GAPS Approach to Viral Care

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A GAPS Approach to Viral Care

Do you ever get a bit tense by how un-alone we are, even in our bodies? There are billions of microbes living on and around us, everywhere we could fathom. Perhaps my GAPS approach to Viral Care can ease your mind a little bit with some helpful strategies. 

The micro critters, like bacteria, viruses, and parasites, can wreak havoc, and they also act as recyclers, nurturers, and caretakers of us and life on earth. Let us try to understand a little more about one group of these micro critters, viruses. 

Viruses are classified somewhere on the “edge of life.” They are tinier than even bacteria and archaea and are only DNA & RNA inside a protein coat. 

Viruses are not active until in contact with their host, where they inject their genetic material, infect, and reproduce. (Khan Academy has a great video explaining how they work here:

We certainly don’t know everything about viruses. We have partial knowledge of the mechanisms viruses use to get in and out of our cells, incomplete knowledge about how they interact with our intricate immune system, and a little knowledge about how many ways they can spread.  

What we do know is that viruses can use our cellular materials to do quick work of cloning themselves. 

They’ve found ways to gain access to our cells by having the right fitting “key” to unlock the cell’s receptors. 

To quote  “…viruses have also acquired the key to specific cells. For example, the pneumonia virus is capable of latching on to a human lung cell. The virus that causes hepatitis can infect human liver cells. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS is capable of landing on white blood cells.

Once a virus attaches to a host cell, it inserts its genetic material in one of three ways. 

  1. Some viruses trick host cells into thinking that the virus is food. These cells pull the genetic material in just as they would pull in other nutrients. 
  2. Other viruses have a sticky coat that fuses with the cell’s membrane, and the genetic material enters that way. 
  3. Other viruses forcibly pierce the cell’s membrane and inject their DNA into the host.”

So what are our strategies for giving our bodies the best chance of resisting active viral infection?

Our number one strategy is to strengthen and support our immune system. Acute infection is more likely to happen in a weakened, compromised body with a poorly nourished immune system. 

My GAPS Approach to Viral Care:

We all have viruses in our bodies, some we acquire before we’re even born. There are many viral care strategies to employ. Mother earth, and the two-leggeds who have bent their lives in the direction of fostering a relationship with plants, animals, fungi, and minerals to learn what can help themselves and their fellow humans, have come up with many options. 

Below are the options I would suggest. 

*Note: The suggestions below are what I would use in my own family for wellness and acute illness scenarios. None of the following information is meant to be taken as medical advice. Please consult with your own medical practitioner before making changes to diet, supplements, or prescriptions. 

1. Manage your stress, worry, anxiety, & fear with:

  • Love – for yourself and those around you. Tell your body, “I will take care of you as long as I’ve got you to take care of. ” 
  • Laughter – this reduces stress and boosts your immune system. 
  • Connection – I know we’re supposed to “isolate” and maintain a safe distance, but it is still vital to reach out to others and care and be cared for. 
  • Drawing on – whatever higher power, Spirit, God, higher consciousness, you have to draw on. I consider it a good thing to connect with something bigger than the small, scared self and bolster the strength that is in you with something even bigger. 

2. Avoid problematic foods for virus activation:

  • Citrus fruit
  • Nuts
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Too much of any fresh fruit

3. Focus on foods that bring viruses down:

  • Meat stock & bone broth
  • Warm, protein-rich soups & stews with animal fat (healthy fats build robust cellular membranes which are vital for the integrity of our cellular intake of nutrients, expelling of toxins, & cell messaging) 
  • Fermented foods for probiotic support, such as homemade 24-hr kefir, 24-hr sour cream, sauerkraut, beet kvass, kimchi, etc.
  • Coconut oil
  • Fresh crushed garlic, onions & leeks (contain protein that inhibits viruses)

4. Take General Viral Supplements:

  • Sovereign Silver – Silver nanoparticles are potent for killing viruses and preventing them from replicating. I would suggest 1/2 – 1 tsp per day when active infections are circling in your community. In an acute illness scenario, take 1 tsp every 1-2 hours. 
  • Vitamin D – Vitamin D is a potent immune activator, helping our body to make a protein called cathelicidin, which is known to kill pathogens like viruses. Vitamin D from high-quality cod liver oil and sunshine are the best options, and most bioavailable. Adults typically need 1 tsp of cod liver oil per day; a child would take 1/2 tsp. In an acute illness scenario, some experts recommend taking 50,000 IU of liquid D3 daily for the first five days and then 5,000-10,000 IU as a maintenance dose. Monitor your levels of Vitamin D long-term. A healthy blood range is between 50-90 ng/ml.
  • Vitamin A – Vitamin A is immune supportive and protects our upper respiratory mucus membranes and lining. I don’t recommend Vitamin A in synthetic form. The most bioavailable form is from cod liver oil and liver supplements. In an acute situation, experts recommend taking 25,000 IU daily. 
  • Vitamin C – now is the time to boost your Vitamin C. Vitamin C is important for the stimulation and production of white blood cells. I suggest taking 1,000 – 2,000 mg every two hours, or to bowel tolerance. One of my favorite brands is Pure Synergy Vitamin C powder. 
  • L-Lysine – the amino acid L-lysine will help to bring the viruses down. Lysine also supports the absorption of zinc (see below). In an acute viral scenario, an adult usually needs 4,000 – 6,000 grams per day, a child about half that. I take 500 – 1,000 mg per day as maintenance. 
  • Chelated forms of zinc – Zinc inhibits the replication of viruses and supports our immune systems. I suggest taking 30-50 mg per day. Don’t supplement it long term without balancing with other minerals such as copper. Look for chelated forms, such as zinc glycinate, or zinc picolinate.

