Tag Archives: immune system

Quick and Dirty Antiviral

ingredientsI’ve been sick for literally two weeks, and it’s mostly my own fault. I broke the golden rule about being sick, which is to stay home and rest. Instead I hosted huge dinner parties, went to drunken costume benders, partied in Aspen for 5 nights, flew internationally for work and internationally for a wedding. All in two weeks. So obviously I am not recovering, and it’s a miracle that I don’t have something worse. On top of all that, I have probably spread my viral infection across the globe. But enough about me.

THE COLD AND FLU

Do you feel achy? Shivering? Alternating with sweating? Runny nose? Congested? Exhausted? Headache? Angry? Depressed? Coughing? Ticklish or burning throat? You have a viral infection!

There is a very, very small chance that you have a bacterial infection unless you ate a five-day old lobster salad which travelled to many hot sunny picnics, or if you have some other kind of food-borne illness, but most sicknesses are viral – meaning that you contracted a virus from somewhere.

Technically, a virus is not really an organism since it lacks a nucleus and cell wall. A virus is basically just a strand of DNA or RNA surrounded by a fancy polyhedron which is specific to each virus and studded with sensory receptors. A virus is like a seed, in that it is dormant until its receptors find the right conditions to grow and replicate. The most famous viral epidemic was the Spanish flu in 1918, which globally infected more than 500 million people, and killed at least 130 million. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

When you’re sick, you need to support your recovery with bed rest and easily digestible foods like chicken broth and coconut oil. The last thing you want to do is run around to pharmacies and herbal stores finding preparations, although you probably should.

If the best you can do is make it down to your kitchen to blend up a concoction of what you already have in your cupboard, then this Quick and Dirty Antiviral preparation is for you.

IMG_0730INGREDIENTS

  • At least a thumb size knob of fresh ginger
  • 5 good shakes of dried cayenne, or as much as you can handle
  • 1 TBS of coconut oil
  • 1 Tsp of royal jelly honey or just raw honey (Manuka honey would be a great option)
  • boiling water

You really need a vitamix or powerful blender to shred the ginger and liquefy it so that you can drink it down. I run the vitamix for at least 30 seconds. The concoction turns a lovely yellow opaque color, and I pour it into a clear glass so that I can really appreciate it.

This is a very hot! And spicy! medicine. It’s not something you want to drink every day, nor should you. However, you should drink this at least three times a day when you have a viral infection, which is basically what most cold/flu sickness are.

POURINGWHY IT WORKS: GINGER

Ginger is a hemagglutinin inhibitor, which means it stops viruses from attaching to the surface of airway epithelial cells (in the lungs). Once a virus does attach, it softens the cell’s surface and sneaks inside to hide from the immune system. The virus performs this “softening” technique by using an enzyme called neuraminidase. The good news is that ginger is also a neuraminidase-inhibitor, so ginger prevents any breaches to the cell wall.

However if a virus has managed to latch onto a cell wall and alter its structure and sneak inside, it will stimulate the cell to create a vacuole of protection around itself inside the cell. The vacuole needs to stick itself to the inside of the cell wall, which it does with hemagglutinin (a “gluey” substance) – but of course it can’t in the presence of ginger, a hemagglutinin inhibitor.

The chain of events that brings about viral illnesses is called a cytokine cascade – as cytokines are the signaling molecules of the immune system. Ginger prevents some of the early parts of the cascade as well as some of the later parts. However ginger does not prevent all of them. (The full blown cure for severe cytokine storms could require Chinese skullcap, lomatium, elder, licorice, inmortal, pleurisy root, Chinese senega root, boneset, cordyceps, Japanese knotweed, kudzu, astragalus, angelica, salvia, green tea and zinc; but at that point you are heading to a pretty special international herb shop and not just down to your kitchen for a Down and Dirty Antiviral potion).

Ginger is also good at thinning your mucus, which helps you to expel it, and will help to lower your fever during infection.

