Over the past week of fearsome news headlines and mind-numbing statistics, two famous words from Douglas Adams’ famous novel Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy have been looping through my mind…
When I first read that advice in high school, I didn’t realize how profound it was. I do now.
So, this is not going to be another “sky-is-falling” piece about the coronavirus.
Nope. Here you will find words of hope and good old fashioned, tried and true remedies to keep you healthy in the coming months.
We are in the midst of something that most of us have never seen before. For the first time in half a century, a world that sometimes feels so divided is uniting against a common foe. And it’s our job – each and every one of us – to avail ourselves of every possible tool at our disposal to strengthen our bodies and minds.
Amidst all of the announcements you’ve probably been hearing from the mainstream media, there is a glaring lack of information and guidance about how to boost your immune system with food, herbs and lifestyle.
So that’s exactly where we’re going with today’s piece. We’re going to explore 2 medicinal foods, 3 herbs (well, one of them is a mushroom), 2 supplements and 5 personal practices that can make all the difference in the weeks and months ahead.
This is a long one, but full of vital information that we all need to have at the ready – so settle in with a warm cup and please let the remedies below marinate.
But before we get into specific medicines and practices, let’s take a step back and do a check in with your mindset on all of this.
Your Dojo Of Transformation
This notion of social distancing (limiting our interaction with others outside our immediate household) may seem unsettling to you… but what if it wasn’t?
What if this was your opportunity to re-envision your life and turn your home into your own personal temple of wellness? You now have more time than you’ve probably ever had to focus inward on your physical, mental and spiritual health. This could be your chance to make that shift you’ve been waiting for years to make.
Not only could this be an extremely positive transformation for you long term, but it’s potentially the most effective way to keep yourself healthy and thriving over the next couple months.
*Remember, periods of intentional solitude and reflection have been a pillar of almost every school of wisdom throughout time. Whether it’s the tradition of Vipassana in India or the Daoist monk’s vow of silence or the 40-day fasts that we see mentioned in the sacred texts of the world’s major religions.
Our social circles (and the expectations and projections that often come along with them) are one of the primary obstacles when it comes to making lasting and impactful change in our lives. Yes, we love our parents and close friends, and they’re a huge support system, but we humans tend to adopt many of the patterns of those who surround us. And the “relational gravity” that forms around these habits can be very tricky to break free from.
A little bit of social distancing can work wonders on many things in your life.
Never forget that this life is your spiritual training ground. Once you re-envision your stressors and fears as opportunities for inner transformation, they become teachers not enemies. The same way your immune system becomes stronger when it is challenged and given time to adapt.
Now that we’re clear on that, let’s talk turkey about what you can do with food, herbs and lifestyle to boost your immune system and thrive!
*Important: we are only including remedies that have a stack of research to support their use in preventing cold and flu. If you have tested positive for the coronavirus or think you may have contracted it, please consult your physician before considering the options below.
*Also Important: Along with each recommendation below, you will find links to scientific studies on how and why they work. Your continued health (and the health of your family) is our mission at The Sacred Science and we’re sharing only those medicines that have passed the rigors of extensive research.
2 Foods To Bring Into Your Diet:
1. Garlic (Allium sativum)
You’ve heard us talk about this medicinal food many times before. Garlic is a beloved ingredient around the world because of the flavor it adds to dishes, but also because of its antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.
A recent double-blind, placebo-controlled study has shown that garlic provides significant protection against the common cold virus.
For the most benefit, consume it raw. In my house, we mince 3 or 4 whole bulbs of garlic at a time and let them sit in a jar of olive oil – to be added on top of other foods throughout the day. It packs a punch, but this is an incredible topping! If you can’t consume it raw, garlic in capsules is a good second option.
2. Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
This rhizome has been embraced in the far east for millennia because it has an unparalleled flavor and also a host of health benefits. Like garlic, ginger has numerous studies showing that it’s beneficial for preventing and treating cold and flu.
Again, we are suggesting ginger and garlic as preventative measures, not as a treatment for a virus you already have. That said, fresh ginger tea (ideally combined with lemon and honey) has also been shown to soothe throat pain and improve recovery time for the common cold.
2 Herbs To Have In Your Pantry
Both of the herbs mentioned below can be found online from many different suppliers. If you’d like a little guidance – three of our favorite online sources for green medicine are: Mountain Rose Herbs, Starwest Botanicals and Gaia Herbs.
