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Thoughts on CoViD – It’s Complicated 

CoronaVirus Disease (CoViD)
 is a relatively new virus that mutates on its own, so humans have no built-up immunity. After several rounds of mutations, it doesn’t appear that our immune system response is able to adapt to new versions based on antibody production from previous exposures. Add to this that every mutation carries different symptom profiles and duration, and previous infections can cause further complications, it continues to make treatment difficult.  We have gained some experience with treating it successfully, but as with many other types of acute infection, treatment really depends on each clients general health status.  Our Intention here is to share the ongoing conversation within the larger herbal community regarding the characteristics of the disease, biochemistry involved, and thoughts on reducing infection and complications in order to continue to be supportive of our community during these trying times. No information provided here is stated in any way to advise, substitute for or constitute medical advice.

CoViD
is significantly more contagious than influenza and has varying incubation periods, depending on the strain (3-14 days) so someone can be a carrier without even knowing it. Many of people infected with COVID experience very mild allergy-like symptoms while other have no symptoms at all, so it is possible that the infection rate is much higher than reported. The latest dominant strain, Ba-5, is arguably the second most infectious virus ever seen, but the newest variant, Ba2.75 is expected to be even more contagious. Ba-5’s most commonly reported symptomology includes headache, neck pain and fever.  The primary concern is that it appears that damage from multiple CoViD infections are cumulative and it is now believed that multiple infections each year can take a irreparable physiological toll.  Complications are primarily in the lower respiratory tract, it can result in pneumonia, so the elderly and those with pre-existing health problems that affect their lungs are at highest risk.  Any severe CoViD infection can result in what is being referred to as “long CoViD”, but even multiple re-infections of different variants also carry this risk. Although there are new treatments that might help manage the infection and new vaccines on the horizon, the best option is avoidance.  The new P100 masks seem to provide the best protection and should be worn in public indoor environments, as well as outdoors if you must be within the 6’ distancing recommendation.

Prevention
It appears to be mainly spread through body fluids (coughing, sneezing, as well as other bodily excretions), so “social distancing” (staying 6 feet away from other people), as well as proper hygiene: frequent prolonged hand washing, sanitizing surfaces, and avoiding touching your face are all good practices. Self-quarantine at home for at least five days once symptoms present (or you have a positive CoViD test result). Unless under the direction of your doctor, avoid taking aspirin or NSAIDS (acetaminophen or ibuprofen), as these may increase the spread of infection and/or lower our own antioxidant and antibody levels, which can worsen the disease and our ability to fight it. Also, it’s important to stop smoking or vaping, as these activities are very harsh and damaging to the lungs. 
Hydration 
is critically important. Mucus is over 90% water and it is full of enzymes and killer immune cells. Mucus is responsible for enveloping the invading viral cells so those immune cells can do their job. Our skin is the largest organ of our body and acts as our “first line of defense” against invaders that it comes in contact with. So keeping your skin moisturized is equally important. Dehydration is worse in winter, as we spend more time indoors with heaters which lower humidity. Drink half your body weight in ounces daily of water daily. Natural organic skin care helps keep our outer protective layer healthy, to prevent invasion of pathogens (see our Earth & Herb "ReNu Skin" and "Nourish Me" moisturizers). Nasya (herbal infused oils*) applied to the inside of nasal passages can help to support mucous in preventing infection. If you’re one of those people who are just naturally prone to dry skin, dry hair, dry mouth, etc., there are herbs that help to keep your body hydrated.  If you’re in need of some help, just send us a note and we’ll get a formula that will improve your overall hydration levels.

FOOD AS MEDICINE:  
Our bodies need certain nutrients for our immune systems to function properly and deal with the virus. Nutrient deficiencies also increase inflammation in the body, which will interfere with our ability to recover from illness. So, make efforts to correct any nutritional deficiencies that exist. The most important nutrients to support your own body’s defense mechanisms are Vitamins A (cod liver oil), B-complex, C, and D, as well as minerals iron, selenium and zinc. Zinc and Vitamin D status may be important for enhanced immunity at first infection, to reduce inflammation in critical care, and reduce complications and death. Take 15-45mg zinc daily, along with Vitamin D3, which is the preferred form and it is best taken daily (4,000-7,000 IU daily),. Other recommended daily supplements: vitamin A (25,000 IU daily but not with liver disease), vitamin B complex (50 mg daily), vitamin C (500 mg daily), vitamin E (100-400 IU daily), Selenium (25 mcg daily), Omega 3 (2,000-3,000 mg daily combined EPA/DHA).   Note that there are contraindications for some vitamins if you have certain health conditions, and over-supplementing can have its own severe health consequences, so be sure to take supplements according to their recommended dosages, and have regular health checkups with lab work to test for healthy ranges. The best foods to eat to build health are those which are warm, light (not too heavy), and spicy (“Healthy Spice Blends”). Eat lots of garlic, onion, leafy greens, yellow-orange-red veggies, bone broth, oatmeal, and soups, and Quercitin-rich foods (apples, berries, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, capers, grapes, onions, shallots, tea, and tomatoes). Eliminate sugar (<50 gr/day), alcohol and caffeine, and dairy; decrease carbs (except if malnourished). Eat probiotic foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt) and prebiotics/resistant starches (e.g. cooked and cooled rice). Drink nourishing herbal teas, e.g. “Daily Nourish”, “Every Woman’s Tea”, “Oh, Momma” pregnancy and breastfeeding tea, and "Hibiscus Green Tea," high in antioxidants.

