Herbal Unity Coronavirus Handout

Many people will treat Coronavirus at home, so this document is a collection of suggestions gathered from many different herbalists online, focusing on things that can be done with common kitchen ingredients or for very little money. We have included a few things that can be found growing wild. And a couple of things that would need to be bought from a herb shop or herbalist. We have listed some herbalists and suppliers at the end.

We have tried to use simple language. We’d love this to be an information exchange where everyone can share their knowledge and experience, so edits and suggestions are really welcome, please contact us at herbalunityglasgow@gmail.com

We encourage you to listen to your body, if you are able to, and use the ideas and recipes below that you like.

This is not medical advice. Please contact a medical professional if you are sick. For anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who is worried about their immigration status Unity Centre, Glasgow has said to remember that all NHS treatment and testing is free. You will not be reported to the Home Office if you present for treatment.

Ideas to support immunity and prevent illness are at the top, and things to do if you are sick are underneath; but many of the suggestions can be used for both. Read it all if you can, or use the contents to jump to specific recipes.

There are links at the end of this document to lots more detailed information about staying well and treating symptoms of coronavirus, that have been shared by various herbalists, if you want to read/learn/consider more!

If you enjoy the document and want to support us or know more about Herbal Unity you can get in touch at herbalunityglasgow@gmail.com


1. Some basics before the herbal ideas & recipes:

NHS guidelines

Stress and sleep

Diet and avoiding refined sugar

2.  Immune support:


Fire cider vinegar

Vitamins C,D, Zinc & Selenium

3.  Further kitchen ingredients and remedies:

Kitchen remedies

Onion and garlic poultice

Onion cough syrup

Broths & soups

Barley gruel for convalescence

Dried and ground spices

Non-dairy milk infusion

Fresh spices

Ginger, garlic, chilli and lemon infusion

Chest rub for cough

Dried kitchen herbs


Steam inhalation


Oil for body aches

4.  Herbal Help:

Sage and calendula throat gargle

Elderberry decoction

EPY tea

Throat coat cough soothers

5.  Wild growing herbs:



Wild garlic

Pine needles

6.  Other Support:

Tea Tree essential oil over glands in the neck

Homemade electrolyte solution

7.  List of herbalists and herb suppliers

8.  Links to further herbal reading/information

1.  Some basics before the herbal ideas & recipes…

To keep up to date with the NHS guidelines for stopping the spread of infection: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19

We know that stress and anxiety affect immunity, so as much relaxation as possible is good. Try deep slow breathing into the belly, slowly stretching the body and get as much fresh air, sunlight, and exercise as you can.

We know that sleep is also important for immune support. If you can't sleep, resting the body is also good, sit or lie in a warm space and scan through your body relaxing your head, face, neck, tops of your shoulders, arms, chest, back, belly, legs. It can also be good to have less phone and computer time late at night to help wind down into sleep.

Avoid refined sugar as much as you can, as it can weaken immunity. Most of the recipes can be sweetened, if you want to do that, use the best honey you can and dissolve the honey into the tea or vinegar at the end. Generally eat as well as you can. And try not to worry about being perfect.

2.  Immune support


Garlic should not be taken by those on blood thinning anticoagulant medication (drugs that prevent blood clots)

Garlic is very good for immune support, it is antiviral and antibacterial. It is most powerful when eaten raw. Peel and then crush or chop the individual garlic cloves and wait 10-15 minutes before eating to allow the enzymes to convert substances in the garlic, making them more powerful.

Rub it on toast, crush it into sandwiches or salads

Add it to hot meals at the end of cooking

Eat it in whatever way you like to eat it.

For someone who doesn’t like to eat garlic - hide it under tomatoes, smoother it in honey and/or nut butter, infuse it in a lemon and ginger and honey drink or rub it on the soles of your feet (as long as you don’t have any cuts on your feet)

(You can hide the taste and the smell on your breath by eating fresh parsley.)

Fire cider vinegar

☺ REMINDER: wipe down the work area and wash hands! ☺

Fire Cider is a popular traditional herbal remedy freely shared across the world. There are many variations, but the base consists of fresh garlic, onion, ginger, horseradish and chilli in apple cider vinegar. If you only have garlic and apple cider vinegar, this will also help, anything spicy that you can add - ginger, horseradish, chilli or mustard seed will help even more. Apple Cider Vinegar is also good on its own if you don’t have Garlic.

