Okay, so with the Coronavirus panic rushing around I thought it was no better time then to post this bad boy. If herbal medicine is superior to any type of conventional Western medicine - it's working preventively. We have herbs that have actually been around, growing and evolving with the viruses present in today's time so when we begin to consume them for their immune system defences we get the best most recently adapted medicine out there.
The World Health Public Organization and Canada's government have stated to wash your hands, cough into your arm, and stay away from those that are sick. But traditional treatment says, boost your immunity, take time to rest, eat healthy food and of course still wash your hands, keep personal space, sanitize hard surfaces and self-isolate when need be.
Herbal medicine is about giving your body the best ability to fight back so that IF it does come in contact with anything it has a better chance at fighting it.
Before I get into herbs I want to also state that lifestyle is obviously needed. Yes, you can take all the herbs out there but if you don't wash your hands you risk getting sick (unless you have some crazy immunity of steal). Make sure to eat a wholesome diet rich in anti-oxidants, omegas, iron and folates which help nourish the body and boost the immunity. Eat a well balanced diet and cut off sugar and carbs if you can. Ensure adequate rest and outdoor time and space away from other individuals to reset and recharge. Drink lots of water, and get some movement in. Other supplements such as Vitamin D, C, E, folates, zinc, Selenium and iron have also been demonstrated to help the body's immunity. Having a healthy gut flora is essentially the backbone of our health so establishing one if your immune deficient/get colds often is something to definitely look into too. I plan on posting about that later though.
Please do not consume any of these plants in essential oil form. Essential oils are really not to be consumed unless under certain circumstances and are really destructive on the mucus membranes in our GIT. When we damage our gut lining we are actually MORE susceptible to other pathogens, that's why we have very strict protocols for how we correctly dose and use essential oils internally. Even oil of oregano does more harm then good - plus many of the studies on it's effectiveness, are the whole plant counterpart, which is more safe, and productive for establishing health. Taking essential oils for health is the same idea as taking modern, conventional allopathic medication for health - it's a simplistic point of view, instead of a holistic strategy. Just because something is more potent, doesn't mean it's healthier. I do however love essential oils topically (with a carrier oil!) when I am feeling under and as an extra preventive measure. They are great medicine when used right and yes, some species can be taken internally too.
ANYWAYS...back to whole form herbs.
So, when were looking at the Corona Virus we want to be taking herbs that either inhibit the cells penetration of our cells, boost our immune system, have anti-viral qualities to them or attach to viruses inhibiting them from doing anything to us. We have no way of knowing for sure if these herbs will be effective against COVID-19 due to lack of scientific testing BUT we can look at herbs that are effective at boosting the immune system or are effective against viruses in the same family.
Echinacea angustafolia/purpurea - also known as Echinacea is a powerhouse, immune modulating herb. It can help an overactive immune system calm down and an underactive one get up and going. The active constituents lie in the root of the plant. And, due to the plant's popular effective healing properties, Echinacea is currently endangered from mass harvesting. I am stating this so you know when you consume this plant it's life died for you - and you should have a deep reverance knowing that. Echinacea works though, and its probably one of the best immune system herbs out there so do use it when you need, just don't over consume it. It stimulates the immune system’s ability to fight off a wide span of infection including fungal, bacterial and viral. This herb works both directly and indirectly in the body. Indirectly it stimulates white blood cell production therefore enhancing the body’s immune system. On a cellular level it works by supplying constituents such as polysaccharides into the body which inhibit a virus’s ability to enter and take over cells. The alkaloids, (which cause the tingly sensation in the mouth), are antibacterial and anti-fungal, also working directly at the cellular level. This herb is best taken at the on-start of a decrease in the immune system in order to inhibit any progression of infection and boost the white blood cells in the body. It is recommended to take this herb in tincture measurements of 5ml – 20ml per day over the whole day or 20ml all at once right before going to bed if thats when your starting to feel it come on. This can also be taken during an illness to help the body heal faster.
