Plant Medicine and the Novel Coronavirus

Plant Medicine and the Novel Coronavirus

As we all strive to regain a sense of equilibrium in the midst of sweeping lifestyle changes brought about by the novel coronavirus, I want to remind each of us that we have plant allies all around us that can help our bodies, minds, and spirits recover greater balance, connection, and healing—plants are everywhere at hand, ready to teach, heal, and inspire us both individually and as a global community. Indeed, it is in our best interest to think and behave more like plant communities.

In times of stress or threatened disease, plant individuals communicate unceasingly with their broader community, signaling warnings, and offering both protection and nutritive aid to struggling segments of the community. Individuals work in unison as one vast body, and this enables a community to both survive and thrive. Plants are, in fact, masters of managing stress and halting the spread of disease. This is one of the reasons we have so many extraordinary plant medicines that help protect the human body from stress and illness.

Here are suggestions from the world of professional herbalism about how you can best care for yourself and others at this time. 

First and foremost, stay home if you have that choice. It is in the best interest of all for each of us to make this temporary sacrifice of self-quarantine. To learn more about the vital importance of “flattening the curve” of coronavirus spread, read this.

By staying home, we help limit the spread of the disease, thereby helping stave off a disastrous over-whelm of hospitals and medical personnel—an overwhelm that would force the medical community to make choices about who will or will not get access to medical treatment—in essence, choosing who will be given the chance to live, and who will not. Staying home is a choice to act in unison, as a human community, for the greater health and wellbeing of us all. 

Rest. Adequate rest is our body’s most important means of self-defense! This is the time that our bodies deeply cleanse themselves of toxins built up over the course of the day, restore cells, and renew their defenses. Countless studies prove that eight hours of sleep is the minimum recommended for optimal health and recovery in adults.

Nouish your body, mind, and spirit. While it may be difficult to see the silver lining in all of this, one thing is certain: we are all being forced to slow down—which in and of itself is a positive change. If at all possible, I urge you to take a little time each day to reflect, observe, journal, and simply reconnect with yourself. Now is the time to begin that meditation practice each morning and evening that you’ve been telling yourself forever that you’d start. Now is the time to breathe, stretch a bit, and perhaps try yoga or qi gong at home; read articles or books that nourish your creativity and spirit; and, consider trying a few new recipes, if you are fortunate enough to have a fully stocked pantry.

In terms of food, bone broth is perhaps the single most nourishing food you can be consuming right now to keep your body and immune system strong. If you are a vegetarian, make broth with a little organic seaweed and a variety of mushrooms instead of bone.

Practice Calm. During times of intense or prolonged stress, it is important to nourish and bolster your nervous system. Too much nervous overstimulation will gradually weaken our body’s defenses. Here are a few of western herbalism’s most effective Nervines:

  • Milky Oats

  • Ashwagandha

  • Gotu Kola

  • Brahmi

  • Passionflower

  • Skullcap

  • Lemon Balm

  • Hawthorn leaf, flower, and berry

  • Chamomile

  • California Poppy

  • Linden leaf and flower


Nervine teas: Circe, Einstein, Nocturne, Nutriunt, and Nyx


Lather up! Remember that plain old soap and water are keys to keeping this virus at bay. Consider ordering a rich, handmade soap from a local maker. It is not necessarily any more helpful to have your soaps laced with harsh antimicrobials (it actually may be detrimental to your body’s immune system). The natural oils in regular soap are themselves what damage and help kill this virus. Here is a link to soap made by one of my favorite small, woman-owned businesses in Nebraska.

 Supplement.Vitamin C and Zinc should not be underestimated as daily preventative measure, in addition to moderate daily doses of elderberry tincture or syrup. Taking a daily mushroom supplement is also strongly advised, as their high levels beta glucans provide powerful immune modulation. Reishi mushroom in particular is a supreme immune tonic, has powerful anti-inflammatory effects, and can rejuvenate the lungs. 

Find joy in the little things, practice gratitude, and remember that laughter, too, is a powerful medicine. Some of the things that fill me with the most joy and gratitude each day are among the most basic—for example, seeing my children and husband all gathered together around our table, healthy and strong. I am filled with an overwhelming gratitude that we are fortunate enough at this time to have adequate food, a warm and healthy shelter, and this unexpected, wholly unhurried time together. We have time to listen and share what we each are feeling, what each of us hopes and fears, and what may have concerned or delighted each of us that day. I have this unexpected opportunity to work with my children on their homework or create home-learning opportunities, as well as a little more time each day to play games, and to just be with and love them. 

I am not going to lie, though. I am struggling big time, like so many parents are, because I get precious little work accomplished in a day; however, I choose not to let that desolation eclipse my gratitude. 

Medicine really can be in the simplest things: on St. Patrick’s eve we decided to have a little dance party after dinner. We turned up the Riverdance and did what we could to celebrate our Irish roots. My kids immediately started choreographing a performance, and it didn’t take long for everyone to dissolve into an exhausted heap of giggles and laughter. That was strong medicine for our spirits, and we created it together.

What to do if you feel unwell. Here, I wish to share a few of my personal thoughts about early-stage treatment if you suspect it may be COVID-19. In other words, this is the protocol I am planning to use for my own family:

1) Stop elderberry, and immediately begin a mushroom supplement—one that contains both reishi and chaga, and ideally turkey tail as well. The mushroom tonic should be taken 2-3 times daily, in addition to Vitamin C and zinc.


Artemis’ NEW Mycelia - Nootropic + Adaptogenic Mushroom Elixir (releasing soon!)


2) For influenza or suspected corona virus, begin regular dosing of antiviral herbs (hyssop, thyme, yarrow, oregano, helichrysum). Herbal health practitioners who have recently visited China to work with health personnel there all agree that the excessive damp nature of this illness requires herbs that warm our interior and increase circulation (fenugreek, cinnamon, yarrow, thyme), protect digestion and keep the bowels functioning properly (chai spices, fenugreek), that thin sticky and stuck mucus (pleurisy root, mullein, boneset), and that keep the pores open and able to flush toxins and heat (elderflower, pleurisy root, hyssop, thyme). One of the most concerning symptoms of coronavirus is that it can create an excess of very dry, sticky, tough phlegm that is difficult to expectorate. To treat this kind of excess phlegm with no cough reflex, boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) is strongly recommended. Boneset is easy to grow in your own garden, and generally widely available (do consider growing some in your own garden this spring). It is one of our premier antivirals, famous for its ability to treat influenza and resolve thick, turbid phlegm. 

It is also very important to do your best to keep the virus in the nose and sinus cavity, if possible, and inhibit its spread into the lungs. To do this, I recommend using a Neti pot a few times daily with distilled water and non-iodized salt; and consuming several doses of Fire Cider throughout the day, in addition to the other supplements mentioned above. Horseradish is particularly helpful in combatting sinus congestion and thinning mucus and phlegm.   


Woodsman, Remedium, Manipura Chai, Nutriunt


3) Drink antiviral tea, take an herbal bath, and then drink more tea. This allows the herbs to saturate the body, open the pores, and produce a good, healing sweat.  

Recommended Artemis Formulas


If symptoms worsen, or you experience any difficulty breathing seek immediate medical help. Do remember, however, that these herbs are very important allies during recovery phase as well. They help protect the liver, kidneys, lungs, and heart throughout the illness, as well as once major symptoms begin to abate.  

 Artemis Teas & Botanicals is here to serve and help support your wellbeing.  

 In peace, may you be well,

Suggestions made above are for educational purposes only, and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Text and Photography Copyright © 2024, Andrea Lawse. All Rights Reserved.


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