**Update: So now that we’re all quarantined, this post is updated with some new resources to support you in your home health and wellness pursuits. The updates will be above the original paragraphs. Things are changing on a daily basis and we are doing our best to stay current. Stay well, we love you. – TKW
Hey all, I know that many of us have people who have delicate immune systems in their lives and are especially concerned about all of the funk going around. I know that with my wife Cyndi (you adorable pansy you) still being immunocompromised, this is a huge concern in our house. I have been researching various ways for us to boost our immune response and keep our homes safer for use. Several people have asked me what we’re doing to try to protect ourselves, so I’m sharing below. Now, I am (obviously) not a doctor, so I’m making no claims of magical protection. The thing is, it’s hard to not be scared when someone you love deeply is delicate and there is the possibility that simply, everyday things could put you at risk. We have to continue to live our lives, despite the fear so I’m pulling things together to help us feel empowered and good in our bodies. Staying as healthy as possible is often the best defense against picking up the funk that’s getting passed around.
Wash Your Hands
No joke. Like every chance you get (and maybe more). Hand washing is the first step in prevention. Everyone acts horrified when I mention in pathology class that many diseases are propagated through oral fecal transfer, they’re all “OMG how could that happen?!” and then I watch them walk past the sink in the public bathroom without stopping. That’s how my friend. In addition, if you have small humans in your world, after you change a diaper or help them in the bathroom, be sure to wash your hands as though you just used the restroom. Basically, you just did. Also, there’s actually a technique for proper hand washing, most people don’t slow down long enough to do it. See the pics below to show you why it’s important and how to do it.
This is especially important when you do these things:
- Use the bathroom or change a diaper (every single surface in the bathroom has aerosolized urine and feces if the toilet is not covered when it flushes, put the lid down, if there is one)
- Eat or prepare food
- Blow your nose
- Cover your face when you sneeze or cough, ideally, sneeze or cough into the crook of your arm (and then wash your arm too)
- Touch your face (this is because of exposure to saliva and mucous which we are often unaware of even doing, keep in mind your eyes are a place that can absorb viruses and bacteria)
**As a side note, the fact that flushing the toilet can aerosolize urine and feces (EWWW) is part of why it is recommended that you keep your toothbrush in a cabinet to protect it as well as closing the lid on the toilet after use. There are also some super fancy toothbrush sanitizers out there, like the one shown on the right that use a UV light to kill bacteria while covering your brush to protect it also. We will be getting one of these shortly. I’ll let you know what we think.
Get Some Sleep
Your body needs to work on repairing and resourcing itself and much of this happens while you’re sleeping. If you’re tired, you’re working at a pace that is already behind. Go to bed early. Don’t have that extra cup of coffee after 2pm (I’m talking to myself here…). Turn off the TV, put down the screens and try to turn in early. Your body has some hard work to do and it needs adequate time to do it. Also, if you’re tired during the day take a 20-minute power nap, but keep it short or the likelihood of you falling asleep in the evening is low. If you are having a hard time sleeping, try some of these things:
- Stretch – take some time to stretch before bed, releasing tension in the body accompanied with deep breathing can make getting to sleep significantly easier.
- Yoga – I know this sounds like stretching but if you practice yoga, yin yoga or restorative yoga, even for 15 minutes before bed is really supportive
- Meditation – taking time to intentionally still your mind can help it slow down so sleep is easier to get to
- Journal – if your brain is really full this is a good way to get down all the things spinning around in it to clear the way to dreamland
- Golden Milk – this is a turmeric drink that we love. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties are widely accepted and drinking a small, warm drink before bed is a soothing ritual. The recipe is here
- Magnesium & Calcium – if you’re still struggling, boosting your magnesium and calcium (obviously check with your doctor since I’m not one) is often recommended as calcium helps regulate a ton of different functions in the body including supporting a healthy sleep cycle. Magnesium helps its actions in the body. In addition, if part of what’s keeping you awake is sore muscles from the walks you’re now taking (see next point) these two can help with aches and cramps. I make a mix of these for Cyndi most nights.
Flush Your Lymph System
So this is super simplified, but, our lymphatic system is, for all intents and purposes, a passive system. Meaning, it doesn’t have an organ like our heart to pump the lymph fluid through it. The thing about that is that the lymphatic system is essentially, our immune system. So if the fluids aren’t moving well, the garbage and threats the fluids pick up just kind of pool. The nodes (which are at every major joint to allow them to be pumped to drain them when you move) aren’t being flushed regularly. This is why athletes often, more easily overcome the colds and flu that get passed around. They’re flushing that system consistently so it’s being cleaned out and is moving quickly through the channels so it can assess and deal with any threats.
