by Tammera J. Karr, PhD, BCHN, CGP, CNW
St. Patrick’s day and many other hallmark holidays may feel like frivolous events to celebrate – but it is during times of high stress and fear that the perfect prescription is a “Lightening of the Mood with a Wee Measure of Frivolous.” In truth, life goes on; most of us have deadlines, work, and responsibilities. Yet during quarantines, we may be working from home or navigating the prickly world of board spouses and kids. The weight of events is heavy, and silly celebrations lighten our feelings of isolation, fear, and boredom. It activates our immune responses and improves our brain chemistry.
You know where I’m going with this, my point is there is far more we can do during this pandemic then snip at each other, bing buy, be rude to grocery clerks or fellow shoppers, or post stupid toilet paper comments on Facebook. Now is when we call on our pioneer heritage and help those in our communities. Our combined know-how is stunning, and when there is a will, some humor and ingenuity amazing things blossom. Thank goodness we have a growing number of farmers’ markets, local butchers, and food sources. Being able to produce and procure local foods, resources, and more is what kept the 1918 Spanish Influenza outbreak from decimating so many rural communities.
Time in nature, fresh air, and sunshine are also gifts from the Creator that help us stay healthy. There is a reason we have a spring cleaning bug. It motivates us to clear away the dust and throw open the sash, letting in light and air. Which medical staff learned in 1918 had an anti-viral activity. Clearing away the dust mites, lint and dander, helps our immune systems, at the same time keeping our hands busy.
When we “put on the green,” it isn’t just about the Irish. It is about new beginnings, spring, bursting forth new life, and those foods rich in nutrients that help us stay healthy. Even though we are still in the “hunger months” for fresh food production, there is a fantastic wealth of produce available in stores and markets. Albeit some of the bounty is due to our aversion to vegetables. The sooner we put the green on our plates, the faster we will pass through the current pandemic.
Current infectious disease models are projecting the coronavirus pandemic that may last well into 2020. If that model is accurate, then we have every reason to order garden seeds and become proactive in helping our neighbors. Our faith will and is being tested, can we practice the good works on our own without the audience? I hope so.
Taking back the control
As much as I see the uselessness of many of the precautions being mandated by state governments (ineffective face masks, wearing them improperly, hand sanitizers that damage immune systems, unnecessary closure of businesses, and general paranoia) I do believe in the potential for a fall rebound of COVID-19.
Please keep in mind this rebound virus will not be the same as what circulated in January and February, just as the virus present in May or June has two or more generations of adaptation to that found in China. Therefore any effective vaccine is very unlikely. Viruses are sneaky little bastards, changing and using our normal body systems to hide from the immune system. THAT IS WHY we should be doing everything we can to strengthen our immune systems. This is not done overnight by a magic pill with a prescription label.
Our best recourse is those tools provided by nature that viruses are unable to mutate or adapt or mutate beyond.
1. Clean all the processed foods out – go with local vegetables, fruits and meats. Now is not the time to be eating sugar or processed foods. As much as I love bread, the increase of carbohydrates that increase inflammation, congestion, and blood sugars should be limited. Bread even naturally fermented sourdough does little to improve our ability to fight off viral infections.
2. Get your hands dirty – yup our immune system depends on microorganisms- they make up 85% of our immune response. We are intimately connected to the wee bugs in our soil, water and air. Our pets and homes share a common microbiota with us, it is the wee bugs that act as our front line defense against infections. We keep our microbiome healthy with the inclusion of fresh vegetables, ancient grains, and fruits. When we are constantly wiping down surfaces with bleach, vinegar, and alcohol disinfectants we are also damaging the microbiome of our environment. If you are worried about getting the COVID-19 virus from fresh vegetables – STOP, as with bacteria if in doubt steam, saute, fry, blanch, boil or bake the vegetables and fruits.
3. Get plenty of quality sleep – cut your alcohol consumption as it interferes with sleep quality, and lowers immune function. Turn off the WiFi at night, put your phone on airplane mode, cover blue light indicators, go to bed at the same time to ensure normal sleep hormone levels, keep your bedroom 60 or lower for temperature.
4. Utilize nature’s antiviral foods and herbs – garlic, ginger, elderberry, blackberries, black and green tea, onion, thyme, oregano, nettle, citrus, goldenseal, olive leaf, free-range protein, natural fats,
5. Old school – high-quality silver solutions are still used for third-degree burns, viruses are not able to hide from quality silver. (Please buy from a reputable company like Designs for Health or Quick Silver, pretty much all of the brands found in health stores are useless.)
6. Time in nature, research supports the multitude of health benefits from time in nature. Nature immits negative ions that stimulate hormones that support immune function. From just sitting and meditating, enjoying the view or hiking a trail; time in nature stimulates digestion, detoxification, circulation, vitamin D synthesis, and endorphins.
7. Turn off the news and Do Not Believe most of what you read, hear, or see. Now is when I’m seeing a big uptick in fake, incomplete, and poorly understood information. If you are healthy, doing the right things; “Falling Victim To Fear” will increase the risks of becoming ill. Fear suppresses our immune function.
8. Above all think ahead, plan, and be sensible.
Plan for the worst, hoping it never happens. Prayer, meditation, journaling, dance, sing, and laugh to improve immune function and brain chemistry.
Consider “putting on the green”; as a smile on your face, a song in your heart, and helping hands for those in your neighborhoods who are frightened, alone, isolated, and even hungry. Busy hands make for light hearts, so if you know an elder or disabled person is alone, drop off a jar or pot of soup, fresh bread, or bag of produce. Ask if you can weed their flower beds, trim bushes, chop firewood, or mow their lawn. Calling and checking in on friends and family, having actual conversations dose wonders. How about choirs sharing mucic as if they where caroling? All of this can be done from a safe distance. Rural communities have always come together during trying times and now is no different than 1918.
Putten on the Green Kale Sauté with Garlic and Lemon
1½ pounds (about 2 large bunches) kale*
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced (use more if you wish)
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Juice from 2 fresh lemons
Tear kale leaves into bite-size pieces; place in a large colander; rinse well under cold water.
Fill a large pot with water. Add about ½ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil; add kale and cook for 4-6 minutes until crisp-tender. Drain well.
Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat; add garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add kale; season well with sea salt and black pepper. Cook, often stirring, until wilted and tender, 4-6 minutes.
Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice; toss to combine. Serve immediately.
*Collard or mustard greens work well also, blanch greens instead of boiling