Immune support during the Coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic is important. The same things that work for general immune support against infectious disease is still true. With this virus, you specifically want to support the respiratory system, and the lungs in particular. Keep this in mind. This data is meant for practitioners, as an educational tool during the SARS-CoV-2, AKA Coronavirus outbreak in considering methods to support their patients immune system. It is for educational purposes only. If a lay person is reading this and is ill, they need to contact their healthcare provider.
The herbs listed below can be individually looked up at this Herbal Monograph link.
Support The Immune System To Help Prevent COVID-19 During the Coronavirus Pandemic
- Smokers and vapors should stop these practices as smoking and vaping put them at much greater risk with COVID-19. (There is currently an arugument about smokers possibly having a decreased reaction to SARS-COV-2, but this has not been substantiated and there is indeed a major argument going on in the medical community about this.)
- Stay away from any chemicals, moldy spaces or other environmental toxins that can irritate the lungs and therefore make you more susceptible.
- Stay hydrated to protect your mucous membranes in the respiratory tract. Dry air can be an issue if you have a respiratory infection and sometimes humidification is necessary in the air. Use a hygrometer to look at the level of humidity in your home as too much humidified air causes mold growth.
- Get exercise, drink clean water, eat organic food, breath clean air.
- Get adequate, restful and refreshing sleep. For some melatonin can be helpful taken 30-60 minutes prior to bed. in a Cleveland Clinic-led study, melatonin provided a 30% decreased liklihood of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 and for African Americans this increased to 52%.
- Eliminate chemicals and toxins in your environment and remove them from your body.
- Nourish, tonify, and enhance organ systems that are depleted or not functioning properly. Pay specific attention to the immune system, digestive system, liver and the lungs.
- Discontinue recreational drug use.
- Decrease prescription drug use as much as possible under the guidance of your physician.
- Rest and meditation/prayer.
- Bathe in sunshine and relax in nature. If there is a lack of sun, supplement with vitamin D. However, vitamin D is just one thing you get from the sun and does not replace it. Observational studies suggest associations between low vitamin D concentrations and higher rates of COVID-19 infection. (Also see https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2770157, and https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/106/3/e1343/5934827) Before starting Vitamin D supplements I have individuals get their blood levels checked and want to see them at 50-80 ng/ml
- Vitamin A is also helpful and can be obtained from meat, especially high in liver, Cod liver oil, and in the precursor of carotene in all vegetables that are orange colored such as squash, sweet potato, carrots and is also in many green vegetables to some degree.
- Enjoy the benefits of massage and hydrotherapy.
- Include joyful activities in your day.
- Gut health is necessary for immune system health. A large part of the immune system is in the gut lining. This is called the gastrointestinal associated lymphatic tissues (GALT). 80% of the antibodies in your body are made here. Support the gut immune system by eating fermented foods to supply extra microbiota and feeding the resident beneficial gut bacteria with fiber. Bone broth with garlic, ginger (or other warming spices), shitake mushrooms and green onions is good for the gut unless you have high histamine issues.
- Probiotics have been found to be better than placebo in reducing the number episodes of acute upper respiratory tract infections, the rate of episodes of acute upper respiratory tract infection and reducing antibiotic use.
- Vitamin C supports the immune system. Vitamin C is accumulated in white blood cells and used during active immune responses. It is a great antioxidant, protecting cells from toxins generated by viral activity. Helps inhibit histamine and repolarizes monocytes. As a preventative 1-3 grams per day is used. For treatment, take up to bowel tolerance (1-8 grams per day). You can use vitamin C and add rose hip berries to your teas. I suggest Rose hips as a better choice than vitamin C. IV vitamin C has been shown to be helpful with COVID-19.