Fire Cider is used to help warm up the body, it is a stimulant and antimicrobial for cold and flu.

Dosage: Take a tablespoon or dilute with water to taste, everyday.

You can also add it to your food, as salad dressing or sprinkle it on your greens just before eating! 

You can also dilute it with water and gargle with it for a sore throat.  

Ingredients - The amounts are estimates, change it to suit what you have at home.

½ cup fresh grated horseradish 

A couple pinches of black pepper

1 tsp cayenne pepper or fresh chilli - chopped

2 tbsp turmeric powder or ¼ cup grated fresh turmeric

About a litre of Apple Cider Vinegar

½ cup grated fresh ginger

1 onion - chopped

1 bulb of garlic - peel, then crush or chop the individual garlic cloves and leave them to sit for 10-15 minutes (see garlic above for why)

You could also add: mustard seeds, rosemary, thyme, oregano, rosehips, cinnamon, echinacea, elderberries, cloves, astragalus, star anise... 

● Put ingredients in a jar. 

● Cover everything with Apple Cider Vinegar

● Put a tight lid on the jar and steep for 3 weeks, move it each day to help the process - you can start taking a tablespoon of the mixture from the first day, it will get stronger every day.

● Strain and add honey to taste, warm the honey first so it mixes in (honey optional) 

● Label and store in a fridge if possible. It lasts for up to 1 year in a fridge or 3-6 months on a shelf.  

Vitamins C, D, Zinc & Selenium

Take these as prevention, and if you get sick.

You can buy affordable Vit C, D, Zinc tablets and try to eat food that is:

Vit C rich food: oranges, lemons, fruit, vegetables

Vit D rich food: mushrooms and sunshine!

Zinc rich food: pumpkin seeds

Selenium rich foods: 2 brazil nuts a day

Vitamins are thought to be more available to the body when taken in liquid form, so

Effervescent liquid Vitamin C and Vitamin D drops might be better if you already feel ill, but this option can be more expensive than tablets.

3.  Further kitchen ingredients and remedies

General kitchen remedies

Onion and garlic poultice 

This is an old but very effective natural remedy for stubborn coughs and pneumonia.

You need 3 onions, a few cloves of garlic and some apple cider vinegar.

Chop them finely saving the juice off the board as much as possible.

Put the chopped onions and garlic into a bowl and mix with some cornflour or other flour (about half a cup) and a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.

If you have other respiratory herbs like Thyme, you can add those too.

Make a paste that is thick enough to stay in place.

Transfer the paste onto a clean cotton cloth making the size and shape of the person’s lung area. Wrap the cloth over so you have a ‘sandwich’ of the required size.

Get the person to sit on a backwards chair, leaning forward with their arms resting on the back of it. Apply the cloth ‘sandwich’ to the back and place a hot water bottle over it. Make sure the person is covered with a blanket so they don’t get cold. If the person is too ill to get out of bed you can apply it while they’re lying down, either on their back or on their front.

Information coming out of Covid19 stricken areas is that it is often better for patients to rest on their front since this takes some pressure off the lungs.

While the poultice is in place monitor to make sure it’s not too hot for them and that the skin is not being irritated as some people are more sensitive. Leave the poultice in place for 30 minutes, renewing the hot water bottle as needed.

The onion and garlic help to loosen phlegm and reduce inflammation. Some people find that they experience instant relief while others find that their coughing is temporarily aggravated as the phlegm is released.

Repeat the process up to three times a day.


3 onions

3 garlic cloves

Chop finely and mix with flour and 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to make a paste.

Spread paste on cloth and fold over to make a “sandwich”

Put the “sandwich” on the front or back of the person over the lungs with a hot water bottle on top and keep it warm for 30 minutes.

Source: Myrobalan Clinic, Somerset https://www.instagram.com/p/B9yYvtbgrpl/

Onion cough syrup

Chop 1 onion and put it in a jar.

Cover it in honey and add several pinches of black pepper.

Leave it overnight and take a teaspoon as and when needed.

