A weak immune system is like walking out naked on a cold and stormy winter’s night and being surprised that we got sick from it.
With the variants spreading around, it is my opinion that we will all get you-know-what sooner or later. The current medical narrative isn’t doing enough to protect us from the new variants – it has a singular focus and is incomplete.
We need more conversation around strengthening the host.
That is, taking a comprehensive holistic approach to engaging our own immune system. A well-supported immune system should be a priority for each and every one of us, no matter what is going on in the world around us – and there’s a lot you can do to support yours.
We’re about to enter the third year of this pandemic which has created polar points of view, conspiracy theories, and divisive discourse. Regardless of where you stand, as a member of this community, I hope we can agree on ONE thing: that a healthy immune system will only help us through this difficult time. There is enough division and shaming in the world – we’re here to help each other.
Today I am sharing a protocol to Strengthen the Host. This was originally shared with me by my friend (a biochemist and master herbalist) who was one of the earliest people I know who got the virus and struggled for months. I have added several products and recommendations I’ve tried as well.
I recommend implementing some of these changes NOW and having the herbs and supplements on hand in case you develop symptoms. Many herbs (like andrographis) are sold out online, but your local health stores should have them. Shop while you’re feeling well.
It is within your power, resources, and reach to support your own immune system. Whether vaccinated or not, dealing with coronavirus or a regular cold or flu, high-risk or low-risk – we can all benefit from proactively supporting our immune defenses.
I hope you find this protocol helpful to get or stay strong, be less fearful, and be better prepared
STRENGTHEN THE HOST PROTOCOL
There are three stages to this protocol:
- Building & stimulating immunity (early infection, mild symptoms or asymptomatic)
- Clearing lungs (when experiencing peak symptoms)
- Anti-inflammatory follow-up (as symptoms lesson, after infection)
Here’s what I recommend throughout ALL stages, as well as BEFORE any infection to proactively support your immune system:
✴️ Vitamin D3+K2: 5,000-10,000 IU/day as a supplement or 20 minutes of sun exposure on untanned skin (spend more time in the sun if you have darker skin). Get your vitamin D levels tested if possible – a healthy range is usually between 50 ng/mL up to 80 ng/mL. Recommended supplement: Wellena D3 Maximus (with K1 and K2).
✴️ Vitamin C: Get your vitamin C in the form of whole food when you can. Amla, camu camu, or acerola powders are great. Aim for divided doses of vitamin C, approximately 2,000 mg/day total. Recommended supplement: Wellena Vitamin C Burst.
✴️ B vitamins: A vitamin B complex helps support mitochondrial energy and heat production. Recommended supplement: Wellena B Maximus.
✴️ Zinc: Take no more than 50mg per day. Recommended supplement: Wellena Zinc.
✴️ Resveratrol: Best derived from Japanese Knotweed, take 200mg per day. Recommended supplement: Wellena Resveratrol++.
✴️ Carotenoid-rich diet: Eat plenty of dark leafy greens (include nettles as food), yellow/orange veggies, and red peppers (if you include nightshades in your diet). Carotenoids are supportive of respiratory health, and have high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
✴️ Lower inflammation: This will relieve your immune system from fighting chronic inflammation so that it is better able to get to work against the virus. Start by eliminating/minimizing inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, sugars, and processed carbs (like bread, pasta) along with whatever foods your body doesn’t tolerate well. Both of my books, Overcoming Estrogen Dominance and Cooking for Hormone Balance, contain complete meal plans for an elimination diet.
✴️ Eliminate/minimize alcohol: Think about doing Dry January with us, and minimizing or eliminating alcohol in later months, too.
✴️ Drink bone broth: With good fat, shiitake mushrooms, garlic, warm spices (ginger, chili), black pepper. Try our Instant Pot Immune-Boosting Chicken Broth or Savory Immune-Boosting Mushroom Herbal Broth. Do NOT use astragalus in either of these recipes if feeling the onset of symptoms.
✴️ Abundant sleep: The more the better. We share healthy sleep tips in the article How to Fix Sleep After 45.
✴️ Daily movement: Moving our body helps with lymph flow, among many other benefits. If you can, get outside. Aim for 20-30 minutes per day and listen to your body. Do not push for strenuous exercise with symptoms.
✴️ Humidifier: Dry air exacerbates symptoms, so use a humidifier if possible.
✴️ Regular sauna: Infrared if possible. If you don’t have access to a home sauna, do an online search for one in your community. Many yoga/pilates studios and health centers offer walk-ins.
✴️ Increase nitric oxide: Singing and laughing more will do the trick. Another option is to eat lots of beets, use beet powder, or drink beet juice to do the same.
Stage 1: Building and Stimulating Immunity
Early-stage with mild symptoms (sore throat, etc.) or asymptomatic, before it settles into the lungs.
