I am not one to pay attention to fear-mongering media propaganda, probably specifically because if I did, my anxiety would take me over. So, I tend to steer clear, especially when it comes to trying to make you afraid of getting sick, aka the latest sickness plaguing the globe, the novel Coronavirus. To be honest, I never really gave much thought to SARS, The Avian Flu, H1N1, etc. etc. etc., and until recently I never thought about why. And the why is that I never really had to worry about them. Most of these viruses mainly affected young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems, and since I am lucky enough to be in good health and do not have children or grandparents, I was kind of immune to all of the hype.
Then I booked a trip to Italy… one day before the virus blew up in 11 small towns in the Italian north. And as I began to research, I began to wonder about everyone who is fearful of the virus not just because it might interrupt travel plans (#firstworldproblems), but because they are afraid that they or a loved one may become incredibly sick and even deathly ill. Those who have small children, those who are grandparents, those who may have an autoimmune disease and the inability to fight off a virus or develop the antibodies to do so. The fear-mongering media is creating in these people a monster of anxiety, panic, and desperation to protect their lives and the lives of others. I began to understand how fears and feelings about these illnesses could spiral out of control, because there is a legitimate reality that one could become sick, especially in our world of globalization and world travel.
I began putting together a list of herbal and natural protective remedies that could potentially help you stave off illness. My education in herbal medicine began to come back to me, and I was drawn back into the magical power that is our earth, and what it can provide for us. I will preface this list by saying that I am not a medical doctor, nor is the following medical advice in any way. There is always a time and a place for medications, vaccines and antibiotics; however, I do believe we are over-drugged and overmedicated. So perhaps before you reach for that bottle, or before you feel sick enough to need those pills, try something from the list below to help prevent what may be coming your way.
Now you might have thought that your grandmother or mother was / is crazy with all of her homemade concoctions and her hippy remedies, but in one way or another, each little weirdo recipe made you feel better to some degree. So, when Grams fed you chicken noodle soup when you were sick with cold or flu, there was some method to her madness. Enter bone broth: perhaps the most healing food on the planet, bone broth heals the gut, which gives you a better fighting chance against sickness from the get-go. It contains amino acid glycine, which can help you sleep, and sleep is imperative for your immune system to work correctly. Bone broth, in its various forms, has been shown to boost the immune system by grandmothers in cultures worldwide…and although there are no studies or irrefutable scientific research showcasing graphs and charts and double-blind placebos, bone broth always helps me stay healthy and heals me from sickness quickly when I get there. Plus, the comfort of a hot steaming mug of liquid gold can bring a feel-good moment to an otherwise sniffly day.
A hippie remedy that I learned in herbal medicine is the seemingly infinite power of the elderberry. Hippocrates, also known as “the father of medicine”, is first attributed with the discovery of the elderberries’ magic. Still, some records show that its use can be traced as far back as Ancient Egypt or even prehistoric man. Whomever the credit goes to, thank our lucky stars that we have this potent plant to help prevent and get us through our sickest times. Elderberries have been used to help with colds, flu, fever, inflammation, allergies, digestive health, and even urinary tract infections. What is most relevant about these berries now, considering our pending pandemic, are their antiviral properties, meaning they can deactivate viral enzymes and prevent them from multiplying. Get your elderberry tea on daily during cold, flu, and coronavirus season to help protect yourself.
Another berry that can help kick-ass against harmful germs and sickness is the juniper berry. While most famous for giving the distinct flavour to gin, juniper berries can help to flush out and detox the kidneys, and can also help aid in digestion. Most importantly, juniper berries are antiseptic, meaning they can prevent the growth of disease-causing organisms. My herbal medicine prof used to chew these dried berries on every flight to prevent from getting sick. Drinking gin would be the next best thing, but the berries are definitely the by far better option. It is important to note that if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or diabetic, you should consult your doctor before using juniper berries.
Ever have a friend or relative give you some Gatorade when you’ve been sick or had food poisoning (or a hangover)? What these kind-hearted souls are trying to do (perhaps unwittingly) is to replace your electrolytes, aka minerals, which replenish the cells after a loss of fluids (sweat, tears, vomit, etc.). That’s where good quality sea salt comes into play. Think about it; when you have the sweats from the flu, your sweat is salty, which means you are losing salt, aka sodium, aka minerals. These minerals need to be replaced, and while Gatorade attempts to do this with sugar and dyes and yes, some crappy quality salt, none of that is necessary. Just find some good quality Himalayan sea salt — derived from dried salt beds in the Himalayas — and add a tsp-tbsp to a glass of filtered water and drink up. Do this a couple of times a day prior to being sick to avoid dips in minerals that can weaken your immune system, or when you are sick to help you get back on your feet faster.
Quercetin, found in juniper berries, capers, red onions and kale, has been shown in research to help alleviate illness from some pretty scary viruses. Early research from a study out of Quebec is even looking at Quercetin as a solution to the Coronavirus pandemic, and Canadian doctors are currently beginning clinical trials in China. While most commonly supplemented for allergy relief, perhaps now is the time to supplement proactively to help prevent the spread of what we can only hope is another virus that our media has blown entirely out of proportion.
In addition, other immune-boosting and healing foods we know and love, such as turmeric, ginger, garlic, honey, and even pickle juice should maintain in your rotation, because no one wants to get sick and every little bit helps. When it comes to viruses, prevention is a great idea, and though nothing is foolproof, and you may still get sick, why not try a natural option to better your odds?