In Part 1 of The Pesky Coronavirus we discussed the virus in great detail. And, we discussed the herbs, vitamins and foods we could partner with in the present moment to help enhance immunity, build strength and vitality and protect ourselves and those we love and care for. Part 1 was all about prevention. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you start with there. The herbs, vitamins and foods mentioned in Part 1 will also be relevant during the illness.
In Part 2 of The Pesky Coronavirus we are discussing likely symptoms of the illness COVID 19 and the herbs you might consider using at home to address them as they arise. You’re going to need to make management and remedy choices if you’ve been exposed and get infected. The extensive Materia Medica presented to you here will help you do exactly that. I am sharing this with you for the purposes of education.
What is this illness, how do we know we’ve been infected, what can we do about it?
COVID-19 is not SARS, does not behave like typical ARDS, and it’s not influenza. Scientists and medical professionals all over the world are working overtime to understand exactly what it is, and how to treat it. There’s a whole lot of wild speculation going on right now. I actually see this as a good thing, because creative, outside-the-box thinkers are generally the ones to look in unexpected places and come up with novel approaches to staggering challenges, such as the one we are facing right now. Unfortunately, although there are many theories circulating, we have very little that’s definitive yet.
One thing we are entirely sure about regarding COVID 19 is that this disease varies widely among patients. Your inner terrain appears to be everything. How your body reacts to the infection is going to be an entirely individual response.
Early in the infection you might feel like you have an ordinary cold or early flu symptoms. You may experience a sore throat, itchy eyes, earache and sinus congestion. As the disease progresses you may develop a dry cough, alternate between fever and chills and experience emotional disquiet, all are common and run in cycles. If the disease continues to progress, you may develop pneumonia, and possibly hypoxia. The potential for serious complications is a constant presence.
Increasing evidence indicates that coronavirus does not always stay confined to the respiratory tract and may also invade the digestive system, the central nervous system and the immune system. Some patients show neurologic signs, such as severe headache and recently the first case of COVID 19 related Hydrocephalus was confirmed. Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, digestive and intestinal distress, diarrhea, are all fairly common. Lung pain, joint and muscle aches and pains can be severe. Malaise, general sense of discomfort or uneasiness, disorientation, confusion, dizziness and exhaustion are atypical symptoms also being reported.
The coronavirus is looking to attach itself to ACE2 receptor sites. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is a membrane-bound aminopeptidase that plays a vital role in the cardiovascular and immune systems. ACE2 has been identified as a functional receptor for coronaviruses. The COVID 19 disease is triggered by binding of the spike protein of the virus to ACE2 receptors which are highly expressed in the lungs.
“Scientists from the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH), Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Thorax Clinic at Heidelberg University Hospital, whose collaboration is taking place under the auspices of the German Center for Lung Research, have discovered that the (ACE 2) receptor for this coronavirus is abundantly expressed in certain progenitor cells. These cells normally develop into respiratory tract cells lined with hair-like projections called cilia that sweep mucus and bacteria out of the lungs.” Coronavirus Receptor Abundantly Expressed in Certain Progenitor Cells, reported in Neuroscience News, April 7, 2020.
In addition to lung damage, many COVID-19 patients also develop heart problems. Cardiac experts believe the COVID-19 virus can infect the heart muscle. An initial study found cardiac damage in as many as 1 in 5 patients, leading to heart failure and death even among those with no signs of respiratory distress.
It’s not known yet whether the emerging heart problems are caused by the virus itself or are a byproduct of the body’s reaction to it. And in fact, this is one of the critical unknowns facing doctors and scientists as they struggle to understand this novel illness. Determining what is going on here is difficult, in part, because severe illness itself can influence the health of the heart.
“Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infects host cells through ACE2 receptors, leading to coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-related pneumonia, while also causing acute myocardial injury and chronic damage to the cardiovascular system. Therefore, particular attention should be given to cardiovascular protection during treatment for COVID-19.” From a paper entitled COVID-19 and the Cardiovascular System, Ying-Ying Zheng, Yi-Tong Ma, Jin-Ying Zhang & Xiang Xie published in Nature Reviews Cardiology, March 5, 2020.
Scientists are now reporting that there appears to be a new strain of the virus that directly attacks the immune system, similar to the way AIDS does. We will learn more about this in the coming weeks and months, we can be sure.
Many of us who get infected will suffer through mild/moderate symptoms that may last several weeks. Most of us will be able to address symptoms as they arise, apply appropriate remedies as we move through the challenging phases of the disease and eventually recover. Some of us will become sick enough to require hospitalization.
If the virus becomes well attached inside your lungs, as it wants to do, it will begin to replicate freely and get down to the serious work of manufacturing more of itself. During this process lung cells will die. Your lungs may become saturated with fluid. The fluid may thicken, it may begin to congeal. It may become difficult to exchange oxygen – you will get short of breath and it will become progressively harder to breathe. These are the people who wind up in the hospital. Once there, the goal is to offer the patient supportive therapies, to keep them alive. Five percent of patients develop respiratory failure, septic shock, and/or multiple organ failure.
As we know, lack of basic medical supplies such as beds and respirators may mean that you will not get the care you need. Hospitals are generally under-staffed and the health care workers are over-exposed. We want to avoid a hospital visit if we possibly can, both for them and for us. And, sadly, being hooked up to a respirator may not be the answer either, even if there is one available – it may only prolong the inevitable or leave you severely disabled if you do survive. This is the reality we are all facing right now.
So, listen up. Part 2 of the Pesky Enigmatic Coronavirus – Materia Medica for a Global Pandemic is intended to give you the knowledge and the tools you need to deal with this illness successfully at home. Be prepared – it’s long and it’s going to take you a while to get through it. You’ll find plenty of safe, simple and effective options to have at your disposal to successfully treat symptoms as they arise and hopefully be able to side-step the need for more aggressive medical interventions.
The herbs are listed with descriptions of their specific uses to address COVID 19 symptoms. You will not need all of these herbs, you won’t even need a quarter of them! This is a broad compendium of choices…and this list is by no means exhaustive. Other herbalists have other lists.
We spoke in great detail in Part 1 about the nature of viruses. One thing that stands out for me about them is their utter simplicity. They managed to get all of their most basic needs together in one protected little package, with parasitic intentions to use the living cells of humans and animals for all other necessary processes. That’s streamlined evolutionary intelligence at work right there. So, big respect. But, we can meet you there and raise you ten, with our herbal allies!
Plants are something different all together. Plants are anything but simple. They are, in fact, amazingly complex, with hundreds, even thousands of chemical constituents. But much more important than that is that plants are living beings with spirit and intelligence and a cellular structure much like our own. We’ve literally co-evolved on this planet together, we are friends and allies. Plants are trustworthy. They remain true to their nature. We depend and can rely on each other. We have done so for ages.
Plants use chemical messengers to communicate with each other, with microbes in the soil, with invading insects and with us. Their messages speak directly to our deepest cellular makeup. Plant substances inform, alter, adjust, restore, repair, rebuild, heal and create change. And they do this in myriad ways.
Since this novel coronavirus is an entirely new virus, one we have never been exposed to before, we have zero natural immunity to it. Our immune system doesn’t quite know what to do because it doesn’t recognize it. So, it’s going to take a little while for the body to figure out how to respond and mount its defense if you do get infected. Plants can help direct this response…they whisper things to our cells like “hey, over here, let’s warm this up a bit, cool this down, facilitate this flow, moisten, soothe and lubricate here, calm this down, stimulate that, tighten up here, relax this” and so on.
Once our body begins to directly address the intruder, we begin to produce specific antibodies. These antibodies grab hold of those virus spikes and start getting rid of them. This process produces a lot of waste. We’ll need to support our immune and lymphatic systems, and our skin, kidneys, liver and organs of elimination so they will be functioning optimally and able to carry off the waste produced. The last thing we want is for the body to be overwhelmed, as septic shock can result. We’ve got to support our heart and circulatory system. If breathing becomes labored, our heart needs to be strong enough to endure until we recover. Our immune system will especially appreciate plants with antiviral, amphoteric and immune enhancing actions. COVID 19 results in a dysregulated and exuberant immune response. Downregulating the cytokine storm is an essential component of the treatment in severe cases. Our nervous system needs support too, as the coronavirus can affect the central nervous system. And then there’s the stress…
A global pandemic, it turns out, is incredibly stressful. Everything seems to be falling apart. We are dealing with the loss of jobs, teetering small businesses, threat of financial ruin, the fear of sickness, death or of losing loved ones, isolation and separation from beloved family members and constant, overwhelming waves of worry, grief, devastation and heartbreak. There are also the daily everyday challenges like finding the food you need in the pantry and being home with children 24/7, or stranded in a small apartment alone, or worse, in an abusive environment from which you cannot escape or homeless, hungry and afraid.…you may be working an essential job, like service or health care, overwhelmed on the daily and unable to fully protect yourself. Or have a close family member in that situation. The tension, fear and anxiety, for every single one of us, no matter where we are on the security and wellbeing spectrum, is palpable, and needs to be addressed.
We’ve got herbs listed below to support all of this, every step of the way, so don’t worry! Stay calm and collected. I want you to be well prepared. Knowledge is power and you can wield a mighty opposition to this thing with a few well-chosen herbs by your side…along with some well-placed traditional prayers, baths, art, ritual and ceremony. Engaging this illness energetically/spiritually is important, so please don’t overlook this aspect of your COVID 19 protocol.
Based on the epidemiologic characteristics that have thus far been observed, everyone is assumed to be susceptible, although there may be risk factors increasing susceptibility to infection for some. This requires further study. We also need to know whether there is neutralizing immunity after infection. Scientists aren’t sure about that yet either. Many people who’ve recovered from COVID 19 have become ill a second time.
Asymptomatic infection has been reported, but the majority who are asymptomatic on the date of identification/report went on to develop disease. The proportion of truly asymptomatic infections is unclear.
“The lack of widespread testing is probably the single biggest issue regarding us getting back to any sort of normalcy. We don’t actually know who is infected. We don’t know anything about our asymptomatic carriers. And we don’t know who is not infectious anymore.” New York-based emergency physician Dr. Dara Kass
I advise you to read through the Materia Medica while thinking about what you already have on hand or can easily get. Make a mental or written note of how you might prepare and apply the remedy and when. At what stage of the illness? What might be useful during the early stage of flu-like symptoms, or when your lungs are congested and your entire body aches? What herb will you go to if you’re gripped with severe intestinal distress? What allies will you choose to work with once you’ve pulled through the illness and need to rebuild and restore? You’ll find dosage and preparation information with each entry here as well.
I suggest keeping your eyes peeled for ancestral medicines. By that I mean, plants that are considered to be sacred herbs or are otherwise especially valued by your ancestral culture – or perhaps are native to the general geographical area where your ancestors lived. If you’ve got multiple lineages, great! More choices! My message to you is this: your cells are going to resonate and respond with plant medicines that they recognize and trust. The old kitchen standbys are going to serve us much better than the unknown, untested, unrecognized herbs from far away cultures that we have never used before. Not that they won’t help…they will. But not as deeply, surely, truly, and completely as the ones you know deep in your cellular makeup. The herbs you recognize in your bones, the ones that wake up long buried ancestral memory. Consider adding at least one of these ancestral remedies to your personal herbal protocol, in whatever way makes sense to you.
Remember, at least 14 generations of your wise grandmothers live within you! That’s a huge amount of ancestral assistance we have available. Don’t dismiss it, whatever you do! Tap into it. One of the ways you do that is through the senses of taste, touch and smell. Open a channel and listen.
Most of our way-back ancestors came from oral cultures, not written. This is important to consider, because in order to connect with them, to understand their wisdom and how they share it, we must connect with the land, with the earth, with earth’s gifts, and with all the visual clues that give meaning to spoken words. When we modern, literate folks hear words, we see writing. Our ancestors saw stars and moon and bird – theirs is a completely, utterly different world view…a sensual language, deeply imbedded in the natural world.