If you can tolerate echinacea, use an echinacea tincture liberally – 1 dropper 4-6 times per day. The best brand I’ve found is Herb Pharm Super Echinacea. Some people can’t do echinacea (me included, and it might be true for people with Hashimoto’s) so test it before you take a higher dose.
How to test: Try a few drops and see how you feel. If your heart rate increases by more than 10 bpm over 60 seconds, it might be a negative reaction.
If you can’t tolerate echinacea, use Andrographis – 1 dropper 3 times per day. In Thailand, Andrographis is the official herb used for the prevention and treatment of you-know-what.
Another I like is Kick-Ass Immune Activator from WishGarden Herbs (a Colorado-based company I love and recommend). It’s a great herb combo and very low in echinacea.
I use and recommend B.Immune from Beekeeper’s Naturals, which contains propolis.
I like an elderberry “elixir” made with an elderberry tincture (fresh, folk, 60% ethanol) + honey extract (fresh, 3-hour warm infusion, ratio of 1 part honey and 2 parts water), mixed together in equal volumes. Whatever you can get is good: elderberry products should be easy to find at your local herb shop natural grocery store, or online. Avoid syrup (with sugar), and double-check the ingredients of pre-made products – some of the commercial brands have added fructose or tons of sugar. I suggest 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of elderberry tincture or elixir, 4-6 times per day.
Note: Elderberry DOES NOT stifle the immune system, that’s old/inaccurate “news.”
Herbal Infusion (strong tea)
Drink one quart per day of an herbal infusion as a source of hydration & immune support. You can dilute the infusion with extra water if desired. Here is my suggested combination:
- Licorice (avoid if you already have high blood pressure), ginger, rose hips as the core of the infusion.
- Add some combo of general nutritives, demulcents, and immunomodulators like red raspberry, skullcap, marshmallow, nettles, and oat straw.
- If fever is too high, add about 10% individual or combination of elderflower, yarrow, boneset, etc., as a diaphoretic.
Boneset (standard infusion)
If fever is too high (103°F+), take a shot glass-sized dose of boneset infusion 4-6 times per day. This is very bitter but very powerful.
This may feel counterintuitive, but fever is your body’s innate way to fight infections. Fever-lowering meds only prolong the disease. Do NOT do this if the fever is running dangerously high. You can induce fever by drinking hot yarrow + ginger tea (must be hot) while taking a hot bath (or hot tub), getting in the sauna, or putting on 2 sweaters to layer up and encourage sweating.
Stage 2: Clearing Lungs
When symptomatic, to clear expectorants (mucus) in the lungs
Expectorants & respiratory antiseptics
Look for warm, aromatic, diffusive ingredients like garlic, elecampane, lovage root, thyme, monarda, angelica, yerba santa, etc. Eat raw garlic to tolerance, use one dropperful of the tinctures I recommended above as desired (up to 4-6 times per day).
- Deep Lung & Bronchial Support – A great formula from WishGarden Herbs for healthier lung function.
- Clear Chest Herbal Syrup – Especially if you are beginning to feel it in your lungs, this is a warming, aromatic lung support formula from Urban Moonshine.
- Lung Expectorant – Another tincture featuring elecampane from Herb Pharm to support respiratory immune response. I used it when my lungs developed pain and phlegm and it helped a ton.
- Licorice tincture – take 10 to 20 drops 3 times per day. Do not exceed this dose. Use only for 2-3 weeks then discontinue. Prolonged high doses can raise blood pressure.
- Lobelia tincture – Take 1-3 drops as a relaxant expectorant. Really helps get thick mucus out. Also relaxes spasmodic cough. More is not better – it’s a powerful low-dose herb.
Boneset (standard infusion)
Continue boneset if fever is too high (103°F or higher). Take a shot glass-sized dose of boneset infusion 4-6 times per day. This is very bitter but very powerful. Discontinue when fever gets below 102°F.
Breathe eucalyptus essential oil in warm steam and put one drop on the pillow or collar of the shirt. Do NOT diffuse eucalyptus if you have pets, as it is toxic to pets and will make them very sick.
Stage 3: Anti-Inflammatory Follow Up
As symptoms lesson – irritated, dry, spasmodic cough (fever has resolved or is low and intermittent) or other signs of lingering inflammation
Take 1-3 drops as a bronchial relaxant. Could substitute Asclepias (pleurisy root) or wild cherry bark.
Licorice is a soothing anti-inflammatory demulcent and respiratory relaxant. Combining with ginger-like in this Licorice Root Tea is a powerful combination.
Drink one quart per day of an herbal infusion featuring demulcents like rose hips, licorice, althaea, etc., along with various nutritives (nettle, oat straw, red raspberry leaf, etc.) as desired.
I recommend the Zyflamend™ formula, ginger and turmeric supplements (from Gaia or New Chapter), and continuing with a vitamin D3 + K supplement (along with sun exposure if you can get it).
Be sure to bookmark this article for easy reference.