- Zinc supplements have been shown to increase immune function. I suggest 25 mg per day for adults and about 15 mg per day for children. Adults can go up to 50 mg per day for 10 days if needed. Take the supplement with food to avoid nausea. Zinc has also been shown to reduce the duration of flu and cold symptoms from 7.6 to 4.4 days. Zinc lozenges are available in many health food stores. One of the reasons people using hydroxychloroquine also often use zinc is that hydroxychloroquine appears to help the zinc get inside the infected cells to destroy the vius. Several studies have shown increased intracellular zinc concentrations inhibit RNA-dependent RNA polymerase and other proteins necessary for the different phases of a viruses life cycle. There are other zinc ionophores that also appear to help zinc get inside the cells and they are quercetin, ECGC (in green tea) and ivermectin. Any time you take zinc for more than a couple months you should consult your practitioner as you may need to take a smaller amount of copper with it to balance them. I personally suggest zinc with green tea or quercetin for prevention rather than ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine that some people are using long term.
- Magnesium is deficient in about 1/2 the U.S. population and is necessary for adequate immune function.
- Selenium is also necessary for immunity and is very low in the soil in some parts of the U.S. while very high in the soil in others.
- Vitamin Bs are also helpful for immune support as well as adrenal support and support of your biotransformation system and mitochondrial support. All these systems work hard during an infection.
- Resveratrol has been shown to inhibit the replication of SARS-CoV-2 in vitro and has many studies showing support in a variety of viral illnesses.
- Turmeric has some interesting research showing it may help prevent cytokine storms seen in COVID-19. Curcumin, a constituent in Turmeric has been shown to hypermethylate CpG islands in research. It is known that viral infections use epigenetic mechanisms in general and especially CpG methylation to find ways to induce syncytium development and enterocytosis or take advantage of hypomethylated cell membranes. SARS-CoV-2 uses hypomethylated membranes as cellular entry points. Curcumin has anti-inflammatory, immunomodulating properties and has been demonstrated to repolarize macrophages.
- In research hypomethylation of cells increases the chance the virus can take hold. Therefore, supporting methylation in people who are known to have methylation issues can be helpful. Don't willy-nilly take methylation support supplements if you don't know you need them though as too much methylation may also enhance the liklihood of cancer or other issues. Our bodies like moderation.
- Eat a nourishing diet of whole organic or biodynamic foods that are high quality-fat, high quality-protein, high-fiber, and with complex carbohydrates. A healthy diet has lots of dark green leafy vegetables as well as colorful vegetables and fruits included. Make sure the fruits and vegetables are fresh, and ripe.
- Remove any food sensitivities and unhealthy foods from the diet. Elimination diets are a good method to find offending foods if there are any. Sugar is not a friend of the immune system, so remove it entirely.
- The nutrients associated with maintaining an adequate immune system are the minerals iron, zinc, and selenium and vitamins A, C, D, E, and B vitamins. Many people are nutrient deficient, especially of minerals. So a baseline of proper nutrition is very important. Make sure your diet includes these nutrients.
- Consider Adaptogen herbs. Most of them have been shown to enhance oxygenation of lung tissue and the ability to protect the lungs for free radical damage. A couple such herbs would be Rhodiola and Schisandra.
- If a person already has phlegm in their lungs or starts to get mucus in their lungs from a chronic illness or infectious illness, use of N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) can help thin the mucus. However, be careful as NAC also chelates out and removes some heavy metals as well as some mycotoxins and this can make a preson feel worse if the person has either of these conditions. Additionaly details on NAC and other solutions are also listed below. An herb that is also very good at thining and removing mucus from the lungs is Mullein.
Things That Can Affect The Immune System
- Age - the very young and very old can have a decreased immune system reaction.
- Nutritional Status - Good nutritional support is necessary to a proper functioning immune system.
- Genetics - We are born with a more or less effective immune system and have to deal with the cards we are dealt.
- Medications - corticosteroids, immunosuppressives used in tranpsplant surgery and other drugs may decrease the immune systems activity.
- Environment - There may be environmental factors in the home or work environment that can effect the immune system.
- Radiation - Given during cancer therapy, diagnostic imaging or due to environmental disasters, radiation can decrease or stop the production of white blood cells temporarily.
