Podcast 122: Where Do We Go From Here, Corona?
The battle’s done, and we kind-of won… Well, actually, the battle’s not entirely done either. But things are certainly shifting into a different mode. So, here are our top five everyday things you can do to stay healthy as this pandemic shifts into a new phase.
- Eat good food.
- Get more sleep.
- Move your body.
- Get herbs into your everyday life.
- Do an herbal steam occasionally (or frequently).
Sounds pretty boring, right? But everyday stuff should be boring – because it’s for every day. And that foundation of good habits is what everything else depends on.
We don’t know exactly what form the next crisis that affects each of us will take. It could be the same old ‘rona, it could be a new pandemic, it could be a natural disaster or something entirely personal. To prepare for the broadest array of possibilities, we need to support the broadest forms of resilience.
Trouble sleeping? Anxiety keeping you up at night? We’ve got a plan for that. Our newest short course, Holistic Help for Better Sleep, will teach you key strategies for lengthening and deepening your rest each night. You’ll also meet our favorite herbs to help with sleep disturbances and insomnia, and how to choose the right herbs for your own personal sleep needs.
Hi! I’m Katja.
And I’m Ryn.
And we’re here at the Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism in Boston, Massachusetts.
And on the internet everywhere. Thanks to the power of the podcast. All right. Should we do the reclaimer right away?
Let’s do it.
Alright, so we would like to tell you that we are not doctors. We are herbalists and holistic health educator.
The ideas discussed in our podcast do not constitute medical advice. No state or federal authority licenses or realists in the United States. And these discussions are for educational purposes only. Everyone’s body is different. So the things that we’re talking about may or may not apply directly to you, but they will give you some good information to think about and some ideas to research further.
We want to remind you that your own good health is your own personal responsibility. I feel like a stewardess on an airplane.
That’s what we’re doing.
Yeah. And the exits are here and here and your good health is your own personal responsibility. Please put on your oxygen mask before helping others. And the final decision when considering any course of therapy, whether it’s discussed on the internet or prescribed by a physician, is in fact always yours.
That’s right. Snacks will be coming by shortly. Hopefully there will be goji berries in them.
And we’ll all feel really good. So what are we talking about right now?
Okay. Remember the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
And then they had that time, they had the musical episode.
And there was a song in it at the end. And the song was where do we go from here? And they all got together and they were like, where do we go from here? And they all sang it and it was, yeah?
Yeah. And they were talking about how they’ve lived through this thing and it was hard and now they aren’t really exactly sure what life is going to be like.
Sure, sure. The battle’s done and we kind of won.
Right? The battle’s done and we kind of won. The battle’s not really done. Also, we didn’t really win yet.
This is like a corona metaphor?
But, that’s what I’m trying to say.
That’s what’s going on here everybody. It’s another corona metaphor.
You didn’t see that coming, did you?
This is hopefully, our last coronavirus episode.
I really doubt it.
No, I really think it is because where do we go from here? Right? We’re not done with this. People are starting to go back to work. Everything is kind of disorganized. We don’t really know when it’s going to be fixed. We don’t even know what it’s going to look like to have it be fixed.
Yeah. Everyone’s favorite questions are, when is it going to be back to normal and what is it going to look when it’s back to normal. And wait, what is back to normal going to look like anyway and all of that kind of thing.
Yeah. Lot’s of that going around.
And the bottom line is that we don’t actually know
And we’re going to continue to not know until we think we know. And then we realize we didn’t. And we’re going to do several rounds of that.
And even when we think we finally know about coronavirus, then that’s when the writers of the series are going to introduce the next virus that we don’t know. Like the climate change just keeps getting change-ier. And this thing … We don’t necessarily right now in the cultural consciousness, think about coronavirus as one in a series of strengthening items, like one thing in a pattern. Coronavirus is not the first thing, or Covid19 is not the first thing in this pattern.
Just within the corona virus family you had SARS and you had MERS and now you have Covid19. And they’re all slightly different and they kind of, not exactly, but sort of became more problematic as we went along.
Right? And so I think that we had this in our culture, this sort of golden time of very low rates of infectious disease in the mainstream population. And I think it was long enough for people to kind of forget how to take care of infectious disease on a day to day basis and how to live in a society where infectious disease is just part of our lives. Because we kind of just got to a place where, Oh, if you’re sick, go to the doctor and get an antibiotic. And that was not really ever real in human existence. And I think in the future it’s not going to be real in human existence. So there was just this one little period where that was real and that period was long enough for us to kind of acclimate to it, and think that that was normal. But it’s actually not. And so where we go from here isn’t necessarily, let’s all just hold our breath until coronavirus goes away and then we can go back to normal.
Not a useful therapeutic strategy.
Right. And it’s also not necessarily, Oh, well we finally found the one herb that’s going to cure coronavirus, because that’s not going to happen. A) because we’re not doctors and we don’t cure things, but also B) because that’s not what herbs do. The real strength and power behind herbs is their ability to strengthen us and to recognize that the human body actually has mechanisms to fight things. Yes, some things are too strong to fight. But this has been the sort of arms race forever between humans and infectious disease. And so one of the ways that we move forward, or at least the way in which we can each individually control how we move forward, is our own personal participation in that arms race. And now I’m very militaristic and I don’t really want to be. But our own methods of making sure that our bodies are as strong as they can be, as resilient as they can be. And then recognizing that life is uncertain and we’ve done the best we can and we have strengthened ourselves and we are as best as we can be ready for what’s going to come.
Yeah, that sounds all right.
So that’s what I want to talk about today.
And it sounds like we should talk about this, the way that we like to organize a lot of our thoughts, thinking about the major pillars, the foundations of good health.
