May 12, 2014

Herbs & Essential Oils to Fight MERS Part 2

CDC Logo

CDC Logo

Today, the CDC announced the 2nd confirmed case of the MERS coronavirus in the US. This also involved a health care worker from Saudi Arabia. A press release will be posted on their site at this address,, once their media briefing is complete

As a follow up to my earlier article, Herbs And Essential Oils to Fight Coronaviruses Part 1, this article details the herbs and oils that I’ve chosen to store for my own family in case of a coronavirus outbreak, like MERS or SARS, were to happen in my neck of the woods. This is entirely possible, as the patient with the 2nd case of MERS in the US became ill on a flight that passed through Boston according to this article.

The herbs here are chosen based upon:

  1. Antiviral ability
  2. Immune-supporting ability
  3. Ability to reduce cytokine cascades or inhibit specific cytokines
  4. Ability to provide relief from respiratory symptoms and protect the lungs
Scutellari  baicalensis flowers Photo Credit Doronenko

Scutellari baicalensis flowers Photo Credit Doronenko

Chinese Skullcap, Scutellaria baicalensis

Chinese skullcap (not the same as American skullcap, Scutellaria lateriflora) is a broad spectrum antiviral with some potent antibacterial properties as well. It is included here because of it’s ability to inhibit viral replication. It is effective against RNA viral cells and coronaviruses are RNA viruses. It has an added bonus of being able to protect the cell membranes from cytokine storms, and inhibits HMGB1.

Licorice, Glycyrrhiza glabra 

Licorice is many things. It is a potent antiviral, it is somewhat antibiotic, plus it’s sweet and helps children take their “medicine”. However, licorice is used with other herbs, and not so much on it’s own. It is a synergist that in herbal blends, “plays nice and works well with others”, especially Chinese skullcap, making the resulting combination more potent than the components alone.Licorice also helps to inhibit HMGB1, but is not intended for long term use. Four to six weeks is appropriate, but that’s about the limit. There can also be side effects, especially if high blood pressure related to kidney function is present.

Angelica, aka Dong Quai, Angelica sinensis

While there is much to be said for Angelica for women’s health, the reason it is being included in this list is for it’s ability to inhibit HMGB1. Inhibiting HMGB1 is critical with a coronavirus infection to prevent the most serious of complications from cytokine storms.

Red sage, aka Chinese sage, aka Danshen, Salvia Miltiorrhiza

Danshen is noted for its anti-inflammatory effects and its healing effects upon the kidneys. In traditional Chinese medicine, Danshen is often blended with Kudzu for cardiac complaints, and is also part of a blend of herbs used to treat diabetes. Consider that the exceptionally high rate  or mortality initially associated with MERS was related to pre-existing chronic illnesses, specifically diabetes, heart disease, and renal failure, this would be a helpful herb for many with underlying chronic illness. However, I have included it for it’s ability to inhibit HMB1.

Kudzu, Pueraria lobata

Kudzu- public domain photo

Kudzu- public domain photo

In addition to being a trusted partner of Danshen for heart and cardiovascular disease, Kudzu inhibits other cytokines associated with severe inflammation of the respiratory passages.

I would make a tincture of all equal parts of each of the above herbs. I typically use the simpler’s method of just filling a jar and then covering in alcohol. In this case, I would use a 50% alcohol to cover, to either a watered down grain alcohol (95%) or 100 proof vodka.

Milk Vetch, Astragalus membranaceus

Astragalus is both antiviral and supportive to immune function. It is an immune restorer and an immune stimulant. It is used mostly in foods, like broths or water used to cook grains.

Medicinal Mushrooms

There isn’t one specific type of mushroom. There are many that are “medicinal” mushrooms which do a fabulous job of strengthening the immune system and immune response. Here is a link to the specific mushroom supplement I take and am stocking up on.

Additional Herbs

The symptoms of a respiratory infection, whether it is influenza, SARS, or even MERS, are relatively similar: violent coughing, excess mucus, fever, body aches, sore throat, and so on. Please check out this older article on flu threats which outlines several remedies, including Rosemary Gladstar’s fire cider and my blend I call “Herbal Tussin Tea.”  Click here.

Essential Oils

Store your oils individually, not in blends. While blends are convenient, the oils can deteriorate faster in a blend than when stored separately.

Use your oils in a nebulizer or ionizing diffuser. A nebulizer is ideal for an individual’s treatment, and an ultrasonic ionizing diffuser is better suited to reducing germs in a room. Oils to use would be thyme, lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus, and oregano.

This is certainly not every herb possible that would be beneficial. These are just the ones that I picked. Feel free to leave questions and comments below.

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