Coping With COVID

All your resources for giving that virus the vamoose in one place.

We've been through 'Spanish' Flu, 'Russian' Flu, SARS, 'Bird' Flu, 'Beer' Flu, 'Swine' Flu, Corona Virus - but even the common cold or seasonal flu can bring a household to its knees and make everyone feel pretty miserable.

And that's not even counting the most dreaded lurgy of all .... MAN FLU!!!

I can't help you with toilet paper (what's with that? keep calm peeps ...) but I CAN help you with wonderful immune-boosting herbs, rich in Vitamin C and other goodness, which may to help prevent upper respiratory infections and reduce the severity of the symptoms; and also potent essential oils for helping reduce the spread of germs.

We drink Cold & Flu Blitz tea daily whenever anyone is feeling under the weather and our experience is that although it doesn't totally eliminate the symptoms, the cold feels less severe and doesn't linger as long.

So have a browse and put together your own kit for when the "plague" strikes.

In the meantime, here's some simple pointers for getting the fam through the winter and any time respiratory viruses are running amok.

* Sunlight is your friend. Walk in it. Lie in it. Hang your clothes in it. Let it into your house. Lay household items and toys in it.

* Dirt. Schedule Dirty-Toes time. Walk barefoot on the earth and get muddy. Kids really need this. So do you.

* Sleep. Early to bed, early to rise - old-fashioned wisdom but it makes a lot of sense. Early night, peeps. Practice sleep hygiene. Keep devices out of the sleeping space. Keep your room cool and dark. There's a huge connection between optimal sleep and good immune functioning.

* Gut health. Your gastro-intestinal tract is the very seat of your immune system. So, avoid sugar and refined carbs. Optimize your gut health with leafy greens, bitters, meat (for zinc) or root veges (if you're vegan), cruciferous veg (cabbage family), garlic, turmeric, liver-loving herbs and greens, traditional fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yoghurt, kombucha), pre-biotic foods, and pro-biotics and bone broth (or root veg broth for vegans). 

* Medicinal mushrooms. Magic for the immune system. Reishi, Shitaake, Turkey Tail, Cordyceps, Hen-of-the-Woods etc. I add these dried or fresh to my bone broth, but I also have them in my nutritional powders and you can buy capsules also.

* Social distancing - practice this when advisable. It really is a very sensible precaution that slows and frustrates the spread highly contagious organisms. Also - it's incredible how people who are LEAST served by the demands and pressures of More-More-More late-stage capitalism tend to find a slower pace of life, home-based living and more connection with their nearest and dearest a POSITIVE shift - at least in the short-term. 

* Community building and connection. Resist the push to be individualistic and reach out to others, especially those more vulnerable. Share your elderberries and oregano. Even share your toilet paper! Check in on the elderly and fragile. Explore food co-op and barter possibilities. (How strange that this virus works to the disadvantage of extreme capitalism but promotes the ideals and benefits of collectivism ... is Mother Nature having a laugh ...)

* Hand-washing. It's simple, it should be a routine, and this is all a good reminder. Use plain, natural soap and water. Yes that plain chemical-free soap will likely have essential oils in it. That's all good. Avoid hand sanitizers. Natural soap and water is the thing. If you really need to have a hand sanitizer for when soap and water isn't available, I suggest aloe vera gel, 60%+ alcohol, glycerine and an EO like Tea Tree, Oregano or Thieves (smells heavenly).

* Consider a mask - to protect others! IF you're sneezing or coughing. Otherwise, please leave them for front-line medical staff. Cough into your elbow, just like they teach the primary school kids.

* Vitamin C. Simple, daily, necessary, safe. I like a capsule or powder with Vitamin C, Zinc and Echinacea. Avoid the fizzy tabs that are full of aspartame. Be generous with the citrus fruit, berries and beauties like feijoyas. 

* Elderberries (Sambuccus nigra). These delicious little berries, as well as being loaded with Vitamin C and anti-oxidants, have anti-viral and immune-enhancing properties as well. They are ideal to add to the pantry to prevent and treat influenza, the common cold and other acute viral infections. They have a delicious blackcurrant-type taste, which is handy when you want something that tastes great to convince unwell children to take. 

* Active Manuka Honey. This stuff is awesome for sore throats and general immune-boosting properties. You can add it to herbal teas. There's also my herb-infused honey mel: Herbal Honey, with Sage, Thyme, Lavender, Oregano and Rose.

* Garlic. The humble Allium sativum is not just a pretty taste - it's also known as Nature's anti-biotic. Garlic contains the all-important allicin which has potent anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal and anti-oxidant properties. As well as boosting immunity and supporting the body to fight infection, it also modifies gut flora and so instructs us in the connection between healthy gut flora and a strong immune system. Use garlic liberally in your cooking - but choose locally grown organic if you can - and use it raw or nearly raw - add it at the END of cooking, rather than the beginning, to preserve the allicin - that good stuff that you want in your innards! If you are worried about garlic breath, there are many capsule formulations available, such as the Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract Immune Formula.

