By now you have likely done your own research on the COVID-19 virus. With it being really the only headline news these days, there is a ton to read (some good, some terribly missinformed).
One source that I have been following for information, ideas, and knowledgable discussion around food being used as medicine during this time is Dr. Mark Hyman. He recently wrote an article about how to protect yourself from COVID-19 and shared some key things that we do know now about the disease:
- It is a viral disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus. Scientists estimate that 40% to 70% of our population will be affected.
- Those with chronic diseases will face greater threat in the potential of contracting it.
- This is a novel virus in the human population with no native immunity which means we are all susceptible.
- It is easily transmissible and can survive on surfaces for up to 72 hours.
- People that are infectious can transmit the virus from 2-14 days after exposure.
- The virus is easily killed with antibacterial cleaning agents including alcohol, bleach, and hydrogen peroxide.
- Symptoms are fever, cough, and fatigue but not a runny nose.
So the question becomes, “ What can I do to stay healthy during this time?”
In my last blog, I discussed the power of Vitamin C and how incorporating it into your daily regimen right now would be beneficial in supporting your immune system.
This week, I am going another step further down the immune support path to share my recommendations for powerhouse herbs and mushrooms to add into your daily routine as well. Especially if you just can’t seem to get in the recommended dietary allowance of nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day!
Humans for a very long time have used herbs not only as a flavoring agent but also as a natural treatment for illnesses including viral infections. Natural medicine practitioners recommend herbs to help fight viruses because they have a high concentration of potent plant compounds.
Natural anti-viral herbs have broad-spectrum antimicrobial effects or immune-enhancing effects. Some herbs with powerful antiviral activity include:
- Oregano – a popular herb in the mint family, oregano is known for its impressive medicinal qualities. Its plant compounds, which include carvacrol, offer antiviral properties.
- Sage – The antiviral properties of sage are mostly attributed to compounds called safficinolide and sage one, which are found in the leaves and stem of the plant
- Elderberry – The common black elderberry has long been used to reduce the length and severity of flu symptoms. Elderberry extract binds to the tiny spikes on a virus protein that are used to pierce and invade healthy cells and destroys them so that the virus is ineffective. (OAND)
- Garlic – Compounds allicin and alliion are responsible for garlic’s reputation as a triple threat. It is anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal and is especially effective against viruses if chewed raw.
- Echinacea – a very popularly used ingredient in herbal medicine, echinacea supports your immune system and has a direct anti-viral action against colds and viral bronchitis. Almost every part of the plant – flowers, leaves, and root – are used for natural remedies.
- Ginger – You’ve seen it in teas, lozenges, chews, and elixirs. There’s a good reason for that. Ginger has an incredibely high concentration of potent plant compounds like gingerols and zingerone which have been found to inhibit viral replication and prevent viruses from entering host cells.
Medicinal mushrooms have been used in natural medicine for thousands of years to protect against infectious diseases and various cancers. There are a range of health benefits that mushrooms provide for your brain, hormones, and as an antioxidant powerhouse for your body. Research examining the health effects of mushrooms has identified hundreds of possible therapeutic properties, including anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and Immunomodulating to name a few.
Specifically, these mushroom extracts provide immune-supporting propoerties:
- Turkey Tail – The turkey tail mushroom gets its name from the tan and brown rings seen on its surface, similar to what the tail feathers of a turkey look like. In traditional medicine, turkey tail has been used therapeutically for fungal infections and cancer.
- Reishi – it has been called the “mushroom of immortality” or the “king of mushrooms.” It has been shown to prevent and treat various diseases as well as control inflammation associated with a high-cholesterol diet.
- Maitake – both a culinary and medicinal mushroom, maitake contains a component called Proteoglucan, which has been associated with the immune-stimulating effects of the mushroom.
- Shiitake – Also another culinary and medicinal mushroom, shiitake mushrooms have been used to treat the common cold but may also have anticancer effects. Lentinan, a glucan derived from shiitake, is being used today as a complementary treatment for tumors in China and Japan.
- Cordycepes – not actually a mushroom but rather a rare caterpillar fungus that grows only in high-altitude regions northeast India. Cordycepes components include polysaccharides, cordycepin, and cordycepic acid which have been linked to increasing the activity of natural killer immune cells (NK-cells).
For me, even though I am eating a ton of fruits and veggies, I am adding these powerhouse herbs and mushrooms in for an additional boost to protect my immune system the best I can! What we put into our bodies right now matters more than ever with this horrific virus going around.
Here is the herb and mushroom “cocktail” I have started with and a little bit more about each one:
Oil of Oregeno: Oil of oregano, which is distilled from the flowers and leaves of the oregano plant, could be one of nature’s most powerful antibiotics. This natural and versatile oil can be used in multiple ways to help defend you from infection by dangerous bacteria. Studies have shown that oil of oregano is effective at killing bacteria, and could also help the immune system take action against viruses, fungi and parasites.
** Anyone with an oregano allergy should not use oil of oregano. **
Recommended Use: 1 softgel per day with meals, or as directed. If you choose to take the liquid, be mindful it is very strong and will need to be diluted in small amount of juice. 1-3 drops is ideal
Turkey Tail: Turkey tail is a medicinal mushroom that can be commonly found around the world. It has been used for centuries in Asian as natural medicine, but scientific research has proven its benefits, including its ability to boost your immune system, benefit your digestive health, fight infections and help cancer patients.
Recommended Use: Product labels usually suggest taking one to three capsules daily with meals and a glass of water. Turkey tail is also available in extract and powder forms, which can be added to water, juice or a smoothie. For powder, follow the recommendations on the bag.
Wellness Herbal Resistance Liquid: Wellness Herbal Resistance Liquid contains a powerful combination of herbs, designed to help support the immune system. Echinacea and goldenseal promote well-being, while Yin Chiao, a valued Chinese herbalcomplex, helps our bodies maintain a sense of balance.
Recommended Use: ½ teaspoon a day mixed in water and/or juice
These few suggested supplements can support your immune system as well as kick the bugs out of your gut and other parts of your body! Check out my YouTube video where I share more on all the ways you can incorporate these powerhouse herbs and mushrooms into your daily rituals.
The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food.”