By: Christina Mace-Turner

This morning I spoke to a dear friend who lives in Florence, to check in as we have done every few days since COVID-19 exploded in Italy. When the topic first came up, she was on vacation with her family in the mountains of northern Italy, and while I was alarmed at what I was reading at the time, she was not. I confessed to buying extra toilet paper just in case, but really our conversation focused more on the beautiful landscape and inevitable mishaps with her vacation rental. The virus was real, but didn’t seem present or actionable. What a difference one week can make.

Today, my call with this friend took a very different tone. The entire population of Italy is on lockdown, and Italian hospitals have started turning away people with coronavirus over age 60, because there aren’t enough rooms (or ventilators) to treat them. Imagine that. Your mom or dad or your grandmother is so sick you need to take them to the hospital, but they are refused care because some people have to be sacrificed when there simply aren’t enough resources to go around. I don’t want to be alarmist, but I’ve written this post to share what I know with you in the hope that you find it useful.

ACTION STEPS: We know that as yet there is no known cure for this virus, but there are some things we can do proactively aside from washing our hands or coughing into our elbows. The good news for a lot of my friends is that the ones taking Mab Tabs are already getting a huge concentration of immune supportive herbs every day. It’s the foundation of every product we make, but there are also other great brands out there that manufacture immune supportive herbs, and while they may not be as cute, easy or potent as a Mab Tab, they would be a great help as well (see my list below for suppliers).

PLANT POWER: You might be wondering, if herbs are so powerful, why hasn’t your doctor told you more (if anything) about them… Well, for one, if your doctor was trained in the United States, they most likely weren’t educated about the impact of herbs on the human body. Fortunately, some very high profile functional medicine MDs are starting to talk about herbs as a frontline strategy for immune support, and one of the most proactive ways to address the virus. But don’t take my word for it. Check out Dr Oz on the Today Show from this morning and Dr. Zandra Palma of Parsley Health in her recent post, both talking about herbal strategies to fight COVID-19.

HERBS VS. VITAMINS: If you’re curious about the difference between herbs and vitamins, let me clarify. Herbs help boost your immune system in a way that vitamins cannot. Vitamins make up for a deficit of certain compounds in your body. So, yes, if you know you have a deficiency in a vitamin, then go ahead and take that vitamin to make up for the deficiency. Herbs also have a lot of these compounds (burdock, for example, is rich in vitamin C), but what’s important to understand about herbs is that they have thousands of other compounds that your body doesn’t have. These compounds can offer incredible additive support to supercharge your immune system and, depending on the herb, your other systems as well.

THE LIST: So here is my list of top herbs to take on a daily basis for immune support. You don’t have to take all of them by any stretch, but taking a solid amount of one or two each day would be an enormous support:

Elderberry

Astragalus

Lemon Balm

Ginger

Green Tea

Asian Ginseng (aka Panax)

Reishi

Mab Tabs are hardly the only game in town, but they are the most efficient in terms of dose (no thinking required), potency (one Mab Tab is equivalent to 1–2 entire bottles of tincture in terms of potency) and cost ($2.50/day). That said there are a number of other manufacturers who make great products in the form of pills or capsules or tea, and I feel confident that none of these companies are growing their plants in pesticides (definitely not an immune supportive practice). I really like Gaia Herbs for capsules and HerbPharm for tinctures, Host Defense for Mushrooms, and Oshala Farm for tea. Just make sure you consult with a naturopath or herbalist on proper daily dosage. Consistency is key so choose a form factor you can stick with on a daily basis, not just for this week, but for the next few months at least.

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