Protocols for Viral Infections

By Holly Jones and Chanchal Cabrera, March 2020

It is probably safe to say we will all get this Covid-19 virus some time in the near future – maybe this month, almost certainly this year. Although members of the corona virus family have been in the wider community for years, this particular strain is novel and no-one has resistance. So each of us needs to be taking responsibility to delay onset and reduce severity.

Below are some commonsense ideas for reducing exposure and for self care if / when you do get sick.
Please note that herbalists have no more experience with this novel corona virus than have the doctors; all we have is history and experience of treating other viral infections. Hopefully it is enough in this case. Please do not believe anyone who claims to have ’cures’ for corona or is marketing ‘herbs for corona’. Consult your local clinical herbalist and ask their advice.

Symptoms can vary, and in some cases be very mild or almost unnoticeable

  • Incubation can take up to 14 days. Infected people might be contagious during incubation, or their symptoms might be so mild as to be ignored
  • Most characteristic symptoms: FEVER and dry cough, with little nasal congestion
  • IF you suspect infection in yourself or a household member, call your doctor / Emergency room and ask for directions. Don’t go to the hospital or clinic unless instructed to do so.

DO NOT “go it alone” on this one, especially with higher-risk populations.
The virus can cause symptoms to progress into a danger zone quickly. Don’t delay asking for support.

Protecting Yourself

Follow the government of Canada guidelines for preventing the virus, which can be found here.

These are evidence-based recommendations made by doctors. Staying home will be your first line of defense against the virus – especially if you have a weakened immune system and fall into the most vulnerable demographic.

Reduce Exposure

  • Stay home as much as possible, avoid any crowded or group settings, don’t visit friends or family, no hand shakes or hugs, no playdates; use phone and skype to keep in touch; have groceries delivered; do yoga at home and avoid the gym.
  • Sunshine and fresh air are your friends – take this chance to be outside as much as possible (but not at the playpark where other people go)
  • Wash your hands a lot
  • Wear washing up gloves when you go out – might look odd but this will stop you touching your face and you can wash them often in hot soapy water which you can’t easily with fabric gloves
  • Wear a face mask when you go out to stop yourself touching your face; add essential oils (see below)
    A printable pattern can be found here. Masks should be changed frequently and washed in very hot water

Essential Oils

Eucalyptus essential oil has been shown to be effective against influenza viruses (Price and Price, 2007). Essential oils of Lemon, Oregano, Rosemary, and Peppermint will also be effective.

  • use 3 drops of oil blend on a mask and refresh hourly
  • use 2 drops on the hands and rub well together if you cannot wash hands
  • use a mix of (any or all) Eucalyptus, Lemon, Pine, Spruce, Fir, Oregano, Myrrh, Cedar, Ravensara as an air purifier in a humidifier or in a pan of water on a stove stop (approx. 5 drops every hour)

Hand Sanitizer

100 mL grain alcohol or high proof liquor – rubbing (isopropyl) or”regular” (ethyl, or ethanol), but must be at least 90% (180 proof).
50 mL aloe gel
30 drops total of (any or all) Eucalyptus, Lemon, Pine, Spruce, Fir, Oregano, Myrrh, Cedar, Ravensara, Lavender
Mix oils into alcohol then add aloe and stir very well
Dispense into squirt bottles. Squirt a pea-sized amount on your hands, rub in, and allow to dry.

Enhancing your immune system and building resilience

  • Drink plenty of water daily.
  • Get enough sleep each night.
  • Avoid sweets or processed foods.
  • Use 1-2 grams of vitamin C daily or an Emergen-C with electrolytes daily.
  • Gargle with salt water
  • Neti pot with saline solution or warm water

Immune Soup

Use any or all of the following dried herbs in a strong decoction (simmered tea) added to a soup base
100 g dried mushrooms (reishi, turkey tails)
100 g dried astragalus root (milk vetch)
100 g dried taheebo bark (pau d’arco)
100 g elderberries
100 g schizandra fruit

Mix well together

Take ¼ cup of herb mix per 3 L water, cover with a tight lid, bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer on very low for 30 minutes. Use this liquid in your soup or drink ½ cup twice daily for immune boosting. Also put the simmered herbs into a clean cloth bag or tied off in a sock and floated in the cooking soup where oils can act as further solvent

If you don’t have medicinal mushrooms then use fresh mushrooms from grocery store – any kind.
50 g per 3 L

Raw Garlic

Maybe your new best friend! Promotes social distancing and is an anti-viral – can’t ask for more!
Take 2 cloves daily for prevention, 4 – 6 daily if you get sick. Peel 1 – 2 cloves, chop finely, set aside for 10 minutes to oxidize and activate the anti-viral compounds. Place on a spoon and get to back of throat then swallow down without chewing like a pill. Make sure you have some food in the stomach first. Use a ‘thicker’ fluid like oat milk or kefir, not water.

Supplements for prevention (double doses for 2 weeks if you get sick)

  • NAC 200 mg 2 x per day
  • Vitamin C 1000 mg before each meal
  • Vitamin D 5000 IU per day
  • Vitamin A 15,000 IU per day
  • Zinc 30 mg 2 x per day taken during a meal/with food in stomach
  • Mushroom Blend – can be a multi-mushroom blend powder or capsules if preferred. Dosed at 3 – 5 g mushrooms equivalent daily

Daily Use Herbal Tea

To moisten mucus membranes, loosen congestion, soothe inflamed nasal passages and lungs, as well as to regulate production (quality & quantity) of phlegm being produced
Plantain leaf Mullein leaf
Elder flower Peppermint leaf
Nettle leaf Licorice root

Made with 1 Tbsp / cup of boiling water. Steep 3 Tbsp of tea blend in 3 – 4 cups boiling water for at least 15 minutes. Sweeten to taste with cinnamon, chai spice tea bag, honey.

