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  • Sarah Hooff CHN, CSNC

Thoughts & Strategies for dealing with COVID-19

Probably like most of you my thoughts regarding COVID-19 ranges from peaceful to 'busy'. Sometimes I feel kind of 'tucked in' and safe, I'm working from home today so it's actually quite nice. Sometimes though I wonder about work and what this 'break' will mean. But mostly I'm just grateful it isn't hitting children hard or I might be a lot more stressed out. My husband and I also have tough spirits and not to mention have already had lots of contact with all those healthy microbes in the dirt so far this season, so I'm sure we can fight it off : )

I do feel empathy for all the people I know with jobs affected though. This is very serious in that regard. Whether a health care provider or a shop owner I'm sad to see anyone suffer. On the other hand seeing the creativity being put into use to continue support is also pretty great to see. I keep steering my thoughts to a positive mindset. Also some pretty funny memes out there these days but I am also trying to limit my social media exposure so my mind doesn't run away. I think my favorite meme so far has been the one about Mother Nature sending us to our room to think about what we've done... I think I laughed out loud on that one!

As a nutritionist as far as our overworked, busy western culture goes, I think this 'break' can be incredibly useful. As a holistic nutritionist I can't even count the times I've heard a client express overwhelm regarding their job and their own personal health. From overeating/stress eating to addictions, the way we suffer through our daily work is a very serious matter and of course directly impacts our quality of life. Also as a nutritionist even after one finds their groove I always encourage people give it a good three months until the real positive effects start to be felt. Good news even three months will have a lasting good effect. It just so happens many people are predicting it may take at least three months to get through the worst of this virus. So please, I encourage people to think of this time as an opportunity to reach for that optimal health mind set. And hey if you do catch this bug hopefully your body knows quite well how to get rid of it with as little distress as possible. So dust off the running shoes and bust out the soup pots, we got this!

To follow are a few simple guidelines and a few powerful ingredients to consider. I hope you find it useful.

Much peace to all in these strange times. I'm here if I can be of any help.

Take good care,

Sarah xo

Here is a little snipit from my upcoming book Garden Gate Health, Celebrations on Adaptogens, pretty perfect timing, I thought I'd start here. I edited it a touch for dealing with lung health.


Whether life has you distressing or you are just maxed out there is an amazing class of herbs known as adaptogens that can help 'take the edge off'. Adaptogens are herbs that ease the body in times of stress. Adaptogens can help one adapt to a given situation, normalize mental and physical functions and sometimes even help increase endurance. The term 'adaptogen was first introduced in Russia in 1957 by Russian toxicologist Nikolay Lazarev. The term 'adaptogen' refers to 'substances that increase the state of 'non-specific resistance' in stress.

Generally speaking, an adaptogen must have the four 'Ns'.

⦁ Nourishing - bring nutritive strength

⦁ Normalizing - raise what is low and lower what is high (eg energy, stress)

⦁ Non-specific - act on multiple parts of the body at the same time

⦁ Non-toxic - be completely safe when used over extended periods of time.

Caution: That said it is always advised to check with your healthcare provider if a herb is right for you.


Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra): reduces stress, balances hormones, natural cortisone. * Not for those with high blood pressure. Excellent respiratory soother. In chinese medicine Licorice Root is also known as a 'harmonizer'. Blends well with ginger root, rosehips and elderberries.

Astragulus (Astragalus membranaceus): combats fatigue, improves immune function. Also a helpful herb for the immune system.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): reduces stress and anxiety.

Holy Basil (Ocimum): reduces physical and mental stress, anxiety and depression. Holy Basil is loved by many!

Eleuthero Root/ Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus): improves focus and prevents mental fatigue.

Schisandra Berries (Schisandra chinensis): boosts endurance, mental performance and work capacity. Can also be helpful for reducing night sweats.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa): powerful anti inflammatory, boosts brain function and reduces depression and anxiety.

Dose and Caution: As stated earlier it's always advised to work with a qualified healthcare practitioner to find what herb is right for you. Dose will often also depend on condition. In my experience it's always best to start gently. Remember consistency is also important when developing a health care program.

*Stress: I also just want add Magnesium is essential when dealing with stress, overwhelm, addictions and troubled sleep. One may also wish to add this mineral to their health routine. Helpful to take before bed if sleep is an issue. Further, one of the VERY best stress busters of all is Exercise! With a little more time on our hands give it a try. From detox to increasing energy, simple yet powerful medicine, plus the endorphins are hard to beat. And yes! Walking counts!

A few more helpful Nutritives to consider for dealing with COVID-19

Nettles: anti inflammatory, nutritious, a highly prized herb fpr a variety of lung complaints

Elderberry: helps to boost the immune system and useful for toning tissue throughout the body. Excellent for lung and urinary health. Blends well with many herbs and tastes delicious.

