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Editor’s note: Price-Pottenger has selected this article as part of our Winter Immunity campaign 2021 to help our readers enhance their natural immunity with healthy dietary and lifestyle practices. To view more articles in this campaign, search our website using the phrase “Winter Immunity”.
Roberta Louis: What roles can herbalism play in dealing with the epidemic and pandemic respiratory diseases of our time?
Rosalee de la Forêt: Herbalism is incredibly relevant right now. The first thing that comes to mind is that herbs are truly foundational for our overall health. By using herbs in our daily life, we can bolster our immune system as well as address chronic issues, such as inflammation. We can use herbs to soothe and restore our nervous system and even turn to them for comfort. Herbs can also help us address specific symptoms. If we’re having symptoms of acute respiratory illness, they can help us find relief. At times, herbs can help us to shorten the duration of an illness, and sometimes they can help stop an illness altogether.
Another thing that is really relevant today is the role of herbs in recovery. Attention to the recovery process has been missing from our overall approach to healthcare, even before COVID-19. However, recovery is an essential aspect of healing, and herbs can be an important part of it. For example, our lungs often feel the effects of a respiratory virus long after our acute symptoms have abated. If we have a lingering dry cough or difficulty taking a full breath after a respiratory illness, using herbs that soothe the mucous membranes can help restore our lungs.
So, there are many roles for herbalism in prevention and treatment as well as recovery.
Roberta: How do antiviral herbs differ from antiviral drugs?
Rosalee: First, let’s recognize the difference between antibacterial and antiviral actions. It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that antiviral herbs or drugs work just like pharmaceutical antibiotics. In other words, if you have an infection, you take something to kill the pathogen. But antivirals don’t work that way because there’s a big difference between a bacterium and a virus.
Bacteria are living organisms with a cell wall, and they live in close association with plants and animals, like us. Viruses are said to be on the edge of life. They don’t have a cell wall, and they need a host cell in order to replicate themselves. When you have an active viral infection, the virus has invaded your cells, so controlling a viral infection is different than controlling a bacterial one. We don’t want to go around killing our own cells.
Instead of killing infected cells, herbal antivirals may inhibit the virus from attaching to your cell walls or from replicating within your cells. By basically inhibiting the reproductive cycle of a virus, they give your immune system the upper hand so it can address the infection. My understanding is that pharmaceutical antivirals work similarly in that they inhibit a virus’s ability to reproduce. However, one big difference is that herbs also have an ability to bolster or modulate the immune system, as well as do many other things.
Roberta: What evidence do we have to support the antiviral use of herbs?
Rosalee: We have an astounding amount of evidence from many different traditions. For one thing, there has been extensive historical use of herbs against acute illness, including viral infections. That information informs herbalists today, although there are very few clinical herbalists who rely solely on historical use. We also test the herbs in our own practices and draw our conclusions from both historical and contemporary knowledge.
In addition, we have countless modern, scientific studies on herbs and viral infections. To this day, there are naysayers claiming there’s no scientific proof that herbs work, but there actually is an amazing amount of research available. You can go to PubMed and find thousands of studies. Of course, that information is of varying quality.
For example, we have in vitro studies, which often look at how antiviral herbs affect cells. Those studies may use isolated chemical constituents or they may use an herb in quantities greater than people would be able to take. Such studies can provide interesting information, but they are not conclusive. It’s a pet peeve of mine when someone makes grandiose claims about an herb being antiviral based on those types of studies, especially when that person is trying to sell a supplement.
It’s not that in vitro studies are bad. They help to inform us. But there are also a lot of in vivo or clinical human trials that really help to show us what herbs are doing in our bodies and how effective they are. We also have in vivo trials in animals, but I do not support those by looking at or citing them, due to strong ethical concerns. I do look extensively at the human clinical trials. It’s always exciting to see those come out.
