Our first round of Spagyric Essences to address the global health crisis we’re all experiencing is ready- you can find the collection in our store here, or read ongoing updates about what we’re doing and offering on this page.
In this post, I’d like to sort out some thoughts and discussions we’ve been having with each other and friends and allies as we all collaborate and pull together to try and be of service. This is all pretty fluid and not yet any kind of settled protocol, I’m just thinking about how we think about herbalism, and presenting what’s floated up in those discussions.
Our first response when the virus started looking like a serious threat was to gather our own energy, needs, and resources so that we could work from a stable place for the long haul. After that, we started thinking about what to offer for support and healing, both from our current catalogue and from the discussions of emerging treatments out of China in particular.
Even before anyone knew much about this new coronavirus generally, much less about herbal treatments for it, it was clear that it is a virulent infectious agent, an immune issue, and an attack to the respiratory system. Lots of herbalists started there, talking about many gifts of the plant kingdom for boosting immunity and supporting lung and respiratory health. One thousand years ago at the beginning of March, I wrote a post about Spagyrics for Immune Support which is in this vein, and I think is a good place to start.
As more specific research started to come out of both natural and conventional medicine, it became clear that supportive care is all conventional medicine has to offer, and that herbal medicine would be focused mostly on supporting the body’s system and responses, also. At the same time, some excellent research originally from Stephen Harrod Buhner’s book Herbal Antivirals, updated for this new coronavirus, suggested some possible herbal agents to fight the virus more directly and to inhibit its attack on the body’s systems.
This research is very science-based and supported with many studies and the practical experience of doctors in China, and it represents a materialistic way of thinking about herbalism, in which molecules in plants interact in specific ways with the body’s receptors, or those of the virus, initiating cascading clockwork-like reactions that hopefully lead to recovery.
And before you get the wrong idea, I do not mean materialistic in any negative sense here. Our world is made of materials, and a large part of herbalism is also material science. Personally, I find these kinds of discussions fascinating, and one of the great appeals of Spagyric work to me is that we create physical, chemically-potent medicines from plants; that even as we protect and elevate the subtle energy of the plants, we also take care of the chemistry their bodies created as a physical expression of that life force.
I see other herbalists who straddle this apparent divide, also, including Buhner himself, who has written his very scientific series on Herbal Antivirals, Antiobiotics, and Lyme Disease, while also being the author of The Secret Teachings of Plants, which is one of the most beautiful, poetic, and deeply spiritual books I’ve ever read. Both sides are stories about how healing plants work, and every story has a truth in it, while none have the only truth.
Of course, like anything, we can go too far to one side of the pendulum, and I admit to spending a whole day lost in the “Elder: is it safe/useful/dangerous/trying to kill us all” debate now flaring up in herbal circles, with all its attendant discussion of molecular chemistry, cytokine storms, and inflammatory response. It was an interesting merry-go-round to be on for a day, but then I was happy to leave that to the clinicians and move on.
That discussion did bring up some useful ideas, though, about how individual responses to any treatment can vary widely, and what’s right for one person may not be right for another. About that time, I ran into the free webinar series that BotanicWise has been hosting, and we listened to the first one by Guido Masé, which we highly recommend. In that talk, he goes over the scientific information we have about this coronavirus, and then discusses a range of herbal treatment and support options.
I also had a long discussion with my wonderful friend and wise herbalist Trinity Ava, and we went back and forth on the chemical specific/silver bullet type approach vs. one of more holistic consideration of the whole person and their symptoms, regardless of cause. She advocated for a whole-person, individual approach, which I realized I was also starting to come around to from the first, materialistic response we started with.
General suggestions of non-coronavirus-specific lung tonics, for example, had irritated me when I first started my research, and I think that was a reaction from of a place of stunned fear of this new illness, which seemed like it must require new medicines. I am glad that we started with a targeted response of some new Spagyrics, but as I start to pull back to the higher perspective, I am even more grateful that we already have so many helpful Spagyrics from our years of work.
One key point from Guido Masé’s talk that really resonated for me was that, as herbalists, we treat the person, not the disease. There is a disease reality we’re facing, and there are approaches to dealing with it that will be useful for everyone (wash your hands, stay home, get rest, wash your hands), but at the same time, each person’s body will interact with the virus in a unique way. We’re already seeing this in the continuum of outcomes that have been observed as this virus moves through the world, from people who had no symptoms and no idea they were infected, to mild flu-like systems, to total collapse and death.
That continuum of outcomes follows a continuum of individual health to a great extent, and the list of factors that put a person in the high-risk category is well known: age and a range of pre-existing conditions. It’s possible that within that cohort of high-vulnerability people, there are individuals who are not much affected by the virus despite their risk factors, just as there are young, apparently strong and healthy people who have become seriously ill. Some of the factors that place a person on the continuum between “totally unaffected” and “deathly ill” can be known, while others will never be.
In my mind, that really makes the case for treating the person in front of you, looking at their strengths and weaknesses, their response and systems affected, and selecting the best support for them. Whether you see a natural healer in this time or not, you can consider yourself in this same way, thinking as both healer and patient, and rather than looking for the one thing that will fight all coronavirus, look for the whole approach that will support you in the face of this virus or anything else the world throws at you.
If you’re young, basically healthy, following distancing and isolation protocols and all other prevention advice, and if you don’t have immediate infection threats in your environment, you might just want some basic immune tonic support, as I discussed in this article. You might also want to target that support to the respiratory system, or have some more specific respiratory Spagyrics on hand in case things do change. A collection of respiratory system-supporting Spagyrics can be found here, the ones we find most versatile and good for long-term use are Yerba Santa and Cordyceps.
A little further down that continuum, you might be in a crowded city, or be feeling run down or stressed, or be recovering from another infection or short-term issue with your immune health. This might be a time to rely on more aggressive Spagyric defenders, such as Astragalus, Green Propolis, or Licorice if it’s a safe choice for you. Our Defense Somalixir is another possibility, and don’t forget emotional health as I discussed in this article.
For our honoured elders and anyone with extra risk factors that create vulnerability, the first step should be consultation with your regular doctor or healer to make sure you understand how to protect your health as much as possible. As I said above, herbal or conventional, there is no sure cure for this virus, and everyone’s best chance is to avoid getting it; this is especially true if yours is a body that may not fight it off well.
This side of the continuum is where I do see the synergy between person and Spagyric become more narrow and specific, and where perhaps the more materialistic, targeted response way of thinking is best. For our relatives in this cohort, we are suggesting the three targeted formulas based on Buhner’s work: Foundation , Response , and Renewal.
To that, as with everyone else, you could add single Spagyrics for support specific to you: extra Red Root for recovery if infections tend to drag on for you or Boneset for fever, for example. And you shouldn’t forget emotional health, either- Rhodiola is a great uplifting mood and energy tonic, and has the added benefit of protecting the oxygenating function of the lungs and cardiovascular system.
I know this is a rather long post for one I also said was fluid and unsettled, but I’m finding it a really good time for everyone to collaborate, communicate, and share openly with each other. I thank you for reading through all of it, and I hope you find it useful! Share your thoughts, questions, and comments below, or connect with us on our Facebook page.
Until next time-
Stay calm, stay strong, be well, and be kind.
Paul & Micah