From PSB blogger, Lisa...
News and social media are positively abuzz with concerns about our exposure to the latest virus, nicknamed COVID-19. While first detected in China, it’s now been found in at least 60 locations around the world. It has many of us alarmed and feeling a bit helpless.
As herbalists, we get lots of questions and requests for advice. We don’t have all of the answers, and it’s clear that there are many unknowns. Those unknowns can cause fear and worry. If you are like me, you may be more worried about your kids, your grandkids, your parents, your siblings, even more than worry for your own health.
Our advice is to take this seriously, and not to overreact. We are getting lots of advice to stimulate our immune system, so that it can better protect us. However, some of us already have immune systems that are working overtime, and this advice is not helpful. Do your own due diligence and research. Our recommendation to you is based on a belief that keeping yourself prepared and healthy is the best offense. Listen to your body.
This amounts to a list of actions related to self-care:
- Wash, wash, wash your hands, with soap, and scrub well. If you’re in public and without access to soap, use sanitizing spray – while it doesn’t kill a virus, it is effective against bacteria. If you’re feeling empowered - you can make your own - there are lots of recipes out there. I make mine with everclear. Get a fifth (175 mL), pour out a cup (save for another project, or for more sanitizing spray), add back a cup of distilled water. Pop in 12 drops of thyme essential oil. Shake well. Put in a little spray bottle and spray liberally. This really works well if you rub your hands vigorously. It’s a bit drying, so you may need to moisturize your hands, particularly when you go to bed at night. It’s a small step towards peace of mind.
- Eat well. Carotenoids are necessary for the proper function of the immune system. They are part of the chemical constituents called terpenoids. Carrots, butternut squash, pumpkin, rose hips, calendula all contain carotenoids. Mushrooms are rockstars when it comes to immune support – the medicinal mushrooms like reishi, chaga, along with maitake and shitake. Eat fresh. Avoid fast food. Limit sugar. Again, it’s part of your strategy for taking care of yourself.
- Stay hydrated. Drink nourishing herbal teas – stinging nettle, holy basil, hibiscus, rose hips. Soups are easy and comforting – you could combine things from the eat well category, along with tasty spices (ginger, garlic) and bone broth. Healthy mucosa is also important – as it’s the barrier for entry to our bodies - add marshmallow or slippery elm to your tea. Taking a long bath is also soothing and hydrating – make a strong tea including herbs like holy basil, hops or lavender, and add it to your bathwater.
- Get plenty of rest. Establish a ritual so that you can clear your thoughts and put aside fears. I put away electronics an hour before bed. I write notes on things that I need to do, and then I put them away for morning. Sometimes I listen to ambient sounds – like ocean waves, a babbling stream, summer evenings of crickets and birdsong. I might listen to Otis Gray’s Sleepy podcast, and make an evening tea of passionflower and skullcap.
- Your immune system is impacted by your emotions. Staying calm and positive goes a long way to supporting your health. A nice affirmation, borrowed from Louise Hay – “I allow my mind to relax and be at peace. Clarity and harmony are within me and around me”. Watch happy movies or comedies, like Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.
- Limit your social activities to what’s most important to you. Consider your exposure in restaurants, grocery stores, the gym. It might be a nice time to hike and spend time outdoors instead, or catch up on a long-neglected book that you've been meaning to read.
Even, with self-care, you may begin to feel peevish, In that case:
- Trust yourself – if you feel most comfortable with a western medicine approach, check with your MD. Or, check with your alternative health care practitioner – see our website for our favorite herbalists. Consider your favorite chiropractor, or acupuncturist, or naturopath. Many of us choose to use an eclectic approach, and do a combination of approaches. Do some research - use trusted sources, and avoid over-exposure to media reports. Do just enough to give you some peace of mind.
- Continue to use the list above.
Lastly, use this as a learning opportunity. This is not the first health crisis, and won’t be the last. Take care of yourself first, your family next, then your community. You can’t rely on misguided information – stay focused on the facts. Develop a community of trustworthy and like-minded souls to share information, strategies and solutions. Take all that you learn from this experience and store it away for future reference. Be empowered – you can do this!