Vitamin D. This is vital for the immune system. We get less sunlight in the winter and what happens? We get sick. If you're prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder, this may be an indication that you need to bolster your Vitamin D. Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D when it's at home) boosts cathelicidin, which is a naturally occuring broad-spectrum anti-biotic in the body (it is an anti-microbial polypepetide). Most moderns have sub-par Vitamin D levels. So we need to be copycats: literally - copy your cat! Notice how she's a heat-seeking missile for pools of winter sun. Make like a cat and bare your skin in the winter sun (coming in through a window is good - so you don't freeze to death ....) Also: if you can't sunbathe, get your mushrooms to do it for you. Let your mushrooms sit in the sun and soak up the Vitamin D before you use them. Yes, this is one way to up your Vitamin D levels! And of course, take a good quality Vitamin D capsule through the winter.

* Herbal Medicine If you know a Naturopath or Herbalist (*waves*), they will be able to prepare you a tincture of liquid herbal medicine or extract (herbs extracted in alcohol or glycerin) specific to your needs. Excellent immune-boosting herbs we may select for you include Andrographis, Liquorice Root, Echinacea, Baptisia, Mullein, Elecampane, Adhatodha and Elder, depending on your symptoms and needs.

* Essential Oils. Many of these have proven anti-microbial actions (Google away) and can be useful, especially to cleanse surfaces. I have placed a drop or two in my children's baths since they were little and we do seem to be a remarkably lurgy-free household. I like Raven for respiratory tract infections, Thieves for anti-microbial cleaning, Oregano, Lavender, Thyme, Clove, Eucalyptus and Tea Tree oils. 

DISCLAIMER: I am *not* irresponsibly claiming "cures" for any sort of infectious process. This is information of a general nature to support optimal human well-being and immune functioning. Do you want to look me the in the eye and tell me that good sleep and exercising in the weather and eating whole natural foods is not something you'd like to see all your patients doing ... Shall we have a war of Duelling Research Papers on the topic of whether stress reduces immune functioning and human well-being or not? (Yes I am being a little salty and eye-roll-y. Media and social media lately is bringing out these tendencies in me ....)

DISCLOSURE: Yes, I am a Registered Nurse. Yes, I am a qualified Herbalist. Yes, I belong to a professional organization. No, none of my children are vaccinated for common childhood diseases. But yes, most of my family has had a Covid vaccine because the risk:benefit equation is different in this situation. No, I am not anti-vax, I merely question forced mandatory consumption of monopoly product in any form, and believe in freedom of choice. Yes, all four children are ridiculously healthy and have never had a disease that they could potentially pass on to the immuno-compromised. Yes, I was vaccinated in childhood, but would be considered to be woefully under-vaccinated by the standards that have begun to be enforced in the last few years. No, I have no objection to anyone choosing to be fully or partially vaccinated. Yes, I believe vaccinations can be a relevant part of a person's health care strategy, especially during an *actual* pandemic. No, I am not against medical treatment when needful and appropriate. No, suggesting natural methods by which to promote optimal health does not preclude medical advice and intervention. No, I do not believe in or accept unnecessary polarized, either/or view points concerning these matters. Yes, I try to stay abreast of evidence and best practice as per my professional responsibilities. Yes, I believe the science is never settled and we all have a responsibility to keep researching, questioning and learning. Yes, I believe the virus, like all the others before it, is "real" and I am vehemently anti-conspiracy theory and will not partake in politically-motivated disinformation campaigns with their de-stablization tactics powered not only by misogynistic white supremacists but likely with the help of Russian bot-farms too ...

References and interesting links (for background interest only - not meant to be conclusive or prescriptive):

Braun, L. & Cohen, M. (2011). Herbs & Natural Supplements (3rd edition). Sydney, Australia: Churchill Livingston Elsevier.

Hechtman, L. (2011). Clinical naturopathic medicine. Sydney, Australia: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.

Ross, IA. Medicinal plants of the world, volume 3: Chemical constituents, traditional and modern medicinal uses. Humana Press Inc, 2005.

Roxas M, Jurenka J. Colds and influenza: a review of diagnosis and conventional, botanical and nutritional considerations. Alt Med Rev 2007;12(1):25-48

A guide to self-isolation or quarantine with Covid-19 - by Australian GPs

Separating the Facts From the Misinformation About COVID-19

Anti-influenza activity of elderberry (Sambucus nigra)

Ascorbate is a Proven, Powerful Antiviral

The clinical effects of vitamin C supplementation in elderly hospitalised patients with acute respiratory infections

COVID-19: An Integrative MDs Commonsense Approach - Aviva Romm

Antiviral Natural Products and Herbal Medicines - 2014

2020: Influenza vaccination and respiratory virus interference among Department of Defense personnel during the 2017-2018 influenza season. : "Receiving influenza vaccination may increase the risk of other respiratory viruses, a phenomenon known as virus interference... Vaccine derived virus interference was significantly associated with coronavirus ..."

2020: Coronavirus and COVID-19: your questions answered by virus experts

2020: Vitamin C Infusion for the Treatment of Severe 2019-nCoV Infected Pneumonia

2020: Coronavirus and the Sun: a Lesson from the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

2010: Protective essential oil attenuates influenza virus infection

Blitzing conspiracy theories:

Fundamentalism, Patriarchy, Misogyny - not nice, but what's that got to do with vaccination or Coronavirus denialism? The swarming tactics of the far-right agenda in USA