The Herbal Treatment of Long Covid

General Health

Long Covid is a very often debilitating illness affecting up to 10% of people who have been infected with the COVID-19 virus. The total number of people said to be affected worldwide is around 65 million at the time of writing, and the list of symptoms currently attributed to the illness has clocked in at over 200. Given that this is such a widespread issue with such a myriad of presentations, the individually tailored patient specific approach of herbal medicine offers real support in the healing journey for those experiencing this condition.

Long Covid is a multi-systemic issue. As COVID-19 is capable of triggering inflammatory processes virtually anywhere in the body, it has been noted by many herbalists that underlying inflammation can be brought to the surface by the virus. For some this means inflammatory joint issues, for others it means the nervous system will need extra support or the digestive system may be affected, so on and so forth. In the same vein, it has been observed that new-onset illnesses are common in Long Covid including Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease and many more.

Many practitioners who have experience treating post-viral fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome and myalgic encephalomyelitis have approached treating patients with Long Covid in a similar manner and have achieved good results. Similarities between these conditions are also acknowledged in orthodox circles and are influencing a lot of the research into Long Covid.

It is strongly advised to work with a qualified herbal practitioner when wishing to address Long Covid with herbal medicines; self treatment is an approach that even the most experienced of herbalists will testify is not always possible, and working with a practitioner means that the workload of devising a treatment plan is not contributing to the problem.

Hypotheses for pathogenesis of Long Covid are varied; proposed theories include virally induced microclots & vascular damage, viral persistence in the tissues, immunological disruption including autoimmunity and more. Those more at risk of developing Long Covid include women, those with type 2 diabetes, those who have contracted EBV, those with the presence of specific autoantibodies, connective tissue disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, chronic urticaria and allergic rhinitis. Though these observations are shared around the world, it is also important to note that a third of people with long COVID have no identified pre-existing conditions. Socio-economic circumstance, as it always does, plays a massive role in this area. Those on lower income streams and/or those with an inability to adequately rest in the early weeks after developing COVID-19 are far more likely to develop the chronic condition of Long Covid (and a wide range of other health issues as well, though this is a topic for another article). As with similar conditions myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome, many of those with Long Covid appear to have been under a degree of long term stress before becoming infected with the virus, and the body has entered into a state of depression/malaise that it is having difficult rebalancing from. Given the sheer level of long term stress that the global population was placed under, it is perhaps of little surprise that there is now such a wave of Long Covid in the wake of the pandemic.

Going a Little Deeper into Exploring Some of the Potential Causes

Microclots & Vascular Damage:

It has now been widely observed that in some patients, the cells and tissues which are responsible for the flow of blood can become damaged during Covid infection and amplify a tendency in the blood to form microclots.
It is also now widely known that Covid affects our endothelial tissues. Healthy endothelial tissue will help keep the blood vessels relaxed to promote an easy flow of blood around the body. This tissue also releases circulating anticoagulants, endogenous substances which prevent blood clots. As Covid causes damage to these tissues (ACE2 receptors are abundant in the circulatory endothelium) it can lead to endothelial dysfunction and therefore dysfunction of some of these anticoagulant processes. Endothelial damage may be caused by direct infection by Covid spike proteins, indirect damage as a result of nearby cells becoming infected or raised levels of inflammatory cytokines in the blood triggering coagulation pathways. These microclots can be found virtually anywhere in the cardiovascular system, leading to the infamously long list of symptoms experienced during Covid infection or by Long Covid patients; microclots in the brain may explain cognitive disturbance (possibly by killing small fibre nerve cells), or microclots in the feet explaining Covid Toe.

Viral persistence:
There is a growing body of evidence showing viral replication continuing in cells even in autopsy reports, suggesting a possibility that the virus stubbornly endures in the body even after acute infection ceases (and in some cases triggering other residual pathogenic organisms). One study showed that all participants who had Long Covid symptoms were harbouring viral RNA and even viral proteins in some cases. One question which is born from this observation is whether or not this is actually driving illness in patients, as our GI tract harbours all kinds of organisms which do not cause issues when we are in a healthy balance. Preliminary research is suggesting that the presence of these antigens is triggering a response in local immune cells, and over a long time this essentially translates to a state of chronic inflammation. However it is not necessarily just the GI tract in which this viral persistence occurs – this is simply the easiest region of the body for the scientific research to take place. Given the range of symptoms, if viral persistence is implicated, it would be safe to propose that COVID-19 antigens may be found in a wide range of sites around the body and in a range of tissues as well.

Immunological Dysfunction:

There is also growing evidence which intersects with the previous two theories and also provides an alternative where no evidence of microclots or viral persistence can be found; a revved up or traumatised immune response which is unable to settle back down after acute infection passes. One study posted striking results which showed immunological dysfunction persisting for 8 months following initial infection.
Patients with Long Covid had highly activated innate immune cells, lacked ‘free’ T and B cells (strangely named ‘naive’ cells) and showed elevated levels of interferons that remained persistently high at 8 months after infection – this indicates that the body is in a high level of inflammation. It was also observed that there seems to be a particular immunological dysfunction to Long Covid patients that has been observed in chronic issues related to other coronaviruses. There is also some evidence to suggest that new onset auto-immune conditions following COVID-19 infection may be a result of molecular mimicry between viral cells and human proteins.
The theory for immunological dysfunction driving Long Covid would explain why in some cases inflammation is discovered in the brain and yet there is no evidence of microclots there. 

Some Other Possibilities

Amyloidosis, the buildup of amyloid tissue in the organs, shares many of the same symptoms as Long Covid and a potential link has been observed in vitro.

Where to From Here?

With all this information to hand, we once again must return to the simple principle of case by case exploration. Orienting oneself when exploring a chronic inflammatory condition can be done first and foremost by listening to the body on all levels, and asking the right questions to get a fuller picture of what may be going on.

In all cases of chronic disease when one is approaching their healing, a relaxed and comfortable spirit is the best energy to cultivate in oneself. People on this journey can develop difficult and stressful relationships with food, therapies and life itself, so the first step is to relax, tune into the body, assess what is the most appropriate next step and never forget to take a breath. Taking time to relax and connect into the rest of nature benefits our entire being, and it is my passionate belief that this should be the baseline for whatever approach of treatment is taken.

Some Other Useful Questions:
How do we begin to explore what may be going on using simple techniques?

Is there pain or redness anywhere in the body? What is the nature of the pain, how long has it been there, what makes it better or worse? Pain or redness tells us there is inflammation present, and the other questions give us insight into the nature of the inflammatory process taking place and what tissues it might be affecting.

On palpating this area, are there signs of oedema? This tells us there may be circulation issues. Other symptoms would include cold hands and feet, fatigue and ‘pins & needles’. Bear in mind that swelling with throbbing/cramping pain accompanied with breathlessness potentially indicates blood clots, so it would be wise to refer to your local medical service to rule this out. 

