by: Dr. Caroline Meyer, ND
At this point, most of you have been inundated with news of the coronavirus making its way to many countries, including Canada. I do not want to create more noise around this virus, but do want to provide you with a few tips on how to deal with COVID-19 from a natural perspective, The following are answers to common questions I have been receiving.
1) How dangerous is this coronavirus?
Compared to the seasonal flu, to which many people are vaccinated, it seems to be slightly more deadly in terms of percentages. It seems to be especially problematic for people older than 70. COVID-19 also seems to be more contagious than the usual seasonal flu.
2) What is Social Distancing and why am I doing it?
Like getting childhood infections, social distancing is a public health measure to limit the spread of infections, especially to those who are more vulnerable. Social distancing ‘flattens the curve’ so that the health care system doesn’t get overwhelmed and can properly treat everyone who gets really sick with this virus, It also ensures that there are doctors and nurses to treat other urgent health needs, including chemotherapy for people with cancer and even delivering babies in hospital.
Social distancing involves staying primarily at home and limiting other contacts. You can certainly go outside, but try to keep a distance of 1-2 metres between you and others.
3) How can I avoid getting infected?
Yes, simple measures like proper hand washing and avoiding touching your face are immensely important. Since hand sanitizers contain ingredients that disrupt our gut microflora and hormones, I advise less use of them than plain ol' hand washing!
As many of you know, I am not prone to be an alarmist, but the COVID-19 virus, as with all acute respiratory infections, demands respect. Since social isolation has been shown to be an effective action to slow the expansion of virus infections, the city, the province, Canada and the world have enforced this measure.
Of course, from a natural perspective, I advise sticking with a whole foods diet full of colourful veggies and fruits. They provide many antioxidants for the body. As well, moving your body on a daily basis, if possible, improves the activity of your immune cells as well as reduce stress (which stresses your immune system!). Walking and yoga ( think gentle exercises) seem to improve immune function better than intense activity. Sleep is also crucial for keeping your immune system resilient. I know, I know, I always talk about sleep... but, really, getting your zzzz's has innumerable health benefits.
Vitamins and herbal supplements can boost your immune system. It is better to get an individualized plan, though, that fits your state of health and current medications.
That being said, personally I am making elderberry syrup on the regular. You can buy elderberry syrup in the health food store; I often recommend the Suro or Flora brands.
Homemade Elderberry Syrup
Here is a simple recipe to make your own syrup:
4:1 ratio of water to dried elderberries (buy at health food store for a few dollars; do not buy elderflowers as they have healing powers other than boosting immunity). You can add 1-3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger for a bit more zest. Place everything in a pot, bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer for 30 min, or until the water has reduce by half. Add 1-2 tsp of raw honey, or more to taste. Cool. Take 1-3 teaspoons per day. Everyone from toddlers to elders can take this syrup. It is not advisable to give raw honey to anyone under the age of 1.
Elderberry may prevent you from getting sick from a flu (no guarantees) and may also shorten the duration of a cold or flu.
4) What do I do if I get sick?
Full disclosure here, despite my daily habits of health and rather aggressive immune boosting, I got sick recently. Not with COVID-19 virus, but an average head cold. Wow, did I ever feel self-conscious while I briefly went out in the world! Now, I feel a lot more compassion for people who have the flu.
So, what did I do to recover? I slept longer, stayed at home as much as possible, sneezed into my elbow while outside, drank a lot of lemon-ginger tea with turmeric and raw honey, ate very little except bone broth, avoided mucus-forming foods like dairy, did steam inhalations, and continued taking my elderberry syrup, zinc and andrographis herb. And I took time off work to fully recover. I did not buy a truckful of hand sanitizer or toilet paper. I did ensure that I had enough tea and food to last about a week or so. I would advise the same approach if you get a cold or flu.
5) How is Northstar Naturopathic clinic responding to the viral outbreak?
At Northstar, we are taking this outbreak seriously. We have increased the frequency of the office cleaning, we are using stronger sanitizers for our tables and equipment. We are moving into an online delivery of visits, both new visits and follow-up visits. We may see patients in-office when appropriate and safe to do so.
We advise anyone who suspects that they may have symptoms of COVID-19, to call Telelhealth Ontario at 1-866-797-000, as naturopaths do not have the means to test you for this virus and are not authorized to treat the virus.
Of course, please book a session or visit for all of your other health needs. You can book virtual visits through: www.northstarclinic.ca
Hopefully, you feel more informed and empowered to keep you and your family healthy in this late cold/flu season!