To all our dear customers & community across NZ, we are thinking of you. The news of COVID-19 spreading across New Zealand, for many, can bring a sense of concern. For others, less so, but still a sense of wanting to be prepared as best as possible.
We wanted to take some time today to discuss ways in which you and your whānau can create a natural management strategy, alongside any other measures you are already taking, as preparation for a COVID-19 outbreak in your community.
Natural and nutritional medicines, alongside healthy dietary and lifestyle practices, have been shown to play a large beneficial role in supporting immunity for both prevention and reduced severity of viral infections.
Step 1: Build immunity & reduce the likelihood of infection.
Diet wise, try to eat a few more vegetables and fruits each day than you have been, whilst minimising processed foods, sugar, and alcohol. For extra support, include antioxidant and nutrient-rich foods such as garlic, ginger, turmeric, thyme & other herbs, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, citrus fruits, onions, honey, and fermented foods such as yoghurt & sauerkraut.
We recommend cooking in bulk with these healthy foods now and having some meals in the freezer for easy defrosting in case of illness. If self-isolating, consider shopping online and having healthy produce delivered to your door. Since last year, our organic fresh produce is now able to be shipped across New Zealand. Ordering a weekly fruit & vege box is a great way to ensure you get your 5+ a day!
To physically prevent viral infection, we should consider how viruses typically enter the body: via the nose and mouth! Washing and sanitising hands regularly is the first step, however we can also ‘wash’ out these other areas to help prevent infection and reduce viral load in case of exposure. You can make a nasal rinse at home with sterilised water and salt in a neti-pot or bottle to irrigate the sinuses, or for a stronger and more convenient approach consider a nasal spray such as XLEAR or one made from Colloidal Silver. Steam inhalations with antimicrobial essential oils (or a handful of antimicrobial plants such as thyme, mānuka and oregano) are also a good idea to do regularly. For the throat, saline gargles, herbal throat sprays or lozenges are all useful, zinc lozenges are particularly beneficial to prevent viruses replicating in the throat.
If within your means, taking specific supplements now—before widespread community infection—is highly recommended, to build up nutrient stores and enhance immunity. We recommend considering the following: Vitamin D, zinc, vitamin C, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), quercetin, and herbal support such as echinacea or elderberry (please contact us for advice on brands and dosages, as ensuring you are taking a therapeutic dose is key). If you are familiar with the plants growing around you, you could also forage for herbs such as kawakawa, mānuka, kānuka, kūmarahou, thyme, plantain, mullein, and dandelion to include in your daily routine as teas and decoctions to support immunity.
Step 2: Manage and reduce severity of symptoms.Should you develop any symptoms, first follow the advice of your medical practitioner. In addition to this, there are specific tools you can use to help prevent progression of the infection, as well as manage and reduce severity of symptoms.
Most of the supplements recommended for prevention are the same you would take when symptomatic (or at risk of exposure), just at higher acute dosages. In addition to the ones mentioned above, nattokinase, omega-3s, and/or nigella can be useful to target specific mechanisms of the later inflammatory stages of infection. Herbal medicines can also offer specific symptomatic relief such as for chest, lung and sinus support, or managing body aches and pains. Again, please phone us (do not come in store if unwell) for advice on dosages and other recommendations for acute phases of infection.
In addition to the above, get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nourishing food. Don’t smoke, drink, or eat sugary, processed foods. You may find that smaller, more frequent meals are easier than larger ones. Electrolytes can also be helpful to prevent dehydration, especially if experiencing diarrhoea, vomiting, or excess sweating.
Try to pay attention to your ‘mental diet’ too – take breaks from social media and COVID-related news. Try to read or watch things that make you feel good & happy. Take little steps each day to care for yourself such as showering and getting some fresh air (only if safe whilst isolating, e.g. sitting on a private deck or by an open window). It is important to remember that most people recover easily without severe symptoms – especially if you’ve taken measures to prepare – so try to have trust in your body and your immune system as worry and fear isn’t healing. Phone or message friends, reach out for help or emotional support if needed.
Even if you begin feeling better, don’t start overdoing it as this can cause a relapse of symptoms. You should start keeping a record of symptoms including how long you have been unwell for and pay close attention after approximately a week of feeling unwell, as some people can begin having further symptoms at this point. Of course, if at any stage you are feeling concerned for you or your whānau’s health, contact your health practitioner or the Ministry of Health as soon as possible.
- Create a natural health plan to support you and your whānau’s health in preparation for future COVID-19 community transmission. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, natural medicines can work incredibly well alongside other strategies you already have in place.
- Ensure you have solid foundations of health in place including diet and lifestyle.
- Prevention is better than cure – start taking steps now to support your future immunity.
- Symptoms, or just feeling a little run down? Start EARLY with strategies to try and prevent viral replication and reduce viral load. Don’t wait until you’re feeling worse.
- Use strategies to manage symptoms and your physical/mental wellbeing when unwell, and don’t hesitate to reach out for help if needed.
The above advice is a guideline and is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment. The supplements mentioned are recommended for healthy adults; those with health concerns or taking medications should always contact their practitioner for advice, or for dosage recommendations for children. Please ensure you keep in contact with your medical practitioner should you have any concerns about your health, or you become infected with COVID-19. References are available upon request.