=> Move your body
***Update: Here in California you are still allowed to go out and take walks, just be sure to practice Social Distancing. 6 feet is the recommendation for public interactions, wear a mask or at the least, if you don’t have one, a bandana to filter your breath and hopefully limit your intake of others germs. The virus is airborne, so it’s wise to limit your exposure as much as possible.
***Update: Do some Tai Chi, those of you who went to IPSB should have some memory of the Tai Chi from we practice but the video below is a great reminder of how to do it. It has an added bonus of stress relieving properties as well as strength building. Do a few rounds a day, do them slowly. Sometime soon Leslie is looking into doing Tai Chi and Qigong exercises via Zoom so you can join her and hear her saying “Siiiiiitttt” while your leg is crying that it’s tired and wants you to change position in your own living room.
***Update: Look for online classes. There are tons of local yoga studios, meditation groups, aerial yoga (if you have a swing in your house), pilates teachers (Check out one of our students David Minicucci – he’s been doing remote training sessions) and trainers that are moving their practices online to help support people in continuing to move and stay healthy from home.
If you can’t get out and walk for like 20 minutes a day (ideally while doing a few squats to bend your knees and hips, and also pumping your arms to bend at your elbows and shoulder so the lymph nodes at those joints get pumped) then incorporating some marching in place, and squats, or lifting your legs (think high stepping) to bend at your joints, on a consistent basis throughout your work day will help move fluid. The consistent cardio has even more benefits to add that we hear about all the time in the media.
=> Go to the spa
*** Update: Since spas are now closed, you can do a hot and cold flush in your shower. It’s not as luxurious or as thorough, but it will have a similar effect and will help your immune system.
In addition, and one of my favorite ways to flush my lymph system is to hit my local spa and do an alternating hot/cold dip. And I mean as hot as you can stand and colder than you think you can handle rapid flush. You’ll find me, usually once a week during cold and flus season, at my local Korean spa, first thing when they open so the water is SUPER hot/cold, alternating between pools until the contrast just isn’t all that pronounced. The vasodilation and vasoconstriction causes rapid flushing. It’s also just really relaxing to shut off my phone for an hour or so a week and not talk to anyone while I listen to my body. You can’t underestimate the value of a break when it comes to lowering stress levels to boost your immune system. (**Keep in mind, this isn’t a good idea for anyone with a heart condition)
=> Get a massage
***Update: All of our governing bodies and professional agencies have sent out notices in the last few days stating that it is irresponsible to be working on the public (for more information on this there is an article by the woman who wrote the pathology book I teach from here). We need to be responsible and pause our practices for a bit. That doesn’t mean that bodywork is not supportive of the immune system, just that we need to spend some time working on ourselves and supporting our clients in doing the same until it is safe to work with others again (here is a link for some self massage articles). Also, try dry brushing for lymphatic support. It’s an age old wellness support that is easy to do and it’s not like we all won’t have time to try it…. (this article explains it well).
For all those lymphatic massage practitioners out there, this is another place for you to shine. While all bodywork is going to be helpful here (lowers stress, flushes fluids, is awesome), lymph drainage is a great support to challenged immune systems. Its goal is to move stagnant fluid and support the person’s system in clearing itself more efficiently. When you have a chronic illness, it’s often hard to move enough to ensure that passive system is working well, or, conversely, your system may be challenged enough that it just needs a lot of support to work. Bodywork is a great help in this instance. (**Always consult with your doctor if you have a complicated health state to ensure you’re getting all the support you need and choosing the right bodywork modality for where your body is at.)
Clean your space
***Update: Cleaning products are hard to come by right now and the more I think about the immune suppressing qualities of certain chemicals that make up a lot of cleaning solutions the more important it is to me to share the effective natural cleaners and also to make sure that everyone knows what NOT to mix (see pic on the right).
I know this seems obvious BUT many viruses and bacteria can live without a host on surfaces we touch. Wipe down surfaces, by which I mean, wipe them down like a CSI team is coming in and you just did something you don’t want to be caught for:
- Door knobs
- Handles of all kinds (get both sides of things like the handle on your toilet)
- Light switches
- Refrigerator door handles
- Your phone (omg hit that daily)
- Your computer keyboards, track pads & mice, touch screens
- Landline phones at work should be sanitized often
- Basically anything you might touch but not think about touching regularly
**Bonus Reminder: wash out that water bottle you carry with you everywhere, your mouth is FULL of bacteria that are incubating in it!
=> Use products that won’t make your environment MORE toxic.