Be a Boring Herbalist
Yeah. I will let you listeners in on a little secret, which was as Ryn was getting ready today, he was like, boy, this is going to be a boring podcast episode. And so that must mean it’s really good because we’re being boring herbalists. And I think that’s true. One of our mentors, Paul Bergner always likes to say be a boring herbalist. And that I think is some of the best advice ever because it’s so applicable to so many situations. And so one way you could apply that is just work with the herbs who are near you. You don’t need the latest, greatest exotic herbs that is exploiting the native population of where it comes from. And or that like our Western consumption of it is exploiting some other population that used to depend on it. And you don’t need stuff from like millions of miles away. The boring herbs who are near you are actually amazing and powerful and potent. And so work with them and don’t get sort of like wrapped up in the hype of like the latest, greatest whatever. And I think that’s really amazing stuff to think about and to meditate on and to recognize just the power of plants overall. And it isn’t like, Oh I found the one plant from 6,000 miles away that is going to solve all my problems. It’s like, no, like go in your backyard and get the dandelion leaves. So, that on one hand and then on the other hand, like in terms of how we practice, it gets old after a while, like saying the same darn things. And we’re going to say a lot of the same things here. So if you’ve been, if you’ve been keeping up and taking notes and all that stuff, you’re gonna be like, wait, I think they said this in a previous coronavirus episode and we probably did. And it can be, it’s like how everyone is saying wash your hands right now.
You gotta to wash your hands.
Like, okay, okay, we’re sick of hearing, wash your hands. Like we get it, we get it. Wash your hands.
Oh, you need a new song to sing in your head while you wash your hands. Okay. We can give you that.
But on the other hand, like it’s boring. How can wash your hands really have any particular effect. And yet, wash your hands. Like it does in fact have effect. And if you go throughout history and all of the advancements that we see in human health, such an enormous foundation of them just came from like, Oh, we figured out how to have hygiene. Like we figured out how to wash things.
Yeah. So that’s the other side of be a boring herbalist is that it’s not like sexy to be like wash your hands. It’s not sexy to talk about like do another thyme steam. It’s boring. It’s like, well yeah, but where’s the high power herbs from the exotic tropical location that’s going to just cure everything. We’re not looking for that. We’re just going to keep doing the stuff that works, even if it’s not like exotic and exciting. It is what works.
Yeah. And you know, you had mentioned this was going to be like some everyday things that you can do to keep yourself healthy and every day shouldn’t be super potent. Everyday shouldn’t be super specific. Every day things should be sustaining you and supporting you and building resilience in a lot of different ways simultaneously. And that’s because you never really know what you’re going to be confronted with next. Could be the virus, could be your natural disaster. Could be and emotional or financial disaster and those all require…
Apparently it could be murder hornets.
Murder hornets. Yep. Gotta watch out for the murder hornets. You know, so there’s just all kinds of dangerous out there and you know, they each require a different set of nutrients and responses and everything from your body. So yeah, you don’t really want to be saying, okay, the threat is this virus and I need a strong immune response, so I’m going to stimulate my immune response every day. I’m going to keep it just as intense and fiery as it gets, all the time in case I encounter that. That’s not really the best way to go at this long term.
Yeah. After a while you’re just going to burn out your immune system. You can’t stay stimulated forever no matter what. Like think about how much coffee can you really drink before you crash and just have to sleep. Well, that idea around like eternal stimulation, that’s true of any system of the body, not just your caffeine systems. You know, like, so you can’t do that with your immune system either. So this whole concept of well, I’ll just take echinacea every day forever. That’s not the point of echinacea. Like, that’s, that’s not how we work with that plant. And it isn’t necessarily because taking echinacea for longer than two weeks can be dangerous. Like you’ll see that in some places on the internet. That’s not necessarily accurate either. It’s just that, you know, drinking nothing but coffee all day. Who was it? What famous person drank 70 cups of coffee a day?
Voltaire. That’s the story.
That’s a lot of cups of anything.
All those philosophers and like wasn’t that about the same time as van Gogh.
I don’t remember.
And they were like all coffee fueled and there was this whole thing of philosophy that was just totally like written on caffeine fumes.
Yeah. Well that would have been around that time after coffee had been kind of popularized in Europe. That would have been in the late 1800s. But I don’t know anything about art history, timelines, so I can’t tell you about painters.
All right. Well anyway, the point is that you don’t do your best work when you’re running on fumes. Right. Just think about your own body. When you have been caffeinated for days, you’re not doing your best work. You don’t feel good. And so why would we actually do that to the immune system? That’s not what we want. That’s not the result…
Not everyday. Not for a long time, not for weeks and weeks at a stretch, not for months, not for seasons. And that’s how long this lockdown situation, this rolling quarantine, this on again, off again kind of thing. That’s how long this is going to be with us. You know, no matter where you are, there’s going to be some variant of that that you’re going to encounter over the next year. So we need to be thinking on that kind of timescale.
And so the opposite of running on fumes, if you’re like, Oh, well I have to get through the next six months while I do some big write my dissertation, I don’t know, some big thing that needs a lot of energy. And so what would you normally do? Well, you could do that all caffeinated or you could be like, so I’m going to put a schedule in place so that I’m sure that I get enough sleep. So that I make sure that I eat. So that I do all the things that my body is strong enough to get through this challenge. And that’s exactly how we’re going to approach keeping our immune system strong and resilient, so that however we move forward from here, we know that our own bodies are at least in the best position that they can be. It’s not a guarantee, nothing is guaranteed in life., But that we have done everything that we can do to make ourselves strong, resilient, and ready for whatever’s going to happen.
Eat Good Food
Yeah. Right on. So a great place to start with that is with the food. And when we think about improving the quality of our food, there are a lot of different things that we might do. And sometimes, especially if you’re coming from a place where there are a lot of things that you could do to improve your diet, that might feel kind of overwhelming. But one thing that we like to remind everybody of as often as possible, is that when you see that there are a lot of things that probably should change, that means that you have that many options for things that you can change first. And that means that you can make your decision according to your nature. Whether that’s, give me the hardest thing right away so that it’s done with, or whether that’s give me like three easy things to start with right now. I’ll do that for a week and then I’ll see what’s the next thing to roll in? So however you like to come at it, that’s got to start with taking a look at your diet and saying what could be better here? And you’ve probably got a bunch of your own ideas about that, right? Like we could talk about some that we think are particularly important and apply across the broadest spectrum of humans that we tend to encounter. But you may already know things about your diet that you would like to do differently or that you know you feel better when you stick to. And this is a good time to go back to them.