Here’s an example of a human clinical trial with an antiviral herb. Researchers followed 312 airline passengers who were flying overseas from Australia. Half the passengers were given an elderberry preparation, and the other half got a placebo. The people taking the placebo had a slightly greater occurrence of a cold or flu during their trip than those who took the elderberry preparation. More significantly, those who took the elderberry and did get a cold reported a marked reduction of its duration. They also had less severe symptoms compared with people taking the placebo. This is a highly relevant study that shows us elderberry is effective in this situation for antiviral application.
Luckily, we don’t have to choose between historical use, modern clinical applications, or in vitro or in vivo clinical trials. We can look at all of it as a body of evidence and draw conclusions from it.
Roberta: Would you discuss some of the herbs you recommend to boost immunity against respiratory infections?
Rosalee: This is one of my favorite topics. Immunomodulators are herbs that affect the immune system. What’s really amazing is that these herbs work differently depending on the person and the situation. They don’t necessarily boost the immune system but rather they interact with it in a way that makes it more resilient overall. So, these herbs are used for people with deficient immune systems – for example, those who frequently get upper respiratory infections – and those with symptoms of autoimmunity. The brilliance of herbs is that they don’t have a singular action that’s the same across the board. Instead, they interact with our inner ecology to create a more resilient system.
I think of immunomodulating herbs in two categories. There are herbs that you take long term to support your immune system and those you take short term when there’s increased risk of infection or a suspected exposure to pathogens.
The herbs we take long term are our building or nourishing herbs. They are sometimes called tonic herbs. We often take a fair amount of them every day, or most days, for extended periods. For example, there are herbs that I take from about September through March. We take them in a similar way to how we eat vegetables every day, and they nourish us over time.
One of my favorite herbs for this is astragalus. This herb originally comes to us from China but has been widely adopted by Western herbalists. Traditionally, it was added to foods, such as soups and rice, and in that way taken throughout the winter months. If you suck on a piece of the root, which is the part we use for herbal medicine, it tastes sweet. It’s widely pleasing to many people, especially if they have sensitive palates. This is an herb that bolsters lung health and broadly supports the immune system, and is safe for most people to take.
One of my favorite ways to use it is in bone broth soups. Another is to mix it with other spice herbs, such as cinnamon, cloves, and ginger, to make a delicious warming drink. My husband and I drink that practically every day in the winter. This is a higher-dosage plant, so I recommend taking 15 to 30 grams of the dried roots daily. If you buy sliced roots, that’s basically a good handful.
Astragalus has an extensive history of use. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of studies on the whole root, but there are many that have used extracted polysaccharides. We know from limited human clinical trials and from in vitro studies that astragalus increases the white blood cell count. It can also decrease viral replication and stimulate the production of killer T-cells.
Codonopsis root is another Chinese herb I’ve been using a lot lately. It modulates the immune system and strengthens the lungs, and it has moistening qualities. Like astragalus, it has a sweet taste and can be taken long term at about 15 to 30 grams per day. I often combine astragalus and codonopsis, and I sometimes put them in a tea with cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.
As herbalists, we love to call everything an herb. Technically, I think an herb is defined as the aerial parts of a plant, but we refer to roots, barks, and even mushrooms as herbs. There are many mushrooms that support the immune system, but the one that I take probably most frequently is reishi. It’s used for many chronic illnesses where people are feeling run down, including fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, but it’s also used for general immune support. One study showed that the ß-glucans from reishi increase the number of immune cells in the peripheral blood. Also, reishi protects the heart and liver.
The second category of immunomodulating herbs consists of those we are more likely to take for the short term or for acute symptoms. If we have the first telltale signs that we are coming down with something – perhaps a scratchy throat or a feeling of being run down – we can take these herbs. We can also take them when we have a higher risk of exposure to infection.