- Stress - Chronic stress can decrease the immune systems activity due to endocrine system effects. Constant fear of the Coronavirus is not healthy for your immune system and should be dealth with. "Coronavirus Fear may Decrease Your Immunity"
- Chronic wasting diseases such as cancer and TB as well as immunodeficiency diseases such as HIV can negatively effect the immune system.
- Mental/emotional outlook - The ability to be content, happy and to be able to roll with the punches has been shown to enhance the bodies immunity.
Nutritional, Herbal & Lifestyle Recommendations To Support The Immune System During Coronavirus And COVID-19
The immune system needs nourishment from the food we take in. It is dependent on a healthy lifestyle for optimum functionality. Healthy food, a safe environment, sunshine, clean air, healthy water, exercise, prayer/meditation and a fulfilling life are necessary for optimum immune system function. Nutritional products and herbs can be used to support the normal function of the immune system. Some basic nutritional information as well as some of the more popular herbs are listed below.
Healthy eating is one of the fundamentals necessary to support your immune system. Eat the right foods and be conscious about the quality of food you are consuming. There are antibiotics and steroids in non-organic meat and dairy products that may effect your immune system. Only eat high quality meat and dairy from healthy animals. Your immune system can not function properly witout adequate protein. Pesticides and herbicides in non-organic vegetables may also effect your immune system.
Caretenoids (as well as other flavonoids) in carrots, yams, squash, tomatoes, melons, calendula flowers, dandelion flowers, elecampane flowers, green leafy vegetables are beneficial. Carotenoids protect phagocytes from auto-oxidative damage, enhance T- and B-lymphocyte proliferation responses, stimulate effector T cell functions, enhance their cytotoxic capabilities and stimulate macrophage and NK cell activities and increase production of certain interleukins. They also protect lipids in the cell wall from damage.
Eat wild foods which are nutritious and immune-supportive such as plantain, cleavers, chickweed, stinging nettles (cooked only): many of these herbs can be used in stir fries, soups, or juiced. The stinging nettles should be cooked due to the possibility of being stung otherwise. The chickweed is great in salad. plantain and cleavers are best juiced. These vibrant green wild foods support our bodies via their vitamins, minerals, enzymes and ways we yet have to discover.
Foods such as beets and other root vegetables as well as fall greens are helpful for nutritional support to the immune system.
Eating antioxidants in your fresh fruits and vegetables is very helpful. All brightly colored foods have antioxidants in them. The top 5 antioxidants from a USDA study of 100 plants with antioxidants was as follows:
5. Blueberries (cultivated)
4. Pinto beans
3. Red kidney beans
2. Blueberries (wild)
1. Small red beans (dried)
It is best to use foods grown without chemicals. Dairy products can cause a wide range of problems that affect the immune system. This may be due to an allergy or sensitivity to the milk sugar or protein in the milk or it can simply be due to the use of pasteurized milk. If you want to use milk products, the best milk to use for most people is fresh, organic, raw goat milk. Fermented milk products are better than non-fermented milk products. It is best to avoid all hydrogenated oils and polyunsaturated vegetable oils. These oils result in the production of free radicals which directly impact the immune system. Consider less use of oil in cooking and when you use oil, use olive oil, coconut oil and butter as cooking oil/fat and get essential fatty acids by adding fresh flax and fish oils to the diet as well as eating fish and nuts. Also avoid excessive amounts of sugary foods, food additives, preservatives, artificial flavors, excess iron, low nutrient, refined food diets, pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and hormones in food, contaminated water, prescription drugs, recreational drugs (including coffee and chocolate).
Foods And Herbs To Consider Increasing In Your Diet Currently
I want to mention Cayenne separately. This herb is useful in supporting lung resistance to chemicals and illness when used consistently over time. However, when you take it initially it causes some inflammation in the respiratory tract. Therefore, I don't give it to people with acute respiratory distress.
