As we transition into fall and winter and COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations rise dramatically, it’s clear that the virus isn’t going away any time soon. Although the promise of a vaccine is on the horizon, there’s no certainty as to its long-term effectiveness and many are concerned about the safety of its contents.
I continue to find compelling information that supports the use of natural medicines such as medicinal mushrooms, elderberry, and vitamin D against infections, as well as new facts and insights into how COVID-19 spreads and what populations are most vulnerable and why. All of this supports my belief that there is a great deal we can do to obtain robust health and build our immunological defense against pathogens, and thereby significantly reduce our risk of contracting the virus and the dreaded complications associated with it.
As a passionate home chef, I can’t imagine cooking without a full array of herbs and spices. And as an herbalist, I can’t imagine creating a health protocol without the use of herbs and spices. Fortunately, culinary and medicinal herbs are often one and the same. As Hippocrates said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
As an herbalist, nutritionist, jazz musician, and chef, I find that food preparation and cooking is similar to combining herbs for medicine or composing music. Home cooking is a creative endeavor, and the reward is a delicious and healthy meal that can be savored with family and friends.
I’ve grown frustrated and concerned over the degree to which the news surrounding COVID-19 focuses on fear and the promise of a ‘super hero’ vaccine that will eventually save us.
Every week, I come across research that supports the use of herbal and nutritional compounds, diet, and lifestyle that have been shown to be of potential benefit in bolstering our immune defense against the virus. It’s unfortunate that these studies are not being more widely reported and implemented in our approach to this disease.
Although statistics show that people over the age of 65 have an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and dying from complications due to underlying conditions, it appears that it has more to do with nutritional status than age alone. It’s true that the older we get, the more nutritional deficiencies we may have, primarily because of poor dietary choices throughout life.
Unfortunately, nutrition is often overlooked in favor of pharmaceuticals and other medical interventions. But diet plays a critical role in fortifying the immune system and in helping the body fight off and overcome infections such as COVID-19.
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.