Monday, March 30, 2020

When COVID-19 Hit Detroit

When COVID-19 made its way to the United States nothing in me would stand by idly. 

We were all working in our communities equipped with herbal knowledge passed down from one generation to the next, and taught to us by longtime wellness practitioners. Herbalists were sharing field notes and testimonials, case studies were flying across the web about as fast as the speed of light.

I hadn't stood still long enough to find the words that could sum up what I was experiencing. Thankfully, there were many people already speaking about it, among them were my teachers. I haven't been more proud to have learned from veteran herbalists who continuously share insightful data about COVID-19: Nicole Telkes, Jim McDonald and Sam Coffman. My teachers have offered sound information without being preachy or condescending. At times like this, they stand brave and steady!

Speaking of teachers, if we're going to talk about natural anything, I have to recognize Dr. Sebi. His work made natural healing a normal topic in urban communities. He popularized alkaline eating and herbs like bladderwrack and sea moss. But, in the midst of all of the noise, we lost another holistic hero, Dr. Llaila Afrika. His book, African Holistic Health, was my first holistic book ever.

Personally, COVID-19 hit our community so fast that it left a lot of people searching for answers and others not knowing where to turn. So quite naturally, tensions lurk in the air as the number of confirmed cases and death toll continuously rise. Meanwhile, people who think they are feeling symptoms are trapped at home afraid and uncertain about their fate.

In some ways, this virus is what it feels like being Black in America everyday. Not knowing if today will be your last breath, the stifling feeling of systemic struggles squeezing the very life from every breath you take, you muster the words to speak but can't seem to be heard.  

Now that the shadow of death is a handshake away; ironically, I watch many people in my community have a new zest for life.  Detroit has become a "hot spot" for coronavirus throughout the nation. As of today, the number of confirmed cases in Michigan has reached more than 5,000, and the death toll is over 100.

Meanwhile, as we're encouraged to #stayhome the earth is healing. The ozone layer is repairing itself and the air is cleaner. I have to admit, this feels like something straight out of a sci-fi movie.

It is moments like this when I realize life-altering history is being created. Every action I take or don't take matters now more than ever. What story will the history books tell? Hopefully, it will be a story of collective resilience. Stories of hospital workers on the frontlines working around the clock to give critical care. The tales will continue with stories of herbalists working with nature to help at a critical time.

Based on the bit of work I've done in my community, people have asked me to share some of the wellness tips I use. So, for those who asked, this post is for you... The following information is based on what I know thus far, this is in no way medical advice, nor am I saying that doing any of these things will work. But, I am sharing some of things I've been doing and what's been working for me. Let's first take a quick glance at viruses and what they are...



In short, viruses need a host, a.k.a. person in order to exist. This is why antibacterials and antibiotics are ineffective, because you can't kill what doesn't exist. Therefore, once inside the body they aggressively start to attack a specific system in the body, similar to what happens when something goes viral online. Some viruses attack the digestive system while the COVID-19, virus starts attacking the respiratory system. The very nature of some viruses is to enter the body, go away and then come back and attack again and again. This virus has been known to go away and reappear until it phases away completely.

Be it genetic preconditions or breakdown over time, everybody's internal organs and systems operate at different thresholds. This means the virus will express itself differently in each person's body, and this is why symptoms vary from person-to-person. Therefore, there is no one size fits all approach to how viruses are treated.  

For a more thorough explanation about the COVID-19 virus, check out this post by Steve Buhner, author of the book Herbal Antivirals.

In general, the body is more capable of fighting off viruses when the immune system is healthy and strong. Now let's check out some herbs that help strengthen the immune system.

One approach to helping the body fight off a viral attack is to strengthen the immune system. I use a combination of herbs and food to help build and maintain a strong immune defense. I usually make a tea with one or more of these herbs, or add the tea to my base for a soup or smoothie. 
  • Chapparal
  • Soursop leaves
  • Neem 
  • Oregon Grape Root
  • Boneset
  • Astragulus
  • Ashwagandha
  • Elderberry/Elderflower
  • Chaga
  • Reishi
  • Irish Moss, Spirulina or Chlorella
Hospitals have began treating some coronavirus patients with vitamin C doses.


Food is the first line of defense for building and maintaining a healthy immune system. When herbs aren't around, or if I'm out of one of my favorite herbs, I use what I have in my kitchen.
  • Green leafy vegetables: kale, spinach, collards, Swiss chard, beet greens, dandelion leaves 
  • Cranberry juice - 100% pure, no sugar added
  • Oranges or orange juice
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Vitamin C
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Onion -- watch this video to find out how to make an onion poultice
  • Okra
  • Lemon
  • Lime

Here's a list of some of my favorite respiratory herbs, they've helped me and my folks over the years.
  • Mullein
  • Bee Balm or Monarda
  • Butterfly weed or pleurisy root
  • New England Aster
  • Marshmallow 
  • Slippery elm
  • Osha

When I'm out of any of the respiratory herbs listed above, I reach for basilthyme and oregano that's right in my kitchen cabinet.


Ginger Turmeric Drink (anti-inflammatory drink)
  • Ginger root - 1/4 c 
  • Turmeric - 1TBS powder or 2 root stubs
  • Cayenne - 1 TBS
  • Orange - 2 peeled oranges (optional)
  • Honey - add to your liking, I usually use 1 TBS
  • Liquid base - water, orange or lemon juice, coconut water, room temperature tea

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until they're evenly smooth. Drink up to a glass full, and store the rest in the refrigerator. To make this a powerful respiratory and anti-inflammatory drink, add one or more of the respiratory teas listed above as a liquid base.

DIY Electrolyte Drink

  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon 
  • Sea salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Water - 1 cups
  • Unsweetened coconut water - 1 cup
  • Honey - 1/2 TBS

This drink doesn't help fight viruses per se, but it will keep you hydrated. When I'm experiencing dry throat or dry cough, this drink is always good for boosting my body's immune defense and quenching thirst. 


We've covered some of the basics when it comes to boosting the immune system. Beyond taking prevention for the body, I'm also looking ahead. Daily, I'm reminded to replace fear with preparation.

I am speechless by the amount of loss. This devastation is a reminder to leave everyone with life affirming words.

Oh, there is one ancient remedy known for bringing comfort and ease during uncertain times, and we all have access to it -- love. Share widely. 
Be well!

Wild Spirit Podcast: COVID-19 mini-series

Jim McDonald's foundations of holistic immunity online course

Black Locust Farm, locally, organically grown herbs

Elderberry vs. Cytokine Storms by Tippecanoe Herbs

Lottie Spady, local herbalist and all around badass - for wellness updates follow her on Facebook and her Earthseed Detroit Blog

Seed Mail, Black owned seed company

HealingbyChoice! Detroit based collective of women healers, herbalists and health practitioners

DNice Club Quarantine - keep your head up and shake it off

"Standing in the Majesty of Grace" by Dr. Keefa, the late Dr. Keefa was a phenomenal Detroit based wellness coach. She left information of her teachings in her book   

Supportive Herbal Remedies by Tina Stone

Artwork: Onni Stone

Friday, March 23, 2018

RECIPE: Collard Greens

Collard greens (washed and cut to your liking) - 1 bunch
Onion - 1/2 medium sized onion
Garlic - 1 tablespoon minced
Pickled burdock juice or rice vinegar - 1/4 cup
Coconut water - 1 1/2 cup
Coconut sugar - 2 1/2 tablespoons

Pour coconut water into pan 

Add onions and garlic, once the water comes to a boil

Add collard greens and reduce to low heat, add pickled burdock juice or rice vinegar

Sprinkle with coconut sugar, and allow it to get golden brown