad. 
If at any time you can't breathe, then dial 111 and let others take over.
During recovery phase
Don’t try to resume normal activities too soon or you may relapse. Rest, rest and more rest. Continue with the herbal teas and soups you have found helpful.
There is lots of other information available online. My thanks to Coventry Earth Spirit and Lucinda Warner of Whispering Earth blog for prompting this blog post. Other herbalists you may wish to consult include Jim Macdonald, Henriette Kress, Matthew Wood, Margi Flint, Stephen Buhner, Paul Bergner, Nikki Darrell and Pip Waller.