Viruses are one of the oldest
organisms on Earth. They consist simply of a protein envelope and nucleic
acids, which renders them unable to replicate outside of a host. Some viruses, such as influenza, can both
rearrange compatible genes and mutate on a regular basis in order to remain
Interestingly, the main benefit of
herbs is their working relationship with our own innate ability to ward off
pathogens, such as viruses. This in part is what makes herbal medicine so
unique. Although herbs provide some direct anti-viral activity, they primarily
act in a non-specific, adaptive manner.
In the attempt to tame the COVID-19 virus,
scientists around the world are working to understand how the disease is spread
and how best to approach prevention and treatment. But with the avalanche of
information we’re presented with every day, it’s easy to come away with more
questions than answers.
There are a couple of recent findings that stand
out as particularly important. One relates to the method of transmission, and
the other to individual susceptibility to the disease.
“Live in the sunshine, swim the
sea, drink the wild air”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
plenty of good reasons to be outdoors this summer, and now we can add ‘safe
haven’ to the list. As we all know, strict isolation strategies have been
employed since mid-March to curb the spread of the pandemic. The resulting
isolation, combined with fear of contagion and misinformation overload
(“infodemic”) is creating a great deal of confusion and stress.
no question that reducing the contact rate of latent individuals, and interventions
such as quarantine and isolation, can effectively reduce the potential peak
number of infections and delay the time of peak infection. However, as much as
I believe this to be true as it applies to being indoors, I question whether
being outdoors—even in groups—poses much risk at all. While there is still so
much we don’t know about the virus transmission, we have yet to see proof or a
strong likelihood that the outdoors poses a significant risk. In fact, research suggests it may be safer
compared to indoors.
Health Optimization and Adaptogens –
An Effective Strategy Against Pathogens
In general, I
am astonished by how little attention is placed on the value and importance of
good health in our society. In the face of the current pandemic, with
underlying co-morbidities present in an estimated 60% of the population,
increasing the risk of death from complications, there is an even greater
urgency to educate our communities and urge our citizens to adopt the key
components to optimal health. For example, there is now a clear association
between diabetes and increased mortality and severity in COVID-19 pneumonia,
and ocular symptoms of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‐CoV‐2).
These and many other underlying conditions can be successfully managed by
applying the fundamental building blocks to optimal health and wellness, which
include nutrition, botanical medicine, lifestyle, and diet. The more robust our
health at the molecular, cellular, and organ system levels, the better equipped
we are to resist and recover from disease.
The vibrant colors we observe in plants serve a
different role depending on the organism being considered. For the plant itself, the pigments may aid in
the absorption of light and photosynthesis, as well as contribute to metabolism
and reproduction. For birds and insects,
the pigments provide a signal to the availability of food, such as nectar or
pollen. For humans, the pigments may
provide a clue of the type of health benefits we are likely to incur upon
unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it
is one of those things which give value to survival.”
Lewis, The Four Loves
these unprecedented times, it’s important for all of us to focus on positive
steps that we can take to stay healthy, not only physically, but also emotionally
and spiritually. As difficult as things may appear to be, remember that within
every crisis lie opportunities for growth and change.