Are there any signs of hypoxia, or low levels of oxygen in the blood? Symptoms include shortness of breath, headache, confusion, restlessness and cyanosis. How do the lungs feel in general?

Is there any tingling or coldness in the extremities? How is the heart rate and rhythm, and the nature of the pulse? What is the blood pressure? This helps us get a sense of how the circulatory system is doing.

Are there any digestive symptoms? Gas/bloating? What else is going on the body alongside this? Note the symptom picture for dysregulation of the vagus nerve, which may be worth considering if also experiencing ongoing respiratory issues, or feeling anxious, dizzy, etc.

How does one’s mind and brain function feel? Often people with Long Covid experience short term memory issues, confusion, a sense of a daze or fogginess to the thought processes and generally a diminished mental capacity to what they are normally used to.

How is the spirit? Does one feel anxious, distressed or uneasy? How is one experiencing this? Is it a new feeling i.e. has this been experienced in the past, or has this developed since contracting COVID-19? At this point I feel it is quite important to introduce another causative factor to why one might be feeling any of the aforementioned symptoms. The COVID-19 pandemic landed very suddenly, and the vast majority of us went through a very real and sustained time of challenge, on many levels, regardless of worldview, political stance or personal choices made during the pandemic. Some of the symptoms of conditions such as complex post traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) match up to some of the symptoms of Long Covid, and it may be difficult to discern where one issue is ending and the other is beginning. There is always going to be a degree of spiritual enquiry in a person who is exploring the roots of these kinds of complex conditions, and the continued psycho-emotional workload following the aftermath of the pandemic really should not be underestimated. Again, taking a breath and tuning into the body is our most important compass.

Once we have built a picture of how an affected person is feeling, we can make more informed decisions about which herbs and foods may be more specifically suited to support.

Exploring Common Presentations with Long Covid

When exploring presentations for Long Covid, it is important to note that energetically it can present in many different forms. Though often hot and dry, it can also present as a cold and damp condition. Moreover, the energetics often evolve so checking back and rebalancing the medicines regularly throughout the course of treatment may be necessary. After identifying which symptoms are being experienced, it is important to always then step back and see the whole person. Where is there depletion, or excess, and of what energetic states in which tissues? That said, let’s explore some common features of this condition.

Anosmia / Ageusia

Some researchers have found evidence of direct infection of the neurons of the olfactory & gustatory nerves. Others have found no evidence but suggest that surrounding ACE2 receptor rich tissues may trigger a localised inflammatory cascade. The current theory is generally that it is a combination of both viral infection and inflammation causing anosmia and/or ageusia. Patients with ageusia often describe the sensation or taste in their mouth as though there is a metal coin on their tongue. This sensation has also been reported as a side effect for several COVID vaccines.


Smell Training can be used to build up the sense of smell. Essential oils work very well for this. Take four different essential oils (a range can work, perhaps going by plant parts and changing the oils regularly) and hover them about 10 cm below the nostrils. Sniff calmly for about 20 seconds for each oil, and repeat every day for up to six weeks. Diffusion around the home can also help with this.

Vitamin A increases the expression of nerve growth factor (NGF) in the body. It also plays a role as an immunomodulator in the disease course for COVID-19. Its precursor beta-carotene is found in carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash – all orange/green/yellow fruits & vegetables.

B-Complex – B-Vitamins share various roles in protecting the nerves, balancing nerve metabolism and maintaining myelin sheaths. They act as cofactors for one another so are best taken as a complex. Sources include whole grains, seaweed, green leafy vegetables, pulses and brewer’s yeast; some people choose to take a supplement for B-Vitamins when needed.

Vitamin C – Essential for healthy nerve growth and given its role in immune function it is well worth taking some extra Vitamin C. The suckable tablets with Vitamin C & Zinc are recommended. Vitamin-C can be found in fresh fruits, and Zinc can be found in sesame seeds (tahini is a great source).

Hericium erinaceus stimulates the growth of NGF and has been shown to promote faster recovery from nerve injury. As it is also an immuno-modulating and inflammation-modulating medicine it makes an excellent choice for Covid related anosmia. 1-3g per day, or 20-60ml per week of a 1:3 tincture.

Rosmarinus officinalis also stimulates NGF, and as a warming aromatic it is energetically an excellent medicine for anosmia. It is  a circulatory stimulant, antioxidant medicine so may also help with inflammation affecting the healing of the olfactory tissues.
1-3g a day or 20-60ml of a 1:3 tincture

Other potentially helpful herbs include Ginkgo biloba (researched for non-Covid related post-viral anosmia with promising results), Verbena officinalis, Hypericum perforatum, Scutellaria lateriflora etc.

Time – it can often take weeks or even months for the sense of smell and taste to rebalance. Often patients will have an altered perception i.e. foods they once loved they may no longer enjoy.


Fatigue is one of the most commonly cited symptoms of Long Covid and can find itself wrapped up in other symptoms. Often people will report states of fatigue and anxiety being in a dance with one another, so often a first step is to gently untangle one sense from another in an attempt to explore the roots.

Research has identified a connection between CFS-related fatigue and an increase in cytotoxic T-lymphocytes and cytokines. Recent studies have also found an increase in T- and B-lymphocytes and inflammatory cytokines in patients convalescing from COVID-19. In other words, the body has become overwhelmed and is stuck in a state of low grade (or sometimes quite substantial) inflammation. Environmental damage in the tissues may also give rise to mitochondrial dysfunction. Vascular damage and microclots may also contribute to fatigue, and also lower oxygenation of the cells due to this damage or damage to the pulmonary tissues. Also COVID-19 and Long Covid appear to carry signature forms of depression and low mood, for which several herbs have been excellent at treating. As the whole body and spirit is involved in the healing process, the person must be approached from a holistic perspective for treatment to prove truly effective.


Immune dysregulation can be treated with immuno-modulating herbs such as Astragalus membranaceus (which also acts as an inflammation modulating adaptogen, and is being reported by many herbalists as a key ally for assisting those with Long Covid), Ganoderma lucidum (also excellent for modulating inflammation, relaxing neuro-endocrine overstimulation and protecting cellular integrity) and Withania somnifera (also wonderful for promoting a restful sleep). Working on gut health is essential here also given the role of the microbiome in maintaining balance to the immune function. Prebiotic foods (e.g. roots, coffee, stewed apples), probiotic foods (little amounts which suit the person once or twice a day), eating as locally and organically as possible, adequate hydration & reducing sugar will all help build a healthy microbiome.

Vitamin D appears to play a role in staving off Long Covid but only if there is an adequate level in the body at the time of initial infection. There is debate as to whether or not it is healthy to take Vitamin D supplements consistently. If choosing supplementation, like with any supplementation, it may be wise to take intermittent breaks.  Exposure to sunlight is the most effective way for the body to produce Vitamin D, and certain foods can also be taken. Mushrooms will produce vitamin D2 and D4 when exposed to sunlight, and Lentinula edodes will produce some Vitamin D3 as well. The liver and kidneys will metabolise both vitamin D2 and D3 into calcifediol, so therefore mushrooms are a valuable winter source of vitamin D.

