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Nourishing Tips & Recipes

Feeling the wave of fear coming? Maybe i can help.

Hello my friend. Here we are again. It’s a bit of déjà vu, huh? Everywhere we look we can feel and sense the fear that is rising, and we may feel like retreating — battening down the hatches and waiting for the worst.

I am reaching out to you with a few words of support and reassurance so you may feel greater authority over your health and the knowledge that there are things that you can do right now to reduce the feeling of fear and anxiety that is trying to take up residence in your body. First, I respectively suggest that you turn off the news and disconnect from the twitter doom scroll. For real. Take a break for a day or two; I promise you that tracking numbers is not doing you any good. At all. Take a few deep breaths and look out the window — or better yet, step outside.

It’s time for a perspective check.

Let’s slow down, take a deep belly breath, and back up for a minute….

Before we had lab-made medication in little plastic bottles, we relied on what came from the earth to soothe us. We looked to plants as a primary medicine. We used sunshine and fresh air and salt water in therapeutic ways. We checked in with our natural rhythms and corrected them if we lost our way. We kept in tune with the seasons and the sun cycles, letting nature guide us toward the right seasons to eat various foods, the right times to sleep and wake, the right times to produce and to rest.

Now things look a bit different: we can manipulate our circadian rhythm as we wish with artificial light, and we can eat almost any food or herb from around the globe at any time of the year. We have scientists and physicians constantly at work, trying to understand the body and support it with the best that the scientific method can offer. There are huge benefits to our evolution in this way, of course, but there is a tradeoff: we have become disconnected from the deep wisdom that comes from living in accordance with and supported by nature. We have lost our internal compass and the knowledge that many many things make up the state of our health — not just distinct viruses and our immune response to them.

With the advance of modern medicine, I find that many of us have lost some agency over our own bodies; we’ve begun to trust the “medical system” more than we trust ourselves. Maybe we have become comfortable with immediately looking to doctors or the pharmacy to calm our ailments – essentially saying, “Hey, you fix me.” We may forget how much healing potential is within us if we just listen to our own sensations, pay close attention to what our bodies are asking for. We may overlook the medicine we need for comfort and healing that’s available in our own kitchens and gardens. And we may have lost confidence in our own ability to listen to and take care of ourselves.

We also may take some big-picture solace in understanding that while this current COVID virus is spreading quickly throughout the globe, its spread is directly related to how mild it is for the vast majority of people. The nature of viruses follows a pattern: as they mutate, they become more efficient — which most often means that they become both less lethal and more transmissible. As Daniel Golden, MD, a critical care surgeon in Pennsylvania, writes: mutations “give the virus a greater advantage when spreading from person to person, and the version that spreads more easily will ultimately outcompete versions that don’t have those advantages.”

We also need to recall that most diseases are not fully eradicated — especially (relatively) milder ones like COVID. As Dr. Golden puts it, as time marches on, “the disease will survive, but severity of illness will decrease.” And while a surge may be in our near future, it very well may result in few cases of severe illness, and “it could also be the beginning of the natural end of the pandemic,” according to Dr. Golden. We don’t know for sure, but if we assume this virus is “going to follow the expected patterns we’d expect according to basic scientific principles,” we can perhaps release some of our anxiety and fear around it. (Read his whole article here.)

So What Should We Do Now?

I want to help you become more empowered to care for yourself, to gain authority and self-governance in your own health care. I hope to show you that nature provides remedies that are often both gentle on the body and powerfully effective. I also want to remind you that your immune system is not only activated and alert when you are feeling crummy; it is working on your behalf every single day (perhaps every single moment of every single day) to protect you from the world around you, and it’s relying on you for regular, perhaps daily, interventions to course-correct.

While you may have received a message that there is only one solution to being able to fight the virus at hand, there are also other things that you can incorporate into your life to help protect you, ease you, comfort and heal you.

So in addition to deep breaths (which are physiologically helpful to reduce the stress response), I want to empower you with some tips and tools at home so you can fortify your body now (don’t wait) AND be strong and able to manage illness if it should visit!

For extra prevention, please see my post on fortifying the immune system and consider this significant research regarding the protective effects of taking vitamin D! If you remember one thing from this post, let it be this: getting vitamin D levels in range is remarkably protective against the circulating viruses. As vitamin D levels reach 50, COVID mortality reaches ZERO. (Source.) This is an easy and cheap extra layer of protection to consider. (Most of my patients’ levels are in the 15-30 range, for reference.)

Concrete Steps to Promote Health and Well-being

It's really important to note that when food or herbs are used therapeutically, we use them a bit differently. Sometimes we use more than we are accustomed to — like swallowing down a whole crushed garlic clove masked in honey — or sometimes we enjoy remedies more frequently than we usually would — like sipping on hot water with added Honey and Thyme Cough Elixir (See recipe) all day long for a persistent cough or respiratory infection. A culinary-style sprinkle of cayenne, a seed of fennel, a sliver of ginger, or single vitamin C capsule is not going to cut it! Plants and supplements are potent, but they need to be taken in therapeutic amounts to do the trick, which usually means every few (waking) hours if symptoms are acute (meaning: symptoms are noticeable and active). We want the remedies to taste good, and be easy to take or apply, but we also want them to work – and the balance is sometimes found in being creative or a bit bold.

Here’s an important pro tip: in order to combat an ailment quickly and effectively, it is best to attack it right away, full-strength! This is especially true with a virus. When you have the first whispers of an imbalance, that is the time for action. There is no need to suffer valiantly with your symptoms for a couple days or a week to prove how hardy you are or to see how it will play out; you’ll defeat your illness quickly only if you treat it quickly, and early intervention and treatment are absolutely key.

At the very first sign of feeling a little off, I suggest you take action. I don’t have time to be sick, and I’m guessing that neither do you. If you take on your illness head-first — with frequent doses of herbs/vitamins, sweating, appropriate foods, and ample sleep — you may be shocked by how resilient you can be!

As soon as you cough, have a sore throat, or feel that exhaustion creeping in, follow these guidelines:

  • Stop all dairy and sugar. Dairy is a big mucous maker. Sugar suppresses white blood cells. Keep natural sugars (fruit juice, maple syrup) low as well, but do use honey.

  • Don’t force food. Take it easy with eating in general. Digestion takes so much energy that it’s often best to eat lightly — mostly cooked, simple foods — while healing. Think about porridges, soups, and stews, and just follow the appetite.

  • Put on a pot of soup. Start with some ginger, garlic, onion, and turmeric. Add any other veggies you wish, like carrots, zucchini, and celery, as they are alkaline and rich in electrolytes. A broth-y soup is a great food for times of illness.

  • Bring on the ginger. Ginger is perhaps the most versatile plant I can think of for immunity and healing a multitude of ailments. When in doubt, grate some fresh ginger and steep to drink in a tea. You can use ginger to fight colds and flus, drain a sinus infection, and calm a belly ache or sore muscles and joints.

  • Stay hydrated. Especially with diarrhea, vomiting and/or fever. During a fever, dehydration occurs simply by sitting around sweating with a raised breathing and heart rate. Take note of this: dehydration causes some of the most uncomfortable symptoms that we associate with fever, like headaches. Kids are especially vulnerable to dehydration, and it can even become dangerous. If someone is having trouble keeping anything down, have them drink small sips of electrolyte-filled liquids and suck on popsicles. Encourage babies to nurse or bottle-feed often (even babies that usually eat solid food may only want to nurse, which is just fine). You can feed pre-weaned babies small amounts of liquids with a spoon or dropper.