MATERIA MEDICA FOR A GLOBAL PANDEMIC
ANGELICA Angelica archangelica, Angelica sinensis
This herb has enjoyed a rich and honored reputation as a powerful healer since ancient days – it was used by Europeans in the Middle Ages as a safeguard against the plague. The roots and the leaves of both European angelica, and its Asian cousin dong gui, are aromatic, warming, and carminative with expectorant qualities; Angelica is a mighty medicine – nourishing, restorative and revitalizing. The angelicas’ high iron content nourishes and builds blood, prevents anemia and increases vital energy. Angelicas are rich in coumarin derivatives which promote antispasmodic and vasodilatory effects and are nourishing to the heart and circulatory system. It is also considered a strengthening remedy for the spleen, liver and kidneys. The aromatic properties mean it has dispersing energy, so will help to move fluids out to the perimeter, where they can be discharged through the skin and other organs of elimination. Our European ancestors employed angelica to treat coughs, chest congestion and bronchitis. They drank cups of warm infusion of the dried root or leaves and applied the strained-out plant material as a poultice. I’ve pounded fresh angelica root and squeezed out the juice, mixed this with an equal amount of honey, and taken a teaspoon every couple of hours to relieve a cough and help clear lung congestion. If you have angelica growing in your garden, you can dig the fresh root now. Replant the crown, and your will have endless angelica plants! Angelica’s stimulating and digestive benefits have made it a popular addition to digestive liquors, usually referred to as an aperitivo or digestivo among my Southern Italia neighbors. Angelica’s aromatic root is bitter and has a long-standing reputation for stimulating the appetite. And, angelica’s wide array of essential oils, combined with its bitter principles, help allay nausea, ease intestinal spasms and tone the digestive system. Angelica will serve well when warming remedies are needed and can be employed as a general strengthening tonic. It can be useful for nourishing the elderly and anyone in the recovery, strength building phase of illness. Angelica is a powerful herb of blessing and protection. The Iroquois sprinkle angelica tea around their homes to quiet unsettled spirits.
ASTAGALUS Astragalus membranaceus
Astragalus is a tonic, a restorative food and a potent medicine plant. It’s indispensable applied as a preventive and will again serve well during the recovery and restoration phase of COVID 19. The Chinese have been using astragalus to strengthen immunity for many centuries. They say it “strengthens the exterior,” or protects against illness. Known as Huang-qi, astragalus is written about in the 2,000-year-old Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, and is still considered to be one of the superior tonic roots in traditional Chinese medicine. Its name literally means yellow, referring to the inside of the root, and leader, referring to its potency. Mildly sweet, moistening, slightly warm and stimulating, astragalus invigorates vital energy. It is nourishing and restorative, strengthens resistance, restores damaged immunity, promotes tissue regeneration, has antiviral action, is adaptogenic, protects and strengthens the heart and the liver, is tonic to the lungs and enhances digestion. Astragalus is a powerful “non-specific” immune system modulator. Instead of activating our defense system against a specific disease organism, astragalus deeply nourishes immunity by increasing the numbers and activity of roving white blood cells, the macrophages. Macrophages are the cells that T-lymphocytes call to come engulf invading organisms. Astragalus engages and activates every phase of our immune system into heightened activity. In one study, the activity of macrophages was significantly enhanced within six hours of consumption. The roots have long been employed as a tonic for the lungs, for those with pulmonary disease, frequent colds, shortness of breath and heart palpitations. Astragalus possesses strong antiviral properties – it’s been safely used throughout Asia for thousands of years. The Chinese typically slice astragalus roots and add them, along with other vegetables to chicken broth to create a nourishing tonic soup. Discard the root after cooking and consume the broth. No toxicity from the use of astragalus has ever been shown in the millennia of its use in China. A syrup is excellent. I cook astragalus roots and assorted medicinal mushrooms together in my instant pot on the soup setting for several hours. When it’s done, I remove the cover and let the steam evaporate a while to reduce and concentrate the liquid. Then I add half the volume in honey and put it all in the fridge. I take a sip now and then, add it to whatever tea I make, or add a teaspoon or so to a cup of hot water. If I want to keep it around a while, I might add tinctures of astragalus, reishi and codonopsis. Yum! Keep that immune system well-toned and deeply nourished and supported.
BALTIC AMBER Pinus succinifera
Warming, aromatic, resinous gift of the Pinus species trees, Baltic amber would seem to be a quintessential remedy for these times. Baltic amber is a record keeper. It bears witness to all life on earth including hundreds of millions of years of changes, upheavals, cataclysm, as well as peace, harmony and reconciliation, and encompasses the memory of all of that within itself. This, I believe, is a significant measure of the potent medicine it carries. Baltic amber is verified scientifically as an adaptogen. This is an important starting off place because in order to meet the criteria defined by the word adaptogen, a substance must be non-toxic, produce a nonspecific response in the body which boosts its ability to resist multiple stressors and exert a normalizing influence on physiology. By definition, adaptogens strengthen the immune, nervous and glandular systems, increase metabolic efficiency and reduce susceptibility to illness and disease. Adaptogens are exceedingly effective tonics, have a broad influence on the entire body and can be safely used over a long time. Many of these substances have a history of use that extends for hundreds and thousands of years, and a huge body of experience has been accumulated and recorded regarding their therapeutic application. In my experience, I’ve found natural Baltic amber to be one of the most indispensable, as well as perhaps the most universally applicable, of the known adaptogens. Baltic amber (succinum) is classified as warming, stimulating, aromatic, slightly bitter/sweet and spicy, magnetic and neutral in nature. It is renowned for its pain easing, rejuvenating and vitality-boosting effects and its ability to help protect against illness. It has been exceedingly well researched as a medicinal substance, most notably among Russian, Polish, German and Chinese scientists, and has long been referred to as an Elixir of Youth. Its preservation abilities are due to both natural preservatives and sugars within the resin, and the unique way they interact with living tissue. It has been shown to strengthen immunity to ionizing radiation, infections, alcohol and other toxins. Succinic acid is a powerful antioxidant shown to stimulate neural system recovery, eliminate free radicals and modulate the immune system. Succinic acid helps restore strength and energy to the entire body, enhances brain function and improves awareness, concentration and reflexes. Succinate appears to affect the Krebs Cycle – the sequence of reactions by which most living cells generate energy during the process of aerobic respiration. This sequence takes place in the mitochondria, consuming oxygen, producing carbon dioxide and water as waste products and converting ADP to energy-rich ATP. The Krebs Cycle is the central metabolic turntable sustaining the cell respiratory process, and key functions of several of its intermediates, especially succinate and fumarate, have recently been uncovered. This ability of Baltic amber to regulate the most primal levels of our regulatory system strike me as particularly valuable, throughout all phases of this illness. Baltic amber has long been revered for its antimicrobial properties and is now understood to enhance immunity. Medieval masks in the Baltic areas were typically filled with Baltic amber and worn to protect against plague and other infectious diseases. Because Baltic amber traps insects by its very nature, it is considered by the Chinese to capture what they refer to as pestilent Qi. This is one way of describing its ability to ward off “evil spirits”. Pestilent Qi also refers to pathogens, bacteria, fungi and viruses that cause disease. It is well known and oft reported that during the years when the plague was rampaging through Europe, not a single amber worker in Gdansk, Poland or Königsberg, Germany (now Kaliningrad, Russia) – both of which were and still are major centers of amber working – ever came down with the plague. Pestilent Qi also refers to parasites, and this means both physical parasites as in hookworms, pinworms, parasitic viruses such as Novel Coronavirus, parasitic Lyme co-infections and so on, but also energetically refers to parasitic people, vampires who suck your energy reserves and leave you depleted. When taken internally, the resin is believed to attract and bind to toxins and disease causing pathogens and eliminate them from the body. In Traditional Chinese Medicine amber is believed to strengthen the lungs. Because the lungs descend energy to the lower region, and in this way invigorate the blood, amber helps to bring warmth to this entire region of the body, called the Lower Burner, breaking up and removing stagnation and flushing it out of the lower region. This action will be very important if phlegm becomes thick and stuck in the lungs, hard to expel and preventing breathing. The traditional Polish dosage is 1 drop on the first day, 2 on the second, 3 on the third, all the way up to 10 drops on the tenth day, then reverse and take 9 drops, 8, 7 and so on until the 19th day when you take one last drop dose. This is considered one full course of treatment. Rest for ten days before starting another course, if necessary. Note: This dosage method is likely to be too strong for some/many people. The weak, elderly, the very sick, very sensitive, those with multiple infections, may find it hard to go up beyond five drops. Find the comfort level and stay there. This may be as little as 1 drop daily in water, tea or juice. It is for me. I like the one drop dose best and don’t find it necessary more than a few times a week. For treating active viral, fungal, bacterial or parasitic infections, 1-3 drops in water daily for 3 weeks is an effective dose. And I wear my Baltic amber necklace daily. I don’t take it off. My understanding is that the heat of the body causes enough of the succinic acid to be absorbed from the resin, in micro-doses, something akin to a homeopathic treatment dose, enough to exert an analgesic, antiinflammatory, immune-enhancing and vitality-boosting influence. For this reason, it is worn on the body as a non-specific, overall vitality-boosting, health enhancing agent. Baltic amber acts as a protective shield.
CANNABIS Cannabis indica, C. sativa, C. ruderalis
To help address the stress we are all feeling right now, one thing you can do is make some cannabis “budder”. Eat a brownie. Take a toke, or two. Relax. Get a good night’s sleep every night. A relaxed, restored immune system can act. An excited, over stimulated immune system may over react. You don’t want that. So calma, as we say in the village. Stay tranquil. Cannabis can help. It lifts mood for many and eases anxiety. Cannabinoids in this plant show immune enhancing and antiinflammatory action and help to suppress pro-inflammatory cytokines. Inhaling the warm smoke dilates air passageways, allowing the lungs to receive more oxygen. Cannabis smoke possesses expectorant properties and helps bring up phlegm. Easy does it. Moderation is key.
CAYENNE Capsicum annuum
I drink cayenne to help ward off chills and clear a stuffy head. I use a sprinkle of freshly powdered herb per cup of boiling water, adding honey, lemon and ginger to enhance the flavor and medicinal action. I add it to a vinegar tonic, along with other warming, stimulating herbs and sip that throughout the day to chase typical symptoms of cold or flu quickly. Cayenne will help address congestion, sinus issues, counter heat. Red pepper is often included in protection magic. I have them hanging in my kitchen.
CLEAVERS/BEDSTRAW Galium aparine, G. verum, G. trifidum, G. triflorum, G. circaezans
The galiums are exceptional allies when the lymphatic system needs a hand. Your lymphatic system is going to get a work out and will need all the support it can get if you become infected. It’s got to be able to carry away a lot of waste that will be produced while fighting the infection. Herbalists suggest drinking as many as four cups of bedstraw or cleavers infusion daily or taking 30 drops of tincture in water twice daily to support healthy lymph movement. In addition, aiming your shower head toward swollen lymph glands is a great aid. The gentle pressure and the warmth help to stimulate stagnant lymph and bring down the tenderness and swelling. Very gentle massage of the lymph nodes or a warm compress with the strained-out plant material, or hot water bottle, laid over the area will all help as well. You can eat bedstraw and cleavers when they come up in the spring and early summer. Look up recipes for preparing goose grass!
BASIL Ocimum basilicum, O. tenuiflorum, O. sanctum, O. gratissimum
In Ayurvedic medicine, the juice of holy basil is considered a rejuvenating and stress-relieving tonic. It is commonly employed to relieve chills, cough and earache. One teaspoon of freshly squeezed basil juice twice a day is the traditional dose. It is also considered a prophylactic during flu epidemics. Basil’s carminative properties make it a good ally for soothing digestive woes. It has an outstanding reputation as a mild, effective antidepressant as well, which may serve well during this time of quarantine, loss and uncertainty. Ayurvedic medicine contains a number of herbs in its pharmacopoeia which are used to improve vitality, promote long life and enhance the body’s ability to adapt to stress. Most of these are classified as rasayana herbs. One of the most important of these is holy basil which also offers spiritual and psychological benefits as well. Holy basil is believed to open the heart and mind and bestow the energy of love and devotion. Holy basil is immunomodulating, supports the adrenals, helps regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels, boosts energy levels, protects against oxidative stress, possesses anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antiviral properties and supports the liver, for starters! Most of us won’t have the fresh plant available at this time of year, so can use the dried herb for teas and tincture. Should you become ill, 20-30 drops in water, twice daily to support the immune system should be an effective dose.
BLESSED THISTLE Cnicus benedictus
I consider blessed thistle an ally when dealing with lung congestion or bronchial infection of any kind. I sip the infusion or add 10 drops of tincture to a cup of water, to help clear phlegm and tone the entire respiratory system. And I have also called upon blessed thistle to treat a headache and to help bring down a fever. Blessed thistle contains calcium, chromium, potassium, selenium and carotenes. It also offers stores of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium and B vitamins. Among its constituents are volatile oils, resins, glycosides, the bitter sesquiterpene lactone ester cnicin, tannin, mucilage, sugars and starch. We eat the young spring leaves of blessed thistle like watercress with bread and butter. The tonifying, strength building benefits of blessed thistle are gained by ingesting it in moderate portions: no more than one cupful of infusion daily, 10-20 drops of the tincture.