A lot of people find it challenging to remove bad things from their diet. And you know, bad in quotey marks or whatever. So they might be like, yeah, but this is a stressful time and when I’m stressed, I just really need to eat cookies every day. And I get it. Like, you guys know. I like comfort food too. And so fine. If that’s too hard to get out of your diet, then instead put things in your diet. Say fine, if I have to have cookies, I will have the cookies. But I also will have broccoli. Like before I eat the cookies, I will eat a vegetable. Then I will have cookies.
This is your famous broccoli cookie recipe.
I don’t think you can make broccoli cookies. No, I don’t think you can. You eat the broccoli, then you eat the cookies. And maybe find a little enjoyment for the broccoli as well as the cookies. But so it doesn’t necessarily have to be this whole big thing where you like purge any junk food at all from your diet. Because again, we want this to be sustainable. We want this to be something that you can do everyday forever, because we’re talking about how we move forward into a world where we now acknowledge that we have to live with the reality of infectious disease. That doesn’t just go away magically when you go and get an antibiotic. And so to say, well, you’re just never gonna eat sugar again. That’s just, it’s not reasonable. But I mean if you’re a person for whom that can be reasonable, then awesome. But I think most of us are not that people. I certainly am not that person. And so we’re looking at fine if I eat the cookie, not a problem. But I also need to make sure that I have good quality protein. I also need to make sure I have good quality fat and that I have tons of vegetables. And then if I have another cookie also not a problem, you know. Or how can I make this cookie the least harmful cookie I can. And I do have recipes for that on the website. And you know, okay, well we make it gluten free and dairy free. Okay, well if you’re not allergic to nuts, maybe we work with almond meal instead of refined carbohydrate flour. And maybe we work with honey instead of sugar. And maybe like a lot of different things so that we can come up with something really delicious, but that is not as harmful as chips ahoy, you know, whatever. The point here is that you don’t have to be perfect with your diet, but it should be an ongoing project for you that any given day you are looking at what’s the best choice I can make today? All right, sure, I love French toast when it’s gluten free and dairy free and delicious, but I don’t need it today. I can wait until tomorrow for French toast and today I can have something different. I can have eggs for breakfast instead.
Eggs with no bread.
Un-bready eggs, as opposed to eggy bread, which I still think is the best thing to call French toast even though I like French things. But …
Eggy bread. Yeah.
With honey on top.
Yeah. So, and you know like again, there may be these cycles where the Rona comes around to your state or your community again in another wave. And during those times you might be more strict. You might say, all right, I’m going to do a whole 30 right now because the numbers of new cases are creeping up in my city again. Okay. All right. You know, let’s just be a little bit more vigilant about what I’m consuming and how that’s impacting my immune state and everything else. Sure, you can totally do that. But again, for the long term, you know, you’re going to have to find some kind of working relationship with your sugar cravings. You know, be able to get into a place where y’all can get what you need together.
Right? Like you and your sugar cravings can coexist.
Yeah. Totally. Just, you know, set up a negotiating table somewhere in your heart is probably a good place for it. And you can like have the immune system sit down or like send a representative. And you can have the sugar craving committee come and send a representative. They can all hang out there, you know, drink kava together until we find a peaceful solution.
You guys, this is why I married him. Isn’t he great.
All right. So again, you know, we’re looking for what ways can we, can we improve this in ways that you already know or that you’ve found to be successful for you before or that have really solid physiological backing behind them. Right? Like maybe you haven’t had the direct experience of reducing sugar and seeing an improvement in your white blood cell count. Most of us haven’t, but you know what’s happening.
Get More Sleep
I mean, it’s happening. We just don’t have the lab paper to show it. Yeah. Alright. So the next thing, and really like for each one of these, I want to say it’s the most important thing. So the next thing is get more sleep. Seriously. Get more sleep. When you are sleeping, that’s when your immune system can do its best work. That’s when it’s like, you know, everybody’s gone home and the immune system can just go through the halls and look around and be like, Hey, wait a minute. You don’t belong here. Hey, you don’t belong here. And like any energy that you were using to run around the house and like do the laundry and whatever is not being used for that anymore. So all of your resources can be directed towards immune surveillance and the other things that get done when you’re asleep.
I get it. I get it. Okay. So the immune system is some cats and they’re nocturnal, because there’s a yappy dog who’s awake all day and is noisy. So they don’t come out during the daytime. But then at night they come out and that’s when they look all around everywhere and chase away the crickets and the mice.
Right. The mice who are also nocturnal actually.
Right. Yeah. That makes sense.
Yeah. So the cats have to be vigilant too,
But they’re only going to do it at night while everybody else is sleeping. Especially that yappy dog, who was probably your anxiety, maybe?
That seems good.
Your foreboding dread.
Or also all the intake of stressful media.
Can we picture our foreboding dread as a yappy dog? Would that help? That might help. I’m going to try that. Try that and let me know how it goes for you.
All right. Anyway.
What were we talking about? Sleeping.
Sleeping. Yes. So right. Metaphors aside, when you are sleeping, super important things are happening in your body that cannot happen while you’re awake. Because just like in a school or an office building or a wherever, the janitorial staff might be around and doing some background things, but they’re not emptying your trashcan because that would disturb your work. So it is the exact same in your body. Certain jobs are only being done at night when you’re sleeping. And if you are getting the national average of six hours of sleep at night, that is not enough. The human body requires, a healthy human body, requires a minimum of eight and a half hours of sleep a night. But really like nine hours is what your target should be. And if you are not healthy or if you are in a chronic inflammatory state, or if suddenly a bunch of people are getting sick around you, you might need 10 hours of sleep. You might need that. That doesn’t mean that you’re depressed. It doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you. You might just need more sleep because your immune system has more work to do. And this is a hard one because our culture doesn’t value sleep. And you have to make the space in your personal culture, in your life, in your household, for you to be able to sleep. And it’s not fun because there’s so much Netflix to watch, there are so many hobbies to engage in. There’s so much work to get done. And then the end of the day has come and you’re like, but I didn’t get to do anything for me yet. And so you want to have me time. And all of those things are real, but you have to sleep. You have to sleep,
You do. And it’s not just for immune boosting effects. Right. So that’s obviously a big part of this. And we talk a lot about that when we talk about sleep and how your immune system is more active doing that surveillance work while you’re sleeping. But there are other really important things that are only happening while you’re sleeping and some of them have to do with your ability to respond to the people around you in a compassionate and reasonable way.
