Kritee was a microbiology and molecular biology researcher before she started studying environment or climate. Her covid-19 symptoms began on March 21st and ended up needing oxygen support for a week. We don’t know how she got exposed to the virus. There is an overview of her journey on Twitter. A google doc listing timeline of her symptoms and what helped us at what stage is here. The purpose of creating this page is to empower & inform our community. This isn’t medical advice but perspective of a scientist & meditation teacher who trusts some (but not all) aspects of Allopathy, Naturopathy, Ayurveda and Herbology. This virus *might* be more manageable if we have the right info at the right time. Kritee is trying to work with healers to create an affordable version of this document which doesn’t rely on expensive or hard-to-find herbs/supplements.
Work with anxiety creatively Regardless of severity of our symptoms, we are all dealing with anxiety. Anxiety worsens both our body’s immunity as well as our ability to take wise decisions. Anxiety or stress can be released with mindfulness, tears, sounds and movement. Here is a five step guidance on managing anxiety. Overall, we are trying not to let stress become fight,flight or freeze!
Symptoms: People will get different symptoms with COVID which will not be limited to coughing, breathlessness and fever (article). Some are losing taste or smell. Some are getting red eye, nausea, GI symptoms including kidney/lung/heart damage at later stages. People are dying either of organ failure due to cytokine storm, blood clots and/or very sever low oxygen levels. See what is cytokine storm? Here is a good primer on the complex pathways involved in human immunity to the virus.
** Latest set of comprehensive medical advice for all stages of the disease progression by a doctor who has been treating cytokine storms successfully before covid-19 hit is here. A shorter version of the advice including for prevention is here. See updates here.
First week is easy for most people. Once symptoms begin appearing, expect that the 1st week will be relatively easy and if one gets severe symptoms, they will happen in the 2nd week. CDC says it takes 5-10 days after onset of symptoms for needing hospitalization and for “very severe” cases about 18 days to death. Even when we survive the virus, it takes 4-12 weeks for symptoms to stop cycling even for moderate cases which didn’t require a ventilator. Expect a slow long recovery. Sign up for support-groups if you feel inclined. Take all advice with a grain of salt. Doctors too do not and can not have sufficient answers.
What will heal you? Different families will have varied access to the doctors, different financial capacities to buy herbs/supplements & different belief systems. Each body is also unique. Different people also respond to different diets, herbs & drugs. We can’t force anything on anyone. People have to deeply trust their medicine/food will work. And then there is what fear will make us do when symptoms worsen. We all start by choosing what is accessible and/or fits our worldview.
Antibiotics/drugs (require access to doctors/insurance):
Early on, Kritee took only the prophylactic dose of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) 600 mg a day (divided into three 200 mg doses). There were several technical problems with French HCQ study. WHO wasn’t happy (see here). However, FDA issued authorization for HCQ only *for emergency cases* on March 30. Please know that hydroxychloroquine acts as a zinc transporter (study + nerdy series of videos). WHO says it works by making cells alkaline. Given persistent chest tightness, Kritee started 600 mg with 250 mg Z-pack a day on Day 10. It likely stops cytokine storm. Z-pack for lingering secondary infections. Many doctors using doxycycline instead of Z-pack with HCQ. Kritee has some weird symptoms which could be adverse reactions from HCQ + Z-pack. The follow up discussions are very discouraging HCQ, especially with Z-pack. See Sciencemag blog. I don’t recommend HCQ at all now.
Basics of microbiology:
Before we mention any herbs etc, we want to mention a few basic things. Microbiologists often say “microbes are everywhere, the environment selects.” You cannot make yoghurt without fermentable milk even if you have the best lactobacili (yoghurt inoculum). The toughest microbe can not grow unless the conditions are suitable for its survival. Yes, when infection has spread to our lungs and breathing is hard, one might need a ventilator and emergency services but we can/must do more to support ourselves as soon as symptoms begin to appear. For example, zinc has been proven to stop coronavirus replication. Balanced diet and other antioxidants like vitamin C make body alkaline and/or scavenge damaging free radicals. We can create conditions in our body such that this virus can’t do well inside our cells even if we get infected.
Nutritional supplements (relatively expensive, might not be available in India. It is hard to get these just through diet in such high doses. But if our diets are high in foods/herbs which concentrate nutrients and the ability of our gut to absorb nutrients is high, it might be fine. Who is investing in such research?)