Elderberry is one of my favorite herbs for this. Some people take elderberry all the time, but that’s not how I use it. I specifically use elderberry if I feel like I’m coming down with something – as an immune system stimulator, in some respects – or if I have increased risk. There are lots of studies on elderberry that confirm what we know from historical use: When we take it right at the onset of an illness, elderberry has the ability to strongly reduce the duration of the illness or perhaps stop it altogether. It’s a classic antiviral herb, and there have been interesting in vitro studies showing how certain proteins within it inhibit viral replication.
Another herb that’s used similarly is echinacea. This herb is native to North America and, depending on the species, we may use the roots, leaves, flowers, and even seeds. It’s another one that I don’t particularly recommend taking all the time as a preventive. Instead, I use echinacea for short-term and acute situations, and I often combine it with elderberry.
Echinacea is famous for being used against colds and the flu, but that wasn’t a main use for it historically. It was used for things like tooth infections, boils, and abscesses, as well as for lymphatic swelling. Although echinacea has antiviral properties and can stimulate the immune system, it also has the ability to clean out infections.
Roberta: Would you discuss the current controversy about whether elderberry can cause harmful cytokine storms?
Rosalee: Let’s explore that a bit. First of all, a cytokine is a complex group of proteins that are used in cell signaling by many parts of the body, including the immune system. One of their important jobs is to regulate inflammation, so cytokines are a very necessary and beneficial part of our body.
However, a cytokine storm, also called cytokine release syndrome, is very problematic. This is a fairly rare, very serious syndrome that can be fatal. It’s a complication of some diseases and can also be a side effect of a pharmaceutical drug. Basically, cytokine storms occur when the immune system becomes overactivated, releasing excessive cytokines into the blood, which creates massive inflammation. Generally, this happens during the last stages of an infection, when symptoms are so severe that the person needs to be under medical care.
Why is there controversy about elderberries causing a cytokine storm? I will say very clearly up front that we have absolutely no evidence that elderberry or any herb causes or promotes cytokine storms. There’s been some recent discussion of an old study, performed on healthy volunteers in 2001, that found elderberry increased beneficial cytokines. It suggested that elderberries are beneficial to the immune system. Some people are now saying that study is proof that elderberry causes cytokine storms. This is absolutely not true. That study did not show anything negative about elderberry, and it’s a big stretch to say that it causes a severe or even fatal illness.
We have many studies showing that elderberry benefits the immune system. There is also a lot of information indicating that it decreases inflammation. For example, a study done in 2016 showed that a formula based on elderberry inhibited harmful cytokines in people with atherosclerosis and thus modulated the inflammatory response.
Roberta: Would you talk about some of the herbs people can use to treat themselves if they have contracted a respiratory infection?
Rosalee: There so many herbs that can be used for symptoms of a respiratory infection. An underlying principle of herbalism is that you treat what you see. It’s not about memorizing herbs for colds or herbs for flu; it’s about looking at the person and the symptoms they are experiencing. If we use herbs well, we’re using them in concert with our own bodies. We don’t want to override the genius of our immune system. Instead, we should ask: What’s happening in my body? What does my body need? What can I do externally to support that?
Let’s look at specific symptoms that are common in upper respiratory viral infections. The first symptom is often simply feeling run down or unusually tired. Sometimes, that is accompanied by other symptoms, such as feeling cold or shivery or having a sore throat. In this situation, one of the best things we can do is to rest. This basically gives our body the go-ahead to invest its energy in our immune system and to ward off the infection.
Of course, there are many herbs that we can take during this time, too. Elderberry and echinacea, which I’ve already mentioned, are two wonderful herbs for this. Elderberry is commonly made into a tea or syrup, and I personally like a decoction. I simmer the berries in water and strain that off and drink it. I’ll drink quite a bit of that every day when I’m having those first symptoms.
When you’re dealing with acute symptoms, dosage and frequency are often really important – especially frequency. Part of that is common sense. If you had a sore throat, you wouldn’t take something once a day to address it. Instead, you might take something every 30 minutes or every hour. It’s the same with that first symptom of feeling worn out or really tired – you would take herbs in relatively small amounts but frequently and consistently.