So like emotional regulation is something that’s really critical and can really be thrown off when we are under slept. Or maybe equally said is something that we develop and we maintain and we repair and regenerate our capacity to do while we’re sleeping. So that’s pretty valuable. That aside from things where if you’re trying to learn anything or grow or change or develop as an individual, that also mostly happens while you’re sleeping too. So you can learn things during the daytime, but if you don’t get some sleep that night and next couple of nights, it’s not going to make its way from an experience into a memory, into a skill, into something that you carry with you everywhere. So, you know, you probably want to do that stuff, right. So go to bed.
Just go to bed.
Turn this off. Go sleep. Yeah, I mean you can listen to the end or you can listen to us while you’re trying to sleep and we can speak very calmly and we can like help you rest. Actually, she actually can do that. She’s been making these little meditation videos with tea and you could probably listen to them while you sleep.
Some people say that they do. That they listen to them at night to go to sleep.
You’re very soothing.
You can find them on the YouTube channel. So Hey, a lot of people have trouble sleeping. It’s hard for people to sleep. And we have an answer to that.
One simple trick that’s making all of the sleep scientists mad. Is that how the advertisements go?
Yes. One weird trick. It’s one weird trick. That’s what it is. This is the one weird trick that will surprise you about sleep. And it is our sleep course Holistic Help for Better Sleep.
Oh no, it is an Ad. Oops. Sorry everybody.
Which I wanted to call Herbzzzzz like, cause Zzzzz. Okay, whatever. But sleep is hard for people sometimes and there’s no one simple answer for it. So there’s a mini course that we made.
And it’s full of weird tricks.
It is full of weird tricks.
It’s more than one weird trick. It’s so many.
Yeah. And the reason that there are so many is because not everybody can’t sleep in the same way. And so…
It is a grammatically accurate sentence.
It was accurate.
Not everyone can’t sleep in the same way. Yeah. I’m with you on that.
Right. And so we need to think a little bit about how is it that you can’t sleep. And then what do we match up with that to make it easier for you to sleep? And we do that in terms of holistic strategies and like the dreaded sleep hygiene. But our sleep hygiene suggestions are way larger than just like brush your teeth and go to bed at the same time each night or whatever they tell you. That’s so frustrating.
Yeah. That’s not enough steps
No, there’s so much more that really helps. And all of the sleep hygiene stuff is based around hormonal action, because hormones play such a huge role in the ability to sleep. And then there’s a lot of stuff around herb selection, because there isn’t one herb that will help you. I mean, I guess maybe hops, but…
Yeah, no, but you got to try. But usually people need to try a number of different herbs to help sleep, to help with the transition from wakefulness to sleep. And yeah, we get into a bunch of specifics about some of our favorite herbs for really all stages of the day to make you better able to sleep at night.
Yeah. Because sleeping doesn’t start at whatever o’clock that you turned out the lights and got into bed. Preparing to sleep starts actually in the morning before you get out of the bed. So all of that stuff is covered and a lot of information about how to make decisions about which herbs to try based on the ways in which you specifically can’t sleep, as opposed to some other person who can’t sleep. So it’s just, it is really a huge topic. So we made a mini course for that.
Yeah. check it out. Holistic Help for Better Sleep.
It’s at online.commonwealthherbs.com.
That’s where that is.
That’s where that is.
Move Your Body
Alright, cool. So after you’ve slept a bunch, ideally you wake up and you feel pretty energetic and you say, I’m feeling great. I should probably play outside for awhile. I could go climb a tree or I could go run up and down in the grass.
And ideally we’d have culture in which this was permitted. Even if you are a grownup.
Right, right, right. Yeah. Because if you don’t have the right shoes that are shoes designed for this kind of activity, then you might be kind of weird.
And the right clothes and the right, you’re only allowed to do these movement activities, but not those movement. You know, there are places where they won’t let grownups on playgrounds. It’s nonsense.
Yeah. I do know that. Because they told me that I wasn’t allowed to climb on a thing anymore.
I mean it’s happened once or twice, so. Okay. All right. What are we even talking about? This was point number three of our five cool things that you can do to be healthy forever in the new normal. Yeah. so we’re talking about moving your body and why this is important for overall health because of lots of reasons. Wow. let’s see.
But there’s one in particular that’s specific to immune health.
One weird reason why taking a walk is great for your white blood cells.
Yes. So here’s why. We humans, we have a pump that pumps our blood through our body, right? It’s our heart. PS. It’s not just your heart, but that’s what you learn in school. So the lymphatic system, which is responsible for clearing out all kinds of trash but also plays an enormously important role in immune response, does not have a pump. So it can’t circulate through your body unless you are moving your muscles. Because every time you contract and relax your muscles, you are creating the pump action that squeezes the lymph along. Lymphatic vessels have chambers and each chamber is closed by valves. So you move your muscles and that squeezes the lymph up into the next chamber and the valve closes. You move your muscles again, it squeezes the lymph to the next chamber and the valves close. So if you’re just sitting there, your lymph is just sitting there. You are a stagnant pond and the mosquitoes are multiplying inside. The metaphorical mosquitoes are taking over your body.
I’m just going to go for quick run while you describe this, because it sounds pretty bad. And here we are sitting down to record our podcast.
Yeah, here we are sitting down. I don’t know, I’m wiggling my fingers.
There you go. Yeah, I can wiggle from side to side a little.