***Update: if you are looking for non-toxic products there some available right now through Young Living in both the Thieves starter kit and the new discounted wellness kits (including lung supporting oils, immune supporting oils, antioxidants, vitamin C, which is basically impossible to find right now…) they put together to support our community. (Pics below if you need to order one, start here)
When Cyndi developed cancer I spent a lot of long, anxious nights obsessing about cumulative toxicity and how our homes and the products we use in them can either build our state of health or tear it down. If you want to spend some time horrified open any one of your cupboards and start reading labels and looking up ingredients – just punch them into google with the phrase “the dangers of…”, there are also a host of websites out there now that you can plug in different ingredients to learn if they’re a neurotoxin or endocrine disruptor or whatever questionable thing they may be.
This resulted, for me anyway, in a massive cupboard cleaning, including dumping our very expensive, non-stick pots and pans. Some days, it’s more about what you can control. For me, knowing that what I wash my fruit in, wipe my counters with and brush my teeth with, won’t poison me or make things worse for us is some small measure of comfort. The thing is, the products have to actually CLEAN. We use the Thieves cleaning products and in fact just ordered this kit: (below) to restock the house because it’s a killer (more than ½ off – nearly $400 worth of products for $165) deal. Everything in the line is plant based and made with the cleanest and most effective ingredients out there. Unlike some “natural” cleaners they also pack a punch and really clean. Oh and they’re safe to use around small humans and our furry family members. As a bonus, creepy crawly things (we have a terrible issue with ants in the summer where I live) hate the smell of clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary but that’s a whole other post.
A Note about Thieves Cleaner: this cleaner is SUPER concentrated (so is the laundry soap and dish soap, etc so use way less than you think you need). You only mix a few tablespoons into each spray bottle which means that bottle of cleaner. Because you want the essential oils to have a chance to actually work, so spray down the surface and let the cleaner sit for a few, then come back to wipe it down. If you want to order this awesome kit (trust me, you want it), go here. If you’re already a YL member, it’s a starter kit that you can order as a quick order in your back office.
***I just made a huge batch of this and we will be sipping on it nightly in a few days. I had to go to 6 different stores to find fresh turmeric, I highly recommend stopping at places like India Sweets & Spices first if you are looking for it to save yourself time and potential exposure.
We love this stuff. Our friend Amy Mullin introduced us to it ages ago now. Hers had been curing for like a year and was this amazing mix of savory and citrus that just made everything in my body happy. It’s made with a variety of herbs, fruits, vegetables and spices that are a lot like every great grandma’s “mix some garlic with…” home remedy. The bonus here is the alkalizing action of the Apple Cider Vinegar, I am always reading about how an alkaline environment in the body is a healthier environment and this is a great way to accomplish that. In addition, it’s tasty.
This is my basic recipe, keep in mind, Cyndi can’t do super spicy so if you want a little more burn in yours (which is delicious) add another jalapeño or two and more onion and horseradish. Since I had a hard time finding oregano this week I added oregano essential oil (2 drops) to each batch and will adjust once it’s had a week or so to marry. It needs at least a week to cure but once it’s ready, filter out the solids and rebottle. Serve it as hot tea, meaning, mix a couple tablespoons in hot water with honey and sip.
This is an easy immune boost but it takes some getting used to for sure. There are a couple ways to do it:
- Chop a few cloves of garlic fine and mix with a tablespoon of honey. Take as a shot and follow with some orange juice or some thing similar. Check out the benefits here
- Ferment the garlic and honey. This takes a little longer and has a unique flavor, it’s used to soothe a sore throat and has a ton of benefits. We’ll be making some this week (bc, yeah, lots of free time) and will be posting pics and recipes shortly but in the meantime, here’s a great site with info.
**Update: new information suggests that Elderberry Syrup should only be used as wellness support/preventative care – specifically when it comes to the Cover 19 situation as there is some concern about how it specifically boosts your immune system function as relates to cytokines. This being said, the major take away I have from everything I’m reading is to couple it with a ton of antioxidants (which you should be doing anyway) like the drink below and Vitamins A, B, C, D3, E & glutathione (check out Sulfurzyme from Young Living for a healthy support in your natural glutathione production). Who wouldn’t be better off with a few more antioxidants in their diet?
Since I’m always looking for ways to support our immune function, I’ve been making my own version of this immune boosting deliciousness for a while now and while the recipe changes often depending on our lives and what’s going on in them, here is the basic recipe.
Don’t underestimate the power of flooding your system with these power houses. There are some theories that oxidation is one of the leading causes of aging and dysfunction in the body. I don’t know about that, but what I do know is that I feel better when I remember to take my dose on Ningxia Red every day and I do my best to eat a colorful diet every day. I’m super busy, most days I’m lucky if I have time to eat a meal at home lately, so I really appreciate the fact that Ningxia, which is a powerhouse of antioxidants is so portable. At least if I’m eating something quick, I’m protecting my system with a quick shot of nutrients.
