Building Immunity the Natural Way
Remedies and Rituals
Fear weakens the immune system, causing cardiovascular damage, gastrointestinal issues, and can accelerate aging and even cause premature death. It interrupts our brain’s ability to regulate emotions and reflect before acting. Fear and panic heighten xenophobia against populations where viruses originate, and has the tendency to stigmatize and further alienate people from one another.
As I see it, fear is an opportunity — asking us, how are we going to show up in times of chaos and uncertainty? Instead of being consumed by material or existential woes, I would challenge all in our community to take this time to connect back with what grounds us, to clear space and clean our air and lungs. To stretch and read books and get intentional with the way we interact with our surroundings.
I always feel like I can breathe easier after a deep clean. With COVID-19 at our heels, the need to spring clean is set at a higher precedence, as evidence suggests that aside from respiratory droplets, the virus could be spread via infected surfaces, especially plastic and steel.
If you’d rather not involve harsh chemicals while disinfecting, there are plenty of DIY recipes online that use antiviral essential oils such as tea tree, lavender, geranium, lemon, orange, eucalyptus, cinnamon, clove, thyme, and peppermint. A common recipe is, in a glass spray bottle, combining 70% or higher alcohol such as 151 proof or higher Everclear or rubbing alcohol, ½ teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide, 30 drops of tea tree oil, and 15 drops of lemon, lavender, and eucalyptus oil each. Wipe down surfaces such as light switches, trash cans, remote controls, and door handles.
While cleaning and decluttering, try to clear up any emotional weight by purging items that no longer fill you with purpose or joy, especially those that hold negative memories. Smudge the area with incense if it pleases you, while setting a cleansing intention.
Indigenous tribes of the Pacific Northwest would often use Western Red Cedar as an air and respiratory purifier. Native healers used cedar to treat fevers, sore throats, coughs, colds, and many other illnesses. To purify your air at home, combine water and a few handfuls of cedar in a large pot and let it boil for many hours. Don’t forget to thank the Earth and elements, and if foraging for the cedar, never take more than you need.
You’re on a roll now, so take a lavender or eucalyptus bath, envisioning perfect health for every cell in your body –— extend these wishes to the wider world too, envisioning a greener, healthier planet.
If you’re feeling congested, breathing techniques that use postural drainage are helpful. A quick example is lying on your back with pillows under your hips so they are elevated above your chest. Slowly inhale through the nose, then exhale twice as long through the mouth, repeating for a few minutes.
Alternatively, meditation practices can strengthen the immune system and have positive effects on Lymphocytes or white blood cells that produce antibodies and destroy damaging cells. There are great apps such as Headspace and Insight Timer that can easily guide you in stress-reducing meditations with a quick search using any keywords that suit the mood.
Some simple yoga poses that boost immunity by reducing inflammation are supported fish pose, forward fold, and legs up the wall. A heart opener, supported fish pose targets the lungs and relieves congestion. Forward fold allows blood flow to the sinuses, our bodies’ first line of defense against infection, and legs up the wall pose allows lymph drainage and even blood circulation.
If you are lucky enough to have a yard, get outside and breathe. Find solace in birdsongs, springing bulbs, and the buzzing of life shaking out its winter bones. Make tea from violet or pine needles. Create tinctures and wellness shots with combinations of ginger, garlic, apple cider vinegar, elderberry, rosemary, mugwort, turmeric, black pepper, cayenne, orange, lime, lemon… do these things with care and intention, and when you look back on COVID-19, you might just feel good about how you showed up.