BURDOCK Arctium lappa
Known throughout the world, burdock is a superb nutritive tonic, a powerful cooling alterative and a deep healer. As a superior long-term strengthener of the immune system, burdock is a mighty ally for those dealing with any active infection. Burdock’s profuse mucilage binds with unwanted byproducts of metabolic processes, helping them to exit the large intestine quickly. Burdock is a reliable aid when constipation is a problem as well. You will want to keep your bowels moving freely if you become infected. I combine burdock with dandelion, licorice, cinnamon and fennel with excellent results in this department. Burdock also nourishes intestinal flora, the abundant inulin in the roots is an excellent probiotic. Remember, terrain is everything! Dig only the first year root…at this time of year you can easily dig up a burdock root or two. Slice the fresh roots and dry on a screen or tie a string around each whole root and hang to dry. Or slice and cover with vinegar and when its ready in a couple of weeks, take a tablespoon or two daily, in water to support immunity and offer yourself a copious amount of health and strength building nutrients, such as iron, magnesium, calcium, chromium, cobalt, silicon, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, carotenes, protein and mucilage. Burdock root also contains volatile oils, terpenes, tannins, flavonoids, phytosterols, inulin, sugars, starch and resins. The fresh root is loaded with vitamin C, essential fatty acids and vitamin B2. Excellent during recovery phase, to rebuild and restore.
CHAMOMILE Matricaria chamomilla, M. recutita, M. discoidea, Chamaemelum nobile
Chamomile was one of the nine sacred herbs of the Saxons. Hildegard von Bingen used chamomile to relieve stomach ailments. A fine tonic for the digestive system, a cup of warm chamomile tea ofers antispasmodic properties, helps relax intestinal cramps, allay nausea and calm irritable bowels. Chamomile tea also counters indigestion, heartburn and helps move a sluggish bowel. I consume a cup or two of chamomile tea to treat digestive and intestinal issues or take 20 drops of tincture in water or tea. When I feel stressed, tense or nervous, I sip a cup of chamomile tea to calm and soothe my jangled nerves. This is a remedy I learned from my grandmother and so one that is dear to my heart. Most people think of chamomile as mild, but I know it as potent, yet gentle, a sure and steady remedy for anything stress related including digestive/intestinal upset. Inuit Eskimos use pineapple weed flowers, M. discoidea, in herbal steams to relieve lung congestion. Herbal steams are going to come to your assistance during the phase of the illness when you need to clear and decongest the lungs. Chamomile is a good choice to help bring down a fever too, should you have one climbing precipitously high. Ancient Egyptians used it for this and clinical studies concur – chamomile can lower body temperature by 3-3.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Please note that a fever is a healthy, full body response to an invasion and a good thing. It means your body is mounting a defense and working to fight off the infection, which is what you want it to do. Sometimes a fever can climb high enough to cause serious discomfort…in this case gently bringing it down a little bit may be helpful. A cool rag on the forehead, wiping down limbs with a tepid cloth, even soaking in a tepid bath, followed by getting in bed under the covers, are all methods for safely lowering a fever. Chamomile flowers are delicate. Steep dried blossoms five minutes for tea. Ten minutes makes a full-strength medicinal infusion. A cup of chamomile infusion, sipped slowly, or 20-30 drops of tincture is the recommended dosage.
CODONOPSIS Codonopsis pilosula
Poor Man’s (or Woman’s) ginseng, or dang shen, is adaptogenic, builds energy and strengthens the immune system. Dosages: 30-60 drops of tincture 3-4 times daily, standard infusion – up to two cups daily, syrup – 1 tablespoon 3-4 times daily WARNING! Do not use with diarrhea, flatulence, poor digestion, or during acute illness such as colds, flu and pneumonia. Codonopsis is best reserved for the recovery stage of this illness. Avoid if you have high iron levels.
CHICKWEED Stellaria media
Chickweed’s cooling and expectorant actions make it an awesome ally for those dealing with hot, dry bronchial problems, pneumonia or acute asthma. I cook fresh chickweed in simmering water and use a cup of this broth, or 20-40 drops of tincture, at least twice a day when addressing pulmonary distress of any kind. Chickweed is readily available in lawns, woods edges, under trees and shady places and usually grows in a thick mat, so is easily gathered. Be sure you don’t gather it from places where dogs wander and wash it thoroughly before cooking.
COLTSFOOT Tussilago farfara
Commonly called coughwort, coltsfoot’s botanical name is Tussilago, which literally means cough-dispeller. The flowers and cooling, mucilaginous leaves make a relaxing and soothing demulcent expectorant that can be used to clear the respiratory system. Coltsfoot is unfailing in alleviating bronchial problems, chest congestion and stubborn coughs. Ayurvedic healers use coltsfoot leaves for helping those with coughs, headaches and nasal congestion. Just as your grandmother’s grandmother might have done, you can make a coltsfoot flower syrup which is especially effective for those with dry, stubborn coughs and chronic bronchitis. In China, the flowers, known as kuan dong hua, are used alone in teas or in syrups to reduce phlegm and relieve chronic coughs. A flower tincture is also effective. We often combine coltsfoot leaves with mullein, hyssop and peppermint for an excellent respiratory aid. Coltsfoot flowers appear early in spring, before the leaves come out. You can usually spot them growing along trails and roadsides. Gather a small bag full, dry and process them. Later in summer, you can gather the leaves. If you are not 100% certain what they look like, please ask someone knowledgeable to show you. There are lots of bright yellow flowers blooming in spring.
Honeysuckle flowers will also be blooming soon, maybe now in your locale. Honeysuckle is another excellent cooling remedy for pulmonary infections and evidently, according to Chinese doctors, a specific ally in the case of COVID 19.
DANDELION Taraxacum officinale
Regarded as a supreme liver tonic, and used around the world for that purpose, dandelion root stimulates the flow of bile from both the gallbladder and the liver. Dandelion root is an unfailing ally for relief in all cases of liver distress. I rely on it as a tonic for the stomach, pancreas and kidneys, as well as the nervous, glandular, immune and lymphatic systems. If you become ill with COVID 19 your liver is going to get a work-out and will need support. So will all the other organs and systems I just mentioned. Later on, during the recovery stage of the illness, dandelion will again be invaluable. Dandelion is a powerful ally and readily available. You can dig enough to last quite a while in half an hour. A dose is 20-40 drops of tincture, or a tablespoon of dandelion vinegar, taken over food or in water, 2-4 times a day, for as long as necessary. Tarassaco comune, is what my Southern Italia neighbors call this highly valued food and medicine plant they use to remedy liver problems and address kidney ailments. The leaves are well regarded as a diuretic and both roots and leaves for their high vitamin and mineral content. Dandelion builds strength, energizes and enhances vital life forces. Dandelion roots are high in iron, manganese, phosphorus, protein, sodium and vitamin A. They also contain an especially well-balanced array of calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, zinc and vitamin C complex. The roots have been employed in Italia to treat pulmonary issues and the leaves are widely used to prepare green salads and cooked greens. One of the most common preparations for dandelion greens is to make what we call Minestra Terrana,which literally means “soup from the earth.” This is an excellent remedy for both the active infection and the recovery stage of COVID 19, to build strength, stamina and vitality. Dandelion greens are combined with other wild greens such as borage, chicory, aerial parts of daisies, wild lettuces and smooth sow thistle. Any wild greens commonly found in your geographical area, gathered from a clean place, will do. The freshly washed and trimmed greens are placed into cold water, brought to a boil and simmered gently in a covered pot which sits at the edge of the fire for an hour or more. Olive oil, garlic, onion, some sweet pepper, perhaps a bit of meat and previously soaked beans are added, depending on taste or what is available. Dandelion leaves are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, B, C and D, potassium, iron, calcium and phosphorus. They are an excellent tonic, helping to revitalize the body and rejuvenate the liver. Note: A dandelion stem is a hollow tube resembling the long hollow tube of the digestive/eliminative system and also the respiratory system, before branching into the lungs. Dandelion moves and drains fluids, it funnels and conducts flows. This energy is going to be needed if your lungs start to fill up with fluid. You are going to need help eliminating that fluid. I think dandelion can be your ally here as well, though it may need to be warmed up a bit. It’s bitter, which does directly affect the lungs, and bitter is cooling in general. Warm dandelion if you need to, with onion, garlic and red pepper, as they do in Italia.
DEVIL’S CLUB Oplopanax horridus
Magical Lore Widespread magical uses of this plant include an infusion of inner bark employed as a cleansing bath for personal protection and purification, and the use of the aerial stems as an amulet for protection against any number of external influences. Devil’s club is a deeply spiritual medicine for many First Nations people. Purification, warding off curses, protection, strength, healing and “dancing between the worlds” are some of its energetic associations. The Bella Coola, Gitxsan, Kwakiutl and Nitinaht are among the numerous nations that engage with this plant for its strong connection to protective medicine. It is seen as bestowing good fortune and is used to help strengthen and initiate healers and shamans. There is extensive phytochemical evidence that supports devil’s club’s widespread use to treat internal and external infections. In fact, science verifies that devil’s club possesses significant antibacterial, antimycobacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Unfortunately, devil’s club is currently being aggressively harvested and marketed as a ginseng-like herbal medicine. I’m not recommending medicinal use. I’m advocating for magical protection, prayer and ceremony with a tiny piece of root, bark or branch in your pocket, brevi bag or on your altar.
ECHINACEA Echinacea purpurea, E. angustifolia
Echinacea is a supreme strengthener and supporter of the immune system, nourishing to the body’s defenses. Echinacea activates leukocytes (white blood cells that combat infections) and increases the production of interferon, which helps protect non-infected cells. Echinacea’s antiseptic, antifungal and antiviral properties stop the spread of pathogens. A recent study in Europe showed that a combination of echinacea and elderberry extracts reduced the risk of catching a cold virus by 60%. The immune-system-stimulating essential oil echinacein is found in all parts of the plant. Echinacein prevents germs from penetrating all kinds of body tissue. We gargle with the warmed infusion (or 20 drops of tincture in half a cup of warm water), and slowly swallow teaspoons of echinacea honey frequently throughout the day to treat discomforts such as sore throat, lung and sinus congestion, and respiratory distress. First Nations of the Plains inhale the steam from boiling Echinacea and Kiowa and Choctaw chew the roots to ease sore throats and coughs. If you get into doing steams to help keep your lungs clear, Echinacea would be another good addition. Roots, flowers or leaves, whatever you have or can get. Studies done over the last 50 years in Germany, where echinacea has been widely used since the 1930s, suggest that it is most effective against acute illness when taken at the onset of symptoms, used frequently, and continued for several weeks. I take a dose of tincture every two to three hours for the first day or two of infectious illness. Then I take it 2-4 times a day until the symptoms subside, and sometimes for a week thereafter. To bolster my immune system when dealing with a chronic illness, I take 1-2 doses of echinacea tincture daily for a month or more. Echinacea tincture is safe for babies, pregnant women and nursing mothers. I use the same dose for baby and mother: one drop of tincture in water for every 2 pounds of body weight. Some herbalists believe echinacea’s immune-stimulating properties make it contraindicated for those dealing with autoimmune diseases such as lupus, AIDS or multiple sclerosis. Immunity-enhancing herbs such as burdock, dandelion, St. John’s wort, hyssop and garlic may be used instead.
ELECAMPANE Inula helenium
Elecampane was widely used by our ancient grandmothers as a strengthening tonic. The Greeks and Romans regarded elecampane as one of their most important herbs. Elecampane roots have been used for centuries to treat chronic respiratory illness. They help promote expectoration, are warming, and are an especially soothing tonic for mucous membranes. First Nations use elecampane to remedy a variety of ills. Cherokees use the root as a remedy for all lung ailments. Delaware nations use elecampane root as a general strengthening tonic and combine the roots with poplar bark to treat respiratory ailments. Malecite use elecampane also to alleviate cold symptoms. In Southern Italia elecampane roots are traditionally dried in the open air and used to prepare infusions for bronchitis, deeply entrenched coughs, asthma and generally for any type of respiratory distress. Syrup of Elecampane Roots One quart elecampane root infusion, 30 drops elecampane tincture, 1 cup honey. Gently decoct the infusion until it is reduced by half. Add honey and tincture. Stir until well dissolved. Pour into a sterilized jar. Use a teaspoon up to three times daily, or as needed. Dosage for tincture is 20-30 drops several times daily.
ELEUTHERO Eleutherococcus senticosus
Also known as Siberian ginseng. Restores and enhances vital energy, builds stamina and endurance, aids mental and physical performance. Highly regarded adaptogen, modulates immunity, relieves stress. Avoid use with digoxin. Like its cousin American ginseng, excellent for rebuilding stage. One or the other, you won’t likely need both. Dosages – Tincture of the roots – 60-100 drops 1-4 times daily. Drink an infusion up to three cups daily. Syrup 1 tablespoon 3-4 times daily. WARNING! May cause overstimulation and if so, discontinue use. Enhances efficacy of mycin-class antibiotics.