Mitochondrial dysfunction can be treated with Leonurus cardiaca or Geranium robertianum, along with some adaptogenic herbs such as Schisandra chinensis or Eleutherococcus senticosus. Where fatigue is accompanied by anxiety and/or heart palpitations, Leonurus is an excellent ally and can be dosed at 1-3g daily, or 20-60ml of 1:3 tincture per week. CoQ10 improves mitochondrial function and can be found in fatty fish, spinach and cruciferous vegetables, lentils, pistachios and sesame seeds (so tahini paste also). Carnitine is also vital for mitochondrial function, and can be found in red meats. The body makes its own carnitine once it has good sources of iron, vitamin C, l-lysine and methionine (the latter two can be found in leguminous vegetables). Alpha-lipoic-acid (ALA) is an antioxidant substance and coenzyme for mitochondrial function, and can be found in red meat, carrots, beetroots, spinach, broccoli, and potatoes.

Vascular damage & microclots can be treated with Crataegus spp. fruct, Vaccinium myrtillus, Ginkgo biloba, Achillea millefolium, Salvia miltiorrhiza, Cacao theobroma (make sure its dark), Vitis vinifera (red wine in low – moderate doses is not to be dismissed as a way to ingest this one). Pulmonaria officinalis (especially indicated where there is damage to pulmonary tissue i.e. shortness of breath), Capsicum annuum (excellent for connective tissue repair and for the circulation), and cooking with lots of herbs and spices. N-acetyl-l-cysteine is a precursor to the antioxidant glutathione, which has been noted as being particularly beneficial for epithelial tissue repair and can be found in brassicaceae vegetables & alliums.

Potential vagus nerve damage has been observed in numerous Long Covid patients (candidates in numerous studies have exhibited symptoms of damage, studies remain unpublished at the time of writing). Given the vagus nerve’s role in parasympathetic tone, this may account for the acute anxiety, insomnia and inability to relax in some Long Covid patients, which in turn creates a sense of exhaustion (coupled with hyperactivity, the ‘wired and tired’ cycle of chronic fatigue. Along with plenty of Vitamin A rich foods and perhaps a B-Complex, extra Vitamin C & Zinc, neuro-trophorestorative herbs such as Scutellaria lateriflora, Hypericum perforatum, Verbena officinalis, Hericium erinaceus  etc. may be beneficial. Also herbs to improve vagal tone, including Citrus aurantium flos. (good quality aromatic water works very well), Stachys officinalis, Cocoa theobroma, Rosmarinus officinalis and Prunus serotina (especially where there is lingering respiratory or cardiac issues alongside other indications of vagal tone dysruption). For a deeper look into vagal tone, see Nikki Darrell’s excellent article on this subject:

Depression and a sense of the dark shadow is commonplace with Long Covid and often goes hand in hand with a sense of chronic fatigue.

The first thing to assess here is the nature of the patient’s experience. Is this truly depression, or is it burnout? One must consider COVID’s impact on the liver, as this can also trigger mood disturbance. COVID has been shown to raise liver enzymes, and there is a direct relationship between liver health and emotional well being (though this has been observed alongside other issues in the body including dysbiosis and intestinal permeability).
When assessing and treating a depressed state, we really need to move away from a reductionist approach of isolated chemical equations, and widen the perspective to include the whole body, the whole being. Many practitioners are drawn to Hypericum perforatum for this issue and if I feel it is indicated I generally start with a low to moderate dose and build up if needed as some people do experience psychic disturbance as a response to this plant. However Hypericum’s regenerative action on the liver makes this a useful option for a few reasons. Other options with lots of anecdotally reported success for this include Stachys officinalis, Centella asiatica, Verbena officinalis and nutritive tonics like Withania somnifera and Ganoderma lucidum. Inula helenium and Angelica archangelica are both excellent as resilience tonics especially where there are signs of cold and damp in the body, and herbs such as Crataegus spp. flos or Rosa damascena can be helpful where a person has gone into grief (which can occur in those dealing with chronic health issues). Again vagal tone is a consideration, as is digestive health, sleep patterns and so forth. Where one is stuck in worry, this may indicate a spleen qi deficiency. Suitable herbs for this issue include Codonopsis pilosula, Stachys officinalis, Tarax officinalis
Balancing one’s energy can be done with the herbs, but body work can greatly support this. A spirit healer who has undergone sufficient training can also be of great benefit, but the utmost of discernment is advised when one is choosing who to work with at this level.

Both muscle and nerve pain are common in Long Covid. Most (if not all) the herbs mentioned in this article will contribute to inflammation modulation in some way, which in itself may help to address pain.

Firstly we can identify exactly where the pain is. Then we can decipher which tissues are affected (sharp, shooting or tingling pain indicates nerve tissue, whereas dull, achy pain indicates muscular tissue).

There can be a degree of untangling and unwinding to help with soothing chronic pain in the body. For example, with pain in the lungs, this may also be accompanied by shortness of breath and a feeling of tension. So we must consider balancing the inflammation along with relaxing the tension while also encouraging deeper, relaxed breathing (see treatments for shortness of breath / respiratory dysregulation below).

If there is pain in the digestive tract, consider reducing inflammatory foods, increasing inflammation modulating foods (see Digestive Dysregulation’), and drinking soothing teas of herbs such as Matricaria recutita, Mentha piperita, Althaea officinalis or Tilia europaea.

For muscular tension, we can look at antispasmodics such as Valeriana officinalis, Viburnum opulus and Scutellaria officinalis. These herbs are also valuable as they help to relax psycho-emotional stress, which in itself contributes to pain and impedes healing at the deeper levels.

For neurological pain, we can consider herbs such as Verbena officinalis, Hypericum perforatum, Scutellaria lateriflora, Passiflora incarnata and Citrus aurantium (there are many more also). The dosage for these herbs really does vary from individual to individual; for example small doses of Hypericum (practitioner-only medicine in Ireland) can induce anxious states in some people. As has been mentioned, it really is best to consult with a qualified herbalist when wanting to treat chronic pain with herbs, or in treating Long Covid in general. Where there has been nerve damage, medicines which encourage the healthy growth of new nerve tissue are also valuable, such as Hericium erinaceus (1-5g daily, or 20-100ml per week of a 1:3 tincture).

The role of the vagus nerve in pain management is an important consideration (see ‘vagus nerve damage’ above).

Shortness of Breath / Respiratory Dysregulation

When SARS-CoV-2 infects lung tissue, it affects the epithelial cells lining the airways, instigating an inflammatory response. When this inflammatory immune response continues to happen, it inhibits the regular transfer of gases, including oxygen, in the lungs, and fluid can build up as a result. This can lead to dyspnea, a feeling of breathlessness, especially after exertion. This very commonly leads to an anxious state, which constricts the tissues even more; as always, considering relaxing and balancing the psycho-emotional energy is central to supporting successful treatment.

