The coronavirus lockdown has made me aware of people without easy access to medical care. In these cases, self-care is especially important. Yet this type of challenge need not be a source of despair or undue anxiety. There are many products readily available that we can use to assist us meet the challenges of winter well-being…My hope is that I will whet your appetite to look at supplies you might have, with an eye on self-care.

Over the years I have enjoyed identifying plants, especially herbs, that would be useful to grow for my family. I discovered that many plants that would be useful to treat one condition or symptom might aggravate another. It is therefore potentially dangerous to self-medicate, even with natural remedies if you are under medical care, or if you have multiple health issues – your doctor’s advice is especially important if you are taking prescribed medicine or are allergic to any substance.

When challenged with listening to my own body, I find it useful to remember my mother’s natural remedies. After all, many conditions run in families… and knowledge that has been passed down from one generation to another is often a treasure trove that supports wellness. I therefore also enjoy reading and hearing anecdotal stories from different parts of the world. An excellent way to treat symptoms associated with colds and flus, including symptoms associated with COVID 19 is to trust one’s own family knowledge base. After all, remedies passed down from one generation to another have sometimes saved lives. Such shared knowledge is also a way to strengthen intergenerational bonds and to find comfort in knowing that people have weathered similar storms…

Questions I have in mind are:

What have you used in the past to treat fevers? Sore throats.?
What would your mother or grandmother recommend you use to deal with common winter ailments?
What foods would they recommend for general winter well-being?

However, before you read on, please take the time to view these videos on the WHO website:

The information I share below is in the spirit of the following myth buster found on the WHO website:

The World Health Organization, however, works on the assumption that health care is available when and as needed. Besides this not always being true, most people wish to take responsible steps to remain healthy. And to deal with symptoms as soon as they arise.

Clearly, in addition to the basic advice given by WHO, food choices and preventative measures is an area that draws people’s attention. Fake news or misinformation will continue to do the rounds for as long as people feel a need to retain as much control over their bodies and their lives while facing an unknown viral foe. Thus, while outlawing the spread of misinformation is beneficial to everyone, sharing human experiences should not be banned.

In addition, driving ‘common sense’ underground, even if it is not quite accurate from a scientific perspective, is an infringement of the right to diverse sources of information. Such information includes indigenous knowledge as well as complimentary or alternative forms of medicine. While it would be unethical, even criminal in many instances, to flout the measures recommended by WHO, it would be overstepping the mark to deny people the right to seek and to share information. After all, some people are distrustful of big pharma. Some have no intention of being vaccinated. Some prefer to be self-reliant. Even in a global crisis we must protect as many of the rights we have enjoyed until now.

(And seek ways to strengthen our rights to environmental health after lockdown is lifted?)

We have a right to protect our bodies from what we perceive as harmful, this includes what we eat and what medicines we take. So, in the interests of good health and emergency relief, where paracetamol is unavailable, the following was my late mother’s remedy for fever:

Onion Rings to treat a Fever

In the evening before going to bed, peel and slice an onion into rings. You are going to place the onion on the soles of your feet, so split the slices into two equal quantities. Have two bandages and two socks nearby. Starting beneath your toes place the first whole onion ring on the sole of your right foot. Use the bandage to secure it in place. Add the second whole onion ring to slightly overlap the first one. Continue wrapping with the bandage. Repeat until the whole sole of your foot is covered with onion rings. Secure the bandage around the ankle. If you have a safety pin that would be a great advantage. Use a sock to keep the onion and bandage in position – it should be large enough not to dislodge the onion, yet not so loose as to allow the onion to move out of position. Repeat for the left foot. Go to sleep. When you wake up in the morning the onion will feel ‘cooked’. Discard the onion. Have a shower. Wash clothes and bedding, for it’s a stinky process!

The great advantage of this is that it’s unlikely to have any negative side effects.

Sage Tea to treat a sore thoat

This remedy comes from a former colleague whose father used it effectively for aliments of the throat:

As soon as I feel a tickle in my throat, I make some sage tea. I pour a cup of boiling water over a heaped teaspoon of dried sage (or four to six leaves of fresh sage). After five minutes I strain it and sip it slowly. I do this three times daily until it clears. If caught early one or two days is all I usually need.

If I have let a sore throat develop without any intervention, I use sage tea as a gargle first. Then I brew a new cup and sip it slowly, following the same procedure as above.

Coronavirus (2019-nCov) pH Limits Myth

On a different note, a message circulated on my community’s WhatsApp group suggested that if we consume alkaline foods with a pH level above 8.0, we will not contract the virus. It was stated that the coronavirus dies at anything above this pH level. Upon further investigation I came across an article on the US National Library of Medicine published in June 1990. Could this article be the source of the information shared? I don’t know. What seems to be clear though is that the coronavirus mentioned here is not the same virus we are dealing with now. The strain that causes COVID 19 is a new virus (2019-nCov) and consuming high alkaline foods is not known to prevent one from developing COVID 19.


Nonetheless, the foods mentioned in the WhatsApp message are healthy, nutritious foods anyway. (Dandelion, Avocado, Garlic, Pineapple, Lemon, Orange, Mango, Tangerine, Lime.) I suppose that is the problem; it isn’t helpful to muddle preventive measures for known cold and flu viruses with cures for a new unknown viral infection. It is thus correct to say that while high alkaline foods kill some common viruses it is equally clearly incorrect to say that high alkaline foods kill the novel coronavirus.

In addition, taking measures that boost self-care and immunity in order to rationalize flouting of the lockdown and Coronavirus safety measures is unwise. It is irresponsible, for it puts you and/or others at risk. It is also a criminal offence in many parts of the world. So, stay at home. Favour hot drinks, for winter is here anyway.  Enjoy high alkaline foods. Yet only to the degree that your body wants them; too much alkalinity can result in metabolic alkalosis

In addition to this, an attitude of gratitude also does wonders in building immunity to disease, regardless of what it is you eat…I was amused though that I have been eating an avocado a day (small ones) for over a week now. I think my body wants five more days of this -time will tell. I was also intrigued that avocado was second on the list of highest alkalinity options provided on the WhatsApp list. Dandelion, at 22.7pH was top of the pops. I think it is the root, rather than the leaves, that is especially alkaline. However, I haven’t been able to verify either the pH level or the part of the plant that it refers to.

Nonetheless, dandelions are wonderfully nutritious weeds! (Provided you haven’t found them on the side of the road, covered in all sorts of urban toxins. Good, clean soil and air and water are always the best media in which to grow food. And from which to forage…)

It is my hope that the following videos will provide you with useful information. And connect you to your family medicinal treasures. I hopw it will also entertainment, for laughter is a reliable medicine. Especially during a pandemic when the temptation to succumb to fears is higher than normal.


Dandelion roots harvested in autumn for electrolyte balance:

To conclude, I approach food as forms of medicine. And I approach medicine much like I approach insurance policies – I may be paid out a claim in full, in part, or not at all. It depends on the context and my history…which is why a doctor is always a treasure to have in the background in case self-care is insufficient. As so many of us prepare for Passover or Easter, let’s protect all our medical professionals from our negligence. No sneaking out to celebrate with friends…Chag Pesach Sameach and a Joyful Easter to those celebrating these religious holyidays.


World Health Organisation Myth Busters:

Sage (Salvia officinalis):


Dandelion Salad Ghana Style


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