Broths and soups

For immune support and if you feel yourself getting sick, and if you have time, make broths. Any stock, bone broth, chicken soup, onion soup, mung beans, barley broth etc can be great nutritious food and easily digested so less work for the body if it is under strain.

Barley gruel for convalescence

2 tablespoons of barley

A litre of water

A pinch of salt

Cook for 1 or 2 hours, you can sweeten or add milk to taste

Source: Herbalista instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/B-ITDrRJPSt/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link 

Dried and ground spices 

Garam Masala - Cumin, Coriander, Cardamom, Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, Turmeric, Star Anise, Ginger.

  • Put them in your food!

Non-dairy milk infusion:

Make a mix of any of the dried spices above and gently simmer a teaspoon of the mix in non-dairy milk, if you add tumeric, also add black pepper as this helps the nutrients of turmeric to be absorbed.

Fresh spices

Ginger, Garlic, Turmeric, Chilli.

  • Put them in your food!

Ginger, garlic, chilli and lemon infusion:

A small piece of Ginger

2 cloves of garlic

⅕ of a red or green chilli

A few slices of Lemon

Chop everything and add boiling hot water.

If this is hard to taste you can sweeten it with honey!

Drink hot when you get home after being outside, or at any time.

Chest rub for a cough 

Cut fresh garlic and infuse in sunflower oil (or coconut, vegetable, olive etc) in a bowl over hot water for an hour. You can also add chilli and ginger. Cool and then rub all over the front and back of the chest. If you have essential oils you can add a few drops of eucalyptus, hyssop and/or thyme.

Source: Rhizome Community Herbal Clinic, https://bit.ly/3brhXAx

Dried Herbs 


Herb de Provence - Rosemary, Marjoram, Thyme, Savory and Lavender

Other aromatic (herbs that smell strong) kitchen herbs: Mint, Oregano, and Sage are also all great for responding to infection.

NB: Peppermint, Sage and Thyme have been shown to be effective against a closely related virus.

  • Put them in your food!


For each cup of boiled water add one teaspoon of any of the dried herbs above. Let the tea infuse for 5-15 minutes, put a lid or small plate over the cup to keep the aromatics (oils that are medicine) in, drink as hot as possible. You might want to make your own mixes of these herbs.

Drink at least 3 cups per day, more if you can.

Steam inhalation

This is good if you have symptoms, it can help relax your airways:

Boil water  

Make a strong tea - for each cup of water add a tablespoon of herbs and simmer gently.

Put some hot water and the tea in a bowl

Get a clean towel

Put your head over the bowl with the towel over your head and breathe through your mouth and nose.

NB - If you don’t have any herbs use just water steam as this can help too.


Use the same method as for the Steam Inhalation but use a washing up bowl as the bowl.

Put the hot water and hot tea into the bowl, add cold water to get the temperature nice.

Put the bowl on the floor with a towel nearby.

Make an extra kettle of hot water and put that next to the bowl.

Your feet are often colder than your hands and for people with diabetes or who have less sensation in their feet be extra cautious.

When the temperature is good, put your feet in and relax.

Oil for body aches

Infuse black pepper, chilli and rosemary in sunflower oil (or coconut, vegetable, olive etc) in a bowl over hot water for 1 hour. Cool and then rub all over the area that aches. If you have essential oils you can add a few drops of wintergreen, thyme and/or lavender.

Caution: Wintergreen should be taken with care by those on blood thinning/ anticoagulant medication (drugs that prevent blood clots)

4.  Herbal Help

Sage and Calendula throat gargle

Make a strong sage and calendula tea, which you can store in the fridge for 2 days. Gargle when coming in from outside or if you have a sore throat, and then spit it out.

NB - If you don’t have any herbs a salt water gargle will still help

Elderberry decoction

Make a decoction (which means simmering them).

For every cup of water add a teaspoon of elderberries, simmer gently in a covered pot. Allow to cool slightly, drink warm and eat the berries or allow to cool fully and store in the fridge for maximum 2 days.

Elderberries may also be bought as a tincture (alcohol) 25-50 drops in water a day.


Elderflower, peppermint and yarrow is a classic cold and flu fever tea, to encourage healing along. If you don’t have these in the house you could drink ginger and chamomile tea or you could add ginger or chamomile - perhaps especially add chamomile, it’s an anxious time and chamomile is a fever herb (diaphoretic which makes you sweat and cools the body) and will also also soothe the nerves.