So that’s like it isn’t like it’s good for you to take a walk. Yes it is. But it is specifically important to make sure that you move your body in order for your lymphatic system to work right. And our culture doesn’t support that.Which means in order to make this happen in your life, you have to subvert the mainstream norms, and you have to take some time to plan into your day how you’re going to move. I do not recommend a gym membership. If you enjoy that, go right ahead. But what I really recommend is finding a way that you can take a walk once an hour, that you can at least get up and stretch and maybe jump up and down a couple of times once an hour. How can you a minimum of once an hour integrate some movement into your day? And even if you work in cube-ville and you sit at a desk, there are actually a lot of ways that you can integrate movement. And one of my favorite, if you’re in office-ville, is with reams of copy paper. It’s something that all offices have. And so just go and get yourself like five or eight or whatever reams of copy paper. Put them on the floor next to your desk and every 30 minutes or every hour, set a little alarm on your phone. Get up and bend over and pick up one ream of paper and put it on your desk. And then squat down and pick up one ream of paper and put it on your desk. And then move in a different way to pick up one ream of paper and put it on your desk. So now you’re going to do that five or 10 times. And you can say to yourself, okay, every time my phone rings, the person on the other end of the phone doesn’t know that you’re picking up paper off the floor or picking it up off your desk and putting it on the floor. Whichever state it happens to be in. Every time you get up to go pee, come back and move the paper around again. Every time you go somewhere in the office, take a ream of paper with you and maybe wave it around your head and do exercises with your arms all around so that you have a weight in your hands and you’re like moving it all around. And yeah, people in your office are going to laugh at you, but you can laugh right back. They’ll be like, why are you walking around with a ream of paper? What this is George. George goes with me everywhere. What are they going to say to that? They’re just going to laugh. It’s fine. So whatever your life is. I mean, if you’re home and you’re taking care of kids, this is a little easier because you can run around with them. But if you work in an office environment, it becomes a little bit more of a challenge. But that’s not a reason not to do it. It’s just a reason to give yourself a chance to rebel.
Right, right. Yeah. The other big important thing we find is that think about movement not only when it’s specific time blocked off to do movement. So taking a walk is fantastic and we’re really a big fan of that. And it is a good idea to plan out a few times in your day, maybe even after meals where you say, alright, I’m going to go and take 10 minutes just to walk around a bit. That can really make a huge difference. But you also want to think about what happens when you’re, you know, working on your computer or whatever it is that you do during the day, right? If you’re there, are you sitting in the same position all the time? Are you in your chair and you go to work and that means you go to the office or you go to your home office and you sit down in your same chair the same way.
The same leg crossed over.
And then you just stay there for eight hours at a stretch. Right? Or do you have a desk that you can adjust and you can stand or you can sit or you can sit on a yoga ball or you can stand on one leg, I don’t know. But you can go through a bunch of different positions and alternate them again every 30 minutes or so, or every hour or something like that. You at least have a little bit of a change in how you’re sitting. Maybe sometimes you sit on the floor and there’s lots of different ways to sit on the floor. And that way you’re stretching some muscles in certain positions and compressing others in that same position and then switch it up later on. It’s kind of like slow motion yoga, you know? But you know, think about your environment. Think about how your environment either encourages movement or discourages it. And if you are at home, then you can leave your toys lying around. You can have a medicine ball that you carry with you from room to room. You can have a balance beam that goes down the hallway.
And it doesn’t have to be a fancy gymnastics store balance beam. A two by four is totally sufficient. Just put a two by four in your hallway and walk on it.
Yeah, exactly. So I mean anything like this that’s going to encourage you to move differently, to, you know, break out of your habitual patterns. That kind of stuff is really gonna make a big difference over time.
Get Herbs Every Day
Yes. Alright. So the first three everyday things you can do to stay healthy were eat good food, get more sleep, move your body. The second two, numbers four and five here, are herby things that you can do every day to stay healthy. And remember, these are everyday things. These are going to be nonspecific things. We’re not trying to stay in that hyper aware, hyper alert immune all-systems-go place all of the time because that’s too much stress on the body. Instead, we are trying to make sure that every part of our body has the resources required so that when it is called on to work, it’s ready. That’s our strategy here. So the first one of these two, or in other words, number four of our five things you can do every day — my God, math is hard — is get herbs into your everyday life. You know, you can study everything you want to study about herbs. You can watch every video, you can take all the notes, you can read all the books. If you’re not drinking tea all day, you’re not doing it. You didn’t do it yet. You’ve got to drink tea all day. And we’re going to talk about some specific herbs that we think would be really great to incorporate into a daily rotation. But before we do that, I honestly want to say, just drink a quart of tea every day. Because actually all of the herbs have anti-inflammatory. Okay. That was very awkward there. All of the herbs that you can make into tea have antiinflammatory properties. They have general body supporting properties. Lots of general nourishment, general nutrition properties. And that’s what we’re looking for here. We’re looking for broad generalized support as opposed to emergency, very specific, get out the echinacea, whatever kind of strategies.
Yeah. All right. Well we could start with one of our oldest friends and that’s nettle. Nettle is a really nutritive herbs. It’s got just a lot to recommend it. For general health maintenance, it supports some of the critical systems in your body, particularly the kidneys and the urinary system. But it’s also got a lot of mineral nutrition to it, so I don’t know.
And tons of anti-inflammatory capability as well.
Yeah, there’s a lot of chlorophyll in nettles.
And quercetin and, yeah. Good, good, good stuff.
Yeah. And to that extent it can help with some of the immune overstimulation that can happen with things that we call allergies or auto-immunity, but also overreaction to pathogens.
Yeah. another thing that nettle can really help with is that lymphatic movement. It’s got some lymphatic stimulation activity. And if we were to put some calendula into this long infusion of nettle. So we’ve talked about nettle and friends on an earlier podcast episode. Different ways you can combine herbs together with nettle to get particular effects. And if in this case we worked with calendula, then we really get that lymphatic health aspect so that we’re really stimulating healthy lymphatic flow throughout the body. Nettle can help with that also, but when we add in the calendula, we get that effect even more strongly. Plus all of the nutrient aspects of the nettle. That would be a really excellent blend. And you could put whatever you want in there. The flavor won’t be fantastic. It will be very green and kind of bland. But put whatever you like in there for flavor, ginger, cinnamon peppermint. I was like, there’s another one, I can’t think of what it is.