Another potential cause of shortness of breath is the heart’s capacity to pump blood around the body. If this is the case, there may be other signs of poor circulation including swelling, and the blood pressure will most likely read as low, so it is important to rule this out by having the blood pressure accurately checked.


Herbs which work on epithelial tissue repair and supporting the circulation in general (see vascular damage & microclots above).

Pulmonary vasodilators are exceptionally helpful for people with tight chests and difficulty breathing. Grindelia robusta & Lobelia inflata are excellent for this. Please note the latter is practitioner-only medicine in Ireland. I generally prescribe Lobelia in a separate small bottle, and encourage the person taking it to start with a dose of a few drops, very gradually increasing to find the effective dose. This is important for two reasons; Lobelia is emetic and can cause a person to become nauseous or even vomit if too much is taken. It is also quite heating which suits some people well but not others. In cases where I feel the Lobelia may be too strong, Grindelia is an excellent alternative.

Other antispasmodics and anxiolytics may be of great benefit as well as often the tissues and the mind are in a state of tightness at the same time; Valeriana officinalis & Viburnum opulus are excellent here but gentler tonic antispasmodics may be of great use as well such as Scutellaria lateriflora or Stachys officinalis. Again, it’s all about matching up the most appropriate plants given the full picture of what is going on for a person.

Where there is heat in the lungs one may consider demulcent herbs to help bring a soothing energy into the body. Althea officinalis, Asparagus racemosus, Tilia europaea & Plantago spp. (also excellent for tissue repair) are all excellent supports for this.

Essential oils diffused or diluted that can be helpful include, depending on how the person is presenting, mucolytic oils (e.g. Eucalyptus smithii, Picea mariana, Mentha spicata, Rosmarinus officinalis), antispasmodic oils (e.g. Eucalyptus smithii, Lavandula spp., Salvia sclarea, Myrtus communis) and so forth.
Each of the oils here possess constituents with a wide range of other therapeutic actions (for example Picea mariana, Eucalyptus smithii and Lavandula have all been shown to have analgesic actions with different mechanisms). So as with herbs in general, for the best therapeutic outcome one must choose the best suited oils, dilute them appropriately and apply regularly. An excellent reference guide for this is Nikki’ Darrell’s Essential Oils: A Concise Manual.
As with herbal medicine in general, it is best to work with a practitioner who has been trained in the proper use of essential oils, and where a practitioner is working with a single essential oil company, it is advised to ensure this company is not involved with  a multi-level marketing scheme.

Other techniques to assist with laboured breathing include doing simple relaxation work with deep belly breathing, lying on one’s front when in bed and doing gentle massage work (it may be a good idea to find a practitioner properly trained in essential oils as these will add another dimension of healing to the therapy). Cranio-sacral work, acupuncture, gentle yoga and other body treatments can be of great benefit here as well, and indeed for chronic inflammation in general.

Without pushing oneself, as the lung energy increases it can be a good idea to continue building it up. Going for walks, swimming, playing wind instruments and singing are all excellent ways to do this – whatever feels manageable. Foods which benefit the lung energy include organic vinegars (which can be infused with herbs that have an affinity with lung health), mustard and sesame seeds / tahini. In Traditional Chinese Medicine foods with a white center are said to build lung energy so cauliflower, almonds, daikon radish, potatoes, turnip, parsnip, rutabaga, apple, pear, rice, oats, onion, garlic, and white peppercorns are all possibilities. Inula helenium is excellent for building up the lung energy after infection and also holds a traditional use for those who have been ‘elf shot’ or burned out.

Digestive Dysregulation
It has now been shown that a healthy gut microbiome reduces the severity of COVID-19 infection and also reduces the risk of developing Long Covid. It has also been shown that COVID-19 infection can disrupt the biome and facilitate a pathogenic imbalance in the gut.
This commonly leads to digestive issues of all kinds, as the inflammation modulating, immune modulating and indeed all the mysterious levels that the biome protects us can be compromised.
In treatment considerations, we may wish to consider viral persistence in the gut as contributing to digestive symptoms. However, at this point it is vital to remember that our intention is to balance the terrain rather than going to war with the organism. Herbal medicines and healing foods provide treatment for digestive issues that simply cannot be replicated by pharmaceutical or nutraceutical medicine. The topic of herbs, foods and healing the gut is beyond the scope of this article, but here is a few sound bites to get some inspiration going:

– Herbs which support the digestive energy or Spleen Qi in TCM include Codonopsis pilolusa, Inula helenium, Taraxacum officinale, Asparagus racemosus, Curcuma longa etc.

– Herbs with astringent qualities which help to tone and heal the gut lining include Agrimonia eupatoria, Berberis vulgaris, Vaccinium spp. Achillea millefolium, Plantago spp., Filipendula ulmaria etc.

– Herbs with demulcent qualities soothe the digestion, coating the gut lining and encouraging the tissues to heal. These include Althaea officinalis, Tilia europaea, Plantago spp. and Asparagus racemosus.

– Herbs useful for balancing pathogenic organisms (well, this is a very big topic actually as all herbs will have an effect, in many different kinds of ways) include Rosa damascena, Azadirachta indica, Berberis vulgaris, Vaccinium spp. etc.

– Herbs with carminative properties encourage the gut to relax, and their essential oil content often helps to balance the biome as well. Matricaria recutita, Mentha piperita, Foeniculum vulgare etc.

– Other relaxing herbs help us to remember to chew our food and take a few minutes to rest after eating. They relax the gut to encourage slow and steady digestion. Scutellaria lateriflora, Passiflora incarnata, Valeriana officinalis, Stachys officinalis etc.

– The microbiota love a diverse range of vegetable and fruit fibers. Some people recommend 30 different plant species per week, organic where possible.

– Wild foraged greens contain minerals, vitamins, fibre, wild bacteria and the wild soul which all contribute to a health gut. Forage with care and respect, never more than a third of a patch and listening for permission from the plant without just assuming it is available because you found it.

– Fermented foods such as lacto-fermented vegetables, yoghurt and cultured seed/nut cheeses help to build up a healthy biome (find the preparation and daily dosage which suit your constitution, and bear in mind that this tends to evolve over time depending on a number of factors).

– Sprouted seeds are an excellent gut medicine, they taste great and are very cost effective.