Herbs for the Immune System
Below I have given brief descriptions of herbs that are used for immune system support. These are very simplistic views of these herbal categories, but they give you an idea of what each of these herbal terms mean. For an in-depth understanding of these terms and using herbs, read "Herbal ABCs".
- Lymphagogues are herbs which stimulate lymphatic activity. They will help to move cellular debris out of the body.
- Alteratives are herbs which stimulate the blood as well as the skin and liver in their respective eliminatory functions. Herbs in these categories can be very beneficial to immune system support by assisting in removal of cellular waste, chemical toxins or microbes from the body.
- Immunomodulators support the immune system activity while antivirals specifically have been shown to be beneficial at preventing or treating illnesses associated with viruses. However, the way
- Antivirals are thought to work through support of the bodies immune system as an immunomodulator, rather than direct activity on the virus unless used on the skin or mucous membranes where the antiviral herb has direct contact with the virus. In the body, the virus hides in your cells and therefore herbs that are immuonomodulators are helpful as they enhance the bodies immune system repsonse to protect you from the virus.
- Anticatarrhals thin and decrease excess mucus.
- Diaphoretics move heat in the body and reduce fevers. However, we are not looking to remove fevers as fever can be our friend. However, if too high we do want to lower it. Our body raises the body temperature to help kill off the viruses. I prefer tepid baths and diaphoretics to Tylenol for lowering fever. Tylenol lowers glutathione intracellular levels and toxicity is possible from Tylenol. By the way, IV NAC is used to treat Tylenol overdose.
- Antibacterials are used for bacterial associated illnesses and are useful if you get a bacterial infection superimposed on top of the viral infection. Many of the deaths in the 1918 flu pandemic were due to bacterial pneumonias superimposed on top of the flu. Many of the herbs listed below can be found in more than one category. I will cover immunomodulators here. For data on some of these other categories of herbs, I suggest you read my article on the flu.
How To Decide What to Do
The herbs below should not be used if you do not know how to use them. Look them up for additional details here.
Prevention can include many of the lifestyle factors listed above and support of nutrition. This is the time we take good care of ourselves.
First sing of an issue: If we start to get a sore throat, and other upper respiratory symptoms this is the time to attempt to nip it in the bud. The preventative and acute formula I as a tincture listed below may be adequate by itself or I might add a tea also that could include Thyme or Oregano whichever was doing well in my garden with some Baikal skullcap, Ginger and Licorice if blood pressure is low or normal. I would drink the tea liberally.
Lung involvement with mucus: If the virus moves down into the lungs I start to consider expectorants to remove phlegm and antivirals and antiseptics for the lungs as well as general support of the lungs. Steam Inhalations with antiseptics such as Oregano or Thyme (tiny amounts if using essential oil - see directions) can be breathed into the lungs.Expectorants could be Osha, Thyme, Oregano, Elecampane, Yerba santa, Gumweed as needed.
Lungs irritated and dry cough: If there is a dry and hacking or spasmodic cough, I would consider Khella and only consider Lobelia if the practitioner is use to using it. Pleurisy root can help here, especially if there is a fever and lack of sweating. A supportive herb for dry hacking coughs is red clover.
A special mention goes to Elecampane that I find is amazing for general lung support as well as gastrointestinal support in debilitating respiratory tract disease.
Agent which enhances the body’s natural defense system to assist in infectious conditions or other situations which tax the immune system, such as invasive tumors. These herbs act in various ways to promote different aspects of the immune system as well as support of anatomical functions such as decreasing mucous, tightening up lax tissues and decreasing inflammation so the tissues are better capable of protecting themselves from invasive organisms.
- Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
- Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)
- Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
- Cedar (Thuja spp.)
- Echinacea (Echinacea spp.)
- Elecampane (Inula helenium)
- Flag (Iris versicolor)
- Garlic -fresh (Allium sativa)
- Ginger (Zingiber officinalis)
- Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
- Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
- Lomatium (Lomatium dissectum)
- Oregon grape root (Mahonia spp.)