FENUGREEK Trigonella foenum-graecum
Fenugreek seeds make a nourishing, mineral-rich tonic. One of humankind’s oldest medicines, held in high repute by the ancient Egyptians and Hippocrates, fenugreek is a rejuvenator for the entire body. These seeds will serve well during the recovery stage of COVID 19. It will also help to soothe and lubricate as needed during the active phase of illness. Fenugreek seed’s high mucilage content (about 28 percent of their weight) has a soothing effect on all mucous membranes. Strengthening to the stomach, fenugreek seed tea or infusion is tonic to the entire digestive tract and especially soothing to the intestines. It is calming and restorative to the nervous system. Fenugreek seeds are widely used for their expectorant properties and are especially healing to the respiratory system. Those dealing with respiratory distress may drink it freely. In Southern Italia this plant is known as fieno Greco and is used as a convalescent tonic. The seeds contain mucilage and are used as expectorants and emollients. Fenugreek seeds are bursting with nutrients including protein, essential fatty acids, flavonoids and phytosterols. They also contain steroidal saponins, alkaloids, vitamins A, B and C, and a wealth of minerals such as iron, selenium, phosphorus and potassium. A cup of fenugreek seed tea, steeped for ten minutes, as needed.
GARLIC Allium sativum
We spoke of using garlic preventively. It will also be a strong ally if we become sick. Garlic is one of the most extensively studied medicinal plants, and it enjoys a long history of use that goes back for thousands of years. Sulfur compounds in raw garlic are antiviral. Scientists at China’s Shandong Academy of Medical Science report that allicin, another one of garlic’s constituents, is an antioxidant with tremendous free radical scavenging potential. When your immune system moves into high gear and debris floods your system, this action is going to help clear up the mess. A proven anti-infective, garlic raises the body’s white blood cell count, thereby boosting the immune system. One of our favorite remedies is garlic cloves coarsely chopped or sliced very thin and covered with honey. We use this garlic honey against any kind of infection, from sore throats to food poisoning. First Nations use a wild variety, A. vineale, as a condiment. Cherokee consider garlic stimulating, using it to relieve lung disorders and spasmodic coughs and also as a digestive system tonic. The well known hypotensive effect of garlic is made use of by swallowing crushed cloves wrapped in bread crumbs or chased with water, or simply by consuming large generous amounts of garlic as part of the diet. Because the bulb strengthens the cardiac rhythm, causes vasodilation of the arteries and regulates the pulse, it is a well-regarded remedy among my Southern Italian neighbors for the treatment of hypertension and arteriosclerosis. Magical Lore Garlic is a powerful herb of protection. In Southern Italian folk medicine, garlic is believed to be the physical manifestation of the protector, San Michele Arcangelo. Here’s a simple prayer to invoke the protection of St. Michael: St. Michael above me, St. Michael below me. St. Michael to the left of me, St. Michael to the right of me. St. Michael in front of me, St. Michael behind me. St. Michael all around me. Thank you St. Michael for protecting me. Amen
GINGER Zingiber officinale
Ginger root is an aromatic, pungent, biting, spicy herb, used as a flavorful seasoning around the world with a history of medicinal use dating back more than two thousand years. This is another one you need to have in the house in case you get sick. We discussed it for preventive uses in Part 1. Warming, carminative and tonic to the entire digestive system, ginger helps ease gastric woes, stimulates digestive juices and tones the digestive system. Antispasmodic ginger quells nausea. Ginger is a circulatory tonic, which energizes the heart. It gets blood moving and brings warmth to a cold body. If you get chills, this is a good herb to be drinking as a hot tea with a little bit of honey in it. Ginger also possesses expectorant properties and is a valuable ally for those with bronchial congestion. We make a potent ginger syrup by peeling and pounding fresh ginger root, squeezing the juice from the pulp and mixing this with honey. A tablespoon added to any tea or medicinal infusion enhances it benefits and energizes the rest of the formula. In China, fresh ginger root, called sheng jiang, is used to promote sweating, (dispersant energy, helps move fluid from lungs to skin), and as an expectorant valued for relieving colds and flu. Studies in Japan show that ginger contains a powerful anti-inflammatory compound called gingerol. Gingerol inhibits formation of inflammation generating interleukin-1, so eases aches, pains and swellings. Flower Essence Ginger flower essence helps to clear out stagnant energy and move us forward free of situations that drag us down. Magical Lore Add a bit of dried ginger to your magic bag to inspire clear action and to boost the energy of prayers and spells.
AMERICAN GINSENG Panax quinquefolius
Relieves exhaustion, rebuilds vitality. Long-revered adaptogen with immune-enhancing, immune-modulating and rejuvenating properties. One of my most trusted herbal allies and favorite plants to grow and be with. Excellent choice for the restorative, strength rebuilding, recovery stage of the illness. Dosages – Tincture of roots – 30-60 drops daily, half cup of infusion 1-3 times daily. Syrup 1 tablespoon 1-3 times daily. WARNING! Avoid large doses if taking warfarin.
HOREHOUND Marrubium vulgare
Horehound is antispasmodic, demulcent and expectorant. It is very effective in loosening and increasing healthy flow of phlegm. It is an excellent tonic for the entire respiratory system, and our ancestors have long called upon it to treat chronic coughs, asthma and bronchial congestion. A syrup made from fresh or dried horehound leaves is especially helpful. This same syrup has a tonic effect on the stomach, helping ease digestive woes. Hildegard von Bingen recommended a tonic combination of horehound, mullein, dill and fennel to treat coughs and respiratory distress in general. She advised horehound cream soup, eaten several times daily, to heal infections of the tonsils, throat and sinuses. First Nations are also familiar with horehound as a special ally for those with lung conditions. Navajo use horehound to combat bronchial infection, Cherokee use it to treat all pulmonary complaints, coughs and hoarseness. Paiute employ horehound as a counterirritant, striking aching limbs with bunches of leaves and stems to bring warmth and blood circulation to the area. Marrubium vulgare is known to my Southern Italia neighbors as maruggē and mentastro. Much like common mallow, white horehound is an extremely important species in the folk pharmacopoeia of Southern Italia. It is considered a panacea and is associated with the following saying, “A maruggē, ognē malē struggē” (the white horehound destroys every disease). Horehound decoctions are used as an expectorant, hepatoprotective agent and cure-all. Sounds good, right? You can tincture fresh horehound, but horehound candy is the traditional way of ingesting this herb and it is fairly easy to make. Horehound’s constituents include a bitter principle (marrubium), resin, traces of essential oil, tannin, wax, fat and sugar. Horehound Candy Prepare a standard infusion of dried horehound leaves. Put a cup of the infusion into a pot with one cup of honey, one cup of brown sugar and one tablespoon of butter. Cook, stirring constantly, until a few drops form a soft ball when dropped into cold water. Pour onto a flat pan, score while it is warm and cut after it has cooled. Store these candies in a glass jar. Use liberally. Hildegard’s Horehound Throat Remedy To one cup of horehound infusion, add two cups of white wine and one cup of cream. Hildegard said “drink often and thy throat will be healed.”
HORSETAIL Equisetum arvense
Horsetail is astringent, but has properties that increase fluid flows, making it an excellent tonic for the kidneys, bladder and urinary tract. You might consider drinking a cup or two of horsetail infusion daily or adding it to a sitz bath to tone and strengthen the bladder and to support your kidneys and bladder when draining off excess fluids and waste. Potawatomi and Cherokee drink an infusion to treat kidney and bladder weakness. Flower Essence Horsetail organizes the energy of all systems of the body and helps with focus through allowing clear communication between body, mind and spirit. (This could be helpful to prevent the immune system going haywire and the resulting cytokine storm from going out of control.) Magical Lore Horsetail helps to strengthen and define boundaries. Keep a sprig in your pocket to protect your yourself against unwanted intrusions.
HYSSOP – Hyssopus officinalis
Wild hearted grandmothers have long used hyssop as a nourishing medicinal tea for those dealing with any type of pulmonary distress, lung or sinus congestion. It contains several warming, stimulating, camphor-like constituents that help loosen phlegm, and an expectorant, marrubium. A syrup made from flowering tops of hyssop is especially soothing and healing to sore throats. First Nations drink an infusion made from hyssop leaves and flowers to relieve asthma. Cherokee employ hyssop to treat those with coughs and colds, to bring down fever. Hyssop is a blood nourisher. It strengthens the immune system and has very strong antiviral properties. Hyssop is an evergreen, so if you have it growing in your garden, you can go out anytime to harvest leaves and sprigs. Eating hyssop is a great way to integrate its nourishing and medicinal qualities. We chop a few sprigs of hyssop into salads and use it as a spice, fresh or dried, in soups and other dishes all through the year. Hildegard von Bingen calls hyssop a “happy making spice” and advises “if one eats hyssop often, one cleans the sick-makers and stinkiness out of the foamy juices.” She recommended cooking hyssop with chicken and drinking it as tea. Dosage A standard dose is 2-4 cups of dried hyssop infusion daily, or 20 drops of fresh plant tincture two to four times daily. Magical Lore Hyssop’s deep spiritual resonance offers nourishment and protection. Hang a bunch in our home for the beneficial effect and the pleasant aroma! It’s an excellent fumigation herb.
JAPANESE KNOTWEED Polygonum cuspidatum – Fallopia japonica
The antioxidant actions and flavanoid content of Japanese knotweed roots are found to be higher than onion, carrot, broccoli and ginger. Japanese knotweed contains high concentrations of resveratrol and studies show it to have considerable antiviral activity. It is an especially effective ally to call on when dealing with viruses such as H1N1, various flu viruses, herpes simplex and HIV, among others. It may be useful against Covid 19 as well, though this certainly has not been proven. Its action is two-fold; it limits replication of the virus and also eases inflammation in affected tissues and systems. Its broad range of actions travel throughout the body to reduce inflammation, protect healthy tissues, increase microcirculation, promote antiviral and antibiotic actions throughout the body systems, enhance healthy immune function, reduce autoimmune reactions and enhance the performance of other herbs and medicines. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the roots are used to reduce heat in the body and to invigorate and clear the blood. COVID 19 is energetically described, at least in some stages, as a hot, dry condition. During the hot phase, Japanese knotweed is a good remedy. Other phases of COVID 19 are being described as cold and damp, turbid – at this stage Japanese knotweed might best be discontinued or will need to be warmed up. A typical medicinal dose is 20-30 drops of tincture added to a bit of water. The roots increase blood flow to places of the body which are typically difficult to reach, such as the eyes, heart, brain, spine and joints. It works synergistically with other herbs when taken in combination, bringing them into these areas as well.
LAVENDER Lavendula officinalis
Lavender is a luxurious moisturizer and superb as an after-bath oil to keep skin healthy. We want to keep our skin well moisturized and supple at this time. The epithelial tissue throughout the body is a protective sheath that plays an important role in filtration, absorption, excretion, and sensation. Healthy, supple skin tissue is an important avenue for releasing excess moisture if/when fluids fill the lungs. We need to have several routes for this moisture to be drained away. The skin is one route, through perspiration. For dealing with the aches and pains that are commonly reported during this illness, lavender oil feels exquisite rubbed into sore muscles. It has antispasmodic abilities, relieves soreness and cramping and is deeply relaxing to muscles. Our grandmothers would tell us to sip a cup of lavender infusion to help relieve both pain and ease tension. Tone down the tension with a nice cup of lavender tea in the late afternoon. To relieve a headache, also commonly reported with this illness, one might soak a cloth in lavender infusion, apply to the head where it hurts, and breathe in the healing aromas as you rest with my eyes closed. Our European grandmothers drank the tea to relieve colds and flu, as a digestive aid and as a nervine, among other uses. Lavender is an excellent nervine. I’ve heard from several who have had this illness, or guided another through it, that emotional distress is a feature. You may feel irritated, roiled, riled, pissed, miffed, nettled, annoyed, peeved or steamed…all indications for collaborating with lavender. Try a bit of lavender tincture in some water to calm your impatience and help you find your center again. Or soak in a lavender and salt bath, heavenly. Lavender has an ancient history as a plant that brings courage and strength. Lavender offers a stabilizing, revitalizing and empowering influence. During this unsettling time we are would all do well to immerse ourselves in the gray-green waves of relaxing, uplifting, healing lavender. Flower Essence is an aid in returning to a sense of wholeness and would be most useful in the recovery and restoration phase. Lavender’s aroma links us to our ancient past, to our ancestors, the elements, to the strong, stable core of the mother, to the very soul of nature. I encourage you to open your wild heart to the spirit of lavender. Discover an ally that can help you develop a strong, generous, compassionate spirit, nerves of steel and a wise heart wealthy with healing ways. It’s what is most needed now.
