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Herbal Toolbox

I was out of state for 3 1/2 weeks in May and early June and when I came home.... jungle land! I like that, though it took me awhile to catch up with the weeding. My gardens are growing well with this heat and rain, but the wind is creating a bit of havoc. I also, unscientifically, discovered the importance of spending time and talking to my plants. My husband planted and transplanted much of my gardens this spring (thanks to the late snow and freeze) and many of them struggled to get a foothold. When I came back and watered and talked to them and fussed over them, they all took off and I have some massive herb gardens now.

Well the topic today is...herbal toolbox for surviving a flu pandemic, i.e. COVID19. We have heard a lot about this subject and I personally tune out a lot of it (too many amateur "doctors" out there) but hang in there with me. I attended a lecture put on by the American Herbalists Guild about what herbalists are learning so far from dealing with COVID19 for the past 4 months or so. If I can stress anything, it is get prepared now with supplies and gardens cause there will be no supplies come Fall, I am guessing. Knowledge is power and preparation removes fear. I am hearing that round 2 of the virus is occurring in China and shutdowns are being reinstituted.

So the basic herbalist strategy is 3 fold: (1). Support the normal host immunity with nutrition and lifestyle (eat well and get outside swimming, hiking, biking etc), (2). Use herbal and other interventions to support host mechanisms of resistance to prevent mild or moderate COVID19 from becoming severe. (3). Monitor close to emerging signs of serious illness and refer to hospital.

Strategy step 1: If you have any co-morbid diseases (respiratory diseases, hypertension, diabetes, etc.), get those under control now. Improve them as much as you can.

Make sure you are taking Vitamin D supplementation (4,000-7,000 IU).

Correct any deficiencies in Zinc, vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Selenium.

(I take Zn lozenges during onset of any cold like symptoms, test my hair for

vitamins and minerals 3 times a year and load up on vitamin C rich foods and

plants like rose hips)

Normalize omega-3 fatty acids. If deficient, will experience a lot of inflammatory issues.

Increase garlic intake by adding lots to your food.

Remember, add garlic last to your food dish. If it is cooked to much you loose the

important sulfur compounds you want for your immunity.

Strategy step 2: When exposure is suspected start using herbs like echinacea, boneset, astragalus, garlic, sambucus (elderberry), asparagus and shitake mushrooms. Want to strengthen the immune system and decrease the inflammation.

Here is one formula to try (they make this into a tincture):

equal parts: echinacea augustifolia, boneset, cedar

1/2 part: licorice and ginger.

Take 10-20 drops in 1 teaspoon elderberry syrup, 3-4 times a day

Also start adding Astragalus root to your soups and stews to get this immune booster in

your system in volume. Make a tea with 1/2 ounce astragalus in 1 pint of water.

Simmer 1/2 hour and drink throughout the day.

At Onset of Symptoms: increase the dose of above formula to 20-30 drops every

2-3 hours in 1 teaspoon elderberry syrup.

Once symptoms start, there is a 10 day window when there is a turning point with this COVID19, where either you get better or infection becomes chronic or go into a cytokine storm. 10 days to really blast this virus with good herbals to stop it from turning severe.

COVID19 messes up the body's temperature regulation so can change from 99.5 to 97.4 degrees and experience chills. Try treating with a hot bath or shower and bundle up in warm blankets. At onset of fever, get complete rest (don't try to push through this one, remember you have a 10 day window), go on immediate fast, take hot showers, rest in bed with covers on and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

A good cold and flu tea to try at this point is a mix of peppermint, elderflower, yarrow and boneset. All of these plants grow here in the Red River Valley. Get them growing or discover where you can forage for them. At Kanji Naturals, we offer a "Winter Blues" tea which contains most of these herbs and adds Monarda and Linden as well.

Try nasal rinses and steams. Add herbs like thyme and monarda (bee balm) to bring medicine to the effected tissues and airway. Can also use essential oils like thyme, oregano and eucalyptus in steam water. Get a netti pot for those nasal rinses

For the dry cough try a tea with herbs like marshmallow, lobelia, licorice, pleurisy root and add some ginger.

Try pine based chest rubs and just keep applying. All those pine trees around us in MN are great for the cold and flu season. Add some essential oils to get the medicine in your airway.

An ancient recipe for pneumonia and influenza is a tea made with milkweed, boneset and skullcap. Add Capsicum (hot pepper) if having chills or lobelia to relax.

For all these above formulas, might want to add some pleasant tasting herbs to help the medicine go down, such as cardamom, cinnamon, fenugreek or fennel.

So these are some great ideas and herbs to have in your personal apothecary. It's not to late to add some seeds into your gardens so you have your own herbs to use. These herbs can get expensive and difficult to find if you wait till fall or winter. Stop staying indoors and get outside and exercise - any kind, whatever you enjoy and gets your circulatory and digestive system moving. Stocking up on supplies now will be much cheaper, but most of this you can grow or forage. Stay healthy and positive. Make those changes in your lifestyle and attitude. Take time to be grateful, reach out to someone who needs your strength and find a way to make a difference in your family and community, no matter how simple. We all have something to offer and shifting our energy to a higher level through gratitude and service is a fantastic immune booster.

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