- Osha (Ligusticum porteri)
- Paracress (Spilanthes acmella)
- Poke root (Phytolacca americana)
- Prickly ash (Zanthoxylum clava-herculis)
- Red root (Ceanothus americanus)- don't use with COVID-19
- Wu wei zi (Schisandra chinensis)
- Yerba mansa (Anemopsis californica)
- Wild indigo (Baptisia tinctoria )
Herbs For Prevention & Treatment
Currently short of being hospitalized, pople are being sent home to isolate themselves. They are often not given anything that can assist in support of their immune system. Rather than telling them to go home and call if they get worse, we can be proactive and consider the following handful of herbs, as well as the suggestions to support the immune system above. Please realize many other herbs are also useful and links are given for additional details on other herbs. These herbs are not appropriate to be given to people with autoimmune disease or who are using immune suppressive herbs for organ transplant treatment.
All doses are for adults: To get child doses for herbs, simply take the child's weight and divide it by 150. Use this percent multiplied with the adult dose.
Example for 50# child and 120 drop dose. 50/150 = 0.33, when you multiple 33%x120= 39.6 or 40 drops.
Many of these herbs can act as diuretics and therefore make sure you stay hydrated when taking them.
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) is used for night sweats, deficiency of chi (Indicated by fatigue, weakness, and loss of appetite), and diarrhea. Studies have shown that Astragalus appears to restore T-cell counts to relatively normal ranges, even in cancer patients. This is a good herb to use preventatively. It can be made into a tea or added to a soup or stew. It is not usually used after an infection has taken hold.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea/angustifolia) increases the production and activity of lymphocytes and macrophages. It also increases the production of interferon. Echinacea enhances the immune system’s resistance to infections. Due to its specificity for infectious conditions, it is often used for influenza and other viruses, but it really shines in bacterial infections.
The plant contains 3 groups of constituents, high molecular weight polysaccharides, alkylamides and chicoric acid, that are known to act as immunomodulators. As a liquid extract take 1/2 - 1 teaspoon, three times per day for prevention and 1 teaspoon 4-6 times per day for treatment.
Garlic (Allium sativum) has antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal activity. Take a clove of raw garlic per day for prevention or 2-3 times per day for treatment. Warning: If a person tends to be hot with a ruddy complexion, tends to be warm when others are cold, too much Garlic will not be good for them. This herb can really dry people out, so drink more water if using it.
Boneset (Eupatorium perforatum) is specific for the type of intense flu pains where you ache to your bones. This herb is also a diaphoretic and is best taken as a hot tea although it can be used as a tincture also. You will see it used the same way in homeopathy also. This herb is used for treatment only and not used long term due to possible pyrrolizidine content unless herb tested to have low or no pyrrolizidines is used. In place of using the herb Boneset, there is a homeopathic made from it that is also often used. It goes by the abbreviated Latin name Eupatorium perf. Take a heaping tablespoon per cup water, infused and drink 1/4 cup 3-4 times per day. Can use the homeopathic version rather than herb as it has no pyrrolizidine alkaloids. This tea can be taken at the same time as any of the acute treatments listed below if one is sick. This herb was considered to be one of the more helpful herbs during the flu pandemic of 1918.
Yarrow (Achillea millefollium) is a diaphoretic, astringent, antiinflammatory, antimicrobial that is wonderful to use in the feverish stage and especially if there is a lot of congestion. I only use it short term usually. I like to use it as a tea, but if using it as a tincture it only takes 3-15 drops usually.
Osha (Ligusticum porteri) is antiviral, immunomodulator, anticattarrhal and diaphoretic. I find this herb has a synergistic effect when used with Licorice and Echiancea. It's especially helpful if you have a lot of mucus as it helps dispel the excess mucus with its drying action. This herb I use as a tincture or suck on a chunk of the root. Wonderful for congestion and quite useful in the initial stages of a viral infection starting. 5-20 drops. I usually use this with other herbs. In severe acute situations I use 60-120 drops multiple times per day.
