Holistic Resilience in a Time of Uncertainty

It’s been quite a week. From travel bans to school closures to cancelled sports seasons, we’re seeing some pretty wild stuff right now.

The fear has spread faster and farther than Covid-19.

Which is a problem, as excessive stress depletes immunity.

Just as viruses are passed from person to person, so do emotional states like fear.

So in addition to hand-washing, covering coughs, and social distancing to prevent community spread, one of the most important things you can do is to regulate your nervous system.

The fastest way to tell your body that there is no emergency to is deepen and slow your breath.

Let every mention of coronavirus cue a new habit of deepening your breath and your gratitude for something that’s going well in this moment.

Just as you might limit your exposure to crowds, limit your exposure to other people’s fears by limiting time on social media and listening to endless news updates. Once or twice a day is plenty.

As we practice social distancing, here’s a quote I love from Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky:

“Let every hand we don’t shake become a phone call that we place. Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern. Every inch and every foot that we physically place between ourselves and another must become a thought as to how we might be of help to that other, should the need arise.”

Lots of people have been asking what herbs they should have on hand.

The answer is different whether we’re talking prevention or supporting someone who’s actively sick, and while I’m definitely not saying that anything we know of treats COVID-19, we do have a framework for thinking about enhancing immunity.

There’s a notion in Chinese Medicine of “Protective qi” that keeps us resistant to viruses, bacteria, fungi from the environment. One such formula traditionally used for this purpose is translates as “Jade Windscreen” (comprised of astragalus / huang qi, plus fang feng and bai zhu) — the image being a valuable screen against evils that come in from the outside.

Medicinal mushrooms like reishi, shitake, and cordyceps have historically been used to boost the Protective Qi. We have these in stock.

From a dietary standpoint: avoiding sugar, alcohol, dairy products are my top 3 recommendations, as all of these tend to increase “dampness” in the body. From everything I’ve read from colleagues on the ground in China, COVID-19 most often presents as a damp, toxic pathogen. Becoming an inhospitable host to damp pathogens means keeping your microbiome healthy.

Drink fresh ginger tea, (warming, acrid, and has antiviral properties) throughout the day. (Cut a few slices of ginger root, steep it in hot water with a cover on it to protect the volatile oils at least 5 minutes.)

Eat warm, cooked, whole foods that you can easily digest. Avoid iced drinks.

Optimize your vitamin D3 levels (between 50 and 100). Salmon is a good food source. It’s very common to be low on D if you live in northern latitudes because we can’t make enough from sunlight Nov.-March.

Get some sun. Wear a scarf if it’s windy.

Prioritize sleep. Seriously. This is where we build resilience.

Exercise every day until you break a light sweat. Gentle movements and breathing like qi gong count.

Ordinarily I would recommend acupuncture, but not during a time of physical distancing. We can help with the stress, anxiety, and “strengthen the protective qi” and keep your system in balance. There’s even some studies that show acupuncture boosting T-cell and white blood cell production.

As far as herbs that are traditionally used for respiratory conditions, colds, and flus: you might imagine Chinese herbal medicine has been around for thousands of years and in that time, has seen people through a bunch of different plagues.

The scholar-physicians of the times treated with herbs, witnessed what worked and what didn’t with patients at different stages of disease, and wrote down their herbal recipes. Many are still in use today. Chinese Medicine doctors on the ground in China are also using these very same recipes with great success.

But they’re not one-size-fits all. We treat “hot colds” differently from “cold colds,” “damp colds and “dry colds,” each of which present with different kinds of symptoms. Because things can vary widely depending on what stage of disease and the nature of the pathogen, there is no single recommendation, but I am available for herbal telemedicine consultations for existing patients. As a nationally-certified herbalist with 16 years’ experience, I’m here for you. Click here to hop on my calendar.

I’m also available for holistic health coaching no matter who you are or where you live. There has never been a better time to cultivate the habits you need to optimize your health. Check out the About Me or Work with Me Pages to see if we might be a good fit.

Stay well, and be good to yourself.