Take Your Supplements
***Update: so, supplements to focus on:
- Probiotics to ensure that you’re actually assimilating whatever you’re taking and eating (we take Life 9 from Young Living every day)
- Antioxidants to help neutralize oxidative stress on your cells and help them function at their optimum capacity (Like NingXia Red)
- Vitamin C an antioxidant that helps boost immune function (comes in the new wellness kits from Young Living)
- Zinc shortens the life of a cold or infection and boosts immune function (like Zicam or Immupro from Young Living)
- Multi Vitamin you want to make sure that your system is well resourced (we take the Young Living Master Formula)
Take your supplements and make sure they’re a good quality source. Here’s the thing, you can do all the right things and our food is still less nutrient dense than it was. In our house, because we are working with systems that are often fatigued, taxed or depleted and also busy schedules that make cooking balanced, organic meals challenging, we rely on good quality supplements to ensure our bodies have all the resources they need. I always joke that Cyndi is my favorite science experiment. I’m always researching new ways to bio-hack her body and boost it’s ability to thrive. That being said, I’m no doctor just a helpful hedge witch and she’s totally given me permission to feed her whatever I think is a good idea (insert evil genius laugh). We are generally working with a few things: supporting healthy gut flora, supporting a healthy nervous system and brain function, working to support our over 40 year old bodies in being resourced with everything they need to thrive. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/soil-depletion-and-nutrition-loss/
Also, we can’t discount the effect of pollution in our food chain. (https://depts.washington.edu/ceeh/downloads/FF_Pesticides.pdf ) I, currently, can’t afford to eat organic everything so I try to focus on the Evironmental Working Group’s dirty dozen and clean fifteen lists and then make sure that my supplements are as clean as possible. https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php
In general, I buy them all from Young Living for a few reasons:
- I trust their sourcing. I’ve been to the farms, understand their commitment to quality (check out the Seed to Seal info) and I know they won’t add unnecessary crap to it
- They work. At this point I’ve done the “take it for 30 days and then quit taking it” test to see how we feel and there’s a marked difference in how we feel.
- I’d rather purchase things from my own “store” that I make money back on and get free product from, than give whole foods any more of my money.
- It’s cheaper to stay healthy than try to fix a lack of health. I’d rather invest in flooding my body with resource to heal itself than face more of the doctor bills we’ve lived with over the past several years.
This is what we take, at a minimum, each day:
- Master Formula – Multivitamins
- Life 9 – probiotics
- Mindwise – omega fatty acid for healthy brain function
- Omegagize – fish oil for healthy nervous system, healthy mood balance & brain function
- Sulfurzyme – to support healthy liver function & healthy joints (the liver utilizes this supplement to help make glutathione which is the body’s natural antioxidant)
- Essentialzyme 4 – with meals to support healthy digestion
- Ningxia Red – antioxidants to support healthy cellular function
Stay Well Hydrated
I know this seems rudimentary but your organs, cells, basically, all of you needs water. Your lymph won’t flush well if you’re dehydrated. Your heart has to work harder. You can’t clear waste from your liver and kidneys and your brain, which is basically a really ugly mass of jello won’t work at all without it, you will have a hard time thinking (brain fog) and fatigue more quickly. If you’re worried about staying well, now is the time to pound fluids. Flush your system. You should check the color of your urine and it should be a “light straw” color, ideally, this is a good gauge if you’re drinking enough water. There are differing opinions on if juice or tea (I love a good passion fruit iced tea as much as the next person) or other things that have water as an ingredient count towards your fluid intake. The rule of thumb I operate by is that if it makes your urine darker then it doesn’t count as part of your water intake. Often the additives, sweeteners and coloring in these things actually gives your body more to filter so be sure to get your recommended total water every day. (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256 )
Try Intermittent Fasting
***I want to say that there is no judgement here if you are stressed and find yourself eating a lot of comfort food…. #eatyourfeelings I’m currently obsessing about pie and looking into ordering from The Apple Pan which is doing delivery for the first time EVER pie is my thing. That being said, since we will be spending a LOT of time at home it’s a good time to make bone broth OR you could order some here from Kettle & Fire.
You may be hearing about this in the media, here’s the thing, it’s a pattern of eating rather than a diet. It’s being shown to have some pretty impressive positive actions in the body. Honestly, if you don’t eat past a certain hour of the evening so that the evening and your sleep time ends up being around 16 hours, you’re already doing it. I like to mix in things like a day of soup made with some delicious, mineral rich bone broth and limited solid foods to rest my system even more. Read more about it here: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/intermittent-fasting-guide#effects
Stay healthy out there!
The Kitchen Witch in
The Moon Goddesses Kitchen