Treating Viral Persistence

The nature of continued replication of Covid spike proteins in the body is still being explored, as it is the potential for how plants interact with this protein once ingested. However many of the plants demonstrating potential for direct protection from this protein also carry many absolutely proven beneficial medicines for the body which protect us in other ways, such as building up cellular health or modulating inflammation, and therefore are worth working with in any case. Below are some plants with potential specific antiviral activity against the COVID-19 spike protein, as well as some notes regarding other actions and indications of the plants. However bear in mind that studies indicating antiviral activity against COVID-19 in vitro cannot be assumed to translate to effectiveness in vivo. The converse argument of isolated constituents from herbs displaying pathogenic activity in vitro is often weaponised against herbal medicine, which is illogical as the whole herb and the isolated constituent cannot have direct lines drawn between them. Therefore it makes no sense to discount this approach on one hand and promote it on the other. However I believe we can still take potential antiviral activity of the herbs into consideration when we are choosing our medicines, once supporting the whole person is the main intention and one is not just in a perspective of going to war against the spike protein.


Urtica dioica contains a lectin which has been shown to prevent the spike protein from replicating.  There is a great deal of anecdotal evidence of people finding Urtica dioica highly beneficial during acute infection and in building up post infection. Generally high doses are recommended here so making strong infusions, making pesto / soup or working with a fluid extract 1:1 tincture is recommended.

Taraxacum officinalis folia has been shown to block the protein-protein connection between the COVID-19 spike protein.

Pinus sylvestris has been popularised due to its shikimic acid content, as well as other compounds which have been shown to block viral replication. The effectiveness of Pinus sylvestris in this regard remains theoretical but as it is a good expectorant and adrenal tonic, as well as a helpful ally to the blood vessels, and so is worth considering for other reasons in Long Covid. It is also an excellent medicine for building one’s resilience. The essential oil diluted to 1-2% and rubbed over the adrenal glands is a most-excellent remedy for adrenal fatigue, including in Long Covid.

Sambucus nigra fruct. has been shown in preliminary research at the University of Erlangen to demonstrate strong antiviral activity against COVID-19 in vitro, leading the team to file for a patent of their specific extract. As always, the whole herb itself cannot be patented and is well known for its broad spectrum antiviral activity against many strains of influenza, and there is a growing body of anecdotal and clinical evidence that elderberries are helping a lot of people through Long Covid. Though some people recommend high doses, others have found lower doses to be quite effective as well. 20-100ml per week of a 1:3 tincture, or 1-5g a day of the dried berries. It’s also beautiful macerated in vinegar, and makes a delicious ingredient for mead.

Cistus spp. have been shown to shorten duration of symptoms in mild COVID-19 patients, potentially indicating some activity against the spike protein. Cistus creates a strong energetic boundary and is used as a prophylactic medicine for all kinds of issues in eastern Europe. It is not available from many herbal suppliers but is very easy to grow in Ireland and eastern European supermarkets often stock the tea bags.

Extracts of Echinaceapurpurea has been shown to be effective against COVID-19 in vitro. Echinacea is also a tonic for the lymphatic system and excellent for repairing broken boundaries. Though it is generally given to people at relatively high doses in acute situations, for chronic conditions some herbalists have had success prescribing it at low doses.

Andrographis paniculata constituents, including andrographolide, can bind SARS-CoV-2 proteins as well as demonstrating other immunomodulating, inflammation modulating activity which could be very helpful in post-infectious treatment of COVID-19. It has been cleared for the treatment of COVID-19 in Thailand where it continues to be prescribed.

Final Notes

There are a great many approaches one can consider when treating Long Covid. Many practitioners recommend taking Vitamins A, C, D3, K2, NAC, Zinc, Magnesium, B-Complex (and this list goes on for much longer for some of the moe complex protocols out there). I generally recommend a good quality multi-vitamin complex (from a food based brand such as Terra Nova), extra Vitamin D in the winter months (and plenty of sunshine in the warmer seasons), and extra Vitamin C and Zinc when feeling run down or in a flare up. Convalescent foods are excellent (soups, stews, broths etc.) and nourishing the soul is of vital importance (music and other art which resonates with the spirit, immersion in nature and so forth).

Any chronic inflammatory problem with ‘flare up’ patterning can become a complex dance which requires a great deal of patience, self-work and self-love. It can often feel like it’s ‘two steps forward, three steps backward’ as inflammation smoulders in the body. But it is important to remember that no matter the situation, there is always something we can do to support ourselves for the next step. In my own experience, the most important medicine of all is to slow down as much as possible and connect with the rest of nature. Even in the densest smog of illness, the bright power of a dandelion flower reaches the very depth of the human soul and reminds us of the world’s beauty. I have no clinical trials to support what I am about to say, but I can certainly say that this is peer reviewed by the vast majority of herbalists and a great deal of our patients: herbal medicine is more effective when we take the time to tune in and connect with the actual plants around us, get to know them, befriend them and work with them on our life journey.

Sambucus nigra

Plant Profiles

Sambucus nigra / Elder / Trom

Botanical Description

Elderberry is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 6 m (20 ft) tall and wide. The bark, light grey when young, changes to a coarse grey outer bark with lengthwise furrowing, lenticels prominent. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, 10–30 cm long, pinnate with five to seven leaflets, the leaflets 5–12 cm long and 3–5 cm broad, with a serrated margin. The young stems are hollow. The hermaphroditic flowers have five stamens, which are borne in large, flat corymbs 10–25 cm diameter in late spring to mid-summer, the individual flowers are ivory white, 5–6 mm diameter, with five petals; they are pollinated by flies.

The fruit is a glossy, dark purple to black berry 3–5 mm diameter, produced in drooping clusters in late autumn; they are an important food for many fruit-eating birds. The berries and flowers very much look like they are being offered out to the world. 

Location & Cultivation

Native to Europe.  Grows abundantly in woods, hedges, ditches and wasteland.  Now grows in most temperate regions.  Often cultivated. Propagated from cuttings in spring.  Self propagates from seed. Rich folklore attached which is discussed in more detail below. This plant perfectly illustrates how nature provides the medicine that we need in through the seasons – elderflowers appear during the hay fever season and the berries appear at the beginning of autumn when we often need a boost to the immune system.


Buds in spring, flowering tops – late spring, early summer. Berries in autumn.  Leave until ripe, but get there before the birds. Bark in early spring from two year old twigs

Myth & Folklore

There is a huge amount of myth and folklore surrounding this tree. It is said that the Little Elder Mother dwells in the tree, the Queen of the Underworld – like the hawthorn, the elder is thought to be a portal into a parallel realm to the earthly plane.

It is a tree of respect, boundaries and consent – much like the hawthorn and rowan trees. Strong ties to faery folklore (the most auspicious time for close contact of a faery is under an elder bush on midsummer’s eve). 

Pan Pipes – The God Pan – the wood offers itself as instrument – pipes, didgeridoos, flutes. The magic of life which bursts out in honest music.

There are many warnings around the tree cursing people which probably have their roots in the crusades against the magical arts and natural medicine. A part of this warning relates itself to the persistent myth that Christ was crucified on the wood of the elder, and that Judas hung himself from it’s branches. I have not found the Elder tree to insist on permission like a school teacher, but it certainly is a plant which commands respect and encourages good boundaries when working with it.

