Take a long, slow, deep breath.
Now close your eyes and take one more, letting it out with a sigh. Open your eyes and look around. Really see where you are right now. What sounds do you hear? What is the light like in this time of year where you are? Notice all the good things around you, which remain yet unchanged.
Feel your body resting upon and supported by the earth. See how much is the same, but different. See if you can view the world as if for the first time, through new eyes; challenge yourself to return to a state of amazement, awe, quietude. Linger here as long as you like. You have the power to return to this place of inner stillness at any time.
This ability to nurture and access an internal sense of safety is an essential skill. Your concern is valid; your worries are worthy of care. And you must bring all parts of yourself into conversation with one another right now. If you look deep within, I believe you will hear a gentle whisper. It is the voice of the earth and your ancestors, reminding you that you are safe, held, and supported by forces both seen and unseen.
Our fates are inextricably interwoven—and now we see this clearly. As a global community, we are experiencing an unprecedented opportunity to access the transformative power of our collective compassion. How we respond will inevitably alter the course of human history.
Without exception, we are all descended from people who have all lived through times of great hardship. We can choose to act with grace and wisdom; to slow down and pay attention to what is right in front of us. We can proceed with love instead of fear. We can open ourselves to receive the deeper medicine of this moment.
The choices we make will determine
the course of weeks and months ahead.
Below you’ll find suggestions for staying well, addressing illness, and supporting yourself and your community. I will continue to update this post to the best of my ability as the situation progresses.
We need each other now more than ever. I am here with you and I would love to connect. Please don’t hesitate to write to me with questions, concerns, or to share what is alive in your heart at this time. I am available to support you via email at SophiaRose@LaAbejaHerbs.com.
What To Do Right Now
Stay home. For the love of all that is holy—stay home. If you do not absolutely have to go out right now, don’t. Let’s learn from history, both recent and distant and make smart choices right now. We are at a CRITICAL point in the process of this pandemic. We need to start practicing self-quarantine. Not tomorrow, not next week, but RIGHT NOW. To learn more about why this is so important, please watch this video, read this article, and look at this graph.
Reach out. It is essential that we are connected to one another. Reach out to your friends, family, and neighbors to check in on them—especially those who may be at higher risk of infection. Be sure that folks know you are available to support them. Be proactive and ASK FOR WHAT YOU NEED. As a culture we have become so overly focused on independence, but it is interdependence that will see us through this time and far into the future.
Educate yourself. If you’re anything like most folks, you’re probably feeling overwhelmed by information right now. Use discernment about where you are getting news from and limit your consumption of information to only what is necessary for your health and well-being. That being said, it is essential to educate yourself about COVID-19 and the WHO website is a good place to start.
Sleep In. Get as much sleep as possible. Most modern humans are so under-slept and it takes a huge toll on our immune systems. Getting ample sleep is one of the most powerful and effective ways we can positively impact our immunity. If you can’t sleep longer hours, try too spend time relaxing in bed during the day if at all possible.
Dose Yourself. Take 5,000 to 10,00 IU Vitamin D daily. Increase your vitamin C intake. Up the amount of fruits, vegetables, and other nourishing foods you are eating daily.
Gargle Daily. Good old-fashioned warm salt water is a simple remedy with a big impact. Make a point to spend a minute or so a daily gargling to help prevent infection and protect the upper respiratory tract.
Get steamy. Put a large pot of water on the stove and let the steam fill your house. If you have access to aromatic plants such as cedar, sage, rosemary, juniper, bay, etc. include a large handful of them for added antimicrobial action. This will help to disinfect the air in your home, keep your respiratory tract moistened, and decrease the risk of infection. This is a good general practice for as long as the pandemic lasts. If you feel you may be getting sick, up the ante and give yourself a full-on respiratory steam. Learn more here.
Make broth. So. Much. Broth. Broth made with high-quality bones is incredibly nourishing to the immune system. For a vegetarian version substitute mushrooms and seaweed for bone. However, I have seen time and again that the bones of raised-right animals are a holy thing which contain a medicine all their own.
To prepare, simply chop up carrots, onions, celery, and garlic and place in a large stock pot, crockpot or Instapot. Add bones, chicken feet if you have them, and a splash of apple cider vinegar to optimize mineral extraction. Include nourishing and immune supportive herbs and fungi such as turkey tail, shiitake, reishi, astragalus, nettle, oat straw, ginger, codonopsis, thyme, rosehip, elderberry, hawthorn, etc. I also offer a tried-and-true herbal blend in the apothecary which we have a few jars left of. You can find it here.
Fill pot with water, bring to a gentle boil, and then reduce to a bare simmer. Simmer on the stovetop or in the crockpot for up to forty eight hours before straining. Be sure to keep an eye on the water level. If using an instant pot, place on high for three hours. For a more in-depth broth-making guide along with additional info about herbs to include, check out this post.
Be prepared. Based on what we have seen around the globe, I believe it is intelligent to be prepared for the worst while hoping for the best. At your earliest convenience, do what you can to gather food, medication, and other items you will need in the event that you are unable to leave your home for one to two months. If you are able to do so, get groceries for elderly and immunocompromised (or just plain busy) friends and neighbors. Pick up extra herbs and medications to share with your community, and generally keep others in mind when making preparations. At this time there is no reason to believe that food or other commodities will be in short supply, so please take only what you need and will use. Remember, we are in this together and support is available.
