Yoga Journal editors wanted the 411 on what herbs and supplements may have a positive impact on our immunity and state of mind during these uncertain times. And we wanted to know, given our herbal consumption patterns, how much Ashwagandha is too much.
When there is a virus on the loose, Ayurvedic practitioners recommend adhering to standard hygiene practices, like hand-washing (see the video below), getting good sleep, eating healthy meals, and reducing stress. On top of that, and specifically for COVID-19, you can add herbs that support your respiratory mucus membrane and the healthy resident bacterial environment that lines your respiratory tract, says John Douillard, founder of LifeSpa.com and an expert in Ayurvedic medicine (yoga’s sister science).
He recommends the five below, and to be safe—as doctors don’t yet know the antiviral properties of these herbs on COVID-19—he suggests taking them at a dose of 500 mg, in capsule form, twice a day after you eat. And he suggests whole plant ingredients, rather than extracts. “At LifeSpa we use organic whole herbs that have all the microbes that a whole plant does. Studies show that the microbes that naturally occur on foods and plants support and enhance the effectiveness of the herbs,” says Douillard. “Whole herbs can also be taken in much larger dosages than extracts or other forms.”
Ashwagandha is a sweet root that is a powerful immune booster and adaptogen, helping you to fight off stress. Try Gaia Herbs Ashwgandha Root.
Turmeric, an antiviral, can support the delicate bacterial-rich environment that lines your gut and respiratory tract. Pro tip: combining 16 parts turmeric to 1 part black pepper increases absorption by 2000 percent, according to Douillard. This is the ratio you’ll find in LifeSpa’s Turmeric Plus Capsules.
Tulsi Holy Basil
Tulsi Holy Basil is a great stress-fighting adaptogen and powerful antiviral. Try Organic India’s Tulsi Holy Basil.
Neem, another antiviral agent, is known to repair the epithelial lining of the gut, where 70 percent of our immunity is housed, as well as the respiratory tract. Try LifeSpa’s Neem Plus.
Chyavanprash is a classic Ayurvedic superfood made with several herbs, including Amalaki, or Indian gooseberry—an immune-boosting rasayana herb that is rich in vitamin C. (In Ayurveda, rasayana herbs are plants that are used to improve memory and strength, and promote longevity.) Chyavanprash is also made into a paste that can be taken 1 tsp at a time two times a day after food, explains Douillard. Try Himalaya’s Chyavanprash capsules or VPK’s paste.
Here, Douillard explains the need for and power of disinfectant wipes, hand washing, and masks, before you add any herbs to your new daily coronavirus routine.