Art by Bonnie Rose Weaver
Preventative Care Practices
The foundation of wellness consists of rest, hydration, and nutrition. These basics are often overlooked! For protection against viral infections in general, including for COVID-19, we know that it is very important to keep your body warm and to keep the channels of elimination open; sweat, urinate, exhale, and maintain regular bowel movements.
Below are some supportive practices you can start to integrate into your everyday lifestyle. Try not to get overwhelmed. To start, choose 2–3 things from the list that feel like a good fit. Once you’ve got the hang of those, return for inspiration on how to support your overall wellness.
Increase your water intake
This can have a significant impact because an under-hydrated person’s mucous membranes are more vulnerable to this virus.
Maintain balanced nutrition
Eat food that brings you joy! Don’t stress about the perfect foods, but some helpful ideas are to “eat the rainbow” with a diversity of vegetables and fruits to get trace minerals, nutrients, and vitamins, especially Vitamin A, C, and E. Also helpful are essential fatty acids (EFAs), Omega 3, 6, 9 from small oily fish, flax, and borage; and fermented foods or probiotics to support the gut microbiome. A simple, well balanced whole foods diet (avoiding foods that are more processed) helps promote healthy digestion, which supports your overall immunity and nervous system.
Consume warming foods and spices
Think about soups, broths, stews, onions, garlic, all spicy condiments and cooking/baking spices. Drink your tea nice and hot; this is a good time to take your herbs as teas instead of tincture when possible.
Bundle up! Even as the weather warms up here in the northern hemisphere. Be especially mindful of protecting your chest, throat and kidneys from drafts. Take hot showers and baths, sauna or steam if you can do so while avoiding public places. Consider a cool rinse, with epsom or sea salt, to help with clearing—but only if you’re feeling healthy because a cold rinse if you have cold/flu symptoms can aggravate illness. Bonus: the minerals in the salts are absorbed through the skin and good for you. Do castor oil packs.
Soak feet in a small tub or pot of hot water with 2 Tbsp mustard powder, 2 Tbsp epsom salt, and 1 Tbsp sea salt for 20–30 minutes. Make sure to bundle up your body.
Move your lymph
Dry brushing stimulates lymph; always brush toward your heart with light, gentle strokes. Lymph massage with warm oil is another approach. Place two fingers behind ears, pull down and around to back of neck; use palms in sweeping movements on chest, pulling skin up towards collarbone and then releasing; cup under arms, pumping up towards body; place palms on back of neck, sweeping down towards spine. Oil can also be infused with lymph drainage supporting herbs.
Nurture your spiritual body
Reach out and connect virtually with a loved one, do something you love, remember to laugh. Sit with a tree, meditate or pray, or anything else that feeds your spirit.
Resource your sleep
Resting and sleeping increase both our immune and nervous systems’ ability to function and regulate. Different people need different amounts of sleep, but think a minimum of 7–8 hours per night. Meditation and nervine herbs can help to prime our nervous systems for sleep.
Move your body, spend time outdoors
Move your body in any way that is accessible to you and brings you joy. Spend time in the sun; put your bare feet on earth for at least fifteen minutes per day, or as often as possible. Even under shelter-in-place, daily walks are allowed and recommended, just make sure to maintain physical distance and wear a mask when necessary.
Reduce overall toxic load
Look into more natural household cleaning products and personal care products that you can access at this time, and reduce alcohol intake, drug use, and smoking/vaping as you are able. Especially consider reducing smoking/vaping to support overall lung health.
Reduce exposure to allergens
This includes food sensitivities. Anti-inflammatory diets are a good place to start for making dietary changes if you aren’t already familiar with your particular food sensitivities. If you are experiencing seasonal allergies, try working with an overnight infusion (8 hr tea) of Nettles.
Energetically, immune function is connected to boundary work
Immunity is our bodies’ capacity to know what’s us and not us, who’s friendly and who’s a threat. This works on all levels. Practices that help us to occupy a right-sized amount of space are supportive to immunity. Examples include looking at interpersonal boundaries, how we expend our energy, tending to trauma around these areas, and ancestral healing work.
Preventative Care Practices | Herbs to Support Immune Function & Lymph | Herbs to Support the Lungs | Herbs to Support the Liver & Digestion | Herbs to Support the Nervous System | Early Infection Phase | Resources | Clinical Herbalists | Sourcing Herbs
The full “Get Radical, Boil Roots” guide can be viewed as a live google doc (copying and printing not enabled).
For more about Gina Badger’s orientation to energetic herbalism, self and community care in these times, and my top herbs for the pandemic, check out my recent interview on the home|body podcast.