That thing that people like to taste sometimes. Yes. yeah, peppermint. You know, if you run on the dry side, you’re absolutely going to want to change this formula. You may swap out the nettle entirely and put violets in there instead. Or you may do equal parts of nettles and violets and calendula and linden. And now you’ve got relative parody between drying and moistening herbs, more or less.
So, but the key that we’re looking at here is nutritive action and some lymphatic stimulation. And there are many herbs who can do that job. So if you’re out of nettle and calendula, dandelion and red clover. If you’re out of that, lady’s mantle and yarrow. If you’re out of that, right? Like there’s, we can go through so many. But what we’re looking for is those actions. A high nutritive plant and a lymphatic stimulating plant, put them together and drink them.
Yeah. And while you’re at it, you may choose to also stimulate some liver activity. You know, nettles is going to take care of the kidneys for us and some of the other herbs would also activate kidneys. So you know, if we’re looking at classic alterative approaches here, then nourishment, lymphatic movement, kidney and liver support. You know, having multiples of these happening simultaneously is a pretty, long standing strategy in Western herbalism. And those could be in the same tea blend. But they could also be that you have those herbs over here as your daily infusion. And then also you’ve got some tinctures that you’re taking consistently. And so reishi is an herb that you may choose in this context to work with as a double extracted tincture. It can work pretty well. I know you don’t like it.
No. I really love reishi and water, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t excellent. And a double extracted tincture, there is a strong decoction component of that. So that would be fine. And it’s also so much more convenient for a lot of people. But if you really wanted to get that liver stimulation and you had the time to make it as a decoction, you could put together some reishi and maybe some dandelion root or some burdock root. And something, maybe a little warming, in there if you’re like me and you run on the cold side. So that might be some calamus in there which has that bitter action, but also will warm it up a little. Get some movement going in there. Flavor wise, that would actually appeal to me quite a bit. But if it does not appeal to you because you’re still new on the bitter train, then just put decaf coffee in with it. And the realm of bitter that those plants have, the reishi, the burdock or dandelion, and even the calamus. It blends in with the coffee flavor very well. So that now, even though it’s still bitter, it’s a much more familiar, bitter flavor. And it’s a lot easier to sort of start working with, because there is that familiarity with it. And go ahead and put your almond milk in it or whatever. Put a little, you know,
Yeah, you can see we’re willing to go to some great lengths to get reishi in on a consistent basis because reishi covers so many important bases here. You know, we’ve been talking about it as a bitter and that’s going to help stimulate digestive activity. And liver activity aside from just producing bile, but including in a detox functions. Reishi is going to support cardiovascular health and reduce oxidative stress that’s happening in the vasculature. So that’s pretty fantastic. But reishi is also an immune centric adaptogen as well. And so when we’re thinking about plants for the long haul, then adaptogens do have a place there. But especially the ones that are more restorative or you know, less stimulating in their activity. So I’d put reishi into that group for sure. Yeah. Along with things like astragalus and codonopsis. Plants that you might work with over long periods of time to maintain resilience and to maintain that kind of immune and hormonal flexibility of response to changes in the environment.
In fact, you could put both of those right into that same blend.
Yeah. That’d work out pretty good.
You could. And then just swap it out for your morning coffee. Yeah. You’ve now eliminated caffeine and introduced something that has general full body support all in one fell swoop. If eliminating caffeine as a goal for you and it is challenging, then this is actually a great way to do it. Make a blend like that and put in caffeinated coffee. And then over time slowly replace some of the caffeinated coffee with decaf until you’re making it only with decaf coffee and no caffeinated coffee. That way you still are having the flavor and the ritual and all that stuff. And you’re just slowly tapering your caffeine down.
There’s also the opportunity there to, you know, if it seems like there’s something going around in your community and you’re wanting to get a little more defense or a little more activation of the lungs, then you could put in something like angelica or elecampane.
Yeah. Those are such lovely preventatives, because they’re not just sort of indiscriminately stimulating all immune function. They are bringing warmth to the lungs. They are helping lungs to prepare themselves a little bit more actively for service. Like, Oh, okay, there’s something I need to be aware of now. And they’re also doing that in, again, a generalized way. I’m thinking elecampane in particular here. Elacampane doesn’t make you cough, but it does assist with expectoration. So, okay, I might need to cough. And here’s a plant that … like, the reason that I cough is because phlegm contains the pathogenic material. Like it’s a way to sort of, you know, it’s like lung pus. I don’t know, that’s disgusting.
I mean, yeah. Pus is a lot of defeated pathogens and other like cellular debris and crud that’s hanging around. And so yeah, to the extent that’s happening on the surface of the inside of the lung tissue, then yes, sure. Lung pus. Great. Like we needed a worse word than phlegm.
But then also just mucus that has been like all used up in the fight as well. And you need to get that up and out of your lungs. And elecampane makes that job easier. It makes your lungs better able to do that work effectively. You don’t need to expectorate every day. Hopefully, if you’re not a smoker. But when you need to do that, elecampane makes it efficient, effective, and brings a lot of assistance to a process that already has to happen.
Isn’t that great? That’s so great. Well, okay, so I’m switching gears a little bit. You should also have some aromatic herbs in your life. And thankfully there are lots and lots of ways to work with the aromatics. They’re very amenable to different preparations. You can make teas, you can work with tincture, you can sniff the essential oils or disperse them in the room in lots of different methods for that. So here we’re thinking about plants like sage or pine, juniper, cedar, but also oregano and rosemary plants like this that just have that rising activating scent coming off of them. So yeah, again, lots of different ways to work with these, but there could be something that would be great to have on regular rotation. And also to think about your environment as well. Right. When we talk about herbalism, we’re thinking about, yeah, what we eat, what we drink, what we take as a medicine, you know, something like a tincture or a or a capsule or whatever. But we’re also thinking about where do we spend our time. What rooms do we live in? Is there incense? Is there a room spray? Is there surface cleaners that have some of these herbs in them? And those are all ways that those herbs are in your life too.