Elder (Sambucus nigra/canadensis) This expectorating, antiviral and diaphoretic herb has become popularized with the extensive advertising for the brand name Sambucol that uses a berry extract. Indeed the berries, leaves and the flowers are useful for the flu. I love to use the flowers as a relaxing diaphoretic. They are safe to use for children and don't taste bad like Yarrow does. You can make a tea with both the flowers, leaves and berries. The flowers and berries are the safest part of this plant to use. They both are nice as a tea. There is misinformation going around the internet about the berries of this plant causing a cytokine storm. If this is something you are concerned about, please read this well written article.
Baikal skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) This herb has been used for the treatment of the common cold, fever and influenza virus infections. More and more studies show a variety of antiviral activity from roots of this plant or constituents, some being in vivo studies in animals and humans. This is starting to make the herb more well known in western medicine circles.
Research has shown ingestion of the constituent baicalein resulted in the inhibition of influenza A virus replication in mice, which was linked to baicalin in the blood serum. In treatment of severe hand, foot and mouth disease it was shown to rapidly relieve fever, decrease oral lesions and rashes, and improve nervous system involvement in humans.
Studies have demonstrated the constituent baicalin has in vitro and in vivo antiviral activity against influenza viruses, dengue virus, enterovirus and Japanese encephalitis virus. Some constituents target cell attachment and intracellular replication of H1N1 and H3N2. In a preliminary screening study of herbs S. baicalensis extract has anti-RSV activity. In a patent filing, Zhong et al. claimed that ethanol extracts obtained from the genus of Scutellaria had anti-RSV activity.
Use one cup of tea - 1 T per cup of hot water and simmer 20 minutes. Drink 1/2 cup 3-4 times per day.
Herbs I Consider When There is Severe Lung Involvement And Links to Additional Data On Them
Preventative & Acute Herbal Formula #1
This formula is useful as a preventative if you are around someone else who is ill.
Echinacea - Echinacea ang/purpurea root 40-50%
Osha - Ligusticum porteri 20-40%
Andrographis - Andrographis paniculata 15-20%
Licorice - Glycyrrhiza glabra 15-20% - not to be used with high blood pressure
Actions: Supports the immune system as well as protects against infectious diseases of a viral nature. It acts as an anti-inflammatory, antiviral, carminative, stimulates the lymphatic system, supports the adrenals, thins mucous associated with colds and decreases congestion. Examples of use are treatment of colds, influenza, and chronic viral fatigue. It can be helpful in many situations where the immune system is under stress. Although this formula is used as a general immune supportive formula, it is specifically helpful for viral respiratory infections and can be used preventatively.
Liquid extract dosage
Dosage - acute: 1/2 to 2 teaspoons in a little water, 3-5 times per day.
Dosage - preventative: 60-120 drops in a little water, 3 times per day.
Dosage - acute: 2 teaspoons per cup water, 3-5 times per day.
Dosage - preventative: 1 teaspoon per cup water, 3 times per day.
Contraindications, Cautions and Words of Wisdom: Chronic large doses of licorice can mimic aldosteronism by increasing sodium resorption and potassium excretion by the kidney. Avoid using with pre-existent high blood pressure. The symptoms of pseudoaldosteronism are hypertension, edema and hypokalemia. See full contraindications for Licorice before use.
Other Herbs To Use If Osha Is Not Available
Consider fresh Oregano or Thyme or (freshly dried). A strong tea of these with baikal skullcap added, and some Burdock is helpful a few times per day as a substitute for the above formula or in conjunction with it.
