Use Food as Medicine.  

This is an email sent to me from my teacher Rosemary Gladstar.

A special note from Rosemary!

Dearest Friends & Herbal Students,

Warm spring greetings.  What a world we woke up too! And yet, spring comes irrevocably, with a thousand seeds beneath the ground getting ready to thrust upwards.  Tree buds are bursting forth as they’ve done for millennia, flowers are blooming and birds returning in great flocks to the northlands.  In spite of all of the sorrow, chaos, and uncertainly in the world right now, the world moves on ~ and we with it. 
I am not immune to the suffering going on right now, but am very much immersed in it ~ as well as my own personal suffering.  But I also know the best way forward is to keep moving forward. In times like these we are often asked,  “what should we be doing”?  And the answer that always comes to me is to continue doing what we do best ~ which is to do our work, be kind to others, to love one another as best we can, to reach out and help others, to make our herbal medicine and make enough to share if we have extra, to grow our gardens and grow enough to share if necessary, and to do what we can to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and healthy.   As one wise friend said, The most important thing is to keep your inner state calm and stay present in yourself.  Nothing can really inhabit you or take hold of you if you are filling yourself.  Fear opens doors.  Stay present.  Make good choices” ~ Dr. Robin Dipasquale
While none of us really know much about this novel virus or what will actually keep us healthy and disease free, there are things that people have been doing for centuries to keep their immune systems healthy and their spirits high.  I recently sent a note to my family with these suggestions with an offer to  make up care packages for them if they wished.   Of course, no one can do all of these things, but read through them and see what you have on hand, do a little more research on your own ~ I’ve provided some great links where you can go for more information ~ and decide what is best for you and your family. Remember, stay safe, keep healthy and remain calm and positive.

Here we go ~   

1) Daily servings of probiotics in any of your favorite forms: sauerkraut and other fermented foods, yogurt, kefir, miso, etc.  *If you’ve not made your own sauerkraut this is the time! It's so fun and easy, and a great food to be eating right now.
2) Fire Cider. I knew there was a reason fire cider took center stage in the herbal community: it was meant for these times. It is rich with immune and respiratory supporting herbs: garlic, onion, ginger, horseradish, lemon, turmeric, cayenne.  Add a big handful of fresh rosemary, thyme, oregano and sage to your batches and you have a super tonic for the times. *You can purchase all of these herbs fresh in the produce departments of most natural food and grocery stores.
3) Garlic, garlic, garlic.  3-4 cloves a day; raw and chopped fine or mashed. Can one get too much garlic?  Yes, some people don’t tolerate it well, so go easy on it until you find your dose level.  Chop and mash fresh garlic and let it sit for a few minutes before ingesting as this allows the garlic to oxidize and activates the anti-viral compounds.   Always take raw garlic with food or it can upset your stomach.  Its great mashed, mixed with plain yogurt and served on rice.  This is one of my Mother’s favorite foods, an Armenian specialty.  My Mom is 96 years old and still in amazingly good health and when she’s visiting me, we eat it almost daily for breakfast. Yum! * Remember, in the olden days people would wear cloves of garlic around their neck to keep the plagues at bay. Great for ‘social distancing’ as well.
4) Don’t forget, some of our most medicinal herbs are in the kitchen closet: Clove, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Oregano. (See Suggested Herbal Supports for Influenza/Influenza Like Illness in the Event of a Pandemic by Lora Kroll RN and this blog post by Helen Ward, Education Director of the Science & Art of Herbalism.)
5) Eat Seaweed daily. Aside from the fact that it's unbelievably nourishing (seaweed contains more minerals and trace minerals than any land vegetable!), seaweed is very immuno-protective and a great aide in building and protecting our immune system.  For excellent information on seaweed and COVID-19 write to Great sources for seaweed: Ryan Drum at and Larch Hanson 
6) High doses of Vitamin C.  1-2,000 mg twice a day as preventative.  Use buffered C for ease on the stomach, or liposomal C, which is more easily absorbed
7) Vitamin A - 25,000 IU.  We aren’t hearing much about supplementing with Vitamin A these days, but it was always a favorite supplement I used when people had attacks of asthma, allergies and severe respiratory issues as it helps strengthen and rebuild the cilia or tiny hairs lining the lungs.   According to everything I’ve read, COVID-19  attacks the cilia, so this might be a good measure to add as a preventative. 
8) Daily doses of medicinal mushrooms: there are many choices available to choose from but a few of my favorites are: Nancy Scarzello, Marie Frohlich , Healing Spirits and Real Mushrooms
9) Elderberry, in syrup, capsules or tincture. Especially useful for young children and the elderly (and anyone in between) because they’ll love the flavor.  Hard to get now as people are selling out; but my very favorite is made by our own Helen Ward at Three Springs Farm of Vermont.  *Please note, there has been some discussion about whether or not to use Elderberry during the flu, see more info here.
10) Astragalus (Astragalus propinquus) this has been shown to be effective against the H1N1 influenza and is used by herbalists worldwide to support to overall immune health. Great to add powdered astragalus to smoothie and blender drinks, nut butter balls and adaptogen candy, and the herb to soups and stews. .
11) Echinacea (Echinacea purpura or E. angustifolia): take this old friend each time you leave the house and each time you return.  It is one of our most renowned immune enhancer and has been known to be effective against various times of influenza. If you can get whole plant Echinacea (made from root, flower, stem, and seeds), even better.
12) Japanese Knotweed:  We’re not hearing much about Japanese Knotweed yet, but it’s a very powerful antiviral and could be incredibly useful in this situation.  Tincture available from Marge Keough at
13) Essential oils are potent and contain many antiviral properties.  I’ve been keeping a small bottle of clove oil in my pocket; I dilute it with a little veggie oil and put a drop or two on the tip of my tongue if I’m going out in the world and when I return home.  Also, consider Essential Oils of Eucalyptus (has been shown to be effective against influenza viruses (Price and Price, 2007), Lemon, Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, and Peppermint all of which have antiviral properties.  How to use:  mix into hand sanitizers (see our recipe below); use 2-3 drops on face masks and refresh hourly; can also use in an oil diffuser, room humidifier or the old fashioned way, a few drops in a pan of water place on the stove on a very low heat.