COVID-19 policies from governments and businesses are evolving quicker than I can type. NAB announced today (20/3/20) eligible customers will be able to freeze home loan repayments. China has reported no new local cases of the virus and has successfully managed to ‘flatten the curve’ in the viruses epicentre of Wuhan. Due to their unprecedented surveillance and information of all their citizens, this is not as easily possible for us Western nations. So, aside from following the explicit advice from health professionals, there are some other ways we can try to give ourselves and our community the best chance possible.

Immunity boosting herbs

Naturally, the virus is known to affect the elderly and those with a weak immune system most harshly. Here are a couple of immunity-boosting herbs that go beyond vitamin C and zinc.

Astragalus – Used extensively in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Astragalus is native to China, Korea, Mongolia and Russia. This overview of Astragalus by Gaia Herbs seemed all too apt not to share.

There is a great deal of research interest in Astragalus. It contains Astragalosides (antioxidants), which support the integrity of the respiratory tract. In addition, the polysaccharides found in Astragalus are known for their immune-supporting properties. Astragalus herb also supports deep immune function by promoting normal levels of specific immune cells and aids in their function. Astragalus appears especially effective when immune function is stressed by environmental or endogenous challenges.

Elderflower – Elderflower comes from the toxic Elder Plant and has been used in traditional medicine all over the world for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. The most common uses are colds, flu, sinus and other respiratory disturbances. Elderflower can be sourced from your naturopath or any health food store and is often communed as a sweet-tasting tea.

*Seek professional advice for dosage and instruction of each herb

Staying calm

Stop panic buying. It has been explained to everyone plainly and clearly that it is not necessary and does not help the current and evolving situation. Thankfully, the government is now starting to work with pharmacies to make sure there is a steady supply of vital over-the-counter medicines. In terms of supermarkets, all that can be said is buy what you need and stay calm. If you’re feeling worried about anything or are in short supply, reach out to your friends (not literally) and ask them for help. This is a time to come together as a community not fight each other over toilet paper.

Mental health

The flood of information and encouragement to ‘socially distance’ has health experts concerned about those vulnerable to mental health issues. Even for the average person, a deluge of negative information can send you into a spin. Combine this with not seeing friends or family, disruption to daily routine and potential job loss and there is no surprise that mental health experts are worried.

But there are few simple ways to help yourselves and help each other through this tumultuous time. Mental health researcher, Gregory Armstrong told the SBS that ‘when everyone talks about social distancing, we need to view this as physical distancing rather than emotional distancing’. Beyond Blue has released some advice about how to stay positive and connected during isolation, including limiting media consumption, keeping regular meal and sleep schedules and keeping in touch with loved ones via phone or online. It is also very important at this time to keep children in the loop and explain to them what is going on and advise them to ignore media headlines and social media panic.

Lachlan Cornell