Rosemary’s Recommendations for Building Your Immunity during Covid

c424897b 3b2f 413f b437 aa3f1e77e7d9

Dearest Friends & Herbal Students,

Summer Greetings! As the sun reaches its heights and warms the earth with its radiance, we are reminded of the ever-spiraling seasons of life and the powers of the seasons to transform and renew. Summer time represents the season of rapid growth, of childhood and playfulness, vitality and fullness. The qualities represented by summer are of trust, love, and growth, and it is here we learn to trust ourselves and to follow our life path. And yet, there is so much unknown and unrest in the world.  In spite of all of the sorrow, chaos, and uncertainty in the world right now, the world moves on ~ and we with it.

I am not immune to the suffering going on right now, but am very much immersed in it ~ as well as my own personal suffering.  But I also know the best way forward is to keep moving forward. In times like these we are often asked,  “what should we be doing”?  And the answer that always comes to me is to continue doing what we do best ~ which is to do our work, be kind to others, to love one another as best we can, to reach out and help others, to make our herbal medicine and make enough to share if we have extra, to grow our gardens and grow enough to share if necessary, and to do what we can to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and healthy.   As one wise friend said, The most important thing is to keep your inner state calm and stay present in yourself.  Nothing can really inhabit you or take hold of you if you are filling yourself.  Fear opens doors.  Stay present.  Make good choices” ~ Dr. Robin Dipasquale

As we continue to learn about this virus there are things that people have been doing for centuries to keep their immune systems healthy and their spirits high.  I recently sent a note to my family with these suggestions with an offer to  make up care packages for them if they wished.   Of course, no one can do all of these things, but read through them and see what you have on hand, do a little more research on your own ~ I’ve provided some great links where you can go for more information ~ and decide what is best for you and your family. Remember, stay safe, keep healthy and remain calm and positive.

Here we go ~

1) Daily servings of probiotics in any of your favorite forms: sauerkraut and other fermented foods, yogurt, kefir, miso, etc.  *If you’ve not made your own sauerkraut this is the time! It’s so fun and easy, and a great food to be eating right now.
2) Fire Cider. I knew there was a reason fire cider took center stage in the herbal community: it was meant for these times. It is rich with immune and respiratory supporting herbs: garlic, onion, ginger, horseradish, lemon, turmeric, cayenne.  Add a big handful of fresh rosemary, thyme, oregano and sage to your batches and you have a super tonic for the times. *You can purchase all of these herbs fresh in the produce departments of most natural food and grocery stores.
3) Garlic, garlic, garlic.  3-4 cloves a day; raw and chopped fine or mashed. Can one get too much garlic?  Yes, some people don’t tolerate it well, so go easy on it until you find your dose level.  Chop and mash fresh garlic and let it sit for a few minutes before ingesting as this allows the garlic to oxidize and activates the antiviral compounds.   Always take raw garlic with food or it can upset your stomach.  Its great mashed, mixed with plain yogurt and served on rice.  This is one of my Mother’s favorite foods, an Armenian specialty.  My Mom is 96 years old and still in amazingly good health and when she’s visiting me, we eat it almost daily for breakfast. Yum! * Remember, in the olden days people would wear cloves of garlic around their neck to keep the plagues at bay. Great for ‘social distancing’ as well.
4) Don’t forget, some of our most medicinal herbs are in the kitchen closet: Clove, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Oregano. (See Suggested Herbal Supports for Influenza/Influenza Like Illness in the Event of a Pandemic by Lora Kroll RN and this blog post by Helen Ward, Education Director of the Science & Art of Herbalism.)
5) Eat Seaweed daily. Aside from the fact that it’s unbelievably nourishing (seaweed contains more minerals and trace minerals than any land vegetable!), seaweed is very immuno-protective and a great aide in building and protecting our immune system.  For excellent information on seaweed and COVID-19 write to Great sources for seaweed: Ryan Drum at and Larch Hanson
6) High doses of Vitamin C.  1-2,000 mg twice a day as preventative.  Use buffered C for ease on the stomach, or liposomal C, which is more easily absorbed
7) Vitamin A – 25,000 IU.  We aren’t hearing much about supplementing with Vitamin A these days, but it was always a favorite supplement I used when people had attacks of asthma, allergies and severe respiratory issues as it helps strengthen and rebuild the cilia or tiny hairs lining the lungs.   According to everything I’ve read, COVID-19  attacks the cilia, so this might be a good measure to add as a preventative.
8) Daily doses of medicinal mushrooms: there are many choices available to choose from but a few of my favorites are: Nancy Scarzello, Marie Frohlich , Healing Spirits and Real Mushrooms
9) Elderberry, in syrup, capsules or tincture. Especially useful for young children and the elderly (and anyone in between) because they’ll love the flavor.  Hard to get now as people are selling out; but my very favorite is made by our own Helen Ward at Three Springs Farm of Vermont.  *Please note, there has been some discussion about whether or not to use Elderberry during the flu, see more info here.
10) Astragalus (Astragalus propinquus) this has been shown to be effective against the H1N1 influenza and is used by herbalists worldwide to support to overall immune health. Great to add powdered astragalus to smoothie and blender drinks, nut butter balls and adaptogen candy, and the herb to soups and stews. .
11) Echinacea (Echinacea purpura or E. angustifolia): take this old friend each time you leave the house and each time you return.  It is one of our most renowned immune enhancer and has been known to be effective against various types of influenza. If you can get whole plant Echinacea (made from root, flower, stem, and seeds), even better.
12) Sweet Annie (Artemisia Annua): There has been some remarkable studies about the effectiveness of Sweet Annie (Artemsia annuala) as an effective agent against Coronavirus. I think this is an important herb to have on hand. Read more here. 
13) Japanese Knotweed:  We’re not hearing much about Japanese Knotweed yet, but it’s a very powerful antiviral and could be incredibly useful in this situation.  Tincture available from Marge Keough at
14) Essential oils are potent and contain many antiviral properties.  I’ve been keeping a small bottle of clove oil in my pocket; I dilute it with a little veggie oil and put a drop or two on the tip of my tongue if I’m going out in the world and when I return home.  Also, consider Essential Oils of Eucalyptus (has been shown to be effective against influenza viruses (Price and Price, 2007), Lemon, Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, and Peppermint all of which have antiviral properties.  How to use:  mix into hand sanitizers (see our recipe below); use 2-3 drops on face masks and refresh hourly; can also use in an oil diffuser, room humidifier or the old fashioned way, a few drops in a pan of water place on the stove on a very low heat.