5. Buhner Herbal Viral Strategies:

The following is a condensed version of what I’ve gleaned from Stephen Buhner’s book Herbal Antivirals. I strongly suggest getting your own copy as it is an excellent book. *All herbals should be checked with a physician if pregnant or nursing. 

These are systemic herbs that generally work well against a wide variety of viruses. For a complete description of the herbs mentioned, as well as the diseases and infections they are useful for, refer to the book, Herbal Antivirals.

1. Chinese skullcap  – Can be found through Woodland Essence and Elk Mountain Herbs

    • Used for – Viral infections, especially pandemic flu viruses, and encephalitis, respiratory infections, pneumonia, and infections of the central nervous system. Root tincture is particular for reducing brain inflammation caused by both bacterial and viral infections in the CNS.
    • Tincture – 1/2 – 1 teaspoon 3x per day for acute. (*Note, can be taken for sleep, 1/2 teaspoon before bed.)

2. Elder (sumbucus nigra)  – You can obtain readymade GAPS-friendly elderberry syrup through Honey Garden Apiaries

    • Used for – Viral infections, especially flu viruses, and herpes simplex viruses, among others.
    • Elderberry Syrup – 2 – 4 tablespoons for adults every 2 – 4 hours, and half that for children (up to 1 tsp. per hour for children under 6, and up to 1 tbsp. per hour for older children/adults)
      • 4 cups fresh elderberries (or 2 cups dried soaked overnight in water)  
      • 1 1/2 cups honey or maple syrup 
      • 1/4 teaspoon dried ginger  
      • Juice and zest of 1 lime 
      • Simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Store in the fridge for up to 3 months.
      • *Recipe inspired by Feasting & Foraging

3. Ginger root (fresh)  – Can be found at a grocery store near you 🙂

    • Used for – Viral infections, especially respiratory. It is also beneficial for nausea, chills, stomach cramping, and diarrhea.
    • Fresh Ginger Juice Tea – To prepare, juice 1 – 2 lb. Fresh ginger root. To make a cup of ginger tea mix: 
      • 3 – 4 oz. of ginger juice  
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice  
      • Heaping tablespoon raw honey  
      • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne  
      • 12 oz. hot water 
      • Drink 4 – 6 cups per day

4. Houttuynia (cordata)  – Can be found as a tincture through Woodland Essence and Sage Woman Herbs and Elk Mountain Herbs. *Caution…does have a fishy smell 🙂

    • Used for – Respiratory viral infections, especially SARS and the flu. Also, ECHO virus, neurological enterovirus and encephalitis infections, and dengue fever.
    • Tincture – 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon up to 6x per day in acute infection.

5. Isatis (tinctoria)  – Normally combined with other herbs. It can be found single through Woodland Essence and Elk Mountain Herbs and Sage Woman Herbs. Use no longer than three weeks.

    • Used for – All flu varieties, SARS, Epstein-Barr, chickenpox, and many more.
    • Tincture – 1 teaspoon up to 10x daily in acute infection.

6. Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glaba) – Can be found through Standard Process and Sage Woman Herbs and Woodland Essence. Great synergist (i.e., it plays best with other herbs) * Don’t use deglycyrrhized licorice for antiviral purposes and don’t use longer than six weeks.

    • Used for – Increases potency of other herbs. Used for all types of flu, respiratory viral infections, SARS, and many more.
    • Tincture – 1/2 teaspoon 3 – 6x per day, taken with other herbs. 

7. Lomatium (dissectum)  – Can be found through Sage Woman Herbs and Elk Mountain Herbs

    • Used for – Viral infections, including Epstein-Barr and cytomegalovirus, hepatitis C and HIV.
    • Tincture – 10 – 30 drops per hour in acute infection.

Further Supports:

  1. Magic sock treatment – great for stimulating circulation and the immune system, and for bringing down a fever.
  2. Hot baths – Epsom salt baths are good to follow up with the magic sock treatment (linked above).
  3. Essential oils  – Lavender, tea tree & eucalyptus mixed with a carrier oil (like olive or coconut oil) and rubbed every hour or so over the area of concern. For an upper respiratory infection, this would be across the ribs, both front and back.

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