1. Astragalus (Astragalus propinquus)
A relative newcomer on the mainstream herbal scene here in the west, astragalus has gained fast traction because of its proven immune-modulating benefits. Not only does Astragalus have a stack of science to support its use – it also has a country of over 1 billion people who have been using it for thousands of years for its health and nutritional benefits. If you go to China, you’ll find that this asparagus-like plant is a standard ingredient in many soups and broths. Why? Because it’s good for you.
This herb is also exceptional at reinforcing the gut, meaning it boosts your microbiome. And we now know that the majority of our immune cells reside in this vast network of microorganisms within us.
2. Elderberry (Sambucus)
Elderberry is an easy-to-find, kid-approved immune regulating herb that is great to have on hand during the cold months and while traveling. While there are only a few RCTs (randomized clinical trials) on this herb – there are thousands of case studies and a long history of use indicating that elderberry helps to prevent and reduce the recovery time from the common cold and flu.
(One study on international air travelers displayed both preventive and curative properties of this delicious fruit for the common cold. The researchers determined that elderberry ‘stabilizes’ physical health before and during travel.)
1 Medicinal Mushroom To Rule Them All
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)
Oddly enough, the “King Of Herbs” in Traditional Chinese Medicine is actually a mushroom… and it’s one of the most powerful immune enhancing “herbs” on the planet.
Known as the “Supreme Protector,” Reishi has been used for thousands of years in Asia (a sister species also grows indigenously throughout North America.) Decades of research across the world have noted numerous healing components of this exceptional medicinal mushroom: polysaccharides, terpenes, beta-glucans, fibers (prebiotics), and more.
This herb is highly studied for its remarkable anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties, but for our purposes today – let’s focus on its immunomodulating effects. Immunomodulation is the ability of a substance to normalize the human immune system. If immunity is low, an immunomodulator boosts it. If immunity is over-reactive (autoimmunity, allergies) an immunomodulator relaxes that system. We call it “dual directional,” meaning these types of substances are smart enough to know if your immune system needs a revving up or cooling down.
And Reishi is the King Herb of immunomodulators.
2 Vital Supplements To Consider
1. Vitamin C
Another commonly talked about natural medicine for cold and flu prevention, Vitamin C (found in citrus fruits, broccoli, kale and sweet potatoes – to name a few) is highly beneficial for the prevention of the cold and flu.
L-ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) is one of the more well known antiviral agents, especially to influenza virus. Of everything we’ve listed so far, this is potentially the most important and easy-to-find addition to your antiviral arsenal.
Vitamin C and Zinc are a stellar combo for boosting / modulating your immune system function. There are a number of randomized controlled trials proving the efficacy of Zinc (often combined with Vitamin C) in preventing and shortening the recovery time for cold and flu.
According to the study linked below “both nutrients play important roles in immune function and the modulation of host resistance to infectious agents, reducing the risk, severity, and duration of infectious diseases.”
*Perhaps The Most Important Medicine Right Now… Lifestyle and Mindset*
Lastly, one of the most important aspects to keeping yourself healthy now and for the rest of your magical existence on this planet is to create the right environment and set of operating principles for your wellness.
Let’s break these lifestyle habits down into 2 categories – physical hygiene and spiritual hygiene.
There are some basic hygienical things you can do right now that are almost so elementary you might overlook them.
1. Stop touching your face
We’ve been told this since we were fighting acne as teenagers and it still holds true now (because keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth is good for overall hygiene). It’s better for your skin to leave it alone and more importantly – this is a vital habit to keep colds / flus at bay.
2. Wash your hands regularly
Mind-blowing I know. This probably sounds obvious in the year 2020, but it’s only been a standard practice in modern medicine for 150 years! It wasn’t until Dr. Joseph Lister (the namesake of “Listerine”) realized that his patients were surviving surgery better if his staff washed their hands, that this caught on and became the rule worldwide.
For the purposes of virus prevention, make sure to wash your hands after touching anything that may have come into contact with someone outside your household. Depending on how OCD you are, this might also include any packages delivered to your doorstep (this is standard protocol in my house for the next 3 months).
3. Cook every piece of produce you eat
Listen, I love salads more than just about anyone else on the planet, BUT transmission at this moment can occur via shared surfaces, which isn’t just limited to gas pumps and subway seats – it also could include food that has been touched by someone infected. So my advice is to be diligent and make sure to blanch / steam / saute / bake your veggies and forego consuming large amounts of raw vegetables. If you must eat raw veggies, best to soak them in a vinegar-based wash or use a good vegetable cleaner.