Lemon balm: Soon to be everywhere this spring and just in time! Lemon balm is excellent for the nervous system and mildly anti viral. An excellent daily tonic, and children do especially well with this herb.

Red Clover Blossoms: Similar to nettles, very nutritious and has been used for respiratory problems for ages. An excellent source of B Vitamins also needed for the health of the nervous system.

Demulcents: Demulcents are of particular importance when dealing with all sorts of health complaints but especially so for respiratory and digestive troubles. Demulcents are often nutritious but also high in mucilage which helps to coat and sooth tissues. This category of herbs can help prevent sickness by strengthening the protective lining throughout the body but if sick already they can greatly reduce duration of illness.

Some excellent options include Marshmallow Root, Slippery Elm, and Licorice Root (mentioned above for her healing powers but also and amazing demulcent.Not for use with high blood pressure)


Zinc & Vitamin A/Beta Carotene:

I often pair these two nutrients. Both are necessary for cell renewal, something of extra importance when we get sick. Zinc however is very essential for Immune function, while Vitamin A/Beta Carotene has long been valued for lung tissue health.

Good food sources of Zinc include sea foods (but can also be a source of contamination, so do be cautious) pumpkin seeds, cashews, white beans, chocolate (easy on the sugar though if immune powers are needed!) and millet.

Excellent sources of Vitamin A include fatty fish, yogurt (excluding fat free options) and egg yolk but plant based sources will also contain essential fiber (helps to carry away the toxins), and are excellent lung foods. Some great options include kale, dandelion leaves, sweet potato/yams and winter squash.

*Vitamin A is also a fat soluble nutrient so do make sure you add a quality fat. Virgin Coconut oil or coconut milk is also mildly anti viral so curries could be an excellent option right now!

Selenium: a powerful trace mineral and essential for immune function. While I was never diagnosed officially, years ago after 2 years of a high workload combined with limited sunlight/vitamin D one winter I got hit hard! Pretty sure I came down with pneumonia. Thank heavens for my husbands good care but I also remembered I had a bottle of selenium in the cupboard. It did put me back on the mend within days. After that experience I absolutely agree with the texts. For local readers, farmers have known a long time that Powell River soil is low in selenium. Selenium is needed for immunity, dealing with stress, prevention of many serious chronic illnesses, all types of inflammation and is a powerful antioxidant working with Vitamin E to prevent free-radical damage. In regards to lung health it can help where one is dealing with wheezing, shortness of breath or infection.

Some good food sources are seafoods, eggs, sunflower seeds, garlic and shiitake mushrooms. Shiitakes have been a valued immune boosting food for centuries! See recipe to follow! : )

Protein: Sometimes it can feel natural to limit food intake when sick and while yes sometimes that can be true, I also want to encourage people when in a fight protein is needed! When our body needs to build cells to fight off foreign particles protein is necessary for our bodies to be able to do so. Roughly one gram per kilogram of body weight will suffice. So please if someone offers you a bowl of soup take them up on it and you'll be on the mend sooner than you think!


Shiitake Miso with Soy Noodles

4 cups shiitake mushrooms 1 L mushroom stock/broth 1 L water * 2 cups organic soy noodles, broken in half (any bean noodle bean of choice will work well) 4 baby bok choy 1/2 red pepper 6 cloves fresh garlic 1 inch piece of ginger, grated 1/3 cup tamari, light 2-3 tbsp. miso garnish with green onion


Put a medium sized pot of water on to boil for soy noodles. Add water and a little oil. Bring to a boil and cook noodles until soft. Rinse, strain, add a little oil and set aside.

In a separate pot sauté mushrooms, garlic and ginger. When lightly browned and soft add in mushroom stock, water and tamari. While waiting to boil wash and chop remaining vegetables. Once stock begins to boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Add remaining vegetables and simmer 20 minutes or so.

One can now add soy noodles to soup after vegetables are soft or add as needed. Some people may choose to avoid noodles but soy noodles are low in calories, low carb, high protein, and a much healthier option than your traditional ramen noodles.


In place of soy noodles one may also with to use soba (buckwheat noodles) or any type of legume noodle or simply even add in a little quinoa for a protein boost.

Ginger Beers aka herbal tea!

2 tbsp blue elderberry and an one inch piece of fresh organic ginger grated per 2 cups freshly boiled water. Let tea cool and pour into ice cube trays.


Prepare tea in advance, let cool and pour into ice cube trays. Pour good quality ginger beer over premade herbal tea ice cubes. Garnish with a spring of rosemary & enjoy!

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