Yeah. And like non-chemical versions of all those things, right? Like real herbal incense or herbal based cleaners and whatever. Like yeah, you had to wash your counter anyway. Make it be an opportunity to get more herbs into your life. Yeah. These are herbs that have a lot of generalized anti-microbial action. So having them around is like washing your hands, but for your lungs. That’s my new motto. Wash your lungs.
Yeah. And we’ll get to one particular method about that, that’s super important, in just a moment. But before that, Hey, let’s talk about vitamin red for a minute. And actually vitamin multiple colors. So remember this applies to food. This applies to herbs as well. That it’s great to eat the rainbow. Way better than with Skittles. Right. That’s like a whole, you’ve got Skittles, you’ve got food, you’ve got herbs, get the rainbow. Some of these are more beneficial than others.
It’s the herbs and the food. Okay.
Yeah, We don’t need the Skittles.
We gave away the secret there. Yeah. So when you consume something like hibiscus or rose hips or elderberry or goji berry for that matter, then you see the red coloration. And you see it come out into your tea and make the water pink and then red and then crimson, And we want that to happen because those color compounds are fantastic antioxidants. They are protective against cancer. They are supportive to the functions of the immune system. They are straight up just good for you. So as a human you want to get your colors. And you can drink red tea with those kinds of plants. Again, like rose hips and hibiscus.
Sumac berry. Yeah, they will make you red tea. You can have some yellow and orange going on. If you have like calendula flowers, that will get you a lot of your yellow plant pigments.
Orange peels for sure. So I mean lots of colorful options for your herbs. And again, color is chemistry. Color is nutrition.
Yeah. Color is direct anti-inflammatory action, right? It doesn’t represent, Oh, this plant is colorful. And that means that inside it there are antiinflammatory agents. No, this plant is colorful, which is the antiinflammatory. There may be other anti inflammatory agents as well, but the color pigmentation itself has anti-inflammatory action in our body. So take advantage of that, you know, Get as many colors into you, whether it is the vegetables on your dinner plate or the tea that you drink, as you possibly can. And so if we look at this list that we’ve just made, all of this is nonspecific. All of this is about supporting your body’s day to day strength and ability to be resilient simply by supplying the raw materials that you require in order to keep yourself going. And the herbs that we listed here are not magical. It doesn’t have to be exactly these ones. What we’re going for here is actions. So there are other red herbs besides hibiscus and rose hips and goji berries. There’s sumac berries, there’s other ones that are not coming to mind right now because I’m on the spot. But if it is naturally bright red and it turns what you want to drink naturally bright red and it’s not made out of Koolaid, then that has those red pigments in it that have that anti-inflammatory action. But raspberries do too. And blueberries,
Yeah, blackberries. Like all those things also. So I don’t want to leave you feeling limited that like this is Katja and Ryn’s magical group of herbs that I need to consume every week so that I stay healthy. These are the actions we’re looking for. Overall nutrition, overall supportive lymphatic action, of baseline immune system nourishment, of lung nourishment, of anti inflammatory properties. And then also of generalized nonspecific antimicrobial action. Get it all into your life.
Do an Herbal Steam
That’s what. All right. So we said we had one more key specific point to work with the aromatic plants. And you may have guessed already if you’ve been listening to our pod or to any of our other content about corona and about respiratory illness in general. We’re talking about herbal steams again, because herbal steams are amazing. So if you think you’ve been around too many people, or if somebody got into your six foot of social distancing space bubble today. If somebody was out there not wearing their mask or whatever else reason you’ve got for it, then when you come home, set yourself up an herbal steam. Get those aromatics thrown into a pot of boiling water. Cover over with a towel. Breathe deep and inhale those volatile oils coming off of the herb. Whether it’s thyme or sage or monarda, or whether it’s oregano. Or whether it’s something cooling, like eucalyptus or peppermint, or whether it’s something soothing and relaxing like lavender or chamomile. There are lots of herbs that you can steam with and they’re all going to help out in one way or another. They’re all really fantastic. So yeah, if you can open the jar of your herbs and take a big sniff and there’s a lot going on, that’s an herb you can try steaming with.
Go for it.
The reason that these are so effective is because just like we were talking about the pigments in those red and blue and purple plants are anti inflammatory in nature. In these smelly plants, these plants that have high aromatic constituents or lots of volatile oil content, those are antimicrobial in action. And so when you are breathing that in, you’re breathing in herbal organic chemicals that are actually assisting to kill pathogens in your lungs. And they’re doing that in a nonspecific way. They are not guaranteed to kill every coronavirus. They are nonspecifically anti-microbial in the lungs. That’s actually really good, because even if you had corona right now, that’s not all you have. There’s never just one pathogen going on. There are like communities of pathogens who are just waiting for their chance. And as soon as one of them gets strong enough to tip the balance, there are others piling on as well. And we typically say, Oh, I had strep throat or I had this or I had that and we assume, or like we would give one particular pathogen the responsibility for the fact that we were sick. But actually there’s lots going on always. So having herbs that have a broad ability to damage pathogens and pathogenic materials in our lungs is good.
And also to stimulate your own local humoral immunity. Right? So the activation and the, I don’t know, alert level of your own immune responders that do already live in that tissue, right? Because your body knew that you were going to breathe in some weird stuff and it had a system in place to cope with that. So we can activate that, we can enhance that functioning. We can make the job a little bit easier for that system by doing steams.