WHY IT WORKS: COCONUT OIL

Many viruses have a lipid coating, such as influenza, herpes, HIV, and cytomegalovirus. This lipid coating can be destroyed by monolaurin, a monoglyceride which is formed in the human body from lauric acid, which we get from human breast milk and coconut oil, and a little bit from pasture-raised ruminant butter. Coconut oil has more lauric acid in it than any other food outside of human breast milk. Its derivative, monolaurin, is not just antiviral, but also antibacterial, anitprotozoal and antimicrobial.

WHY IT WORKS: CAYENNE

At a general level, cayenne raises body temperatures, makes you sweat, and increases activity of the immune system. It is also high in vitamin C and helps create more white blood cells for your lymphatic system, which troll the body looking for infected cells. Cayenne also increases mucus, which allows you to trap and expel virally infected cells through coughing up phlegm and blowing your nose.

WHY IT WORKS: HONEY AND ROYAL JELLY

You could write books and books on all the things that honey, royal jelly and propolis can do for human health. In fact, those books have been written and were first written thousands of years ago. The way it works is that bees pick up pollen from medicinal plants in their ecosystem and then concentrate the pollens and ferment them (which increases and changes their medicinal properties) and then expel them as honey, royal jelly, wax and propolis for the benefit of their hive. The medicine they create is complex, and also depends on the ecosystem they are inhabiting. You can pay $50 for mono-crop Manuka honey from Australia, or you can get a $5 jar of your own local regional honey from a farmer’s market. They are both incredible products for healing, and the list of what they can do and can cure is too long for this blog. Beware of pasteurized honey, honey from China (diluted with HFCS), or any large commercial honey which just cannot be trusted in this day and age. Also beware of honey where bees could have been exposed to pesticides and neurotoxins, because those poisons are also concentrated in your honey. If you know of a place where no pesticides are used in a 50 acre radius, consider installing some bee hives and habitats.

HONEY VS SUGAR

Just because honey is basically magic doesn’t mean sugar and carbohydrates are suddenly okay when you have a viral infection. In fact, the opposite is true. When you have the flu (or any viral infection), glucose significantly increases viral load. So when you are sick, the ONLY carbohydrate you should be consuming is a tiny bit of honey. Not gallons of orange juice, not tubs of jello: Just a little bit of honey because of its profound antiviral, antibacterial, anti-etc properties.  Conversely, insulin reduces illness parameters and viral load – however obviously I don’t think you should inject yourself with insulin just to beat a fever. But you should be very, very wary about being hospitalized with a viral infection and immediately put on a glucose drip or offered sugary Pedialyte-type drinks in order to keep your nutrient levels adequate. Sugar feeds your virus, not your immune system. Is that something you want to do?

FURTHER OPTIONS

That oscilloccoccinum homeopathic remedy available at most stores is also great, if you can remember to take it as frequently as required, and at the very first sign of flu.

If you can get to a herbal “pharmacy” or someplace that can make you a custom tincture or tea, ask for something with all or most of the following ingredients: Chinese skullcap, licorice, lomatium, cordyceps, isatis, astragalus, boneset, elder, houttuynia. 

Zinc and vitamin C are also helpful, but watch out for glucose or fake sweeteners in their formulations.

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Stephen Harrod Buhner is the consummate authority on natural remedies for emerging and resistant viral infections and bacterial infections. He has written these two books that absolutely deserve shelf space in your Armageddon cupboard:

Herbal Antivirals, by Stephen Harrod Buhner

Herbal Antibiotics, by Stephen Harrod Buhner

GET WELL SOON AND STAY AWAY FROM ME!

ginger drink

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Beet Kvass NBD

IMG_0442Seriously, let’s not make a big deal about this. A couple organic beets, some water, some salt and an air-lock jar. It’s like 5 minutes and then you forget about it for 3 weeks.