Native American people placed offerings under the tree when picking from them for use.

Jakub Saray has made didgeridoos from the tree and shares videos of their music on Youtube.

Taste / Energetics

Definitely drying, slightly sweet. 

Sometimes described as warming and sometimes as cooling.

Nikki Darrel suggests the flowers as cooling and the fruit as warming, some bitterness and sourness, a description I agree with. I find the flowers very slightly sweet as well.

Buds are expectorant, diaphoretic and purgative in large dose.


Flowers: Flavonoids-rutin, phenolic acids, triterpenes and triterpene acids, sterols, essential oil, mucilage, tannins, minerals especially high levels of potassium

Berries: Flavonoids, Anthocyanins, vitamins A and C, sambunigrin (cyanogenic glycoside), sambucine (alkaloid), organic acids and vitamins

Leaves Bark and Buds: Sambunigrin and sambucine. Bark also contains saponins.


Flowers: Diaphoretic, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, mild nervine, bronchodilator, expectorant, immune-modulant, decongestant, febrifuge, relaxant, astringent

Berries: Laxative, nutritive, immune stimulant/immune modulant; at least as effective as Echinacea for colds and flus, alterative, expectorant, anti viral, antioxidant, antiinflammatory

Traditional & Current Uses

Respiratory System


  • Tones lining of upper respiratory tract by reducing oedema, increasing resistance to infection. 
  • Can be used as a gargle for pharyngitis, a mouthwash for sore gums or ulcers and an eyewash for conjunctivitis and sore, tired eyes.
  • Chronic catarrh, postnasal drip, allergic shiners under the eyes and also has a reputation for use in sleep apnoea 
  • Ear infections 
  • Hay fever
  • Sinusitis 
  • It’s decongestant and relaxant effects indicate it for bronchial congestion, asthma and tight coughs. 
  • A hot infusion of the flowers is excellent at the onset of colds, flu, fever, tonsillitis and laryngitis


  • Colds, flus and respiratory infections: Inhibitory to Influenza A and B, Herpes and may be helpful in HIV. Demonstrated in the effectiveness of the commercial preparation ‘’Sambucol’’ in its ability to increase cytokine production. Useful as a prophylactic and as a treatment. Though this is in fact more a modulatory action as opposed to a stimulant one – link to a more detailed analysis of this by Paul Bergner:
  • Ear infections

Digestion / Genitourinary


  • Antimicrobial and useful in treating candida. 
  • Heartburn, indigestion, gastritis, diarrhoea, colic and wind.
  • Arthritis and gout can be treated by promoting diuresis and sweating
  • Enhance kidney function, relieve fluid retention which help to eliminate toxins and heat (again a useful action for fever)


  • Nourishing the gut with fruit acids, proanthocyanidins and bioflavonoids. Also antimicrobial.
  • Mild laxative which is often used in the form of syrups for children., but can also be used to treat diarrhoea, presumably because the anthocyanins are anti-inflammatory for the bowel wall. Probably has benefits for the eyes similar to bilberry due to the high levels of anthocyanins
  • Useful for a swollen spleen (Wood)

Nervous System


  • Good for anxiety in the evening. This nervine aspect of the medicine seeps into everything, as a relaxed nervous system is less likely to participate in an auto-immune response. Great anxiolytic for children as it’s gentle taste is palatable and can encourage good rest when an infection is beginning to creep in.


  • Adaptogenic and increase resilience to stress



  • Diaphoretic action brings blood to the surface, diffusing heat from the core
  • Cold infusion for night sweats (Bartram)


  • Reduces LDL cholesterol and helps prevent atherosclerosis (again also in part due to the presence of proanthocyanidins)


  • A hydrosol from the flowers is called Eau de Sureau in France and is considered an excellent aftershave skin tonic – also useful for chilblains, wounds, bruises, swollen joints, skin eruptions, sunburn, piles, itchy conditions and as an insect repellant. 
  • Collagen stabilizing action which can help to heal connective tissue and reduce swelling in varicose veins, hemorrhoids, sprains and arthritis. 


  • Wood calls it the ‘great infant remedy’ – useful for blue and pale swelling as well as red, dry irritated skin of the cheeks.
  • Children with marbled skin and respiratory problems, skin problems or eczema.
  • Conditions of stagnant fluids and blood, or where the skin is dry, harsh and red. 
  • Useful for children who are strong and sanguine, seemingly hyperactive and experiencing difficult in social situations. (Wood).
  • Good for skin issues involving edema and weeping wounds (weeping eczema, indolent ulcers)
  • Leaves: Insect repellent. Purgative and emetic in large doses. Used externally to treat bruises, chilblains and strain. The leaves were infused in linseed to make Oleum viride.
  • Bark: A warming liver stimulant which can be purgative and emetic in large doses and is also diuretic. It has been used for arthritis and for stubborn constipation, as well as oedema (Culpepper mentions Dr. Butler as ‘’…commend[ing] Elder to the sky for dropsies’’.

Personal Experiences

  • Took a while to introduce itself, or rather for me to come to a place in myself in which I am ready to work with Elder at a deep level. I can feel the association with Pan, the wild call of nature which always has space for ways of being which are not permitted by mainstream culture – the whispers away from the pantheon to the cliffside cave. Something very alluring about the Elder tree, it’s beautiful fragrant blossoms are for me a doorway into summer. I have yet to do much work with the flowers but intend to do more this year. The berries I have done one proper harvest and made a lovely tincture with cloves thrown in – using this alongside good diet and exercise I avoided three waves of sickness coming through the house of 5 people. Very powerful protective action but its bond comes with a deep respect – the folklore surrounding the tree and of asking permission before harvesting from it did not come from nowhere. My sense of it is that when we work with Elder, we are literally warding off infections and dark spirits, and that one of the exchanges the tree asks for upon granting these gifts is that we deepen our understanding of nature and to protect the non-human life forms as they are also a part of our family, they are in the web just as we are. I was holding a Plant ID and medicine making workshop, the trail of which began with a lovely Elder tree in the hedgerow. This was the tree that I asked permission from to do the walk as it really felt like a kind of spokesbeing for the locale – it asked simply that I tell no lie and that I open myself to the messages the plants would like to bring through on this walk, and upon asking for an offering I reached into my pocket and pulled out a coin (as I was also asking the Elder if I could make money from taking people into this area, from talking about these plants, it was fitting), and on the back of the coin was a plant – an odd coincidence. It granted me permission and the area has become special to me for lots of reasons now, I feel like I am one of its caretakers.
  • I would love to make a didgeridoo from the wood. 
  • It’s ability to protect against and to assist in clearing infection is clear  – I have been repeatedly told by those who have used its syrups, teas and tinctures in both flower and berry form that the remedies have worked very well. Note that some herbalists believe that it will be tolerated by people here far better than Echinacea as it is a native plant. 