— Vitamin C (high quality pure magnesium/sodium ascorbate): 1-2 g, 3-10 times a day to bowel tolerance. Preferably blended with lecithin to create liposomal vit C. Total 5-15 grams (yes grams not mg) a day. See US study from Feb 2020 here. Can stop cytokine storm. New York hospitals are trying this (NY post link). Also can see page 23 of this. In India, take 6-10 amlas a day?
— Zinc (50 mg per day): We took zinc picolinate from Pure Encapsulations with food. Can also take zinc sulfate or acetate. Why don’t we make our diets alkaline and increase zinc, magnesium etc instead of (or in addition to) HCQ? Please don’t overdo. Most minerals are toxic at high concentrations. Do Zinc shock therapy at onset of symptoms (can be done by dissolving zinc picolinate capsules in water).
— Quercitin 500-1000 mg per day. Canada is doing clinical trial on it. Helps transport Zinc. Also may prevent Coronavirus from binding to our cells. I don’t have dosing for green tea extract but that also helps transfer zinc.
— Vitamin D (4000-8000 IU everyday divided into 3-4 doses when really sick): Most people have low vitamin D but one can overdose on it and cause harm. Monitor blood levels over long term to find a suitable dose. Here is a comprehensive research article on Vitamin C, D and Zinc.
— Vitamin A (10000-25000 IU everyday, multiple times a day when sick). But don’t overdo Vitamin A.
— N acetyl cysteine: 500 mg 10-20 minutes before food (really helps with respiratory diseases)
— High quality probiotic (100 billion CFU/day)
— Melatonin: Many are experiencing insomnia as one primary symptom. You can take upto 20 mg at bedtime along with magnesium. Melatonin is anti-oxidant and according to some reduced cytokine storm. Page 17 of this.
— Omega three fatty acids: good fatty acids help bring all the above nutrients inside cells. Flax seed oil or hemp oil.
— Magnesium glycinate or acetate: 200 mg a day at bedtime helps with sleep.
Kritee did not not take all supplements and herbs mentioned here but this research article and this booklet explain the logic behind taking other supplements. See pages 12-13 of the booklet for zinc and vitamin C shock therapy which many people swear by.
Herbal teas and steam
(Each of these herbs must have a local alternative which is cheap and abundant in your ecosystem): Stay very hydrated. Drink green tea: green tea extract transports zinc as well. Allow the body to detox in general and release the virus. Kritee tried to rely on plant wisdom as much as possible. Herbs can help lungs and kidneys. Kritee sipped Licorice + ginger tea (good for clearing mucus), plus nettle tea + lime juice (good for kidneys), holy Indian basil, lemonbalm, cinnamon, turmeric teas. Primary care said it is very important to keep it hot and humid. The place where we live is extremely dry and we kept a humidifier on when we slept.
Powdered or tinctured herbs:
Please take help of an herbalist/acupuncturist (or do this if you can mindfully, patiently and confidently monitor your body’s response to different herbs). Three big picture resources before we share what herbs we used:
— See US’s one of the best herbalist Stephen Buhner’s systematic recommendations for COVID here. Buhner lists many chinese/American herbs. See addendum to Buhner original article here.
— Here is a beautifully laid out approach to covid-19. Some new herbs and foods.
— Chinese herbs by Denver Community Acupuncture
Here are the herbs that Kritee or Imtiaz used
— Mullein tincture (worked very well for Kritee except after day 8) as needed for smooth breathing
— Samento (South American Cats claw) tincture: 20 drops twice a day
— Japanese knotweed: See Buhner’s write-up above. Imtiaz (Kritee’s partner) took this 20 drops 3X a day.
— Kritee started taking powdered herbs suggested by many to be effective against COVID19: Licorice (very effective for clearing mucus), Pippali (Ayurvedic pepper), Andrographis (Kalmegh): one of the best herbs for covid), turmeric (curcumin), neem. Take ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon powder of each in hot water twice a day. These are bitter heat-inducing herbs so mix with cardamom, cinnamon powder to taste and add honey if you like honey. Start very small. Try one herb at a time. Add more over time so that you know what suits your body and doesn’t create acidity. Too much too soon can be harmful.