Keep moving. 
Most of our immune system dwells within our lymphatic system, which requires body movement to move lymph fluid, all its immune cells and cellular waste around and out of our bodies. Once your infected and in the “best rest” mode, herbs can help keep those fluids flowing.  Our “ECM Cleanse” tincture is a gentle formula that can be used long term.

Stress 
shuts down our immune system MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE, so our herbal tea "Relaxation in a Cup" can help you make it through your CoViD "stay-cation" or tinctures that increase your resilience to stress (e.g."Stress & Anxiety", "Adrenal Support", and "Holy Basil") can be used to help manage stress, as can meditation, exercise, and time in nature.  Take a walk, wave at your neighbors. "Sleep debt" (prolonged deficient sleep cycles) is very detrimental to immune function, as well as our general health, as our body repairs itself during deep sleep, so herbs (tincture "Sleepy Time" or tea "Relaxation in a Cup") can be helpful to make sure you are getting good quality rest.  

Infection? 
Once infection is suspected, herbal formulas should be modified and adapted to fit each stage of infection progression. 
FOR THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO QUARANTINE AT HOME:
Continued hydration is important (half your body weight in ounces daily in water and herbal teas, but tea formulas should be focused on current stage of infection and symptoms).  Continue to support good sleep and manage stress.  Avoiding heavy and congesting foods, but actively eating foods and beverages to warm and stimulate the body, such as fresh ginger root tea.  For most people, infection is limited to upper respiratory, causing symptoms such as runny nose, nasal congestion, and sore throat, often accompanied by some degree of bodily fever, body ache, and sometimes a dry cough.  About one-third experience diarrhea and/or loss of smell.  Begin supplementing zinc (50-100mg/day; if over 50mg, also supplement 2 mg of copper).
Monitor "normal" body temperature ranges:
 first, there is no "normal" body temperature, it ranges from 91.8-100.8 F.  It should be taken daily at first rising from bed in the morning (it will be it's lowest) and then again, between 4-6pm (it will be its' "normal" highest).  Digital thermometers are very inaccurate, usually takes more than one try to register the correct temperature, so repeat every time you take it until you get two consistent readings. Exercise raises body temp, as does a hot bath, both of which increase our immune response (and move lymph to clear toxins), so stay active as long as your base readings are normal. A temperature above 98 may indicate fever in the elderly. "Low-grade fever" (a rise in temp by 0.5 F) is the most common presentation with CoViD-19, and the fever is typically intermittent, meaning it can appear one day and not the next, and so on. It’s best to not do anything to suppress fever, as this is part of our body's defense response against the virus. 

HERBAL SUPPORT:  
Early onset supportive herbs
(blends for immune support* can help support our body’s own natural healing abilities.  It's important that you DO NOT suppress the fever with NSAIDs or Acetaminophen, but there are herbs that can help open the pores of your skin to provide some relief. "Throat Spray" and "Cold & Flu Tea" can help with other symptoms.
Immune Tonics: 
Medicinal mushrooms have extensive research on support of healthy immune function, as do a few medicinal herbs.  Our “Immune Balance Tea” is a combination of these.  It must be simmered at least 4 hours (longer is better) and can be drank as a broth, it blends well with other herbal teas, or it can be frozen in ice cube trays and used as a soup stock.  “Reishi Immune Tonic” and “Fire Cider” also support healthy immune function. Smudging (white sage) cleanses the air; "Smudge showers" (smudging yourself after taking a hot steamy shower or sauna) may destroy the respiratory virus as well. 
Antivirals: “Elderberry Syrup”
and antiviral formulas “Anti-Viral", "Sniffles” and “Extra Echinacea Immune Tonic” are immune stimulants and may limit viral incursion into cells, theoretically impacting likelihood of first infection, so best as preventative and should be replaced by more targeted formulas in the event that infection has set in. Herbal steams* can achieve deeper penetration of anti-viral herbs into the lungs. Please use care if using a diffuser to deliver steam if you have pets in your home. Many herbal constituents (and especially many essential oils) are toxic to pets (birds, dogs and other small mammals, but especially cats, whose liver is not capable to detoxing those).


Complications:
If you develop hot, dry lung conditions,
as it descends into your chest, causing a cough, then we need to alter our strategy, adding in herbal expectorants* and cough remedies*.  Employ antibacterial herbs* to assist your body in dealing with secondary infections and even stronger formulas for lung support*.

If you are experiencing neurological symptoms, send us a message and we’ll prepare an herbal formula based on your symptom profile.
IF YOU EXPERIENCE SEVERE SYMPTOMS, especially difficulty breathing,
 immediately CALL-IN to your doctor or go to the ER (do not go into your doctor’s office without an appointment).   If you have been told to go to the hospital, do not carry any herbal therapies with you.

If signs of pneumonia present, call your doctor or ER for instruction on seeking medical help. In immunocompromised people, elderly, and those where the infection progresses to pneumonia,the disease can even be fatal. Most cases of pneumonia are a form of auto-infection, meaning infection caused by inhaling (aspirating) our own infected nasal secretions.  Good oral hygiene practices and a combination of nasal and inhalant therapies should be employed.  Nasya (herbal infused oils*) applied to the inside of nasal passages can help to inhibit this progression of the disease. Herbal steams*, essential oil aromatherapy with the use of steam diffusers and humidifiers are also helpful. Herbal formulas for lung support* should be continued.  

Returning from the hospital? 
General support with nutritive, restorative herbs (nourishing herbal teas listed above and “Immune Balance Tea”), sore throat support (“Throat Spray”), and respiratory restorative herbs.*  


*send us a note and we'll see you get the formula best for your symptom profile.

All information provided for educational purposes only.  Statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure any illness or disease.


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Miki Cook,

Functional Herbalist

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