Acute Herbal Formula #2 - In the beginning
Echinacea - Echinacea ang/purpurea root 25-40%
Osha - Ligusticum porteri 20-25%
Yerba mansa - Anemopsis californica 10-20%
Elder flower - Sambucus spp. 10-20%
Licorice - Glycyrrhiza glabra 10-15%
Poke root - Phytollaca decandra 5% (or other lymphagogue if no Poke)
Contraindications, Cautions and Words of Wisdom: Chronic large doses of licorice can mimic aldosteronism by increasing sodium resorption and potassium excretion by the kidney. Avoid using with pre-existent high blood pressure. The symptoms of pseudoaldosteronism are hypertension, edema and hypokalemia. See full contraindications for Licorice before use. Don't use Red Root with COVID-19 as it will enhance platelet count if they are low. Better to allow them to be low.
Liquid extract dosage
Dosage - Acute: Use 60-120 drops, 4-5 times per day. Best used by adding to hot water or tea. Can alternatively be put into a small amount of water to drink.
Dosage - Preventative: Use 20-60 drops, 3-4 times per day. Add to a small amount of water.
Dosage - Acute: Use 2 heaping teaspoons per cup of water 3-4 times per day. Drink the tea while it is still warm. If you store it in the refrigerator for a couple of days, it is best to warm it up before drinking. (decoct Echinacea , Yerba mansa, Red root and infuse Osha (long infusion), Elder flower.
When the illness starts to inveade the interior and go towards the lungs: Consider Baikal skullcap - Scutellaria baicalensis and Andrographis - Adrophraphis paniculata if they are not getting better or if the symptoms are becoming worse. Another herb that I would consider if the illness is going to the interior rather than a superficial upper respiratory infection would be Elecampane - Inula helanium. Mustard poultices can be helpful at this point. I also use hydrotherpay specific for pneumonia if it heads into the lungs.
NAC and Mullein: When the illness goes deeper and there is a lot of congestion, thick mucus can be addressed with Mullein - Verbascum thapsus which is a wonderful expectorant. I have seen people cough up copious amounts of mucus from taking Mullein. Thick mucus can also be addressed with N-acetyl cysteine or NAC, 600 mg three times per day, which is very good at thining mucus and is often used for that reason with cystic fibrosis. However, be careful as NAC also chelates out and removes some heavy metals as well as some mycotoxins and this can make a preson feel worse if this is the case. NAC is a wonderful mucolytic being commonly used for Cystic Fibrosis. It is useful in Pneumonia which can be a complication of flu along with using hydrotherapy methods. Additionally, when there is a lot of mucus consider using a mustard poultice on the chest as another option other than NAC or in conjunction with it.
I wrote an article on the flu some time back and would have you refer to it for ideas on additional herbs to use that support the immune system and are helpful for treating a person with the flu and similar viruses.
Flu And COVID-2019 Look Similar
This is also still flu season, and since the corona virus is similar in picture to the flu, it is hard to tell them apart. They can both be mild or both be deadly and you need to take them both seriously. Since we know less about COVID-19, we have no immunity to it, and it may have a higher death rate than the common flu, it is being taken even more seriously.
Since the flu has the same types of symptoms as the corona virus, and so many people have the flu now, it is hard for a practitioner to know if you have the flu or COVID-19. You can't tell without being tested.
No one wants to get either the flu or COVID-19. Luckily, in the beginning the usual routine for flu is helpful for COVID-19 also. Using preventative methods decreases your chance of getting either of them, and beginning stages of each can be helped by supporting the bodies natural defence mechanisms.
Anyone who who may be around others with COVID-19 should practice preventative methods as mentioned above.
Anyone who thinks they may have COVID-19 should contact their practitioner.
What I do
When there is something infectious (generally the flu) going around, I use preventative methods to keep from getting ill. This is when you can take control of the situation and nip it in the bud. Treament becomes harder if you wait. I practice the ideas mentioned above to decrease spread of disease and to support my immune system.
