12 Mar

Clinical Herbalist Immune Support for COVID-19

As referenced in Guido’s Week 6 class, here are the recommendations he discussed concerning COVID-19 (Coronavirus): Immune Support NOTES:

We know very little about this virus, its seasonality, and its transmission. It does seem to be more contagious than the flu, and does affect those over age 60 with heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes more significantly. There is no evidence that any of the classic herbs we use for cold and flu “treat” the virus. Instead of treatment, we have been focusing on good hygiene and prevention by strengthening immune function.

PLEASE take care of yourself: good food, good hydration, and most importantly GOOD sleep. If stress around all of this is an issue, consider adaptogens like American ginseng (if available organic) or Eleuthero (“Siberian” ginseng). IF you suspect infection (dry cough and fever are the most common symptoms, with little nasal congestion), CALL your doctor/Emergency room and ask for directions on how to proceed.

  1. Astragalus and medicinal mushrooms, esp. Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum/tsugae/oregonensis). Relatively high amounts: 1 tsp. Astragalus tincture 2x/d, 7-12 g Astragalus total in caps/powder/decoction daily. 2 mL mushroom extract and/or blends, or 3-4 g mushroom extract powder, or 4-5 g mushrooms decocted daily.

2. Lung support herbs include Pleurisy root (Asclepias tuberosa), Licorice root (caution w/ high blood pressure), Mullein leaf, Elecampane root, Balloon Flower root (Platycodon grandiflorum), Usnea spp.

3. Warming aromatic diaphoretics are theoretically a good idea: Ginger, Angelica, Lomatium, Ligusticum (Osha – caution – endangered)

4. CONSIDER AVOIDING Elderberry for those at greater risk to reduce the risk of over-stimulation of an immune reaction. Elderberry lectins, not present in other berries, ramp up immune function and inflammatory cytokine production, which is THEORETICALLY a concern as the cause of death is connected to sepsis and cytokine storm in vulnerable folks (See this paper from China as reference).

Treatment NOTE: Needs to be in consultation / coordination with the healthcare establishment. DO NOT “go it alone” on this one, especially with higher-risk populations. The virus can cause symptoms to progress into a danger zone quickly. Don’t delay asking for support. Key Symptoms are dry cough and fever, though this can vary. CALL your healthcare provider(s). FOLLOW their directions.

1. One formula (Shuang Huang Lian) is receiving attention for herbal TREATMENT of the virus, but keep in mind it is often used as an injection. It is Baikal Skullcap root (Scutellaria baikalensis), Forsythia fruit, and Honeysuckle flower (Lonicera japonica). We know nothing about other herbs for treatment. Get help, and once you have a plan, consider options

2, 3 and 4 listed above if practical and safe to do so.

Hand & Surface Sanitizer (2 options)

NOTE: Hand washing with regular soap and water for 20-30 seconds is BEST. Sanitizers are an OK alternative, and also a way to clean doorknobs, surfaces, etc.

Option #1 – Alcohol-based (basic recipe) • 2 parts Alcohol (*see below) • 1 part Aloe Vera gel • 5-10 drops your choice of essential oil per ounce of sanitizer (optional, to improve odor). Dispense into squirt bottles. Squirt a pea-sized amount on your hands, rub in, and allow to dry. *Key consideration: The alcohol you use can be rubbing (isopropyl) or “regular” (ethyl, or ethanol), but must be at least 90% (180 proof). Concentrations are listed on the bottle (eg. at the drugstore, rubbing alcohol should say “91% isopropyl alcohol”). Don’t use 60% isopropyl or anything lower than 90%. Alcohol-based sanitizers need to be at least 60-70% alcohol.

Option #2 – Alcohol-free (Thymox) FDA/EPA have approved “Thymox” (a solution of 0.25% thymol) as a coronaviruseffective disinfectant. We can recreate a 0.25% thymol solution using these ingredients: • Water, 29 mL (about 1 fluid ounce). Using distilled water is best, but any clean, fresh water will do. • Gum Arabic, a dispersant, 300 mg • Benchmark Thyme essential oil, 0.8 mL (Consistently high thymol concentration, which is assayed. See this link for more information and additional distributors.) Add the essential oil to the Gum Arabic and mix thoroughly. Add the paste to the water and shake well. Pour into a spray bottle and dispense by spraying. Rub into the hands and allow to dry.

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