Beet Kvass is a 10th century Ukranian probiotic sports drink, essentially, in that it’s full of electrolytes and is super hydrating. It also claims to be an anti-inflammatory blood tonic, to cleanse the liver, lower blood pressure, to oxygenate the blood and spare oxygen when exercising. The Ukranians call it a “Cure All”, and there’s a rumor that the only people who didn’t develop blood poisoning after the radioactive Chernobyll explosion are those that religiously consumed beet kvass. As such, beet kvass and juice are frequently recommended for cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy.

beets

There are complicated ways to make it, and then there is THE EASIEST, most traditional method which is obviously my preference.

BEET KVASS DIRECTIONS

  1. Boil your kettle or whatever.
  2. Wash 2 BIG BEETS or 3 medium beets to get any major mud off of them. Don’t go nuts scrubbing because what we are looking for here is the Lactobacillus bacteria that is on the surface of the beets. Some recipes call for peeling the beets and then adding a whey starter culture. But in this recipe, we are acknowledging that the beet skin already contains the exact starter culture we want (isn’t nature cool?) and so we are going to work with the beets and not against them. Again it’s important to use raw, organic beets here because conventionally farmed root vegetables absorb all the toxic fertilizers and neuro-toxin pesticides that are needed to grow them – furthermore, conventional root vegetables are grown in mineral-starved and mostly dead soil so there’s really no point in eating them anyway.
  3. cut up beetsCut up the beets, LEAVING THE SKIN AND SKETCHY HAIRS on, into rough cubes – smaller than an ice cube but much larger than dice. If you make the beet cubes too small, they will release too much juice and sugar and you will get a different type of bacteria involved that works too quickly, creating more alcohol than lactic acid, and the whole thing will be wrecked. Bigger cubes mean the work will be slow and encourage the right kind of bacteria.
  4. Add 1 heaping TBS of good SEA SALT (or Himalayan salt) into the bottom of a large (say a quart) jar that has an air-lock, or those clamps that compress a rubber seal. The jar is important because a lot of carbon dioxide is going to be created and it needs to escape; at the same time you don’t want to let any oxygen in. (Oxygen will encourage the wrong type of bacteria, which will then “spoil” your kvass).
  5. saltPour about half a cup to a cup of boiling water from your kettle into your salted jar, and swirl it around until it dissolves. The only reason you boiled the water is to help the salt dissolve.
  6. Fill up half of the jar with cold FILTERED WATER. You don’t want the water to be hot anymore or else it will “cook” the beets and their bacteria and enzymes. We need a lot of live action for this process.
  7. Shove in all the cut up beets you have just prepared. Hopefully they will all fit. If you need to add more cold water to cover the beets, do it. Try to leave an inch of airspace at the top of the jar. I’m lousy at leaving space, and usually pay for it a few weeks in when my kvass seeps out of the jar all over my marble countertop. Major fail.salty jar
  8. Seal the jar up, leave it out of direct sunlight at room temperature or slightly warmer and forget about it for 3 weeks. Lactobacillus prefers temperatures between 70-75 degrees F, and likes just this amount of salt, no less and not much more. You could add another 1/2 TBS of salt if you don’t mind the salty flavor, but that’s the limit for a quart jar and 2-3 beets.

OTHER FLAVORING OPTIONS

Maybe add a clove, a cardamom pod, a star anise, a bit of orange peel, a knob of ginger or anything you think will go nicely with the earthy flavor of fermented beet juice. The lactic acid will also work its magic on these ingredients, unlocking beneficial polyphenols.

IN THREE WEEKS TIME

During this time the Lactobacillus have been converting the carbohydrates in the beets into lactic acid, carbon dioxide and small amounts of acetic acid and ethyl alcohol. The carbon dioxide displaces any oxygen in the jar, creating an anaerobic environment suitable for subsequent species of Lactobacillus to propagate.