And the steam itself is helpful, right, because raising the temperature of your lungs also makes it really hard for pathogens to exist. They like a particular temperature range and it is cooler than a fever. That’s why our bodies run fevers. So when you’re breathing in hot steam, you are bringing in that heat into your lungs and almost like giving just your lungs a little fever without having to have a fever in your whole body. Sort of like manually creating a fever. Plus the steam, the water aspect of the steam, is really good because it helps to thin out the mucus just a little bit. With corona in particular, but with lots of respiratory illnesses, the mucus tends to thicken up. And it’s very difficult to cough that up and out. And then it makes it hard to breathe, because the walls and the lungs can’t function as well. They’re just coated with this really thick stuff. So the water droplets themselves are also contributing to the action here by thinning out the mucus, making it easier for you to cough it up all the way around. It’s fantastic.
We love steams.
If I was on a desert island with coronavirus and I was only allowed to have one thing, it would be an herbal steam.
Okay. Good to know. We’ll put that into the travel plans. That’ll be important. One other thing that we wanted to emphasize for you, which may have occurred to you as you were listening, is that it helps a lot if you know your herbs really well. It helps a lot if you know your therapeutic strategies really well. It helps a lot if you understand a little bit about the pathophysiology, which is to say what exactly is going wrong or going on in your body when you’re sick. And so getting educated is actually really helpful here.
Knowing is Half the Battle
Yeah. Getting, like, I’m thinking about the GI Joe, like knowledges.
Knowing is half the battle?
That’s it. Yeah. Knowing is half the battle. And, you know, we’ve seen so many people talking about how they were managing corona at home, and they weren’t sick enough to go to the hospital. And yet, it was a higher fever than they had ever managed on their own before. And other sorts of things were things that they were not comfortable managing on their own. And so even though maybe they weren’t dangerous, it felt very, very scary because they didn’t have the experience of managing that type of a symptom without a doctor’s assistance. And then suddenly when doctors weren’t available to provide that assistance because so many people were sick it was like, well, you have to do this on your own. And that became a factor in the disease actually. Like suddenly people’s realization that, wait a minute, I don’t have experience with doing this. And I’m not actually certain how to do it accurately, how to do it effectively became part of the sickness. So taking some time when you’re not sick to learn a lot about how the body works when it’s sick. To get comfortable with those things. To start to learn like, Oh, a fever is actually not just normal but actually good. And it will be that as long as we manage it effectively and don’t get dehydrated. And don’t, you know, like, Oh, I’ve learned what the boundaries are. You know? And that is what gives you comfort to be able to get through something that is novel. I mean, none of us know anything about corona – knew anything about coronavirus when it started because it was new and novel. But if you felt very comfortable managing a fever, you’d be like, well, I don’t know anything about coronavirus, but I do know, I do know about fevers and this is a fever. So I feel comfortable at least with that much, you know?
And again, this is a good long term idea anyway, right? Like as has been very thoroughly, well illustrated by the coronavirus effect over the last bunch of months. We’ve already been operating pretty close to full capacity at our hospitals and at our healthcare centers and clinics and other things. And so, you know, a system that is operating at full capacity is, I guess, probably maximizing profits for someone. But it also means that there’s not a lot of wiggle room when there is a crisis, whether that’s a pandemic or whether that’s a local, natural disaster or whatever else. So, always go to the hospital if you need to. But if you learn a bunch of things about herbs or about other ways to take care of yourself, then you’re not going to need to go there as often.
And there may be things that you can handle on your own perfectly safely and knowing in particular when you do actually need more help. That’s really critical, right? But if you can do those things and you can relieve some of that burden. And not just when there’s a pandemic, but the rest of the time too. Because honestly, all of our healthcare providers were already burnt out and overworked.
They were already overworked.
and, you know on the edge of anxious breakdowns and getting over clocked on their hours and everything else. And so now that’s happening everywhere. And we’re all trying to power through it because it is a crisis. But again, the crisis may keep coming. It may come in big waves. It may come in lots of small waves. It’s not going to be evenly distributed. It’s not going to look the same in your community as it does in, you know, some place in a different state or a different city. But we need to be prepared for lots of different things to happen at any moment. And so this is one big way that we can do that. All right. So you know, how could you do that? Well, we’ve got some classes for you.
Oh, we can help.
So you know, like we mentioned, we have that class about sleep or the new course about sleep. We’ve got courses on the cold and flu. We’ve got courses on your respiratory health in a much broader sense encompassing that. We’ve got a course on the immune system. We’ve got courses on seasonal allergies. So, you know, start anywhere. Start where your interest lies. Start where your symptoms are most acute. Start with, you know, whatever draws your attention today as the prettiest flower on the thing. That’s fine. All information, all training, all education in herbalism in one area or one topic is going to help you with the rest of it, right? You learn about a bunch of herbs for the respiratory system and suddenly the next time that you’re trying to learn about herbs for the cardiovascular system, the way it all fits together makes more sense. You’re putting more pieces of the puzzle together and seeing how they play with each other. So don’t feel like there has to be the perfect progression to do this. If you want the perfect progression, we also have that. You can begin with our family herbalist program. And you can learn the individual herbs and all of their abundance and magnificence. And you can learn how to make remedies out of them. This is a good place to start. And then we can carry you on from there.
Yes. If you are hearing this and you’re like, yes, I do need to learn more, then you can also just email us and we will help you find the right course for you. You can shoot email to firstname.lastname@example.org and Ryn and I will reply to it, and send you lots of smiles and herby hugs, and answer all your questions.
Yes, we can do that.
All right. But so the key here is five weird things that are going to keep you healthy. They’re not weird. They’re boring. Five boring things, but nobody’s going to click on that, right? Like those websites that say five shocking things or whatever. Five boring things that are going to give your body the best chance that you can have to be strong, to be resilient, to be adaptable, to be ready for things that are unexpected. They’re boring but they work.
That’s how it is. All right everybody. So we’ll be back next week with some more, well actually later this week cause we’re a little late with this particular episode. But we’ll be back soon with some more Holistic Herbalism podcast for you. Until then, take care of yourselves, take care of each other, drink some tea and probably get an herbal steam in as well.
Wash your hands, wash your lungs.
There you go.
And we’ll talk to you again soon.
Join our newsletter for more herby goodness!
Get our newsletter delivered right to your inbox. You'll be first to hear about free mini-courses, podcast episodes, and other goodies about holistic herbalism.