In addition to its antiviral and immune-modulating properties, echinacea is good for a sore throat. It provides a temporary numbing sensation that, depending on the preparation, can be pretty strong and can feel good if your throat hurts. When I have a sore throat, I often reach for echinacea right away.
Another favorite of mine for those initial symptoms is ginger, especially the fresh root, which has more potent antipathogenic qualities than dried ginger. I get fresh ginger and juice it. You can also make a tea with fresh ginger or chop it up and infuse it into honey and take that by the spoonful. Herbal honeys – such as ginger, thyme, and oregano honey – are a fabulous way to relieve a sore or scratchy throat, especially if you make them from fresh herbs.
We also have herbs that are demulcent, which basically means they have a mucilaginous texture. These will be soothing to the throat. They include marshmallow root and licorice root, which also have immune-modulating properties. Cinnamon is another one that’s really nice. The combination of marshmallow, licorice, and cinnamon makes a lovely, soothing tea.
If the throat is really swollen and painful, astringent herbs can be helpful. These tighten and tone the tissues and reduce the swelling. Sage – culinary sage – is a lovely astringent herb, and it’s one of my favorites for a sore throat. We can also combine demulcent and astringent herbs when needed.
Moving along the symptom profile, oftentimes in the initial stages of a respiratory infection, we can get a runny nose. There are lots of over-the-counter medicines for drying up mucus, and there is a time and place for that. But at the onset of a cold or flu, the mucus is actually flushing pathogens out of the body, as well as protecting our mucous membranes. If we take something to dry us up during those initial stages, we’re making our immune system less effective.
So, in the beginning of an infection, if you have a runny nose, try to let it run its course. If things are really out of control, using an astringent can help. An herb that I really like for this situation is goldenrod. It’s a nice one for tightening and toning mucus membranes, especially in the nose and sinus cavities.
Conversely, sometimes we are dealing with a lot of congestion in our sinuses or lungs. When this occurs, what we’re seeing is stagnancy – things have accumulated and stopped moving – and we want to move the congestion out. There are lots of herbs that help us do this. Again, one of my favorites for this is ginger. Thyme and oregano, which are very strong antimicrobial herbs, can also get things moving.
At the more intense end of the spectrum, cayenne can really help with congestion. Sometimes, if I feel cold and have a lot of congestion, I’ll make cayenne tea. I take as little as a quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper and mix it into 12 ounces of hot water with some honey and lemon. You will want to start slow with cayenne. Start out with a low dose – perhaps just an eighth of a teaspoon – and sip slowly because too much cayenne at a time can make you nauseous.
One of the most annoying aspects of a cold or flu is coughing. There are over-the-counter medicines called antitussives that we can take to stop our coughing. But in the herbal world, we want to be more specific about how we address coughs, because not all coughs are the same. There are dry, spasmodic coughs where our lung tissues are dry and irritated, and congested coughs where there’s congestion in the lungs and our body is trying to expel stuck mucus.
Taking an antitussive herb or medicine when we have congestion in our lungs is a very bad idea. We’re basically locking that mucus into our lungs, which can lead to further complications. For a congested cough, we want to thin the mucus and help it get out of the body. Ginger, thyme, oregano, cayenne, and mustard are good for this.
However, if we have a dry, spasmodic cough, we want to stop the cough. In this situation, we can take demulcent herbs that moisten and soothe. Marshmallow is one of my favorite herbs for this, and another is plantain (Plantago), a common weed. Sometimes, we may want to take mucilaginous herbs and antitussive or antispasmodic herbs at the same time, because that cough has become so painful or is interfering with our sleep. Some antitussive or antispasmodic herbs that can be used for that are lobelia (a low-dose herb), cramp bark, and valerian.