Scutellaria baicalensis - also known as chinese skullcap is another immune modulating herb but with bronchodilator actions and affinity. It's been adopted into Western Herbalist due to it's unique profile but is actually from Chinese Medicine origin. I personally believe this plant is one of the most effective preventive measures one could take. It is specific to SARS-related group of viruses such as Cov-2/coronavirus as it protects the attachment point of virus entry, thus helping to inhibit it's penetration. It is also an immune modulating herb - helping to regulate cytokine dis-regulation which when infected with Cov-2, many experience. Many of the studies on this herb's anti-viral properties have been on HIV-1 but nonetheless, it's been demonstrated to inhibit the enzyme that that viruses use to replicate thus decreasing the severity and duration of an infection. This herb would be great during an outbreak with Cov-2 for those infected and those caring for them. This plant is also anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory so if your prone to bacterial lung infections and/or have asthma this herb is a great choice to take now during this season as a preventative measure and to inhibit allergies, and asthma. You do however have to take 35ml of this per week for is to be effective and caution must be taken with this herb as its also the root that we use. Please use with reverence and compassion.
Glycyrrhiza spp - also known as liquorice and is an anti-viral herb that helps to inhibit a viruses entry into our cells. In vitro studies have demonstrated this herb effective against a wide strain of viruses including HSV-1 and SARS related coronaviruses (note that corona virus is a family of viruses). It works directly by binding to the entry point of the cells, changing the fluidity of cell membranes making them impenetrable for viruses and indirectly by inducing T-regulatory cell production. More studies are needed to test this herbs direct efficacy on Cov-2 but out of all our herbal allies, its probably one of the best ones to take specific for this virus. I would recommend 20ml-40ml per week.
Sambucus Niger (FRUC/FLOS) - known as Elder Flower/Berry is a common anti-viral herb. This herb works like liquorice and chinese skullcap in the way that it also helps to protect the attachment point of our cells thus helping to reduce the penetration of the virus into our body. If penetration does occur however this herb also helps to stimulate the immune response - activating T-cells which signals get lost during Covid-19 (the infection if Cov-2). Studies have demonstrated this herb effective against at least 10 strains of influenza and making the recovery time of colds and flus shorter due to it's immune stimulating effects. Having a mixture of both the flower and berry can be really beneficial at this time to help protect the mucus membranes, cells and be anti-viral. You can make a syrup, or buy a tinctures and enjoy daily. Safe enough for the whole family, including children and elders.
Cordyceps - a type of mushroom is another great addition into your immunity punch pack. These bad boys are wonderful immune modulators/enhancers while also helping to regulate autoimmunity and stimulate DC maturation. Stephen Harrod Buhner goes into them allot more in their article about Cov-2 and states that have also been used to protect the cilia of the lungs and are overall wonderful additions specific to this kind of infection/outbreak. I would get these guys in capsulated form and take between 2-3 caps two times per day (00 size capsules).
I hope this all gives you a bit of peace of mind amidst the chaos of the world. Remember that sickness, even on a global scale is about coming home to yourself. It's a transformative time to come inwards and reflect and build ourselves up. I wish you all nothing but health and healing. Please take precautionary measures but enjoy life.
Asia Mann, Herbalist, ERYT-200hr, Birth Doula & Energy Worker.
Fiore, C., Eisenhut, M., Krausse, R., Ragazzi, E., Pellati, D., Armanini, D., & Bielenberg, J. (2007, September 20). Antiviral effects of Glycyrrhiza species. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ptr.2295
Hofmann, H., Pyrc, K., van der Hoek, L., Geier, M., Berkhout, B., & Pöhlmann, S. (2005, May 31). Human coronavirus NL63 employs the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus receptor for cellular entry. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15897467
Li, W., Zhang, C., Sui, J., Kuhn, J. H., Moore, M. J., Luo, S., … Farzan, M. (2005, April 20). Receptor and viral determinants of SARS-coronavirus adaptation to human ACE2. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15791205
PMC, E. (n.d.). Use of quantitative flow cytometry to measure ex vivo immunostimulant activity of echinacea: the case for polysaccharides. Retrieved from https://europepmc.org/article/MED/17718645
Recharging the Immune System With Supplements. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/issue/2018/September2018/recharging-the-immune-system-with-supplements
Zhao, Q., Chen, X.-Y., & Martin, C. (2016). Scutellaria baicalensis, the golden herb from the garden of Chinese medicinal plants. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5031759/
Asia Mann, E-RYT-200hr, Clinical Herbalist, Holistic Birth Doula & Intuitive Healer