Natural Immunity: Facts, Myths and Smart Actions in Response to the Coronovirus
by Sasha Rock
We are in a scary and uncertain time - from mass economic and social disruption to the unknown scope of impact on public health. We’re seeing plenty of reactionary misinformation, ranging from total panic ("we're all going to die") to nonchalance ("this is a media-controlled conspiracy").
There is a need for real information and sound guidance. As one of my earliest mentors, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Knowledge is the antidote to fear”. I wrote this article to share information which will hopefully clear up many questions and provide you with peace of mind.
What is Coronavirus Anyway?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses which are known to cause symptoms of the upper-respiratory tract. While hundreds of unique coronavirus strains have been identified and studied for decades, humans have been introduced to new, malignant strains in recent years.
SARS, MERS, and now COVID-19 - are coronaviruses known to be rapid-spreading and potentially deadly. The coronavirus is named for the “spiked” structure protruding from the viral particles, similar to the sun’s corona or a crown (corona means crown in Latin).
How can a name that brings to mind such beautiful images as the sun or a royal headdress also be so malignant? Well, the spikes of the coronavirus are exactly what allow it to embed and merge with human cells so efficiently.
Put simply, viral particles “envelope” into the body’s cells, and eventually convert cells into free radicals, or rogue cells that attack healthy cells.
What are the Effects on the Body?
The symptoms may seem like a mild flu and pass. In more acute cases, mucus builds up, obstructing the airways and making breathing difficult. Persistent fever is usually present in acute cases, and COVID-19 often has a co-infection of pneumonia. Diarrhea is another common symptom of the virus, which isn’t always mentioned. It’s important to note that an individual who contracted the virus may be symptom-free and still pass it to others.
Spread & Prevention
The virus enters the body via mucous membranes - the eyes, nose and mouth. That’s why remaining 6ft away from people outside your immediate family and avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands are sound prevention practices. You can also pick up the virus from surfaces.
According to testing to date, coronaviruses can live on surfaces anywhere from several hours up to 9 days. The good news is, COVID-19 particles are fragile and very easy to destroy outside the body. A simple disinfectant can easily destroy the wall of the microbe, rendering the particle harmless.
It’s important to wash hands regularly and disinfect surfaces. It’s also a good idea to keep a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol or wipes by your door to disinfect hands and objects such as purse, wallet, credit cards and store purchases upon entering your home or office.
Even if we’re healthy and relatively low-risk individuals, we have a social responsibility to do our part to contain spread, especially to vulnerable populations. It's a good idea even during non-pandemic times to always have an emergency 2-4 week supply of basic foods and medicine.
We should not hoard supplies in a way that will deplete stores, depriving others of basic necessities. It is recommended that people do not wear a mask in public, as long as you’re practicing social distancing. Hospitals and emergency response units are currently struggling to maintain a supply for care providers who have no choice but to treat patients in close proximity.
Herbs and holistic remedies
If you’re feeling symptoms or simply want to fortify your system against potential contact, the regular advice for cold/flu season is a good place to start.
Get plenty of sleep and rest. Avoid stressors. Drink plenty of fluids - however in the case of COVID-19, warm and hot liquids are recommended over cold - teas, broths, warm water by itself or with lemon - help break down and move mucus.
Foods for Immune Boosting and Viral Prevention
Bone broths -- nourish and fortify the body
Medicinal mushrooms -- provide immune support and calm the nervous system
Blue Green Algae and Seaweeds -- highly antioxidant, combatting free radical cells (which as we learned earlier is how COVID-19 attacks the system)
Herbal and Supplemental Treatment of Viral Symptoms:
Raspberry Leaf Tea -- Nourishes the body and treats diarrhea
Licorice Root -- mucus reduction, anti-viral, and efficient cough medicine
Elderflower -- a diaphoretic (an herb that supports a healthy fever response) and decongestant
Red Clover Flower -- dries respiratory system and removes byproducts of infection
Mullein Leaf -- reduces harsh coughing and promotes expelling from the lungs
Usnea Lichen -- highly anti-pathogenic (fungi, bacteria and viral) and supports healthy mucous membranes
Aromatic kitchen spices of all kinds -- support the fever response and serve as expectorants if needed.
Steaming over a pot of herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, mint, etc -- can be very beneficial to open and cleanse airways. To do this, boil a pot of water, remove from heat and add herbs. Test the temperature first and then lean over the pot with a towel over the back of your head and pot to keep the steam in and create a mini sauna.
Electrolyte Powder -- fluid loss from fever sweats or from diarrhea can lead to electrolyte deficiency
Vitamin D -- a normal wintertime dose of Vit D is 4,000-7,000 IUs daily, less for lighter skinned individuals, more for darker skinned people who absorb less sunlight through their skin. For immune-boosting prevention, 20,000 IUs of vitamin D is recommended. In viral-infected people, a dose of 75,000 IUs and 150,000 IUs for several days has been proven effective treatment.
Zinc -- excellent immune support, 15-30mg daily
It’s also important to approach immunity and self-care from a holistic perspective. Get outside as much as possible - fresh air and sunlight have physiological benefits for immunity and is an excellent way to diffuse the stresses we’re all experiencing now.
Embodiment practices help us “get out of our head” and relax the nervous system, this can be as simple as breathing into different parts of your body. Meditation can also help support a relaxed nervous system and mind.
Now is an excellent time to start a garden, as it will make you less reliant on grocery stores and it’s an excellent way to get good exercise outdoors.
You can also virtually socialize with friends and family via apps like Zoom, Skype and Facetime. In the past week I have participated in a virtual dance party with 150 others, and have plans to sing zoom karaoke with my family this weekend. Simply making a video call to a loved one can be comforting and help you feel connected, easing the effects of social isolation.
Articles cited for further reading
Uncovering Potential Applications of Cyanobacteria and Algal Metabolites in Biology, Agriculture and Medicine: Current Status and Future Prospects. Frontiers in Microbiology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5403934/
Chapter 60 Medical Microbiology: Coronaviruses
For the past 2 years Sasha Rock has had a practice in Ashland and online, focusing on bodywork, energy work, and herbalism for women’s pelvic health. Sasha also has an online course “Pelvic Self Care 101” and developed a groundbreaking “tissue healer” salve for reversing the effects of arthritis and hypermobility. Sasha will be producing more ecourses teaching women and people how to have more healthcare sovereignty through working with herbs and other accessible, empowering practices. Sasha is available for herbal consultations via Zoom, providing individually customized protocols for viral infection, immunity, and a number of women's health issues.