Another major aspect of upper respiratory viral infections, especially influenza, is fever. Just as we don’t look at all coughs the same, we don’t look at all fevers the same. We distinguish between what we might call a cool fever and a hot fever.
A cool fever is often the beginning stage of a fever, when our internal set point has been raised higher than normal, our body feels cold, and we’re shivering, which increases our body temperature. This is an important aspect of immune system function because when our internal temperature rises, our body becomes more inhospitable to pathogens. Using over-the-counter medicines to stop a fever early in its stages can inhibit immune function and open the door to a more severe infection. So, if we’re feeling the onset of a fever and we are cold and shivering, one of the best things we can do is put on layers of clothing or a blanket to warm ourselves up. Sometimes a sauna or a bath is recommended.
We can use herbs for that as well. Some herbs, such as ginger, literally make us feel warmer inside. Dried ginger is more warming than fresh, so drinking dried ginger tea is a great way to warm up. Cayenne tea is rather intense, but it can also be used for this. Thyme and oregano are also warming in nature and can be really powerful for this type of fever.
In contrast, a hot fever often happens when our internal temperature has reached homeostasis, perhaps before we start sweating. We basically feel hot and restless. In this case, we can take herbs that support the fever process. We’re not trying to decrease our temperature artificially. We want to take herbs that, as we say in the herbal world, relax the periphery and let heat out of the body. One of my friends, herbalist jim mcdonald, likens this to opening a window in a house that’s hot and stuffy.
One of my favorite herbs for this is elderflower. Elderflowers and elderberries come from the same plant, but they are sometimes used differently. In a hot fever, elderflower is a great way to calm restlessness and let the heat out. Elderflower is also known for its immunomodulating abilities, and some people take it in the beginning stages of a cold or flu. As a personal preference, I tend to use elderberry more in that situation, and I rely more on elderflower for fevers.
Another herb that’s commonly used to support fevers is yarrow. This is an amazing balancing herb and can be used at many stages of the fever process. It is a premier herb for fevers and is often combined with elderflower.
I also want to talk about chamomile, which is actually a potent herb that can provide powerful results. One of my favorite ways to use it for a cold or flu is to take a very strong cup of chamomile tea. This can help when somebody has a hot fever, perhaps with a headache or muscular pain. Strong chamomile tea soothes the nervous system and can help release some of that heat. It relieves pain, modulates inflammation, and helps us sleep.
To make strong chamomile tea, take a quarter cup or even a half cup of dried flowers and infuse it into a pint of hot water. Cover it and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. When you make chamomile tea like this, it’s very bitter. However, it can actually taste good because you can feel how nourishing it is to your body.
One thing I would mention is that when we’re dealing with an acute infection, we expect immediate results. If we have a chronic illness, we might need to take herbs for a long time in order to see dramatic results. But in an acute situation, we expect the herbs to act right away. If we have a sore throat, we want herbs that immediately soothe it. If we are feeling cold and shivering, we want something that’s going to warm us up.
If you’re taking herbs for an acute situation and you’re not seeing an immediate effect, it could be that you’re not taking the right herb. It could also be that the herb is of poor quality or too old. You could be taking the wrong preparation or using the herb at the wrong dosage or frequency. There’s a lot to think about with herbal medicine, but it’s not all that complicated, especially once you get used to it. It’s just a matter of actually doing it, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and then changing your approach as needed.
Roberta: Would the same herbs be appropriate in COVID‑19 as in other viral respiratory infections?
Rosalee: We are in the relatively early stages of understanding this novel virus, but the principle of treat what you see stays the same. I’m less interested in memorizing herbs for COVID-19 than in thinking about how, if I’m working with somebody, I can use herbs for their particular symptoms. Right now, our understanding of the disease is constantly changing. One thing that’s been emerging is that, while this might be contagious via the respiratory system, it can strongly and adversely affect the vascular system. There have been some people asking: Is this a respiratory illness or is it actually a vascular illness?