LEMON BALM Melissa officinalis
Lemon balm has an old reputation for giving the gift of long life to those who use it. Paracelsus believed lemon balm had so many benefits it was the one and only herb a person would ever need. If all you have on your herb shelf is lemon balm, relax, you should be good to go. Lemon balm’s history of use as an effective natural tranquilizer and antidepressant can be traced back to the ancients, who said it would lift the spirits. I put lemon balm in the bath, alone or mixed with other relaxing herbs, such as lavender, roses and milky oats. I find that drinking a cup of dried lemon balm infusion alone, or combined with milky oats and roses, half an hour before retiring, helps insure a deep, restful sleep. Lemon balm’s soothing and calming qualities extend to the digestive system, where it relaxes smooth muscle tissue, quieting stomach spasms and easing intestinal cramping. Among lemon balm’s constituents are eugenol, an anesthetic and pain-relieving substance, and polyphenols that help fight several types of bacterial infections; lemon balm ks well known to possess antiviral activity as well. Lemon balm lowers an overheated body temperature – it cools you off and helps bring down fever. 10-20 drops of lemon balm tincture is the usual dose.
LICORICE Glycyrrhiza glabra G. uralensis
The Greek botanist Theophrastus wrote back in the third century BC that licorice roots were being used specifically for those with dry coughs and respiratory illness. Dioscorides used it for those who suffered stomach distress, and also to heal the throat, liver and kidneys. Throughout Europe licorice is used to treat dry cough, dry mouth, wheezing and lung problems, to counter infection, and as a gargle for sore throat. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, G. uralensis is used, and referred to as the “peacekeeper” and the “grandfather of herbs.” Gan cao is an important tonic known as the “great detoxifier” – used to drive poisons from the system. The Chinese class it among their Superior herbs, which is very similar to the definition of adaptogens today. It is very commonly added in small amounts to Chinese herbal formulas and is considered exceptionally useful to stop diarrhea, relieve fatigue, stimulate the appetite and soothe gastric irritation. My Sud Italian neighbors typically use licorice, G. glabra, which is native to Sud Italia, as a digestive aid, or aperitivo. Licorice is considered a nootropic agent, which is a substance that acts on the mind, improving cerebral circulation and enhancing memory, mental function and mood. It is said to help harmonize the body/mind/spirit connection. Licorice offers antiviral properties, is an effective antihistamine and acts as an anti-inflammatory with its rich stores of steroidal precursors. The roots also offer an abundance of antioxidants, are demulcent, expectorant. Licorice is a supreme liver tonic. It heals liver damage and is hepatoprotective. It is an excellent herbal choice for countering the stress of these days and repairing the damage stress causes in the body. Licorice is a proven immunomodulator, so regulates immunity, boosting it if it is in need of it and toning it down when it is over-reacting. Licorice is an excellent remedy for any inflammation or irritation of the gastrointestinal tract and a very good digestive tonic, exceedingly soothing to the entire digestive system. Flower Essence Licorice flower essence is indicated when experiencing fatigue/stress and when longing for the sweetness of life. It supports joy. WARNING! Licorice roots have been safely used for thousands of years. However, there are some cautions. It is best avoided by those with hypertension. Moderation and use as directed is advised. If you deal with hypertension, consider using marshmallow instead. Pregnant women subject to edema should also avoid it. Licorice is rarely used alone as a simple and is best in combination with other herbs in a formula. In Chinese Medicine licorice makes up no more than 10% of any recipe. I follow that guideline myself when formulating with this herb.
MARSHMALLOW Althea officinalis, A. sylvestris
Soothing, cooling, moistening and mucilaginous, marshmallow roots, leaves and flowers have long been used to ease sore, irritated throat and mouth, soothe mucous membranes, cool heartburn and calm digestive woes. Ever touch a leaf? They are soft as velvet! All parts reliably help quiet intestinal distress, ease inflammatory bowel conditions, help heal leaky gut and gastric, duodenal ulcers, soothe any and all inflamed tissue, calm diarrhea and help heal urinary distress. Marshmallows are soothing and healing, demulcent and emollient. The roots contain 25-35% mucilage, polysaccharides and starches, as well as tannins, pectins, asparagine, quercetin and kaempferol, and phenolic acids such as salicylic acid. The leaves contain mucilage, flavonoids, and essential oil. Using a cold water infusion, instead of hot, is the best way to extract and make use of all that soothing, cooling mucilage. A. sylvestris is known simply as malva in Southern Italia. The mallows are one of the most important medicinal species in our folk pharmacopoeia. Its use as a panacea is made clear by a local saying, “La malva, da ogni mal’ ti salva.” (“The common mallow saves you from every disease.”) The aerial parts of the mallows, prepared as an infusion or decoction, are often used for their restorative properties to treat cold, flu and digestive/intestinal distress. It’s an emollient, so soothes sore throats and eases coughs and hoarseness. Honoring our Dead. Marshmallow has long been considered a funerary herb, used to bless and decorate graves. Sometimes referred to as mortification root, marshmallow’s use as a funerary herb actually extends back at least 65,000 years. Neanderthals used mallow flowers along with yarrow, cornflowers and grape hyacinths to cover their dead.
MILK THISTLE Silybum marianum
Milk thistle has been in constant use as a liver protector and rejuvenator for thousands of years. It is native to the Mediterranean and grows wild throughout Europe, North America and Australia. I use milk thistle interchangeably with blessed thistle. Both herbs have much the same action, although milk thistle is considered a more potent liver tonic. It is a superlative ally for protecting the liver. The seeds possess the unique ability to inhibit factors responsible for liver damage, while nourishing the production of new liver cells (every cell in the liver is replaced in a six-week cycle). Some of milk thistle’s liver-protecting effects are a function of silybin, an antioxidant and free radical scavenger more powerful than vitamins C and A. Silybin alters the liver cell membrane structure, blocking the absorption of damaging substances. Cardo di Santa Maria root, as we refer to it in Sud Italia, has diuretic properties as well. The seeds are dried and steeped in boiling water to support liver function. 30 drops of tincture taken twice daily will offer your liver the extra support it needs. I mix seeds in equal parts with assorted black peppercorns, place it all in a hand grinder, and use this “good for your liver mix” any time I want to add pepper to a dish, which is every day. It’s excellent ground over everything, from salads to stews!
MIMOSA Albizia julibrissin
In Traditional Chinese Medicine albizia is known as he huan pi and is commonly referred to as the happiness tree or collective happiness flower. Its bark and flowers have been safely used for thousands of years to elevate the mood and lighten the spirit. Classified as an herb that calms disturbed Shen, mimosa is an excellent choice for treating anxiety, melancholy, sadness, depression, confusion, irritability, insomnia, and disturbing dreams. Mimosa bark/flowers are often recommended for those who are suffering from grief as a result of severe loss. 20-30 drops is a typical dose of tincture.
MULLEIN Verbascum Thapsus, V. olympicum
Mullein leaves are demulcent, emollient and astringent. They are an excellent tonic and trophorestorative for the entire respiratory system. A daily cup of dried mullein leaf infusion is a great way to soothe chronic bronchial problems. Two cups daily effectively clears lung congestion, relieves throat inflammation and irritation, and helps to control coughing. A poultice made from plant material strained from the infusion helps soothe a sore throat and congested chest. Mullein blends well with other lung nourishing herbs such as coltsfoot, hyssop, thyme and peppermint. Long used as a smoking herb, mullein is inhaled to heal lung tissue, open up air passageways and stop asthma attacks. The Hopi, Malecite, Mohican, Navajo and Potawatomi treat asthma this way. Ojibwa use the inner bark of mullein roots to stimulate the heart. Mullein leaves are widely used by First Nations people to treat lung disorders and are commonly applied as a warm poultice to sprains, painful joints and inflammations and swollen glands. First Nations of the Western Plains use mullein as an antispasmodic and a pain reliever. Anti-inflammatory, pain easing and discomfort relieving, mullein leaf will enhance the pliability of your back and spine. My Southern Italia neighbors refer to mullein as verbasco. We appreciate its ability to resolve mucus/phlegm and relieve inflammation of the mucus membranes. Verbasco’s antiinflammatory action in the respiratory tract makes this plant popular among smokers who add the ground leaves to smoking blends. Use super sparingly. Mullein root enhances bladder function. 20 drops of tincture 2 cups of infusions daily is the typical dose. Flower Essence – Use mullein flower essence when you need to acknowledge and access inner guidance. Magical Lore – Mullein is an herb of protection. Old wives suggest we carry a mullein leaf as a talisman of safety.
Make a Cleansing Ritual Sprinkler – Collect some water into a bowl reverently. Add a sprinkle of salt and mix it well. With deep respect and prayers, gather a bouquet of fresh flowering herbs, including some mullein leaves. Dip the tips of your bundle of herbs into the water made holy by your reverence. Spray and sprinkle droplets into all corners of your home and around windows and doors to bless, protect and create sacred, healing space. Use this ritual sprinkler to spray holy water on yourself or anyone in your care who is ill, to bless and cleanse and enhance the journey to recovery and wellness. (At this time of year you can use evergreen branches.) Say some healing affirmations…make them up on the spot…let spirit speak through you.
NETTLE Urtica dioica
Nettles are a super food, a super green ally. A strengthening, blood building tonic, nettles are a rich source of nutrients. The leaves contain abundant chlorophyll, calcium, chromium, magnesium, zinc and generous stores of iron, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, protein, riboflavin, selenium, silicon, thiamine and vitamins A, C and K. Nettles are salty, cool and dry. Nettles are highly regarded the world over as a supreme kidney tonic; they offer unexcelled support for kidney function and relief from kidney distress. Your kidneys are going to require support if you become ill with this virus, and nettles are a top choice. Nettles are also quite famous for their ability to restore adrenal functioning. Ortica comune, as we refer to this plant in Southern Italia, enjoys a long history of use in our folk medicine pharmacopeia. The lightly bruised leaves are applied directly to hot, painful joints. A boiled nettle poultice is applied to relieve the chest pain of those suffering from pleurisy, a condition in which the pleura – a membrane consisting of a layer of tissue that lines the inner side of the chest cavity and a layer of tissue that surrounds the lungs – becomes inflamed. Pleurisy causes sharp chest pain that worsens with breathing. It’s one of the symptoms of COVID 19 infection. In the village next to ours in Sud Italia, there are a number of people who are ill with COVID 19. According to my friend, Roberto who is there right now, one of the herbs they are using to treat people is nettles. The patients are consuming it in strong infusions, broths and soups. The steamed greens, or the strained-out plant material from the infusions, is employed as a poultice over the lungs. Nettles grow wildly all throughout our area and so the plant is readily available and easily obtained. It may be abundant around you, or maybe you know someone with a bunch of it growing. Harvest and dry or even freeze some, it will come in handy if you get sick and will also help you rebuild your strength and vitality during the recovery stage of this illness. You might have to combine it with something moistening, like marshmallow, if you tend to be dry. Herbalists recommend drinking 2-4 cups daily as a medicinal dose or putting 20-30 drops of tincture in warm/hot water and sip 2-4 times daily. Flower Essence Nettles flower essence helps for releasing pain and grief related to partings and endings and to connect with the source of our irritations, so we can release negativity in a non-aggressive way. Magical Lore Nettle is an ancient herb of protection. Carry some dried nettles in a bag to keep negative energies away or burn it as incense. Add salt to a nettle infusion and use as a cleansing/clearing spiritual bath. Consider reciting this ancient Sud Italian prayer I translated into English for you: Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Go pestilence, go! Go far away from me. In the name of Great Mother, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and all the Saints and Holy People. Amen
OATS Avena sativa
Oats are highly nourishing, revitalizing and restorative. They are exactly what most of us need right now to allay stress, anxiety, tension and depression. Milky oats/oatstraw is an energizer, and it does this cumulatively, building energy slowly and consistently by deeply nourishing the entire body. It alleviates both physical and nervous fatigue. Taken before bed, milky oats infusion supports deep refreshing sleep. Offering the most magnesium of almost any other plant, oats also contain abundant chromium, sodium, silicon, calcium, iron, niacin, phosphorus, riboflavin and selenium. Oats are a source of vitamin B complex, including folic acid, plus vitamins E, K, A and C, potassium and protein. Oats nourish and tone the entire nervous system. All those B vitamins, plus calcium and magnesium, mean that oats are a supreme tonic for stabilizing emotions, balancing mood swings and helping to ease depression. Known as Avena comune or biada, in Southern Italia, oats are ground into flour, warmed and moistened with hot water and used as a poultice to ease backache. You may experience lower back pain if the kidneys are struggling under their load, this remedy may help. A similar effect is obtained by applying warm toasted oat seeds, put into a small cloth bag, over the affected parts. Methods of use include daily consumption of 2-4 cups of milky oats or oatstraw, 20-30 drops of tincture once or twice daily, infusion as a wash, or application of the warmed, moistened herb as a poultice. Flower Essence Oat flower essence brings a feeling of stability during times of uncertainty.