When I Feel A Flu Coming On
What I do at the beginning of an illness (and what I did recently when I got these symptoms) with a cough, little or slight fever, body aches, congestion and fatigue is as follows:
- Make sure I remain hydrated at all times
- Keep stress under control with meditation and positive reinforcement
- Eat well as mentioned above
- Use nutrients as needed - see above
- Hot Bath With Hot Spicy Tea - or sauna as long as you are not feeling too fatigued - remain hydrated when doing this
- Movement, lymphagogues and Neck Lymphatic Massage to keep lymph freely moving
- Immune Supportive Herbs
An Herbal Bath And Tea - How I Use It To Bring On A Sweat
I am attempting to raise my body temperature and sweat out the initial viral assault while it is low in number and my body is strong. Fever is my friend here. COVID-19 appears to not be creating a high temperature, so the need to sweat out an initial COVID-19 infection before it gets serious is quite important as your body may not raise the temp on it's own.
Sometimes I just take a strong tea of Ginger with honey and lemon. Other stimulating diaphoretics could be used at this beginning stage when you are not actually feverish or have a low grade fever. One needs to drink plenty of water or they may dehydrate you. Other choices would be Hosreradish, Thyme or Mustard. Other times, I add in immune system herbs too that are mentioned above. Here is an example of what I might do.
I make a strong tea of Ginger - I use a chunk of fresh Ginger that is the size of my thumb per cup of water or if dry about 1/3-1/2 that. (You use your thumb as measurement.) I might also add some cinnamon 1-2 quills. I simmer this for 20 minutes and then add 1/4-1/2 of a lemon to the strained tea. I squeeze out the juice and then add the lemon peel and all to the cup of tea. I add some honey and I smash the lemon against the side of the cup to release essential oils of the lemon. I take this tea to a hot bath and drink it as I am enjoying a really hot bath simple bath or perhaps an Epsom salt bath. I stay in the hot bath drinking tea until I feel like I have had enough. I go from the bath to bed, where I wrap myself up in lots of bedding and go to sleep. While sleeping, my body builds up a sweat and often when I awake, I feel normal again or at least close to it.
Sometimes I add other herbs into the mix. This might include herbs that have immune supportive activity or they might be herbs that decrease congestion or have other attributes as needed. I have listed some of these herbs above and go into great detail about these herbs in my "Influenza article". Even if I don't ad these herbs into this particular tea, I would be taking them otherwise.
For that deep achy feeling I add Boneset. However, Boneset may have pyrrolizidine alkaloids in it and not everyone should be using it, especially if long term as it could potentially cause hepatovenoclussive disease. Another option is using the homeopathic Boneset which is sold as Eupatorium perf. in the health food stores. It does not have pyrrolizidine alkaloids in it.
Steam inhalations can open up a congested nose and closed off sinuses, help a eustachian tube to an ear drain or deliver antimicrobial herbs to infected respiratory tract tissues. A steam inhalation gets herbs directly to the tissues that are struggling. Adding essential oil that contains menthol such as peppermint will open up the sinuses and allow another more antimicrobial herb like Thyme or Oregano to get into a sinus area that had previously been closed. For people unfamiliar with making steam inhalations, it is better to use whole herbs rather than essential oils to keep from harming themselves. Here are directions I often give to my clients and have posted on the website. There are also mask steamers and personal vaporizors that can work more easily in place of the old style inhalations as long as a person does not add excessive essential oils to the equipment. There is such variety out there, that I could not begin to tell you how to safely use each one of them. Therefore, I am providing the old tried and true recommendations at the following link.
Neck Lymphatic Massage
This is really easy to do. You might need to look online to identify your sternocleidomastoid muscle (SCM) muscle, but otherwise this is simple. You simply give a gentle massage to the area in front and behind the SCM. There are anterior and posterior lymph nodes running alongside this muscle. There are also some lymph nodes under the jaw bone that can use a massage too. If they are sore, they need a massage. This can decrease a sore neck that is due to the lymph system being clogged up for over activity. It helps your immune system work more effectively to as you are opening up lymphatic drainage.
General body movement supports lymphatic movement and there are herbs called lymphagogues that also support lymphatic movement. Lymphagogues are discussed in the flu article.
Immune Supportive Herbs And Nutrients
I listed a few of these above. Use them as the situation requires.
For details on the coronavirus go to the main coronavirus page.
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