— Elder leaf/bark tincture or Astralagus or Ashwagandha: Cytokine (immune system) regulators before symptoms begin. Please know elder bark/leaf is different from elderberry. It might matter. Kritee is not taking Elder or Astralagus. Astralagus doesn’t work well for her at all. Elder and Astralagus both worked well for her partner. I am hearing many herbologists say that Elderberry, Echinacea and Astralagus should only be taken before symptoms begin.
— Some friends vouch for cordyceps and reishi mushroom extracts as the best immune system modulators.
— After day 42, Kritee tried Chinese herbs GZQ Formula and (General Covid-19 formula) which didn’t work well for her. Covid formula has (100 g > 4 oz) Cinnamomum Gui Zhi 12 g, Bupleurum Chai Hu 14, Pinellia Ban Xia 10, Belamcanda She Gan 10, Armeniaca Xing Ren 10, Scutellaria Huang Qin 12, Amomum Bai Dou Kou 10, Magnolia Hou Po 12, Poria Fu Ling 12,Citrus Chen Pi 10
We did not use the herbs below but here are a few more symptom specific recommendations for friends in the north-east US.
Fever/ body pain 1. Boneset tincture or Boneset tea (bitter). Good antiviral, helps with body aches + fever; Yarrow tincture or tea – with hot fever, yarrow is like opening a window in the room, helps to cool and disperse, it will not bring down fever, only support the body; Usnea tincture (not used during pregnancy) Anti-viral; Licorice root (do not take if you have high blood pressure), demulcent, anti-viral
— Cough For dry cough, tissues need to say moist, keep drinking demulcent tea, herbal steam, if you can find Wild Cherry Bark, can make a tea with it. If cough gets lower into chest and becomes wet/productive consider a mustard plaster (add Elecampane, horehound, hyssop or other cough expectorants to keep cough moving up and out, not down.) *horehound/hyssop not used in pregnancy.
— Recovery phase: Expect a long recovery. Getting symptoms in cycles over 30-50 days is usual for those who don’t recover in the first week. Dandelion root tea for liver and calendula for lymph drainage.
Kritee ate very light. Naturopathy proponents say that eating light allows body to get rid of toxins easily and gives body’s own intelligence to lead the way. We did mostly raw foods plus soups with plant-based ingredients, lentils, veggies. No sugars, milk products (they produce mucus). Include fibre. See pages of 5 and 7 of this booklet.
Very important to keep bowels moving both to remove mucus, infection related toxins and general detoxification of the body. Some recommend Triphala every night. Magnesium (300 mg), high doses of vitamin C (5-10 grams), rehydrated/stewed prunes help as well.
Postural drainage, skin brushing and movement
Folks relied on postural drainage techniques for draining mucus out of different lobes of lungs before ventilators became common. Kritee learnt about this towards the end of her second week. Skin brushing is highly recommended to drain the lymphatic system. Some info here. Get sunshine. Move your body without overdoing it. Cytokine balance is very important. Too much exercise stresses the immune system. Here is a link on massage/acupressure points.
We didn’t use homeopathy but we are adding resources sent by friends. It can be a relatively cheap if you have access to them and/or trust this modality.
General flu like symptoms: Gelsimium 30, Influenzinum 30, Bryonia 30: 4-6 times a day for each (Squilla Maritima 30 same dose is another possibility)
For body aches: Eupatorium Perforatum 30 – 4-6 times a day.
For respiratory tract: Arsenic Album 30, Nux Vomica 30, Hepar Sulp 30 – 4-6 times a day
For Sinus/cold: Pulsatilla 30, Hepar Sulp 30, Kali Bichromium 30 – take 4-6 times a day.
How to decontaminate mail, packets, deliveries
See here. The grocery store air is potentially more harmful than packets but checkout the resources.
Do whatever you trust makes immune system more adaptive/flexible* You might not trust that taking higher dose of vitamin C, ginger or turmeric protects you against the virus or strengthens your immune system — that’s fine. Please do what you know you should do to stay healthy or recover sooner if you do get sick. Is that working out at home or doing yoga? Drinking more water? Getting more minerals and vitamins? Slowing down, not overworking and getting enough sleep? Even if we don’t get coronavirus, going to hospital for other issues can spread the virus. Even if we don’t get symptoms, we can become carriers for the virus and harm elders in our family/community.
We personally feel that love and connection boost immunity, and so do healthy diets including medicinal herbs, body movement and body energy! But forcing these things on anyone who doesn’t trust them does not work!