The amazing thing about herbal medicine is that we can call upon it not just when we’re sick, but when we’re well. We can call upon these allies anytime to support us in strengthening our immune systems, calming our nerve, increasing lymphatic health, and so much more.
I offer the following information with the caveat that I have never directly supported COVID-19. However it is my understanding at this time that most of the strategies we would use to effectively address influenza are transferrable.
As an herbalist it is my goal to educate rather than to treat or diagnose. Please take this into consideration as you read the recommendations below. Use common sense, follow the guidelines provided by the CDC and WHO, and above all else—listen to the wisdom of your body.
If you are well, you should:
You do not want to ”boost” your immune systems but rather nourish it through the practices listed above and the herbs listed below. If you are well right now, you have a wonderful opportunity to strengthen your immune system with the support of herbs that build up the immune system and nourish the nervous system. Below you’ll find herbs for doing both.
Nourish The Nerves
Support Lymphatic Health
- Drink Up. Hydrate like you’ve never hydrated before. Water, tea, broth—drink it all.
- Keep your body moving. Take walks, dance, chop wood, carry water. Jump on a trampoline if you have one. Any type of steady rhythmic movement is good. All the better if it brings you pleasure as well. Endorphins produced by movement also help to keep our mood lebel and boost our immunity.
- Soak it in. Soak your feet and calves in warm water with or without epsom salt nightly to encourage lymphatic drainage. If you have it available, you can add a few drops of a relaxing essential oil such as lavender or rosemary.
- Practice Hydrotherapy. Practice alternating hot and cold in the shower to stimulate the flow of lymph through the body. Opinions vary, but I recommend finishing on hot to thoroughly warm the body before exiting the shower.
- Call upon Cleavers. Cleavers are growing in abundance across the US right now. They are my favorite herbal ally for supporting lymphatic health and we can all access them totally for free. I like to make a daily cold infusion by gathering the aerial parts of the plant, chopping them finely, and placing them in a half gallon jar of water overnight before straining and drinking. For more in-depth information on identifying and working with cleavers, I’ve written an in-depth monograph you can access here.
- Other herbs to support lymphatic health include: burdock, calendula, red clover, ginger, violet, and sarsaparilla.
If you are sick, you should:
If you feel even the slightest bit unwell, it is essential to stay warm, hydrated, and well-rested. The following herbs all are highly effective prepared as hot tea. The addition of honey will increase the soothing, moistening, and antimicrobial action any tea.
- Antimicrobial — Monarda, Thyme, Oregano, Garlic, Osha
- Antiviral — Boneset, Licorice, Lemon Balm, Elderberry, Elderflower, Garlic
- Soothing + Moistening – Marshmallow, Plantain, Elm, Violet. Licorice, Flax, Chia, Prickly Pear, Linden
For unproductive coughs characterized by mucus that is difficult to expel, drink plenty of warm water and prepare any of the following herbs as a hot tea with or without honey. Respiratory steams are also helpful.
For dry, irritable, spasmodic coughing, drink plenty of warm water, and prepare any of the moistening herbs from the previous section with the following herbs (with the exception of lobelia) as a hot tea with or without honey.
- Lobelia (drop dose tincture)
Fevers resolve infection. They are a natural and heathy response to illness. As my teacher Paul Bergner says, “they are the ally, not the enemy.” For this reason, I do not recommend suppressing productive fevers. Doing so may ultimately lengthen the duration and/or intensity of an infection. In fact, when you have an infection, you want to *encourage* fever. Doing so will help your body to recover more quickly and efficiently.
Fever happen in stages and should be treated accordingly. When you feel chilled, you want to rapidly warm the body with stimulating herbs such as Yarrow, Mint, Lemon Balm, Ginger, Monarda, Garlic, Oregano, and Thyme. If you are hot, but not sweating, you want to encourage sweating with relaxant herbs such as Vervain, Elderflower, Boneset, and Chamomile. Some herbs such as Yarrow, Mint, Elderflower, and Lemon Balm are appropriate for both stages.
Additionally, all persons who display symptoms of COVID-19 should immediately discontinue use of Ibuprofen, as it has been linked to critical and severe cases of the virus.
NOTE // If your fever is over 104F or lasts more than three days it is appropriate to use fever-reducing herbs and/or medications. Do not hesitate to seek medical attention if necessary.
- Jade Begay – Decolonizing Community Care in Response to COVID-19
- News Native People Need: Curated Conversations around Coronavirus
- Prison Holistic Self Care + Protection
- COVID + Communal Living
- Stephen Harrod Buhner – Herbal Treatment for Coronavirus Infections
- Rosalee de Foret – Herbs For Immunity
- Rebecca Altman – Building Immunity
- NAIMH – Coronavirus Resources
- 7Song – An Herbalist’s Notes on COVID-19
- Dave Meesters – Protocol for Attending to Viral Respiratory Infections