Throat coat cough soothers

If you have any of these: Marshmallow root, Mallow, Liquorice root make tea or simmer gently in a covered pan. These could help if the dry cough is rough.

Other foods that can also soothe the throat include: Oatmeal, Okra, Honey.

5.  Wild medicine

Picking wild food could be included in your allowed daily exercise walk. Please consider when collecting herbs: to only take what you need, never more than 1/5th of the plant and be cautious not to remove the roots. We have included photos but they can be misleading - if you are unsure of what you are picking, do not use it. Try to avoid where dogs might have peed or where there is heavy traffic and wash everything that you collect.


Cleavers / goosegrass / sticky willies is the one that sticks on your clothes. Put a handful in cold water for 20 mins and drink. Drinking this often will support the lymphatic system, a system that helps to clean the body. Cleavers is an early spring herb and could be growing now near you.


Nettle is the one that stings! It has been shown to stop Covid replicating.

Pick the young spring leaves (which sting! They all do) Put a little bunch in a cup, cover in boiling water. The hot water stops the sting. Infuse for about 10 minutes, strain and drink the tea. Once nettle has flowered it's not safe to eat in large quantities and/or with underlying health conditions, especially kidney problems.

Wild Garlic

Wild garlic smells like garlic, you will probably smell it before you see it. It often grows on river banks. Finding and picking it could be a fun activity for children whilst out for exercise.

You can eat it raw or cook it in meals. A favourite recipe is garlic pesto. Like garlic it is rich in vitamins and minerals and is also antibacterial/antibiotic.

Wild Garlic Pesto

A handful of nuts of your choice

Washed wild garlic leaves (100g roughly)

Lemon juice


Black pepper

Olive oil (120ml roughly)

Optional chilli flakes

You can also add nettles to this mix if you like.

Use a blender if you have one, or very finely hand chop, to mix all the ingredients together. Store in an air-tight jar or container. Can be eaten as a spread or on pasta or on its own!

Pine needles

Gather new shoots if you can, they are high in Vit C & A, and are good for coughs and chest infections. Drink as hot tea. Infuse a few sprigs in boiling water.

6.  Other Support

Tea Tree essential oil over glands in the neck

Put one drop of tea tree oil over the glands of each side of your neck underneath your jaw, to support the lymphatic system and antiviral response.

Homemade electrolyte solution  

1 quart water (just over a litre)

3⁄4 teaspoon table salt

2 Tablespoons sugar

Source: Herbalista https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fqIOX9bJ8qW3piikFBGQHc-nSrdk3boKKZwWXP7XUTc/edit

Try and avoid sugar if you can other than for a rehydration drink.

Staying hydrated is generally very important

7.  Links for Suppliers, either local or bulk buy options:

Some herbalists who can provide person specific guidance are at the top, suppliers who will be able to supply small amounts of herbs are in the middle and wholesalers who are bulk buy only are at the bottom.

Catriona Gibson: Glasgow based, whitecat-herbal(at)hotmail.co.uk

Zoe in the nettles: Manchester based, www.zoeinthenettles.co.uk 


Clare Holohan: https://www.westhighlandherbal.com

Woodlands Herbs: Glasgow based herb shop: woodlandherbs.co.uk

Solaripe: Fife grower and supplier— solarripe.eu

Baldwins: old herb shop based in London, and online supplier — baldwins.co.uk

The Herbal Apothecary: UK herbal supplier — herbalapothecaryuk.com

The Organic Herb Trading Company: UK organic herb supplier — organicherbtrading.com

8.  Amazing links for further reading; more detailed, specialist and generally useful suggestions, from some amazing herbalists!...

Herbalista, Lorna Mauney-Brodek, based in Atlanta, US & Dublin, Ireland:

COVID-19 Community Care Guide:



Nikki Darrell of the Plant Medicine School, based in Ireland:


Julie Bruton-Seal, based in the UK:


Get Radical Boil Roots: A Kitchen Witch's Guide to Wellness in the time of Covid19, various herbalist in The States came together to make this resource:


Prison Holistic Self Care & Protection! based in the UK:


Further reading on the history of Fire Cider