by Registered Professional Herbalist (AHG) Jill Ruttenberg, Owner of AmaTierra Retreat & Wellness Center in Costa Rica
As the world slowly reignites and we are once again back to functioning as a society, it is helpful to know the medicinal herbs that can help us stay strong and healthy. As I mentioned in my last blog (Which Foods & Spices…Boost Immunity?) a diet rich in antioxidant foods (with an emphasis on fresh fruits & vegetables) is your best defense against getting sick. But of course, there is an abundance of medicinal plants which serve human beings to fight infection and strengthen our systems.
Throughout this pandemic, the mainstream media (sponsored in large part by pharmaceutical companies), as well as the Western medical community, have offered very little in the way of sound advice, other than hand-washing, mask-wearing and social distancing. As we struggle to find the truth and obtain good guidance in these times, holistic health practitioners like myself, and a growing number of health-conscious readers like you, recognize that there are many plant allies, supplements and lifestyle behaviors (such as good nutrition, meditation, getting enough rest, exercise) which have been proven, both throughout the ages and more modernly in thousands of clinical studies, to strengthen our immune systems, treat or eradicate infection and ameliorate disease symptoms.
While I encourage anyone exhibiting serious COVID-19 systems to visit their health professional right away, I also feel it is my duty to share information regarding what I know can help people, contributing my 25+ years of experience as an herbalist to the health and wellness of others. In fact, I think those who only advise us to “wash your hands” should be held accountable for NOT giving us the information we need about herbs and supplements that can HELP us to fight this virus.
What does make me happy though, is that even though the authorities may not be talking about how helpful it can be to take medicinal herbs, zinc and vitamin C, many people ARE taking natural remedies to help them through this time. In fact, most health food stores and even wholesale distributors are sold out of many of the herbs that are helping people right now. This is good news, as it means many people are using herbal remedies. Hopefully you’ll be able to buy the herbs I’m mentioning below without difficulty.
If you do have trouble locating these herbs, please write to me. If you live in Costa Rica or the U.S. I can help you purchase them and in some cases save you 20% off the store or online price.
All right! On to the Herbs:
Anti-Viral Herbs: can be taken alone or in combination. If health food stores still provide bulk tinctures which you can mix yourself, or loose teas, you can make those blends yourself. There are many wonderful plant allies, and these are only a few. If you live in the U.S. I have a distributor who can send some of my favorite herbal combinations to you; just write to me.
1) Oregano Oil or Leaves: Chew 2 fresh leaves per day, or if taking the essential oil, put 2 drops in an empty capsule, or one filled with olive oil. (too hot to use directly in the mouth!) or take one 100-150 mg capsule daily. The oil can also be rubbed on the soles of your feet (good way to use on kids! One mom calls it Pizza feet!)
2) Astragalus Root: A nutritive Chinese herb that boosts T-cells (immune cells) and also raises the Qi, or life force energy, and helps with lung infections.
3) Echinacea: Either Echinacea purpurea or Echinacea angustifolia root (or a combination) is ideal for boosting immunity. Take in capsule, tablet or tincture form and increase dosage if symptoms occur.
4) Cordyceps, Reishi, Chaga and Turkey Tail Mushroom: These are not the kind of mushrooms you EAT, but instead, strong immune boosters. I recommend a blend of any of these, easily purchased through a company called Host Defense, OR found in New Chapter’s Liver Force. If you live near a wooded area, look for Turkey Tails on dead wood branches, they are brown and look like turkey tails! (be sure they ARE turkey tails before using!) Simmer some up and drink the tea!
5) Pau d’arco: from the bark of the Tabubia impetiginosa tree (it grows here on AmaTierra’s property, but can also be found in health food stores); a strong anti-viral/anti-bacterial herb that is also used for candida albicans overgrowth.
6) Olive leaf: kills viruses by starving them of the nutrients needed to survive and replicate. Has been found to be effective also against herpes, mononucleosis & rotavirus. Olive leaf also lowers cholesterol, blood pressure and is anti-inflammatory. Dosage: 500mg 1-2x per day for preventive, double if symptoms occur.
Other Herbs and Supplements to help you stay strong and healthy:
1) Take 1000 mg of Vitamin C and 20-30 mg Zinc 1 to 2x per day (always take zinc with food as it can upset the stomach)
2) Add Garlic, Onions, Ginger, Oregano and Tumeric plentifully to your meals or smoothies each day; they are anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and help your body ward off pathogens. Please read my last blog for other anti-viral Foods and Spices with medicinal properties.
3) Buy some Yin Chiao (Chinese herb blend) to have on hand for the first sign of cold or flu (headache, dizziness, sore throat, or sneezing) Planetary Herbals is my favorite, and you can buy either the Classic formula or with Echinacea. Take 2 tablets every 3 hours if symptoms arise. If Chinese herb stores exist in your area, you can find this formula, or try online.
4) Essential Oils of On Guard or Thieves Oil: Spray on your body, diffuse in your home, and gargle with a few drops in water if you feel a sore throat coming on. Warm salt water is also a good option.
5) Drink a LOT of room-temperature water or warm herbal teas through these months, and take hot baths. Viruses do not like heat.
6) Teas to drink on a daily basis: Grated fresh ginger, lemon balm(melissa), elder flower, mint, cinnamon, hyssop. Perhaps these are growing in your area. Look around, or grow them in pots.
I have been following some recommendations of the Chinese (TCM) Doctors; there were MANY success stories in China, especially for treating milder symptoms and for first-stage eradication of the virus. We mostly hear about the deaths., but there were tens of thousands of recoveries.
I am relieved to report that I am able to find or make most of the herbal formulas they used there, alongside conventional treatments, and would be happy to consult with you; my fee is $40. I am also leading Detox at Home Detoxing Retreats once per month during this time. Just write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are also offering our AmaTierra-grown, organic, solar-dried Tumeric for $8 per 4oz jar and can ship to you anywhere in the world once international mail is up and going again.
Even though the above herbal remedies are powerful allies, I am not suggesting that you stay home and treat yourself solely with herbs. If strong symptoms were to occur, especially a very sore throat for 3 or more days, high fever, trouble breathing or chest pain, it is essential to seek western medical help. And remember, there are other flus and common colds which could be causing your symptoms, so do your best to stay calm. We all know that fear causes stress, which weakens our defenses. This is a time to work on our self care, take frequent deep breaths, take things easy, and practice positive thinking.
I hope this information serves you well. Let’s focus on feeling grateful and celebrating our good health, remembering that we have a choice in how we want to live each day, even though life is changing. I, for one, choose to stay in the moment and enjoy life each day.
May you be Well, Happy and Peaceful. Remember, I am available for your questions.
(Feel free to share this blog to help others, and please leave your comments below!)
Jill Ruttenberg, RH, Co-Owner & Wellness Director of AmaTierra Retreat & Wellness Center in Costa Rica, is a professional nutritionist, certified practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and clinical herbalist registered with the American Herbalist Guild. She is also an experienced massage therapist, energy healer and Hatha yoga instructor. The Wellness Center at AmaTierra is Jill’s living dream, the fruition of decades of training, practice and experience in natural medicine and the healing arts.