Shiitake & Miso Stew


This is a rich and hearty vegan stew that is comforting and nourishing. I often turn to these kinds of stews when I sense I am in need of deep support from the plants, so after stretches of intense work, convalescence from illness or at the time of writing, making my way out of the Christmas meat and booze story. The mushrooms, miso, spices and astragalus weave together in an anti-inflammatory combination that is warming, immune/gut supportive and really tasty. As with any recipe, it is totally adaptable. For example, if you don’t have access to shiitake mushrooms, any will do, even button mushrooms. 

100g shiitake mushrooms
2 sticks of celery
1 white onion
3 carrots
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp astragalus powder
1 400g tin of green lentils
1 handful of green kale
1 bunch of buckwheat noodles
3 tbsp fermented barley miso
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tbsp or so of extra virgin olive oil
1.5 liter of boiled water (or vegetable stock, or bone broth)
Seasoning to taste (salt and pepper is fine, or soya sauce to add more body)

Gently sweat the chopped garlic and onions in the olive oil until they are softened, and stir in the turmeric, cumin, ginger and astragalus powder. Continue to gently stir and sweat until combined, and then add the chopped celery, carrots and mushrooms. Sweat this on  a gentle heat for a few minutes.

Pour the water over the mix, and add the lentils and seasoning. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. 

After around 20 minutes, add in the miso paste, chopped kale and buckwheat noodles. 

Serve it up with a little garnish 

Cheesy Nut Roast


Cheesy bean & nut roast with astragalus & rose water, served with broccoli and fennel seeds.

This makes a really indulgent dinner perfect for a winter’s evening. The supportive energy of astragalus weaves with the nuts, beans and other plants to form a nutritional bedrock and the cheese is just because it’s so yummy. The rose water brings a gentle depth to the flavor and is gorgeous medicine for the heart song.
The cheese can be adapted or can be left out, as can the eggs, flour and breadcrumbs.
We made this dinner as a transitional dish after the heaviness of the Christmas feasts. Not quite ready to let go of the indulgences but needing to start moving in a healthier direction, this worked a treat.


The Main Mix:

– 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (organic if you have it), plus extra for the tin and for drizzling
– 1 celery stick, finely chopped
– 2 leeks, or 1 big one, halved and sliced
– 400g can cannellini beans (or whatever is handy), drained and rinsed
– 80g pistachios , finely chopped
– 50g sundried tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
– 80g parmesan or whatever your favorite hard cheese is
– 1 tsp cumin powder
– 1 tsp smoked paprika
– 1 tsp mixed herbs
– 50g fresh breadcrumbs
– 2 large eggs, beaten
– 50g plain flour 
– ½ small bunch of fresh , finely chopped
– 1 tbsp toasted mixed seeds
– 1 tbsp of astragalus powder
– 20ml of pure food grade rose water

For the cheese stuffing:

You can adapt this filling easily if you are avoiding cow’s milk or if you are vegan. Home made herbal pesto also works nicely here.

– 100g feta chesse, crumbled
– 2 tbsp mascarpone cheese
– 1 tbsp finely chopped chives
– 1 tbsp finely chopped dill
– Zest of 1 lemon

The Broccoli:
– 300g purple sprouting broccoli
– ½ tbsp fennel seeds , crushed
– Salt and pepper

• STEP 1: Oil a standard loaf tin and then line it with baking parchment. Heat some of the oil in a frying pan, tip in the finely chopped celery and leek, and gently fry them for 10 mins until both are softened and translucent.
• STEP 2: Roughly mash the beans in a large bowl (a fork works fine). Stir through the fried celery and leek, pistachios, sundried tomatoes, parmesan, spices, herbs and powders, breadcrumbs, eggs, flour, rose water and parsley. Season well, and stir. You can adapt the filling as needed – linseeds and olive oil will negate the need for eggs to bind the mix if you’d like to make it vegan. Also, linseeds and gluten free flours are an option for those avoiding wheat. 
• STEP 3: For the cheesy stuffing, mash up the feta with the mascarpone and combine it with chives, dill and lemon zest. Pinch of salt and pepper to taste
•STEP 4: Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Pat half the bean and nut mixture into the tin and use a spoon to press out a channel along the middle, an inch wide. Spoon the cheese mixture into the channel, then pat down the remaining bean and nut mixture over the top and around the sides to cover it. Cover the batch in foil and bake for 50 mins or up to 1 hr until firm to the touch. 
• STEP 5: Toss the broccoli in a baking tray with the crushed fennel seeds. Season and roast on the lower shelf of the oven for the last 20 mins of the cooking time, or until crisp at the edges.
• STEP 6: I served this with some Purple Cabbage & Purple Carrot Kimchi and it was lush, but chutneys would be lovely as well. Dig in 🙂 

Ganoderma lucidum

Plant Profiles

Ganoderma lucidum
Reishi, Lingzhi

Botanical Description

Lingzhi, also known as reishi, is a polypore fungus (also referred to as a bracket fungus) belonging to the genus Ganoderma. Its red-varnished, kidney-shaped cap and peripherally inserted stem gives it a distinct fan-like appearance. When fresh, the lingzhi is soft, cork-like, and flat. It lacks gills on its underside and depending on its age the underside may be white or brown. It can also grow in an ‘antler’ shape in poorly ventilated settings.

Location & Cultivation

Ganoderma lucidum can be found on the hardwoods (especially oaks) of warmer regions of its native Asia, the South Pacific & the Southeastern USA. It is thought to be very difficult to find in the wild but given it’s reputation as a medicine it is widely cultivated in habitats where it is happy to grow. Cultivating it at home may require a dedicated space in which fungus of Ganoderma lucidum is mixed with wood pulp and kept in a warm and humid environment with shaded lighting. Some growers create huge walls of plastic grow bags containing Ganoderma spores, and time the tearing of the bags to expose the mushrooms to CO2 to produce the flat caps.


It is not to be found in Western Europe, but for those who live close to it, wild crafting requires great determination and also great care as it is so precious in the wild, so following the ‘take only what you need’ philosophy remains true. If harvesting cultivated mushrooms, one may be able to harvest 2 or 3 crops from one plant if it is well looked after. Some growers recommend finding the perfect balance of ventilation to encourage the ‘antler’ shape of growth in the mushroom, which can grow up to 3 feet in length before harvesting. Different companies sell grow kits and spores for home inoculation.
There are various ways of preparing Ganoderma, and one can find 1:3 tinctures, decocted tinctures and recently I had heard of a ‘russian extract’ which is 3:1. Double extracted methods are generally thought of as important as valuable immunomodulating polysaccharides will only be released from the durable chitin in the mushroom when it is simmered for quite a long time. The alcohol helps to extract the terpenes which are antioxidant and antiinflammatory. 

