A Pandemic wasn’t the Plan: Part 2 – Anxiety/Herbal Rx

I went to my local Co-op today, which is one of the only places that doesnt feel totally overwhelming to shop, and every single person had a mask on. This is the new normal?

I spent the week pretty anxious about the contagion and infectious side of COVID19. I had two of my patients get ruled out for the virus mid-treatment this week AND the contagion aspect seemed really important for those around me I come in contact with, not only myself. What do I need to do to not be a vector of spread? We now only wear scrubs to the hospital not work clothes, and I take my shoes off at my door. Are you freaked out about the contagious side of it? This is a real phobia for some people, and it at the root of many OCD compulsions. I feel for all the germ-phobes out there! My only advice is therapy therapy therapy. There are also one or two antidepressants that help with OCD if you are really noticing an uptick in this in your every day. Ask your PCP if they can help.

IMHO Medicine really needs to start valuing mental health as equal to primary and specialty medical care in insurance reimbursements and coverage. SO much suffering comes from the mind. And teeth! Dental coverage too!

I promised a blog on botanical medicine and viral illness. I’m not purely a Naturopath anymore as I have only been in very part time practice since 2015, and most of my evidence-based learning is from the early 2000’s. I am not up to date on the most current treatments and theories in the natural medicine world anymore. The Naturopathic News and Review publication is a great resource for cutting edge evidence from practicing ND’s.

Most of what I know is traditional eclectic western botanicals, and the knowledge dates back to folk traditions and turn of the century medicine. In this vein, there is a wealth of knowledge about foundational immune support and antivirals vs antibacterials and antifungals. If you are interested in this kind of care, most ND’s and herbalists are doing telephone and online appointments and shipping our medicine. Look under your Naturopathic Medicine State Association and see who is available in your area for personalized medicine.

Chinese botanical medicine also has a fantastic apothecary of immune supporting botanicals as well as support for basically every system. Their pharmacopeia is rich and complex with over 5000 herbs with specific indications and formulas. Many TCM Doctors and Acupuncturists are also herbalists and sell custom blended teas as part of their practice. Consider reaching out to someone locally for this as well with a phone or video appointment.

Herbal Medicine for COVID19 falls into prevention by strengthening and prevention by antimicrobial actions. Prevention by strengthening herbs are used when you are not sick. They tonify and strengthen the body, increasing reserves that can be called on if illness occurs. The following is a list of such herbs:

  • nettles
  • astragalus
  • alfalfa
  • borage
  • siberian and american ginsengs
  • ashwahaganda
  • cordyceps and other nourishing mushroooms
Nettle Cake with Pine Buttercream

Nettles are best made as a herbal tea and drank clear and often. They can also be eaten in soups, cakes, and stir fried.

Astragalus is a root and is best as a tablet taken frequently, like 3-4 times a day in periods of intense stress, or 2 tablets in morning if well balanced. This is a key ingredient in “change of season soup” from the TCM formulary for immune strengthening as well.

Borage, Siberian and American ginsengs and ashwahaganda are all adrenal tonics that boost immunity by decreasing inflammation and increasing resiliance. I like borage tincture or flower essence 1 tsp daily, ginsengs as tinctures or pills (they don’t taste great), and the latter as a standardized tablet or capsule. These should be discontinued at the first sign of a sniffle or other illness and switch to active antimicrobial prevention. Taking these while sick can sometimes strengthen the pathogen rather than the host.

Antimicrobials: These are divided by their functionality. The antivirals may be used preventativly during these scary times, but it is best to preserve the antibacterials for signs of actual infection. Like Rx antibiotics nature’s antibacterials have strong actions and their use needs to be preserved for proper indication.

A selection of my commonly used antivirals includes:

  • alium cepa (onion)
  • allium sativa (garlic)
  • echinacea – only in the first 24 hours of infection
  • elderberry- usually used as a syrup that is very safe for all ages (watch for honey under 1yo) and for pregnancy –has some possible conflicting evidence for COVID19 infection, make your own informed consent to use.
  • monolauren (from coconut oil)
  • euphrasia (eyebright) – for viral conjunctavitis and eye symptoms
  • cats claw

A selection of my fave antibacterials include:

  • goldenseal – for inflamed mucus membranes and purulent discharges
  • berberis – for anything that looks or feels “infected” including GI issues
  • echinacea – one of the only botanicals proven against strep species. Use a glycerite form of the tincture and squirt it directly onto an inflamed throat. The glycerite is sweet and is safe for children and elders.
  • cats claw – used for Lyme infection
  • onion and garlic, oregano and thyme – in cooking! use liberally!

Antifungals are also important for chronic immune system depletion often manifested as thick brittle toenails or fingernails, frequent yeast infections, sinusitis and chronic belly issues. They are less relevent for this pandemic other than to sustain and support long term immune and lung health. My go-to antifungals include:

  • monolauren (from coconut oil) 300mg 2 times/ day
  • pau d’arco tincture or tea – 2 tsp or cups per day
  • tea tree oil – topical
  • caprylic acid – at least 2 caps daily
  • garlic

* a note on essential oils. My training included these as primarily olfactory/ diffused in water or skin products. I was not trained in “by mouth” use of essential oils such as promoted by DoTerra or other EO companies so I cannot recommend these medicinals in those forms. I do like the topical and diffused use of these medicinal substances and find myself drawn to tee trea, eucalyptus and lavender as my primary antimicrobial nature scents for baths, lotions, soaps and diffusion.

I personally took a bottle of astragalus tablets 2 2twice-ish daily and now I am switching to Monolauren daily for 3 months with vitamin C and cats claw tincture daily for at least the next 3-4 weeks for intensive antiviral support. I am also taking ashwaganda as an energy tonic to support my stress levels during this unusual time to be working in medicine, and a probiotic. For my personalized medicine I have a thyroid support formula alongside my thryoid medication as I have Hashimotos thyroiditis. Finally I drink homemade nettle tea or lavender/ chamomile tea and am doing the best I can to get cooked or fresh greens every day.

Best of luck out there friendly readers. How we as humans conduct ourselves in these emergencies can illustrate where we need to work on ourselves and where we shine bright. This is an excellent time-out-of-time for insight, awareness and evolution. Its also a perfect time for devolution and hopelessness. Reach out and find the resources you need to be your best self if you can: many providers are providing sliding scale or free services and telemedicine is blooming. The world is small with the internet. Kindness can be found in bugs on a sidewalk or a strangers smile from 6 feet. If nothing else is true, it is that we are in this together.

Share