More great Information (and there are so many more great resources out there):

05dade91 4364 423d a51d 8af7ff4eeb31

What can we do to keep our spirits high in a time of mass hysteria and fear?

Don’t buy into the fear.  We can wake up each morning and give thanks for another day of living.  Even when it seems particularly difficult or challenging, giving thanks and gratitude evokes gratitude.  I believe keeping our spirits high and our hands and minds busy is another way to build immunity.  In fact, science has proven this to be true, but I knew it to be true even before science agreed with me ~ it just made sense.   Don’t listen to the news too often if it depresses you (and how couldn’t it?). Depression won’t help anyone right now. Listen to those podcasts and shows that are uplifting to you, that bring you joy, that make you laugh.  Spend as much time in nature as you possibly can; breathing in fresh air, feeling the wind on your face, talk to the trees and the plants, walk on the sweet earth… all of these things fill us with life and light and help us to move through or face whatever challenges are in front of us  ~ and there are a lot right now.  Nature heals.

One of my elder teachers who has long since passed ~ Brycee Buchanan, aka the Wild Weed Woman of the West ~ use to say to me,  “in an emergency situation there are three basic rules: 1) Don’t Panic; 2) Don’t Panic; and 3) Don’t Panic”.   This is most definitely an emergency situation.   How do we remain calm and centered when the world seems to be falling apart around us?

As Rumi said so many years ago, “Bring out your musical instruments and begin to play….There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth’.  For some it is yoga and meditation practices. If you’ve always wanted to do this but haven’t had the time, now is the time to start.   For some it’s movement and exercise.   There are countless yoga and mediation, exercise, dance and movement videos available on line, literally something for everyone’s taste. Again, rather than panic or wonder what to do, use some of your time each day to do these things you’ve been longing to do but just haven’t had enough time. Now is the time.  For many of us it’s our herbal work.  What a great time to jump into your herbal studies.  To make more herbal medicine. To clean out your herb closet.  Or to read some of those herbal books you’ve been meaning to.  What more positive and nourishing thing to do now then to spend time with our healing plants. They are so empowering, ancient and wise, and that healing energy infuses into us as we work with them, be with them, study them, and grow them. It’s these daily practices of what we choose to do with our time that helps us stay centered.

8f71ce39 bcbe 4f14 a350 f93fa5cd808f


Kale Wakame Stew (from Vegetarian Times, 2010)
And now, for a special treat, here’s a great recipe for an Immune Enhancing Soup. Helen, bless her heart, shared this recipe with me at a time when I needed super nourishment, love, and goodness. This soup has it all  ~ and it’s delicious!Ingredients:
¼ cup Wakame (see seaweed resources above)
1 Tb. Olive Oil (more or less)
1 large yellow onion, diced
2-3 carrots, diced
1-2 stalks celery, diced
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, or cook your own.
1½ cups frozen baby lima beans, thawed
6-8 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 bunch Kale, trimmed and chopped finely (about 6 cups)
¼ tsp.  dried oregano (add more if you wish)
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (I like using roasted Chipotle pepper)
* Add a stick or two of Astragalus root to the soup while simmering the veggies and broth or several teaspoons of powder into the mix before pureeing.To Make:
1) Place wakame in a bowl, cover with cold water and let it soak for 15 minutes, until soft. Drain, squeeze out liquid and set aside.
2) In a large sauce pan, sautee onion, carrots, and celery in oil over medium heat until tender.  Add cannellini beans, lima beans and broth.  Bring to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes.
3) Transfer half of the soup to a food processor or blender and blend until creamy. Or use an immersion blender, which is much easier, but just blend for a couple of seconds, pulsing until half the soup is creamy.  Add kale and wakame, stir in spices and cook for a few additional minutes until kale is soft and ready to eat.

2c72a28e 73f4 4097 b4bf 3703c038aa37
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
~ Lynn Ungar
349f1e20 eab7 4a09 b57b 6643de38c330 
Enjoy this list of herb stores with fabulous remedies for you and your loved ones.  We have checked in with each of these businesses and they have herbs in stock for our students:

367cff94 11da 4087 b199 96880998ab80

Learn how to support your family, friends and community with The Science and Art of Herbalism

Scroll to Top