OLIVE Oleo Europea
Olives are one of the oldest fruits known and a staple food of the Mediterranean diet. Olive has long been used as a folk remedy for the cure of numerous infectious disorders of bacterial, fungal, and viral origin. “Olea” is the Latin word for “oil” and describes the natural juice that is pressed from the fruit and preserves the taste, aroma, vitamins and other nourishing properties of the olive. Olive has long been a symbol of endurance. Hippocrates, often referred to as the father of medicine, called olives and their oil “the great therapeutic.” Muhammad tells us to use olive oil and anoint yourself with it, because it is “from a blessed tree.” Ancient Greek legends tell of the creation of the olive tree by the goddess Athena, who also taught the people its many healing uses. The midrash teaches that the olive branch carried back to Noah’s ark after the flood, marked the “renewal of life.” Olives have a long association with the sacred. The olive tree has provided the sacred oil used to anoint sacred objects, places and people, and for ceremony and blessings, throughout millennia. The New Testament tells us of many who were sick and anointed with oil and made well again. Olives are not only an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, but also offer an abundance of vitamin E, and so protect our cells from free radicals, lowering the risk of both cellular damage and inflammation. Beneficial phytonutrients such as polyphenols and flavonoids, appear to have strong anti-inflammatory properties. All traditionally lacto-fermented foods including olives, pickles, cheese, wine, mead, yogurt, sauerkraut and sausages, offer wonderful benefits for the digestive system. In fact, these naturally fermented traditional foods and beverages are now considered to be “probiotics,” promoting the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria, aiding digestion and supporting immune function. Furthermore, the nutrients available in these foods, such as B vitamins (including vitamin B12), omega-3 fatty acids, digestive enzymes, lactase and lactic acid, and other nutrients, are actually increased by fermentation. Skin Care The antioxidant vitamins E and A are necessary for healthy skin and both are present in olive oil. Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant with skin protective and moisturizing properties, also offers anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin A is another potent antioxidant with skin regenerative properties. It helps the skin stay soft, supple, smooth and firm and increases elasticity. We spoke of the need to keep our skin healthy, well moisturized and able to release moisture as perspiration through surface pores. My beautiful Italian mother told me long ago that to improve skin tone make sure to have two or three tablespoons of olive oil in the daily diet. And ancient legends say that “olive oil makes all your aches and pains go away.” When making herbal infused oils to apply to the skin, I prefer to use pure olive oil. It has been the extractor and fixative of choice for herbalists down through the ages. Olive Leaf – Olive leaf contains polyphenols that have antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and may reduce upper respiratory infection rates. I recommended it to you for preventive care in Part 1. Many scientific studies have shown olive leaves to possess the following actions: antidiabetic, anticonvulsant, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, analgesic, antimicrobial, antiviral, antihypertensive, anticancer, antihyperglycemic, antinociceptive, gastroprotective, and wound healing. Decoctions of dried leaves and fruit are used orally to treat diarrhea, respiratory infections, stomach and intestinal distress, and as a mouth cleanser. In Greece hot water extract of olive leaves is taken orally to treat high blood pressure. In Italy, infusion of fresh leaves is taken as an anti-inflammatory. Tincture is employed as a febrifuge and applied externally as a restorer of epithelium. Right now, in that small hospital in the village next to mine I just mentioned, they are also giving patients olive leaf infusions and tincture. In Japan olive leaves are taken orally for stomach and intestinal diseases and the oil is used orally for constipation and liver pain. Extra virgin olive oil has shown remarkable anti-inflammatory activity, due at least in part to the presence of oleocanthal, which has a strikingly similar profile to ibuprofen, a synthetic anti-inflammatory drug. Numerous pharmacological studies carried out on the fresh plant materials, crude extracts, and isolated components of O. europaea provide support for its various traditional uses. A typical dose is 2-4 cups of infusion daily, 20-30 drops of tincture in water once or twice daily. Olive is an ancient ancestral remedy. Olive is a strong antimicrobial, has potent antiviral action and if you want to get an idea of its properties and gifts, just look at the tree! It is exceptionally long lived, diseases rarely bother it, it is a sacred tree, a medicine tree, a tree with multiple gifts we can benefit from right now.
PEPPERMINT Mentha piperita, M. spicata
Antispasmodic, carminative and digestive, peppermint stimulates the flow of bile, is analgesic, quells nausea and promotes sweating while cooling the body internally. Peppermint helps fight infection. Menthol, one of mint’s volatile oils, is germicidal and decongesting, relieving nose, sinus and chest infections. All mints are mineral-rich. Peppermint offers very high amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, riboflavin, thiamine and vitamin A, and abundant calcium, iron, niacin, potassium, protein, sodium, selenium and vitamin C. In addition to volatile oils like menthol, cineol and azulene, peppermint contains resins, tannin, tocopherols, choline, flavonoids and a bitter principle. Peppermint soothes the stomach, relieves indigestion, acts as an antacid and helps expel gas. Slowly sipping a cup of peppermint infusion helps settle a stomach overcome by nausea and spasms. The Chinese use Mentha arvensis, called bo he, as a cooling remedy for colds, fevers, sore throat and headache. They also consider it a liver herb, using it to move stagnant energy. Ayurvedic physicians have used peppermint for centuries as a digestive tonic and a treatment for colds, coughs, and fever. First Nations also use peppermint to treat colds, coughs and chest congestion. Menominee use peppermint against pneumonia, Cree use it to soothe sore throats, Cherokee and Montagnais to relieve headache. It’s a reliable, stimulating, decongesting ally. Added to the bathtub or a foot bath, peppermint is analgesic and energizing. Magical Lore Mints offer protection when planted nearby or hung inside. Keep some in a special pouch to enhance intuitive skills. Use peppermint in a ritual water sprinkler to bless, cleanse and heal. Good in any steam, as most mints will be. The mint’s strong aromatic principles help clear the lungs and move phlegm.
Herbal Steam Pour boiling water over dried peppermint (or any other decongesting herbs) in a pot placed on a stable surface, like a table or floor. Or, put 3-5 drops of peppermint essential oil into the boiled water – either or, not both. Then put a towel over your head and around the pot, so that you are breathing in the vapors to clear nasal passages, sinus or bronchial congestion. You know what’s also good in steams? All the evergreens, pine, spruce, fir, cedar and black birch, alder or cottonwood buds. Eucalyptus.
PLANTAIN Plantago major, P. lanceolate, P. rugelii
Plantain has a long history of use as a kidney tonic. I make an infusion of the dried leaves and drink one cup, or take 20 drops of fresh leaf tincture, three times a day. Plantain is a relaxing antispasmodic tonic to the mucous membranes. For centuries, plantain leaves have been used to help those with coughs and bronchial problems. It is a soothing demulcent expectorant, which heals inflamed surfaces and brings up phlegm. Astringent properties give plantain a long-standing reputation as an effective remedy for relieving diarrhea. My Sud Italian neighbors traditionally employ an infusion of dry leaves to counters respiratory distress. The leaves, and especially the mucilaginous seeds, are eaten to stimulate intestinal peristalsis. Magical Lore I was taught to write the name of an ill person on a piece of paper three times, roll it up and wrap the paper in a plantain leaf (tied with red string) then lay that leaf on the heart of the patient while offering prayers on their behalf.
POPPY Papaver rhoeas
Poppies are known as papavero and widely used in our Southern Italia folk pharmacopeia. The red petals are mucilaginous, bitter and expectorant and are commonly prepared as a syrup used to alleviate cough and hoarseness and soothe a sore throat. Papavero is regarded as pain relieving, sedative, and calming. The seeds you have in your spice cabinet can also be used to calm and relieve pain. 1 teaspoon of poppy seeds to a cup of water, steeped for ten minutes.
RED CLOVER Trifolium pratense
Red clover, called such honored names as “God’s gift” and “prized-herb” has been cultivated since prehistoric times. It was revered by the Greeks and Romans and was sacred to the Celts. Chinese healers use red clover as an expectorant. Russian folk healers use it to relieve asthma, Algonquins used red clover blossoms as a remedy for cough. A powerful alterative, red clover helps alkalinize the blood and has antispasmodic, diuretic and anti-inflammatory effects. Red clover is nourishing and vitamin and mineral rich, containing vitamin B complex, vitamin C, calcium, chromium, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium and protein. Among its 300 constituents are phenolic glycosides, flavonoids, saponins, calculates, coumarone and cyanogenic glycosides. This chemistry makes it blood thinning as well as heart and brain protective. When dealing with coughs, colds and bronchial congestion we drink red clover infusion liberally. Sometimes we poultice our chests with the strained-out plant material to help ease discomfort. Red clover blossom infusion can be enjoyed daily as a vitamin and mineral rich beverage with virtually no risk of side effects. Flower Essence Red clover tincture or flower essence offers psychic first aid and calm in the midst of hysteria and during natural disasters and emergencies.
RHODIOLA Rhodiola rosea
Rhodiola is a hardy indigenous North American herb highly regarded for its ability to alleviate fatigue and protect against oxidative stress. It protects against cellular damage and is one of the herbs Stephen Buhner is suggesting as a preventive as well as a treatment for COVID 19. Also known as golden root or rose root, rhodiola is an adaptogen, possesses anti-inflammatory properties, aids the musculoskeletal system, helps alleviate pain, is antidepressant, improves brain function, benefits the lungs and respiratory system, is cardioprotective, normalizes blood sugar levels and enhances/modulates immunity. It also relieves jet-lag and symptoms of high altitude sickness. The roots have a rose-like fragrance when cut, hence the name rosea. Modern research indicates that rhodiola is stimulating in small and medium doses and sedating in larger doses. The tops of the plants are traditionally eaten by First Nations people of the Americas to boost strength, stamina and endurance. I like to nibble the tasty tops while out working in the gardens. The Vikings employed the roots of this plant in similar ways. Dosages: 10-15 drops of tincture is a typical dose, up to three times daily,1 teaspoon of syrup or a cup of infusion up to three times daily, or as needed.
ROSE Rosa species, Rosa rugosa, R. canina
Roses uplift the spirits, ease anxiety and tension and have a marked anti-depressive effect. They are an unexcelled ally right now when many of us are feeling the strains of life under ”house arrest”. Extended families are split apart, work is uncertain, finances are insecure. Many of us are feeling the grief of the world, our hearts are heavy. Fear, dread, apprehension and pain of loss are great. Roses are specifically indicated for such times. They soothe the emotional heart. Chinese use flowers of the wild Rosa rugosa, called mei gui hua, as a chi nourisher, and as a blood and liver tonic. Ayurvedic healers use roses to counter inflammation. Roses are both cooling and astringent. The rose is esteemed for its soothing, nourishing and healing effects on all skin types. It’s an excellent addition to any skin lotion, butter, cream, skin moisturizer or massage oil. With all the hand washing we’re doing, we need the soothing healing rose to soften and heal our dry skin. If we should need help moving moisture from the lungs, our well-nourished supple skin pores will help us do just that. In Southern Italia the dog rose, R. canina, is known as Rosa selvatica commune. An infusion of fresh or dried petals is highly valued as a remedy for conjunctivitis, used as an eye wash. The simmered hips release polyphenols with astringent and anti-inflammatory action, and this is a good remedy to ease intestinal distress. Roses have a nourishing effect on the heart and circulatory systems and are soothing to the nerves. A simple cup of tea or 20 drops of tincture is relaxing, stress relieving and helps ease exhaustion. Antiviral, antibacterial and antiseptic rose petals will also be an ally when fighting infection. I use an infusion of dried rose flowers as a gargle to relieve sore throat and drink it as a remedy for diarrhea. Honey infused with rose petals is incredibly delicious and soothing to sore throats. The gemmotherapy elixir of rose leaf buds is a major ear/nose/throat remedy, used to counter infections or inflammations. It’s a specific remedy to soothe sore throat and for strengthening the immune system. Rose hips are high in vitamin C, B complex, carotenes, vitamin E and selenium, offer abundant chromium, niacin, phosphorus, protein and sodium. The fruits also contain bioflavonoids, tannins, oils, resins, citric and malic acids, saponins, mucilage and pectin. In China, rose hips are known as jin ying zi. They are primarily used as a kidney chi tonic and prescribed for relieving urinary problems and diarrhea. Hildegard von Bingen recommended rose hips for just about everything! I throw a few rose hips into most of the teas I am making these days. Magical lore tells us that the rose represents all aspects of Great Mother and is a universal symbol of love. Rose activates the ability to love, nurture and appreciate the beauty in all things. Anoint your heart area with infused rose oil. It encourages awareness of the many manifestations of love and beauty. Even in the midst of a global pandemic there is still plenty of love and beauty all around us to appreciate. Rose will help you see it!