People with chronic inflammation seem to be especially susceptible to more severe forms of this illness. I would love to see us act on this information. That might mean working holistically with a practitioner now, when we’re feeling healthy, to address our current levels of inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a huge problem within our society. It’s a main contributing cause of many chronic diseases, including many forms of heart disease, cancer, and autoimmunity. I think it would be great for us to use the fact that this pandemic virus is circulating as motivation to address our systemic inflammation and become happier and healthier overall. It’s also my hope that if people get their inflammation under control, they may not have severe symptoms if they do contract COVID-19.
Some herbs are great at modulating inflammation. One of these is turmeric, which is widely touted as an anti-inflammatory herb. Another is hawthorn, which is nourishing to the cardiovascular system and is safe enough that most people can take it, even many who have signs of cardiovascular dysfunction. In fact, we have studies showing that hawthorn can be helpful for people who have mild to moderate heart disease.
However, we need to think about the whole picture when it comes to inflammation. Our lifestyle choices are very important as well, and healthy choices are rooted in a nutrient-dense diet, joyful movement, and good, restful sleep every single night.
While I think it’s too early to say that a particular herb will definitely help with COVID-19, the two herbs being discussed a lot in the herbal world are turmeric and garlic. I’ve spoken to several people who had COVID-19, and they all mentioned garlic as being really helpful for them. Although I didn’t mention it earlier, garlic is wonderful for moving congestion out of the lungs and sinuses. We often want fresh garlic when we’re using it for an acute situation.
When using herbs to address a health challenge, it’s always a good idea to talk to an herbalist. You can talk to your doctor, but they are generally not as well versed in the benefits of herbs. Find a practitioner who has experience, who can look at you as an individual and say, “This is what I see going on. These are the herbs that are right for you and not just broad recommendations for the general public.”
Right now, we don’t have clinical trials regarding herbs and COVID-19. Clinical herbalists are sharing their experiences, but we still have a long way to go because this virus can affect people so dramatically differently. But, again, I think we can fall back on treating what we see. If somebody is having mild symptoms, we can use herbs specifically for those symptoms and to support what the person is going through.
Roberta: Is the form in which the selected herb is used important and, if so, how would a person know which form to choose?
Rosalee: The type of herbal preparation that we choose is very important. Sometimes, it is about common sense. If you have a sore throat, taking a capsule is probably not going to help, but having a spoonful of herbal honey or a tea where the herb is directly coating your throat can be really helpful.
Sometimes, the herbal preparation is particular to the menstruum (the solvent). For example, teas and decoctions are water based, and many extracts and tinctures are alcohol based. Alcohol powerfully extracts alkaloids and resins from plants, but it doesn’t extract vitamins and minerals – and it breaks down mucilage. So, if we have a plant that’s high in vitamins and minerals and we want those nutrients from the plant, we’re not going to choose an alcohol extract. It’s the same if we want a demulcent preparation to soothe a sore throat; an alcohol extract may not be the best choice.
Another thing to think about is that when you take elderflower as a warm or hot tea, it works as a diaphoretic, helping release heat from the body. If you take it as a cold tea, it becomes a diuretic, making you urinate more frequently. Knowing both how to take an herb and what form to choose is important.
That’s one reason I often teach through recipes. In that way, I can show people exactly how to use an herb. If I just said, “You have a fever, so take elderflower,” a lot of information would be missing. Unfortunately, much of the herbal information that you find online doesn’t go into dosage, frequency, and type of preparation. If you find something that just says take this herb for this condition, it’s not really quality information, and you want to look elsewhere.
Roberta: How would a person find out what dosage is both safe and effective?
Rosalee: Most herbs, especially the ones I’m talking about here, are very safe. We aren’t talking about potentially toxic herbs that only should be taken in small amounts. For the most part, if you take too much of a safe herb, your body will let you know right away. Generally, the adverse effects are an upset stomach, a headache, or dryness—a dry mouth or dry eyes. The symptoms tend to be very mild, and once you back off on the dosage, they go away.