4. Get 8 hours of sleep per night
This is agreed upon by almost every major medical journal on the planet – in order for your immune and digestive system (which go hand in hand) to function at their peak, you need at least 8 hours of sleep per night. Not to mention, getting the right amount of rest will make you look and feel younger!
Mental / Spiritual Hygiene
It’s no longer disputed that your frame of mind has a MAJOR impact on your health outcomes, whether it’s preventing or treating an illness.
When you are stressed, your body goes into sympathetic mode, otherwise known as “fight or flight.” Your brain (specifically your HPA axis) tells your body to shunt all of the blood and resources to your extremities (hands, feet, legs, arms) because it’s time to run, leap, climb, defend…
This is totally natural and useful – if you’re trying to escape a pack of hyenas or you’re defending your home and family against a foreign intruder. But understand that this is only meant to be temporary and puts your internal organs into something very similar to a wartime economy. All goods and services that are not directly related to immediate survival are halted…
And one of the first supply chains that comes to a standstill is the flow of nutrition and life energy to your immune system and digestive tract…
So, assuming that you’ve listened to the heedings of the CDC and stocked up on food and supplies to hold you over for a month or so…. and you’re in your home / yard, with limited (if any) interaction with the outside world… Then there’s no lion to run from, no intruder, no need for the blood to be shunted to your extremities.
BUT getting into your head and worrying about all the scary things on the news (which you have limited control over) will send the signal to your brain to instruct your body to stop the presses and get ready to run.
See where I’m going with this?
Your body and mind is best served by calming down, getting into the present moment and turning on what is called your parasympathetic state (or rest and digest mode). This is where all the magic in life happens – it’s where amazing creativity comes from, it’s where wonderful conversations start and perhaps most importantly it’s required for your body to heal itself and prevent illness from occurring.
Again, this is not woo woo – it’s been proven in numerous studies from respected institutions like Harvard, Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, etc. In other words, if you’re a “sciency” person like we are, this is bonafide.
Now, if you need a little help getting that spiritual hygiene in order…
Here are 3 research-backed practices that you can rely on to kick the stress and harness the power of peace and presence:
Yup. We’ve all heard the word meditation before and many of us still might feel that this is something that people in India and China do that doesn’t quite fit into our daily routine. Well, that’s almost like saying that math is something that only folks in the Middle East do (fun fact – algebra comes from the ancient Arabic word – “al jabr”).
Anyhow, the jig is up – we all need meditation and there’s a boatload of science to prove it.
And if you want an easy meditation to get started, here’s a simple meditation video from a practical spiritualist named Tim (who we all love) – GIVE IT A TRY!
“Oh man… yoga isn’t my thing… grumble… wahhh” was something that I (Nick) always used to say. But then I started getting older and my body started craving it. So I gave it a try and now I’m addicted to both the mental and physical flexibility it gives me. There’s a reason this practice has been around thousands of years – once you start doing some basic and easy flows you’ll understand why.
Now, if you’re like me – you don’t want to hang out in a yoga studio every day in tights. And to be totally honest, I never leave my house to yoga. All you need are some basic Youtube videos to get you started and voila!! You’ll be feeling what they’re all talking about.
To help you on your path, here are some free Youtube videos from our two favorite online yoga mentors Adriene and Tim:
Yoga For Beginners (YOUTUBE) – With Adrienne
Calm Mind Foundation (YOUTUBE) – With Tim
Oh, and here’s some great science on how yoga works (almost forgot that part!)
3. Get Outdoors And Soak Up Some Sun!
The most fundamental need for both physical and mental/spiritual hygiene is sunlight. We are earthlings, living on a rock that is floating through space around a flaming ball of gas (the sun). We humans evolved to where we are today by eating sunlight – in two main ways: A) By consuming plants that are able to convert sunlight into nutrition via photosynthesis) and B) by being outside and absorbing sunlight directly into our bodies.
Sunlight (along with fresh water) is our most basic human right. And the Vitamin D that it contains is one of the most effective remedies for cold and flu.
So find some space under the open sky (away from groups) and soak up that sun!
Wow, that was a mouthful and I hope you found it helpful. The main gist behind all of this is simple – you are an extremely powerful being who has more raw potential in your pinky finger than the news media (take your pick) would have you believe.
It’s our responsibility as a conscious global community to keep reminding each other of this innate truth.
Remember – we’re all in this thing together.
Host of Remedy: Ancient Medicine for Modern Illness
& Founder of The Sacred Science