After three weeks, strain out the pink liquid and put it in a serving bottle, preferably with a flip-top airlock style lid, and keep in the fridge. Drink at your leisure – but start slow. Just half a cup a day is all you really need to get the benefits. You might not dig it at first, but you’ll get used to it. Like all the other weird stuff, you’ll end up craving this earthy, salty elixir too.

beet kvass jar

BONUS PROJECT

Leave about a cup of the liquid in the bottom of the beets, fill again with water and another TBS of salt, and ferment the same beets again for another three weeks.

After that point, you can strain out a second batch of kvass and also eat the slightly tangy beets on their own or in a salad. These 6 week old beets will have much less sugar in them, a slightly tangy taste and will be teeming with beneficial bacteria.

While beets are a pretty starchy, high carbohydrate vegetable for anyone on an LCHF (Low Carbohydrate High Fat) diet or similar – fermented beets are much lower in carbohydrates so totally acceptable.  (Whereas if you just “pickle” beets the conventional way by boiling and dumping them into sugary vinegar, they will actually have a much higher level of carbohydrates and sugars. Don’t do that, silly!).

YOU’RE SO WILD, GIRL

When you ferment vegetables (or anything) without adding a starter culture, it’s called doing a “Wild Ferment”. You’re getting your starter culture from the very thing you are culturing. You can use wild yeasts when making bread and beer; you can use wild bacteria when fermenting vegetables and fruits – and cheeses, wines and meats etc. And that’s just way cooler and more natural. Let’s always do it wild. Less fuss, less muss: more WOW factor. Got it?

BODACIOUS BACTERIA

The bacteria in our body outnumber our own cells by a factor of ten, which has to make your jaw drop.

What that essentially means is that over the last couple billion years, Earth bacteria has been co-evolving with us – you might even say “designing us” – in ways to make itself more mobile, virulent and imaginative. Consider that bacteria used to be stuck to a rock underwater; now it can walk around, drive, fly airplanes and be exposed to all manner of exciting cuisines and experiences.

It’s not like we are just the hapless host; we have benefitted immensely from bacteria. Bacteria protects our skin membranes, gives us immunity to diseases, helps digest our food and even creates essential nutrients for us out of food that would otherwise be useless to us. Although there are hundreds of bacteria that are on our side, there are also bacteria that totally suck for us. By encouraging and cultivating the bacteria on our team, they will keep the bad bacteria at bay. It is totally heavy-handed for a human to go after bacteria in general, by means of anti-bacterial wipes and sprays. It’s not our job to try to target bad bacteria – we are too big and clumsy to figure it out. Our job is to promote the health and propagation of our good bacteria so that it can take care of the bad bacteria on our behalf. This is symbiosis, baby! Our good bacteria has been engaged in this dance for billions of years, so there no point presuming we can do it better just because Louis Pasteur figured out how to boil stuff. 

Lactobacillus bacteria in particular inhibits the growth of diarrhea-related bacteria such as Shigella, Salmonella and E. Coli. In addition, Lactobacillus competes with pathogens for receptor sites at the mucosal cell surfaces (nose, mouth, underpants region and entire digestive tract), making it more difficult for us to get sick. What this means is that our body is meant to be teeming with Lactobacilli, and has evolved to thrive in its presence. However our modern, sanitized environments and dead, overly fibrous or rancid foods create conditions that deplete Lactobacillus along with other beneficial bacteria. So stop doing that.

Making and drinking beet kvass is too easy not to do. I know you have a couple beets down there in your fridge drawer that you have been too lazy to cook. So just spare five minutes of your time and get on with it. This is a great winter project, and much needed in this season of flu and cold.

FURTHER READING

Article on beet juice lowering blood pressure and sparing oxygen while exercising.

More detailed information about the different Lactobacillus bacterias and their products and by-products, including a table showing all the major lactic acid bacteria involved in fermented fruits and vegetables.

Dr. Mercola’s site claims one serving of fermented vegetables has more probiotics than an entire bottle of commercial probiotic supplements. In other words, don’t bother wasting your money on proprietarily limited commercial strains when making fermented vegetables is dead easy and way more useful.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,