I wanted to share a story a friend shared with me about her direct experience with COVID-19. It hit her suddenly, and hard. Soon, after, almost everyone in her family contracted it too, while one person remains asymptomatic, miraculously! Being an herbalist herself, she turned to herbs for help (hospital or other allopathic means were out of the question since she’s in New York, where only the most emergency cases have been asked to seek medical attention). Although she wasn’t fully stocked on the herbs she’d have liked to use, she used a lot of kitchen herbs and whatever was at hand. She brewed a tea with licorice, marshmallow, and chamomile, which instantly soothed her dry hacking cough. She also immediately expectorated phlegm. Another brew she got going was thyme, basil, oregano and sage.
Other herbs that can be helpful for dry cough are: elecampane, mullein, coltsfoot (in small doses) schisandra berry, and prince seng. For a cough that’s keeping you up at night, I recommend a bit of cherry bark for temporary cough suppression so that you can sleep easier.
For helping to alleviate fever, herbs such as yarrow, catnip, peppermint, elderflower and boneset are my go-to’s. They help “open the periphery” and assist sweating through the pores, which ultimately helps lower body temperature and return to homeostasis.
Some other symptoms that may pop up are diarrhea or a loss of smell or taste. While the senses should return to normal within a week, the diarrhea can be addressed to alleviate discomfort. We don’t want to completely stop voiding, as that can trap microbes inside the gut. Instead, we can “tighten” the loose stools by using antiparasitic and astringent herbs with tannins. I’d consider wormwood, black walnut hulls, goldenseal (or other berberine herbs), or just plain black or green tea (brewed strong!).
As an herbalist, you use what you have! And a lot of our herbs can be found right in the kitchen! Reach for garlic (best if raw), ginger, turmeric and any type of mint that you may have, fresh or dry. Add these to foods, drinks, broths, or make a foot bath! (Foot baths are easier to manage than full baths, and you won’t risk stinging sensitive areas with spicy, hot herbs; they will also avoid the stomach so it’s a good option for those with gastritis.)