ROSEMARY Salvia rosmarinus
Referred to in old herbals as a cure-all, rosemary is a supreme cardiac tonic that energizes the circulatory system. To help bring down high blood pressure, my mother used a standard dose: one or two cups of rosemary infusion daily, or up to 20 drops of fresh rosemary tincture in water twice a day. Rosemary is also a nervine, antidepressant and restorative tonic for the entire nervous system. Europeans use rosemary infusion to help alleviate headaches and lift depression. Uplifting and energizing, rosemary is an excellent brain tonic. It’s an ally when dealing with fatigue, exhaustion, stress and nervous anxiety. It’s loaded with antioxidants. And rosemary is helpful fighting infections caused by bacteria and fungi – secondary bacterial infections alongside COVID 19 are being reported. The Chinese use rosemary with ginger to treat headache and digestive distress. My Southern Italia neighbors love Rosmarino, as we call it. It is a valued addition to many meals not only because we appreciate the flavor, but also because it aids digestion and stimulates the appetite. Rosemary is antispasmodic, carminative and promotes the flow of bile, all making it a great digestive tonic. Sipping warm infusion relieves stomach discomfort and gas. One especially common practice is to simmer rosemary branches in a pot of water, sometimes with other aromatic plants, and allowing the vapors, or steam, to relieve the aches and pains of both muscles and joints. A rosemary foot bath is also used for its nerve soothing and anti-stress effects. Rosemary’s analgesic action brings blood flow to an area which helps ease tense muscles and inflamed joints. Rosemary can also be added to the respiratory steam pot as an aid to decongesting. Fresh rosemary tinctured in rubbing alcohol is a stimulating liniment known as Queen of Hungary water. Rubbed in vigorously, rosemary liniment is can be helpful to counter aches and pains in the limbs. Rosemary baths, compresses, and poultices are similarly therapeutic. You probably have some right now on your spice shelf. Magical Lore Rosemary is an herb of protection. Burned or carried, sprigs of rosemary enhance the sacredness of any occasion. Mixing it with juniper (Juniperus communis) is especially clearing. In parts of Wales, rosemary is carried during a funeral, and placed onto the casket before burial as a blessing for the departed. A sprig is often used as a sprinkler for holy water, to cleanse and bless, or burned as incense to clear the air.
RUE Ruta graveolens
Called Herb-of-Grace, rue’s strong reputation for effectiveness against disease is legendary. The ancients believed it resisted all poisons. During the Middle Ages, rue was carried as protection against the Plague. In Southern Italia, tiny bits of a’ruta are eaten in salads or crushed into dressings or sandwiches, as a prophylactic measure against disease and parasitic infestations, and also because of its action as a digestive bitter. Rue is appreciated as a potent antispasmodic and for its strong analgesic properties. It is traditionally infused in olive oil by warming on the stove, sometimes along with the fruits of Capsicum, and applied topically as a relaxing massage oil for sore muscles, to relieve aches and pains, and to soothe and relieve spasms and neuralgia. Magical Lore We consider rue a powerful herb of protection and a sprig is traditionally carried in a small bag or worn around the neck for this purpose, often combined with a clove of garlic or a pinch of salt. A branch of rue has long been used to sprinkle holy water and as an integral element in sacred ceremony. Rue is an herb of protection and a visionary herb with a powerful presence. Rue speaks the secrets of spirit, magic, prayer and mystery.
SALT soldium chloride
Salt is mildly warming, increases digestive fires, moistens the system and stimulates enzymatic action. The salty taste is associated with removing moisture and phlegm. The salty taste supports digestion, absorption, assimilation and elimination. It promotes growth, supports muscle strength, moistens the body and helps to maintain the water electrolyte balance. It can be energizing, nutritive, demulcent, grounding, and soothing to the nervous system. The salty taste enhances the spirit and helps to combat dullness and depression. It supports courage, creativity, confidence and enthusiasm. Salt is detoxifying. It’s got many thousands of years of history of being employed to cast out dark spirits, unhealthy energies, negativity, illness and disease. Salt is cleansing, purifying, it pulls out what is toxic – infection, tension, whatever it is. Soaking in a salt bath is incredibly therapeutic and deeply relaxing. Sources include sea salt, rock salt, Epsom salt for bathing, kelp and other seaweeds, and celery. Herbs include nettles and chickweed.
SCHISANDRA Schisandra chinensis
One of the most versatile, essential and tasty herbal allies in our apothecary. Qi stimulating schisandra is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine and has a millennia-long history of safe use. The four areas that schisandra berries target specifically are the heart, kidneys, lungs and liver. In TCM, the preservation, protection and nourishment of the Three Treasures form the foundation of optimum health and spiritual wellbeing. Schisandra is one of the few herbs the Chinese believe nourishes all three treasures, Jing, Qi and Shen, which are thought to sustain the essential energies for human life. Because the berry contains all five flavors it is thought to balance and regulate all five elements; wood, fire, earth, metal, water as well as all twelve organ-meridian systems. Maintaining the integrity, balance and coordination of all body systems, including mind and spirit, while ill will be a challenge. Schisandra has a history of assisting with exactly that. The restorative berries boost overall vitality and endurance. In Chinese Medicine schisandra is said to calm the Shen – which corresponds to mind, spirit, consciousness, soul, energy, God – and which the Chinese believe resides in the heart. Shen can be observed through the quality of our thoughts and the function of our minds. Since anxiety, tension, fear and stress are hallmarks of this coronavirus epoch, our Shen will need to be addressed, whether or not we succumb to infection. The following offer anti-anxiety and/or antidepressant benefits and blend well with schisandra berry: chamomile, fresh milky oat tops, hawthorn, lavender, lemon balm, motherwort, passion flower, rose, rosemary, St. John’s wort and skullcap. Schisandra benefits the lungs and respiratory system, protects against oxidative damage and the lignan-rich berries are cardioprotective, offering specific benefits to the heart. Schisandra’s immunomodulating abilities are legendary. The berries nourish and protect the liver, increasing the efficiency of cellular waste removal. According to Pharmacology of Schisandra Chinensis, an overview of Russian research and uses in medicine by A. Panossian and G. Wikman, numerous clinical trials have demonstrated the efficiency of Schisandra in asthenia (loss of strength), neuralgic disorders including depression, hypotension and cardiotonic disorders, and during epidemic waves of influenza and pneumonia. It is an esteemed ally for acute gastrointestinal distress as well. Typical dosage is 30 drops of tincture up to 4 times daily, or a standard infusion, half a cup three times daily. Syrup – 1 tablespoon up to four times daily Magical lore tells us to keep dried schisandra berries close to ensure your boundaries are strong, your wild heart is connected to the earth, and you act from a balanced and well centered place. NOTE: May prevent liver damage caused by hepatotoxic medications such as acetaminophen and tetracycline. May increase the effectiveness of barbiturates. May decrease the effectiveness of Warfarin/blood thinners. WARNING! Although rare, schisandra berry may cause adverse reactions such as belching, acid reflux, gastric burning, nausea, vomiting or allergic reactions. Do not use during the acute stage of infection. Schisandra will serve well early on in the illness and again during recovery. Do not use during pregnancy or if trying to conceive.
SKULLCAP Scutellaria lateriflora, S. baicalensis
Skullcap is a lovely and magical herb and one of nature’s finest nervous system tonics. Calcium-rich skullcap is a nourishing ally to anyone dealing with stress, anxiety, nervous exhaustion and insomnia. A cup of infusion, or up to 10 drops of tincture, taken once or twice daily, restores strength and vitality to the nervous system. I’ve heard from countless folks lately that they are having a hard time getting a solid night’s sleep. I’ve seen skullcap help lots of folks eliminate sleeping problems including deeply entrenched insomnia. A nice warm cup of infusion, or 3-10 drops of tincture taken half an hour before going to bed, and then a few additional drops again at bedtime, helps promote deep, refreshing sleep. Chinese and other Asian people use skullcap as a tranquilizer/sedative. The root of a related species, S. baicalensis, is known as huang qin. It’s used to clear heat from the respiratory and digestive systems, and to treat high blood pressure stemming from an overheated condition. Baikal skullcap is one of the herbs suggested by Stephen Buhner in his COVID 19 protocol, posted below. Skullcap contains a volatile oil, resin, flavonoids including scutellarin, tannin, fat, sugar, mucilage, cellulose, potassium, zinc and vitamin C. Flower Essence Skullcap flower essence helps to integrate the spirit/soul with the physical body and acts as an ally to keep the spirit securely connected to the body during out-of-body journeying (or severe, traumatic medical treatments/interventions). Can be applied topically. Also indicated when shock or trauma has you feeling numb and unsettled.
JOHN’S WORT Hypericum perforatum, H. hypericoides, H. pyramided, H. virginicum
German scientists have isolated hypericin, a powerful antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anti inflammatory and antidepressant substance in this plant. The pain-relieving abilities of St. John’s wort are unexcelled. I use the infused oil of fresh St. John’s wort frequently to ease muscular aches, sore shoulders, stiff necks, swollen joints, and the pain of sciatica, neuralgia, rheumatism or arthritis. This oil has the unique ability to penetrate into the nerve endings, relieving pain and inflammation, and easing nervous system irritation almost immediately. I apply the oil liberally, often warming it a bit to enhance relaxation. I complement this treatment with 20-30 drops of St. John’s wort tincture in water, taken as necessary to ease pain in muscles or hot, inflamed joints. St. John’s wort’s antispasmodic properties make it an ally to those with muscular spasms including backaches, leg cramps, and bronchial spasm. First Nations people use several species of Hypericum for medicine. H. pyramided is used by the Meskwaki to treat tuberculosis, and the Menominee consider the roots of this species a specific remedy for the early stages of consumption. Potawatomi drink an infusion of H. virginicumto bring down fevers and Montagnais relieve coughs by drinking infusion of H. perforatum. St. John’s wort is a restorative tonic that nourishes the entire nervous system. It strengthens, calms and relieves anxiety and depression. Does being cooped up at home have you feeling irritable, uptight, anxious, impatient or upset? Your local herbalist might suggest 20-30 drops of St. John’s wort fresh plant tincture in water, two or three times a day, or as needed, to ease such moods. Along with some meditation, deep breathing, yoga, listening to soothing music, or playing it, taking a quiet walk alone in nature (if possible or available), reading an uplifting book, talking to a good friend and getting plenty of rest. Among nearly 1,800 outpatients with moderate to moderately severe depression, the notably beneficial effects of St. John’s wort were significantly superior to a placebo and every bit as effective as a standard chemical antidepressant. However, there were far fewer side effects. The constituents of St. John’s wort which have generated the most interest are the aphthodianthrones (including hypericin and pseudohypericin), and a broad range of flavonoids (including quercetin, quercitrin, amentoflavone and hyperin), essential oils and xanthones. Other constituents include pectin, carotenoids, amino acids, sitosterol, tannins and vitamin C. St. John’s wort has long been associated with warriors. When the battles of coronavirus wear you down, enlist the aid of this plant spirit by taking a few drops of tincture in a little water. With its many unique and invaluable gifts, St. John’s wort is one of the most important medicinal herbs on the planet. It heals the body and soul inside and out, inhibiting the growth of potentially deadly viruses, bacteria and fungi. WARNING! Do not take St. John’s wort if you currently take a MAO inhibiting antidepressant drug. More than 800 drugs are known to interact with St. John’s wort, so check for possible interactions or seek the help of an experienced herbalist. WARNING! There have been reports of severe sunburn among those using dried St. John’s wort in capsules or as tea or infusion. Steep the dried herb for a maximum of five minutes. Magical Lore Add St. John’s wort to your magical pouch where it will radiate strength and empower your warrior spirit. An excellent anointing oil, especially for someone ill or dying, St. John’s wort comforts, protects and strengthens the spirit as it crosses the threshold. In Southern Italia this plant is referred to as erva il ascensione. It’s considered an auspicious plant with an ancient history of use in exorcisms. It is used singly or added to a bouquet that will be used for blessings, healing or clearings or for spraying cleansing holy water.
