Two years and some change into this global pandemic and it seems we've come to the understanding that this virus is here to stay. With that being the case, it's very likely that we will all endure our own Covid encounter at least once, if not a few times as the virus spreads and mutates. With the universal presence of this virus, just like any other common virus, we'll all need to equip ourselves with a few health-promoting tools in our sick-day tool kit. I'm not big on pharmaceutical medications, but understand their merit when life requires them. However, until that point, there are plenty of ways we can care for our bodies holistically in order to prevent or at least mitigate any symptoms we may experience due to Covid (or the flu, a cold, etc.). Most of the health practices I employ in my own life are based in Naturopathic medicine, which uses the signals our bodies send out to communicate what's going on so we can better serve them, leaving us feeling better overall.
Naturopathic care follows these key principles:
Like all doctors: First, do no harm
Identify and treat or remove the Root Causes of illness
Treat the Whole Person: Consider individual physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, genetic, environmental, and social elements of the patient. Understanding symptoms in the context of the patient’s life is essential.
Apply the healing power of nature: Encourage both patients’ innate ability to move toward health and apply resources from the natural world that have the ability to support those efforts.
Doctor as teacher: Naturopathic doctors spend time teaching patients and encouraging self-responsibility for health and healthy lifestyle choices. Naturopathic doctors recognize, utilize, and honor the therapeutic potential of the doctor-patient relationship.
With Covid, like other viruses, your body is usually left feeling rundown and fatigued - it's in the middle of fighting a very brave battle and we need to give it all the care and rest it can get. So the first order of naturopathic-based care for Covid or flu response is rest. Honestly, your body will force you to use rest as a treatment long before you need to lookup any treatment plans.
Other treatment tips include:
Working to rejuvenate the immune system through functional medicine (a fancy-ish term for eating foods that have medicinal qualities). As soon as you start to feel the tickle in the back of your throat or the stuffiness behind your head, it is recommended that you stop eating sugar, processed foods, alcohol, or any other pro-inflammatory foods. Instead, focus on getting as many "alive sources" (food that was very recently a living or growing thing, rather than a packaged drink mix or "health bar") in order to promote anti-inflammatory pathways in your body. Take special care to correct any known nutritional deficiencies (this is usually Zinc and Vitamin D in the winter). Remember, sourcing is VERY important here. Spinach that is hauled in from a conventional farm that uses herbicides, pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers in California will never have anywhere near the same health-giving properties as spinach grown on a certified naturally grown farm in your own community.
Start adding probiotics to your routine or eating fermented foods and drinks in order to build up and maintain a healthy gut microbiome. Your immune system starts in your gut so we need to take special care to support it always, but especially during times of illness. Your gut is also the primary source of hormone balancing and cognitive health.
Use evidence-based nutritional supplements and botanical medicines that each have specific biochemical impacts on your general health as well as can be targeted to mitigate specific symptoms. I'll share that I used a pretty potent nasturtium tincture that I made from the nasturtium we grew last summer at Woodside Farms to clear up a lot of my nose and throat pain when I had Covid. I also used bee pollen, local Elderberry syrup, Vitamin B, C, and D supplements, and ate lots of food with garlic (a powerful anti-microbial food that is known to help break up mucus) and thyme (an anti-microbial herb that is known for its immune-stimulating properties and its ability to relax spastic cough). I also keep echinacea tinctures and bee balm tinctures on hand for this very reason.
And of course, stay hydrated. Staying adequately hydrated helps regulate your body temperature and keeps your achy flu-joints lubricated. It also helps prevent infection, acts as a vehicle to bring nutrients into your cells, and is overall essential to keeping all your major organ systems functioning.
Additionally, I found the following to be very helpful when I had Covid and you may as well:
Sweating! I actually love to sweat. It helps stimulate detox pathways and reminds me to stay hydrated. When I first get sick, I can always hear my grandma's voice reminding me to sweat it out. I used blankets and two pairs of pants to sweat it out when I first started feeling feverish and then took sun naps while I was on the mend to continue my sweating out process. I also found that it helped clear out my sinus pressure.
Sinus massage: I found that for me the worst part of Covid was all the sinus pressure in my head. It felt like I could hear the ocean and everything kind of vibrated around. Stimulating certain lymphatic centers in my body really helped remove some of the pressure and started getting things moving. You might want to check out Gua Sha, a ubiquitous remedy passed down by generations for hundreds if not thousands of years in China. Facial Gua Sha techniques can help manually drain sluggish lymph - I found them very helpful. Make sure to follow instructions carefully if you implement this, skin is delicate!
Realistically, our bodies will fight off many viruses in our lifetimes. And as long as we take care of ourselves and feed our bodies what they need, they'll work hard to leave us feeling good. Find a little health care in our self-serve farm stands open 24/7 in the garage behind the farm's stone house.