History / Folklore

The history of humans using Ganoderma lucidum is over 2000 years old. It’s local name in China is Lingzhi, translating to ‘The Plant of Immortality’. In TCM  it is closely affiliated with the heart and the brain, connecting the middle and upper cauldrons in preserving and improving memory & capacity for clear thinking, and also for treating constrictions of the heart qi. The goddess of healing Guanyin is sometimes depicted as holding a reishi mushroom, a real testament to its cultural reverence. The mushroom has long been touted as one that relaxes the heart and calms the nerves while encouraging a sustainable regeneration of qi.

Taste / Energetics

Salty, meaty, bitter, slightly drying, slightly warming 


Polysaccharides, glucans, adenosine, triterpenes, protein, phytosterols, lipids, ganasterone, vitamines C, B2


Tonic, immune-stimulant, hypoglycaemic, anti-tumour, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, expectorant, adrenal stimulant, radiation protective, cardiotonic

Traditional & Current Uses

Circulatory System

• Cardio-tonic, so enhances normal heart function, improves coronary artery circulation and protects against heart attacks.
• Can relieve palpitations & arrhythmias, prevent clots, lower cholesterol, normalises blood pressure and prevents atherosclerosis. 
• Ganoderic acid is known to thin blood and reduce inflammation, thereby lowering the tendency to clotting.
• Increases the level of O2 in the blood and has been used in treating altitude sickness.


• As an immunomodulant, Ganoderma lucidum and it’s polysaccharides enhance immunity with T-Cell activity, leukocytes and macrophage activity.
• It has been well studied as a treatment for cancer and is widely used as a complement to chemo and radio therapies. It inhibits metastasis by inhibiting platelet aggregation.
• Antibacterial to Staphylococci and Streptococci bacteria and antifungal so useful for treating candida. 
• Balances and builds the ‘pro-inflammatory’ side of the adrenal cortex – that is, the ‘mineralocorticoid’ side that supports the inflammatory side of the immune response. It does not act on the ‘anti-inflammatory’ or glucocorticoid side, which suppresses the immune response. Thus it reduces autoimmune excess and is helpful in autoimmune diseases of many kinds including myasthenia gravis and Sjogren’s syndrome.
• Helpful for allergies as it’s sulphur compounds inhibit histamine release from mast cells, and also as it helps modulate overactive immune response, and is also a nervine (a state of calmness is less likely to provoke an autoimmune flare).
• It has a steroidal compound called gandosterone that is hepatoprotective and is beneficial in hepatitis and in cirrhosis. 
• Can be used for HIV, Herpes, hepatitis B and C, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, acute myeloid leukemia and nasopharyngeal carcinomas. 

Nervous System
• Ganoderma lucidum is adaptogenic, is neuro-protective and increases resilience to stress. It improves adrenal function, sleep quality and appetite so can be a wonderful ally for burnout or when one knows there is a particularly busy time on the horizon.
• It has been known to reduce anxiety and protects against neurological problems. 

• As an antimicrobial, Ganoderma is also a nourishing tonic to the gut.

Avoid use  with anyone who has a mushroom allergy. Note that some with very weak digestive function may have trouble digesting the B-Glucans in which case build the digestive fire and perhaps try again. In large doses it has been observed to cause diarrhea. 

Preparation & Dosage
A decoction can also be used. Myconutri and other suppliers provide powders and capsules which may also be of benefit.
• Can be useful to prescribe as part of an evening blend. In a powder mix, it could be blended with other powders such as Withania and gently warmed in oat milk to make a nourishing and relaxing evening tea. 

• My initial connection with Ganoderma was meeting it alive in a plant shop I worked in, seeing it’s vibrancy and also something mysterious about it, the mystery of how it actually does what it does. My clinical use of it stems from a tutor of mine including it in many of her prescriptions and her testament to how effective it has been for autoimmune conditions. There is deeply regenerative earth energy here. As an ally that strengthens, relaxes and encourages healthy immune response, Ganoderma can help tune us to a place from which we establish a more coherent, calm and appropriate response to the world around us – a process of healing and transformation that medicinal mushrooms appear to be very good at doing.
• Wood describes his friend Don Babineau saying of Ganoderma tsugae that it ‘Looks like fire and restores fire to the system’. 

Californian Poppy

Plant Profiles
Escholzia californica
Californian Poppy

Family: Papaveraceae

Part used:  Usual practise is to harvest the whole plant fresh, including the roots and the seed pods for tinctures. Some just harvest the aerial parts, especially for the tea.

Botanical Description

Technically a perennial plant but is treated by most growers as an annual. It is a perennial or annual plant growing to 13–152 cm tall with alternately branching blue-green foliage. The leaves are alternately divided into round, lobed segments. The flowers are solitary on long stems, silky-textured, with four petals, each petal 2 to 6 cm long and broad; flower color ranges through yellow, orange and red, with some pinks. Flowering occurs from February to September in the northern hemisphere (spring, summer, fall). The petals close at night or in cold, windy weather and open again the following morning, although they may remain closed in cloudy weather. The fruit is a slender, dehiscent capsule 3 to 9 cm long, which splits in two to release numerous small black or dark brown seeds. It survives mild winters in its native range, dying completely in colder climates. 

Location, Cultivation & Harvesting

Native to the western regions of North America. Grows readily from seed and preferably in light, sandy soil. Seed can be scattered by hand into very shallow furrows or simply sown on the surface of the soil and lightly pressed in. If no rain follows and the soil is very dry, be sure to keep the soil moist to promote germination. California poppy does not like to be transplanted, so it is best that it is sown where it is grown.
Harvest: 40-60 days of growing should see the plant to full bloom. It blooms for so long – at the time of writing it is mid-November here in Ireland (albeit everything is late this year) and the poppies are still going for it.

History & Folklore

It’s latin name is imprinted by a colonial expedition of a Russian ship in the 19th century. On board was German surgeon and naturalist Friedrich Gustav von Eschscholtz, who saw the San Francisco Bay area hills emblazoned with California Poppy. It was used by indigenous cultures to the area as food, boiled or steamed. 

Taste / Energetics

Bitter with a hint of sweet ; cooling



Morphine alkaloids (inc. protopine, sanguinarine, chelerythrine), eschscholtzione, glycosides)

Sedative, hypnotic, antispasmodic, anodyne, nervine, febrifuge

Traditional & Current Uses

Upper Cauldron
• Though a cousin to the opium poppy, Californian poppy is far less potent. It provides safe sedative medicine to calm down over excited states, cool down hot anxiety, tension and insomniac states. It is suitable for calming hyperactive children; there is widely reported success with helping little ones in getting to sleep.
• Brings down overactive yang energy, helping to cool down states of heat and bringing some water to the fire.
• Anodyne and relaxing, and can be good for migraines, headaches, neuralgia, back and muscle pain, arthritis, sciatica & shingles. 

Middle Cauldron

• It can help slow a rapid heart rate, relieve palpitations and reduce blood pressure

Lower Cauldron

• As it is an antispasmodic herb, Californian poppy can help to relax the gut and relieve colic in the stomach and gallbladder.