In clinical practice, I tend to see more problems with people not using enough rather than using too much. People come to me who are taking the right herbs but are taking far too little both in terms of dosage and frequency. As I mentioned before, when we’re dealing with acute problems, frequency is very important. For the most part, taking something every 30 minutes, every hour, or maybe every couple of hours is needed.
Dosage varies widely between herbs. You wouldn’t take the same amount of turmeric and garlic, for example. How do you find out about that? Clinical manuals are going to be very helpful. Clinical herbalists always mention dosage because we know how important it is. Both of the books I have written include dosage for every herb, as well as special considerations and contraindications.
Another thing to note is that dosage changes both for the circumstance and for the person. For example, we use less herbs with children or the elderly than we do with other people. But even with two adults of the same age, one person might do better with less herbs and the other with more herbs. So, we look at dosage as a suggestion.
Earlier, I mentioned that I recommend 15 to 30 grams of astragalus per day. However, I suggest that people start small. You might start with 5 grams and see how your body feels. If it feels good, take some more – maybe 10 grams. Increase the dosage slowly until you are getting the results you want without any negative effects.
Roberta: Where can people find quality information about herbalism?
Rosalee: I have my own personal website, HerbsWithRosalee.com, which has loads of free, quality information about using herbs. I have also written two books. My first book is Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients into Foods and Remedies that Heal. It’s about using herbs and spices in your everyday life. The second is Wild Remedies: How to Forage Healing Foods and Craft Your Own Herbal Medicine. That book is about learning about the plants that grow around you, many of which are often weeds, and strengthening your connection to nature.
LearningHerbs.com is a great site that I’m affiliated with. It has an extensive blog with articles from many herbalists. These articles often are remedy based, so you learn how to make specific herbal remedies for various situations.
On my site and in my books, I list my favorite resources, as well as other herbalists. But when you are assessing herbal information, you want to know: How did that person get their knowledge? Is it from personal experience? Are they a clinical herbalist? Does the information include dosage, preparation, and frequency? Those are some ways that you can assess the information to see if it’s quality.
Roberta: Do you have any closing thoughts to share with us?
Rosalee: During this pandemic, many people are turning to herbs out of fear. I actually applaud that because fear can be an important motivator for us to take care of our health. Even if people turn to herbs out of fear, they are going to find that herbs work really well.
However, I’ve been turning to herbs as my main source of healthcare for almost 20 years because of joy. I want to share how much joy there is in herbs. Herbs and spices are so delicious. It’s fun to create herbal remedies in our own kitchens, and they can bring us such relief. I’m continually grateful for herbs, whether I am soothing the sting of an insect bite, addressing a skin infection, or feeling relief from the symptoms of an upper respiratory infection. I’m also grateful to get to know herbs – not just as dried substances in my kitchen but as plants that grow around me. There’s an intense joy associated with watching them go through the seasons. I want to remind people how much herbs can enrich our lives. They can go far beyond simply relieving our symptoms. &
Rosalee de la Forêt is a registered herbalist with the American Herbalist Guild and author of the bestselling book Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients into Foods and Remedies that Heal, as well as co-author of Wild Remedies: How to Forage Healing Foods and Craft Your Own Herbal Medicine. Rosalee was a clinical herbalist for many years and now teaches through online courses and at various national and international conferences. She is also the Education Director for LearningHerbs. To learn more about Rosalee and access free herbal information, see her website, HerbsWithRosalee.com.
Roberta Louis is managing editor of the Price-Pottenger Journal of Health and Healing, founder of the Shaman’s Drum Foundation, and a freelance writer and editor.
Published in the Price-Pottenger Journal of Health and Healing
Summer 2020 | Volume 44, Number 2
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