Over the past week, eight of my friends have become unwell with Covid19. All are around my age, and none of them live near me. One has underlying health issues, and lives alone. “I thought I was prepared, but I’m really not” she said when we talked about what she had in the house which might help her feel better.

Given the huge increases in numbers we’re currently seeing at the moment, and the pressure on our NHS, staying out of hospital if you can, is hugely important. Over the last year, I’ve had to think on my feet and go back to telling patients about simple home herbal remedies they can make at home. These can be suprisingly helpful provided that you have everything to hand before you become infected. So here’s what I suggest you include in your Covid first aid kit:

  • A thermometer
  • A pulse oximeter
  • Something you can use as a footbath
  • Olbas oil
  • Vicks vaporub
  • Vitamins C and D
  • A good selection of kitchen spices, including ginger, and mustard powder (Colmans will do if you can’t get the strong stuff)
  • Elderflower cordial
  • Antihistamines
  • Chamomile and peppermint tea bags.

Here’s a quick run down of what to do with the more common symptoms of Covid.

Changes In Temperature:

As well as how warm or cold you’re feeling in yourself, your thermometer will be a good gauge of what your temperature is doing. It’s a good idea to know your normal temperature when you’re well, so you can use that to see if you really do have a fever or not. If you feel as if you’re too hot, but your skin is cool to the touch, it’s likely that your temperature is still rising. This is a healthy immune response and shows that your body is fighting the virus, but it needs to be monitored and managed. If it becomes too uncomfortable, you can drink hot elderflower cordial or peppermint tea to bring it down. A compress made with tepid (not cold) water and a little vinegar or peppermint oil applied to your pulse points will also help you to feel more comfortable.

Feeling very cold is also quite common with viral infections in general, and if this happens I’d suggest drinking warm spicy teas and using hot footbaths. Spices like cardamom, ginger and cinnamon would all work as teas. For footbaths, use powdered mustard, ginger, or cayenne pepper at around 1/2-1 tbsp per litre of hot water. Limit your footbath to 15 minutes and make sure your feet stay warm once they’ve dried.

Fatigue

It’s pretty standard to be fatigued with many viral infections, but with Covid there are a number of possible reasons why this can happen. Be aware that oxygen levels can drop dangerously low and cause fatigue, which is why it’s important to use a pulse oximeter to keep an eye on them. Provided that those are ok, just rest as best you can and don’t be tempted to catch up on household chores etc on good days.

Cough / Shortness Of Breath

If you’re laying down, it’s best to lay on your front, with your arms above your head if you can, as this opens up the lower part of the lungs making it easier to breathe. Steam inhalations are also really useful for relaxing the lung tissue and getting medicine in the form of essential oils straight into the chest. Personally I think the most effective way is the old method of using a bowl of boiling water with a couple of drops of essential oil (Olbas is fine), and leaning over the bowl with a towel covering your head to stop the steam escaping. However, there’s the obvious health and safety concern that you might tip the water over and boil your legs, so if you’d prefer a safer option, try shutting yourself in the bathroom and running very hot water onto a flannel with a couple of drops of essential oil.

As well as steam inhalation, you could apply something like Vicks Vaporub to your back & chest, and use a heatpad on your back. This helps to drive the oils into your chest, making it easier to breathe, as well as giving you a soothing warmth. Don’t overdo the Vaporub if you’re using heat as well.

Use a pulse oximeter to check the oxygen levels in your blood at regular intervals. If your breathing is abnormal, it’s going to be hard to get the oxygen in the first place, but with Covid there’s the added danger that you can feel quite well but have dangerously low oxygen levels. A pulse oximeter is now an essential part of your first aid kit, and it’s very quick and easy to use. If after a couple of minutes, it’s showing your levels at less than 95%, or your breathing becomes worse, get urgent medical help.

Nausea, Vomitting & Diarrhoea

This is becoming increasingly common in adults now, and has always been more common in children with Covid. Herbs like ginger, peppermint, or chamomile can really help to calm nausea and upset tummies, so plenty of those teas will help to calm things down and stay hydrated. Diarrhoea is not quite so easy to self treat, and may well pass by itself after a few days. In the meantime, coconut water or full sugar cola makes a good rehydration mix. If you need more help with these, please speak with your GP, or book a mini appointment with me.

Itching

Itchy eyes, nose, and skin can also happen in Covid, and antihistamines are usually very helpful. Early on in the year, anecdotal evidence from Doctors suggested that antihistamines were helpful in controlling the huge inflammatory reaction that can make people really poorly with Covid. This was denied in the media for a while, but early in December 2020 new research emerged supporting the use of antihistamines. People with long Covid often benefit from a low histamine diet, and taking antihistamines during a Covid infection certainly won’t do any harm.

In General

It’s important to support your immune system in fighting off the infection as best you can, and both supplements and herbs can be really helpful. In terms of supplements, I’d suggest taking 1g Vitamin C every 3-4 hours, and 5000 IU’s a day of Vitamin D, split into several doses. Once the infection has passed, reduce the dose down again to 1-3g Vitamin C daily and 2000 IU’s Vitamin D. If you feel you need extra help, or you’re struggling to recover from your infection, herbs would be a really good option.

There are too many symptoms to talk about here, and new patterns are emerging all the time. If you’d like urgent advice tailored to what’s going on for you, please get in touch, and obviously, if you’re worried at any point, do call 111 or 999 for help.

Do You Need Any Help With Herbal First Aid For Covid19?

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