Immune Formula for prevention and resistance (long term tincture)

dosed at 10 mL (2 tsp.) twice daily in hot water for 1 – 2 weeks now to build immunity
then 5 mL (1 tsp) twice daily in hot water for thereafter
continue at 1 tsp twice daily even if you then add in the acute lung formula as well
take in juice or cold tea if preferred

assuming tinctures of 1 : 3 potency

20 mL Sambucus nigra fruc.(elderberry) immune stimulant
10 mL Asclepias tuberosa (pleurisy root) – respiratory tonic
15 mL Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon grape) anti-viral, cilia protection, immuno-modulating
15 mL Salvia miltiorrhiza  (red sage) – immune normalizing
10 mL Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice root) – anti-viral, lung soothing and expectorant, anti-inflammatory
10 mL Eleutherococcus sent. (eleuthero) – Immune support
5 mL Cinnamonum zeylanica (cinnamon) – warming, anti-microbial
5 mL Rhodiola rosea (Arctic rose)adaptogen, anti-viral
5 mL Pimpinella anisum (anise) – warming, moistening lung tonic
5 mL Hyssopus off. (hyssop) –  warming, relaxing anti-microbial

And what to do if you start to get sick

As the first signs of illness start:

  • Have a hot bath to bring up your fever and sweat it out. Fever is a sign of a robust immune system and can be encouraged within safe parameters (max. 103 in adults, 101 in children).
  • Cold and Flu Diaphoretic Tea, drink hot 3-4 times daily
    Make a strong ginger tea with 1” of fresh ginger root chopped and simmered with a lid on for 10 minutes in 4 cups of water. Add 1 tsp. each of elderflower, yarrow flower, peppermint, catnip, a cinnamon stick, cover again and steep 10 minutes. Can be sweetened to taste with honey, add cinnamon and lemon.
  • Take Andrographis herb dosed at 2 caps four times daily.
  • Increase Vitamin C to 2 g 3 times daily.
  • Echinacea tincture – ½ tsp. every hour in hot water for first 2 – 4 days then 1 tsp 3 x daily until symptoms abate
  • Probiotics with each meal.
  • Increase dose of the Immune Formula for prevention and resistance (long term tincture) back to 10 mL (2 tsp.) twice daily in hot water
  • Use essential oils inhalation daily
  • Add lung infection formula if needed

Specific lung infection formula (emergency tincture as needed)

dosed at 10 mL (2 tsp.) twice daily in hot water during an acute lung infection
then 5 mL (1 tsp) twice daily in hot water until no more coughing
take in juice or cold tea if preferred

assuming tinctures of 1 : 3 potency

20 mL Scutellaria baikalensis (Baikal skullcap root) – anti-microbial
10 mL Andrographis paniculata (chiretta) – anti-viral (flu), anti-inflammatory in lungs
10 mL Inula helenium (elecampane) – respiratory trophorestorative, anti-inflammatory, expectorant
10 mL Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice root) – anti-viral, lung soothing and expectorant, anti-inflammatory
10 mL Thymus vulgaris (thyme) – anti-microbial in lungs, anti-tussive
10 mL Angelica archangelica (angelica) – warming, broncho-relaxing, aromatic expectorant
10 mL Lomatium dissectum (biscuit root) – anti-microbial in lungs
10 mL Ligusticum porterii (osha) – stimulating expectorant and anti-microbial in lungs
5 mL Baptista tinctoria (wild indigo) – anti-viral in lungs
5 mL Eucalyptus globulus (eucalyptus) – anti-microbial in lungs

Slight risk from both these formulas due to licorice that can occasionally raise blood pressure in some sensitive people. If you have not used licorice in medicinal doses before then it is smart to monitor the blood pressure 3 or 4 times over the first couple of weeks after starting, and then weekly for a month.

Essential oils inhalation

make a blend using any of the following oils:
Eucalyptus, Lemon, Pine, Spruce, Fir, Oregano, Myrrh, Cedar, Ravensara, Lavender

use 8 drops of blend in a (non-plastic) basin or bowl
pour on boiling water and cover quickly with a towel
place head underneath towel and inhale carefully

Herbs you probably already have that can be useful

Sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, clove – all can be used in a steam inhalation for sinus or lung infections, or in a pan of water on the stove top to moisten and purify the air

Also harvest spruce, pine, fir or cedar tips and use the same way

Fire Cider

4 Litres apple cider vinegar
fist sized chunk of fresh horseradish, chopped roughly, or a jar of horseradish
2 large onions, chopped
10 cloves of garlic, whole
2 chopped fresh chillies
2 chopped fresh lemons
1 chopped fresh orange
handful of fresh or dried herbs (bay leaves, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram)

put all ingredients in a clean jar and cover with vinegar
stir daily for 2 weeks then strain off and bottle up
store in fridge
take 1 – 2 Tbsp daily in water and use in cooking (salad dressing, marinade, sauce)

Onion poultice for a chest infection

chop up 2 large onions and steam lightly to soften tissues
fold into cotton cloth (cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel)
apply to chest and cover with another towel and a hot water bottle – be careful not to burn!
keep poultice on for 20 minutes and keep warm

Mustard foot bath for feverish headache

stir 2 Tbsp mustard powder into a bucket or basin of hot water
immerse feet and ankles
keep water hot with frequent topping up from kettle
stay there for 15 minutes or until feet are hot and throbbing – but not burning !

and take your garlic!

Further reading

Respiratory Tract Infections and other Ailments

Preventing and Treating Infections

An Herbalist’s Notes on the COVID-19 Virus

COVID-19: What we know, and suggestions for support

Comments are closed.