Exorcism Prayer: I command you, whoever you are, along with all your minions now attacking this precious human, by the mysteries of the incarnation, passion, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, healer and prophet, by the Love of Great Mother and under the protection of all the Angels, Saints and Holy People, you must go now. Be gone. Go. Forever and ever. Amen
SOLOMON’S SEAL Polygonatum multiflorum, P. biflorum, P. pubescens, P. odorata
Solomon’s seal is a bitter/sweet, cooling, moistening, astringent and tonic herb native to Europe, Siberia and North America. Its common names, Our Lady’s Seal, St. Mary’s Seal, Sigillum Sanctae Mariae and Our Lady’s Lockets all identify it as a sacred plant associated with the Divine Feminine and with Mother Mary in particular. In Southern areas of the US the roots are known as Saint John-the-Conqueror, are appreciated for their potent magical attributes and are much used in Voodoo. Solomon’s seal has been used as a medicinal herb for thousands of years. Its use was recorded in China in the 1st century A.D. Called yu zhu in Traditional Chinese Medicine, which translates as jade bamboo, it is classified as sweet and slightly cold. It nourishes lung and stomach yin, and moistens dryness. It is used to treat dry cough, dry throat, mouth or tongue, chronic respiratory disorders, irritability and thirst. It is said to bring moisture to the sinews and is used for pain and spasms generated by lack of moisture. The Chinese also use it to counter dizziness. Our indigenous Solomon’s seals, P. biflorum and P. pubescens, are considered interchangeable with the multiflorum and odoratumspecies. First Nations traditionally eat the nourishing starch-rich potato-like rhizomes of Solomon’s seal. They use it to make breads and soups and employ the roots to heal intestinal inflammation. Modern research has found that the vitamin A and alkaloids in the roots help nourish the skin. Solomon’s seal root soothes irritated or damaged tissues and counters inflammation. The rhizome and herb contain convallarin, one of the active constituents of lily-of-the-valley, and also asparagine, gum, sugar, starch and pectin. The soothing and mucilaginous roots are called for in dry, inflamed conditions where its moistening nature will bring relief. And Solomon’s seal herb can help strengthen the heart as well. Solomon’s seal is indicated when there is lung congestion or inflammation of the stomach or intestines. The freshly pounded roots or dried and powdered roots both make an excellent poultice for inflamed joints. The root is infused in oil and made into a salve to treat these ills. The mucilaginous roots have a lubricating effect on dry joints and connective tissues. Flower Essence Solomon’s seal flower essence will be an ally when profound changes in your life or lifestyle are inevitable. It will help you adapt to those changes and challenges with grace. Magical Lore Solomon’s seal has long been used for protection, magic and clearing/cleansing. Use a ritual sprinkler to spray an infusion of the root around the house or around a person, to drive away and keep away any negativity. Make an amulet with the root to wear around your neck to feel the protective embrace of Great Mother.
THYME Thymus vulgaris
Though most people consider it no more than a cooking spice, thyme possesses powerful antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, antiparasitic, tonic and expectorant properties. It’s long been employed as an antiseptic mouthwash and as a gargle to relieve sore throat. I use infusion, or 20 drops of thyme tincture in a cup of water, as a gargle or rinse. Antispasmodic thyme is useful for easing coughs, especially dry coughs, and is widely used to help bring up phlegm. German studies show thyme possesses strong expectorant properties and is relaxing to the respiratory tract. Old wives say “thyme is to the windpipe what mint is to the stomach.” I find this to be true. When dealing with a hard-to-shake lung infection, use 20 drops of fresh plant tincture, or a cup of dried plant infusion, twice daily and also poultice the chest with the strained-out plant material. Thyme’s rich essential oils, easily available in teas, help the stomach and liver produce more digestive enzymes and acids. It is a soothing ally for relieving stomach distress and helping allay nausea. Magical Lore Thyme is an herb of protection, especially against insects and dangerous creatures. Thyme has been burned as a funeral herb, to help establish communion or offer a blessing.
VALERIAN Valeriana officinalis
Valerian is a mineral-rich tonic, nourishing to the nervous system, and a powerful nervine, carminative and antispasmodic. This herb exerts a remarkable effect on the cerebrospinal system. Valerian has mild anodyne properties, so it helps to alleviate pain and promote deep, relaxing sleep. It is widely used as a sedative, to calm mania, panic, hysteria, and to remedy insomnia. Small doses, 5-10 drops of valerian fresh root tincture or half a cup of dried root infusion, have a calming and soothing effect on the nervous system. 10 -20 drops will put you to sleep. In larger doses, valerian can cause hyperactivity and headache. Valepotriates are the active sedatives in valerian. They are found in all parts of the plant but are most concentrated in the root. Magical Lore In American Hoodoo Magic, valerian is used to stop an unwanted visitor. Sprinkle chopped up valerian roots across the threshold and front steps while stating the name of the entity in question and commanding they not be able to cross over. To increase the power of this spell, add salt and pepper.
VIOLET Viola odorata and related species, V. yedoensis
Violet flower syrup has long been used to ease sore throats, relieve coughs and bronchitis, and to help bring up phlegm. It also makes a soothing digestive tonic. Just as my grandmother’s grandmother might have done, I take a teaspoon after meals in a cup of warm water or tea. I also made a throat and cough-easing infused honey with violet flowers, taking a teaspoon every couple of hours and putting it into tea. In Southern Italia an infusion of leaves and flowers is sipped slowly when treating chest congestion and coughs. Cherokee drink violet root infusions to relieve cough and colds and applied a poultice of the leaves to relieve headache. Violet leaves are highly nourishing, containing more vitamin C than any other leafy vegetable known, and an abundance of vitamin A. They’re mineral rich too. We eat them raw in salads or lightly steamed like spinach. They gently nourish the lungs, nerves, and immune system. Their soothing, mucilaginous properties make them wonderful for the skin too.
WILD GRAPE Vitis vinifera,V. rupestris, V. labrusca, V. aestivalis, V. vulpine
A symbol of health down through the ages, wild grape is a supreme food and medicine. A strengthening and restorative tonic for the blood and body, all parts of grape leaves, fruit and tendrils offer abundant iron, calcium and potassium. Grape’s ability to alleviate fatigue is astonishing. Grandmothers used all parts of the grapevine to support lymphatic movement. “When all else fails, live on the vine.” The “grape cure”, known as ampelotherapy, consists of consuming three to six pounds of organic grapes, two to four cups of leaf and tendril infusion, and as much fresh spring water as desired each day. Iroquois nourish the blood and remedy anemia with infusion of V. vulpine. In Sud Italia, heated wine is used to help treat colds and mitigate fevers. Wine fumes are decongestant, so help soothe and clear the nasal passages and act as an emollient for the throat if the upper respiratory tract is infected. Grapes, grape juice and wine are a warming tonic to the digestive system, offer benefits to the kidneys and promote a free flow of urine. Both leaves and tendrils are anti-diuretic. The resveratrol found in red wine, and famous for its ability to enhance heart health, is a type of polyphenol found in the skins of red grapes. The flavonoids myricetin and quercetin are natural anti-inflammatory agents and help the body to counter harmful free radical formation. Grape leaves contain sugars including glucose, tartaric acid, quercetin, quercitrin, tannin, malic acid, gum and a non-crystallizable fermentable sugar. Grape sugars differ chemically from other sugars. They are absorbed into the blood much more rapidly and go to work quickly, bringing strength and tone to the entire body. Grape is an excellent supportive remedy as you fight the infection, and also to rebuild health after the illness. Dosage of grape leaf tea is 2 cups daily. The leaves blend well with nettles, red clover and rose. A grape leaf bud gemmotherapy elixir is immune-modulating and improves the flow of lymph.
YARROW Achillea millefolium
Yarrow is diaphoretic. A hot infusion stimulates circulation, promotes perspiration and opens pores. This is going to help the body get rid of excess fluids through the skin. Our grandmothers drank yarrow to relieve colds and flu and to reduce fevers. The Romani, too, have an ages-old yarrow remedy, combining it with peppermint and elder flowers to counter these ailments. It’s traditional to drink yarrow tea before taking a sauna or going into a sweat lodge, or taking a hot bath, if you want to sweat out a cold. First Nations people revere yarrow. Chippewa inhale the steam from the boiling herb to relieve headache. Ojibwa inhale smoke from burning yarrow to bring down fever. Potawatomi use it as a clearing smudge. The Mohawk to relieve nausea and cramps, and the Delaware to treat kidney problems. Achilletin and achilleine alkaloids found in yarrow speed blood clotting time. Constituents such as azulene, camphor, eugenol, menthol, rutin and salicylic acid are anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving. Others, such as tannins, terpineol and cineol, are antiseptic. Antispasmodic yarrow helps relax the smooth muscles of the digestive tract. I sip a cup of hot infusion to soothe digestive woes. (A bit of honey or a dropper of rose elixir makes it delicious and enhances its soothing qualities.) Yarrow is a beloved herb among my Southern Italia neighbors who call it millefoglio. A yarrow infusion is employed for its antispasmodic and sedative action in the gastrointestinal tract. Flower Essence Yarrow flower essence helps build a psychic shield.
YELLOW DOCK Rumex crispus
Yellow dock is a favorite nourishing, healing herb of First Nations people, and was used by early settlers as well as old-time doctors. Yellow dock roots contain concentrated iron along with other vitamins and minerals necessary for optimum iron absorption. A blood-enriching tonic, yellow dock roots ease digestive woes and help eliminate constipation. A liver tonic of high regard, tincture of fresh yellow dock root nourishes and strengthens liver function, helping support and restore health to this important organ. Its abundant and readily available iron make it an excellent ally for anyone with anemia or general weakness. Regular consumption raises the hematocrit levels by several degrees. Yellow dock has a gentle laxative effect that keeps bowels moving. You can benefit from this plant’s rich iron stores by taking 20-30 drops of fresh root tincture daily or use the fresh plant vinegar freely on salads. One could consume half a cup of yellow dock root infusion instead, but a syrup is a more palatable way of ingesting this herb and a teaspoon twice daily will significantly increase iron stores. Excellent remedy for the recovery stage. Many of our grandmothers used this powerful blood tonic and alterative as a daily blood-building and strengthening tonic for those weakened by illness or chronic disease.
MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS Birch Polypores Piptoporus betulinus, Shiitake Lentinus edodes, Reishi Ganoderma lucidum, Artist’s Conk Ganoderma applanatum, Chicken of the Woods Laetiporus sulphureus, Hen of the Woods Grifola frondosa, Chaga Inonotus obliquus
Immune activating fungi have been used as allies against disease for millennia. Fungi are helping organisms on this planet. They break rotting material down and transform it into nourishment. They are the ultimate recyclers. They help us to be optimally nourished. Many of our common Eastern woodland mushrooms possess immune enhancing properties, including maitake, chicken of the woods, the abundant birch polypores, turkey tails and honey mushrooms. Medicinal mushrooms will offer you excellent, consistent support if you succumb to illness.
Shiitake mushrooms are native to Japan, China and Korea, where they have grown and been consumed since prehistory to mobilize the immune system to fight off disease. Fourteenth century Chinese physician, Wu- Rui, described it as a food that accelerates vital energy, nourishes the chi, staves off hunger, cures cold, and penetrates into the blood circulatory system. Shiitake has been effectively used and scientifically proven in studies over the past thirty years to treat heart disease, viral infections, parasites and more. One of its most important constituents, lintinan, a polysaccharide, stimulates immune competent cells, stimulates T-cell production and increases macrophage activity. The mushrooms enhance cardiovascular health and protect our healthy cells from microbial pathogens. Shiitake mushrooms provide an excellent plant-based source of iron, mood balancing vitamins B2, B3 and B6, immune boosting vitamin D, folate, zinc, selenium and fiber.
Reishi and Artist’s Conk Called reishi in Japan and ling zhe in China, the Ganodermas are powerful immune-enhancing mushrooms and adaptogens. Both sweet and bitter, the Ganodermas are potent free radical scavengers, eliminating these highly dangerous chemicals from the bloodstream before they can damage the DNA of healthy cells. Reishi mushrooms are an excellent addition to your diet if you are run down, suffering from long-term stress and/or low immune function. Reishi is an immune modulator that effectively increases leukocyte production, promotes lymphatic health, promotes phagocytosis, stimulates T-cells, promotes the proliferation of antibodies and induces generation of immunoglobulins. The Ganodermas are especially heartwarming, heart opening, promote serenity and are said to enhance spiritual faculties. I think they are an essential medicine for the times we are facing.
Excerpted in part from Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs; A Florilegia for the Wild Heart Tribe by Gail Faith Edwards, 510 pages, Canterbury/Rosina Publishing, 2020
2020 copyright Gail Faith Edwards
Featured photo is an original painting by Mary Ann Matthys
Final notes: We’ve been given the gift of a sacred pause, a rare and tender moment in our lives. We’re being asked to stop whatever we were doing and will now need to reconsider everything. Many of us are struggling. Yet, there is much love and many blessings rising to the surface in this difficult and challenging time. When we locate the homeostasis of the world again, life will no doubt be different for each of us. This “time out of time” is a good time to think about what that world might look like, personally and globally. There may be some things you will want to leave behind. Perhaps some attitudes, choices and habits will change. Priorities may have necessarily shifted. I’d love to hear from you about what you envision for our collective future, and for your own.
I love you and am keeping you in my prayers. Please take good care of yourself.