Herbal Medicine: Influenza Pandemics and the Cytokine Storm by Michele and edited by Bam Bam

by Michele 

spanish-flu-ward-camp-funstonThe following is a synopsis from the book Herbal Antivirals by Stephen Harrod Buhner. In what follows, I highlight the main points of Buhner’s excellent book, focusing on the practical aspects of treating influenza and cytokine storm without delving too deeply into the technical biological processes of influenza infection.

Legal Disclaimer: Please do not construe the following as medical advice. If you have a have a medical problem, I suggest you consult your physician or licensed holistic or allopathic healer.

Influenza: A Brief History

The year is 1918. World War 1 is over and solders return home carrying the influenza virus within their bodies The first wave of the flu was a typical flu – infecting many, but only killing the very old and the very young.

The second wave of the virus was deadly to those between the ages of 20 and 40. Why? Because it turned their own immune systems against them. It caused the immune system to go into hyper-drive, a cytokine storm, which filled the lungs with fluid, damaged the infected lung cells which burst open from the inflammation. Additionally, unlike most influenza viruses, which stay mostly confined to the respiratory system, this virus spread to every mucous membrane system in the body, including the brain, the nose, stomach and intestines. These infected cells, like the lung cells, inflamed due to the massive cytokines the body was producing to combat the virus and burst open, causing massive bleeding from the nose, stomach, intestines, skin and ears.

The infected were housed in hospitals at first but as the numbers rose they were housed in school gyms, auditoriums or any large buildings that could hold masses of people. The patients would bleed out, the floors awash their blood.

It is estimated that one third of the WORLD’S population fell ill – over 500 million – killing somewhere between 50-100 million of people, or three to five percent of the world’s population. The estimates vary widely. This is because the system was so overwhelmed that people were buried in mass graves. Records, if they existed at all, were very often incomplete.

 Possibly sometime in the near future

Most health experts warn that the next influenza pandemic is not a matter if “if” but a matter of “when”. Strains most likely to cause a pandemic are H1N1, which caused the 1918 pandemic and 2009 swine flu pandemic, H2N2 which caused the Asian flu in 1957, H3N2 which caused the Hong Kong flu pandemic in 1968. Experts are also concerned about H5N1 and H7N9. These are all RNA type influenza viruses, which pass through both pigs and birds, overcrowded due to agri-business, ‘mating’ with other viruses, swapping genetic material and reworking its own.

When they emerge with a reassortment that can infect humans, they are so different, that previous year’s vaccines are often ineffective. As such, new vaccines must be developed each year. Because vaccines take a minimum of three to six months to develop, produce and ship, health officials are forced to use old data to predict which strains will be prevalent in the next season’s season flu. Sometimes their predictions are on the mark, and the flu vaccine is a good match for the dominant strains. Many times their predictions are wrong, and the flu shot offers little protection against infection. On average, the flu shot is 50-70 percent effective in any given year.

 The Influenza Virus

Some years see a mild or moderate flu season. In other years the virus spreads around the world causing seasonal epidemics or even pandemics killing 250,000 to 500,000 people.

With seasonal flu, most of the deaths are in the very old and very young. One-third of people infected remain asymptomatic, and the rest get some degree of the ‘flu’, cold, achy, fever, chills, coughing, fatigue, headache, sometimes abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting.

The symptoms typically begin on the third day after infection, but the virus is already well established by that time. It sticks to cells with a kind of ‘glue’ softening the cell wall, gets into the cell itself where it is safe from the body’s immune system. There it replicates.

This is where elderberry tincture and syrup help as both a preventative and to lessen the severity of an already establishing virus – elderberry keeps the virus from attaching to the cell walls so it is unable to enter the cell and replicate. By inhibiting replication of the virus, elderberry tincture and syrup lower the viral load and hence lessen the severity of the illness.

The Cytokine Storm

Cytokines and chemokines are part of our immune system. They respond to infections of viruses and bacteria. They are inflammatory molecules that create conditions difficult for the invaders to survive – these are the reason wounds get red, tender and swollen. (A good visual metaphor here is that cytokines are like puss.)

I’m going to explain the process, and in parenthesis I will list herbs that stop this particular action.

When the viruses are inhaled, they attach to the lining in the lungs (Chinese skull cap, fresh ginger). As soon as they attach to the cell, it makes the cell surface softer and ‘tricks’ the cell into allowing it inside (Chinese skullcap, elder, licorice, rhodiola, ginger, isatis, lespedeza bicolor, Angelica keiskei, Amorpha fruiticosa, quercetin, Alpina zerumbet, Erythrina addisoniae and Cleitocalyx operculatus). Once inside the cell, the virus stimulates the cell to create a sealed bubble called a vacuole. This is where the virus does its replication. It feeds itself and releases waste through the tiny portals in the cell walls (Lomatium is one of the most potent inhibitors of these actions – even stronger than the pharmaceutical amantadine- starving the virus). Once those portals are open, the virus disassembles itself and releases viral RNA and core proteins, which stimulates the cell into making copies of the viral RNA, each slightly different (Chinese skullcap). As the new viruses grow in numbers, the cells bulge, its components are depleted so that the cell dies, and the newly created viruses are released into the body to infect new cells and the process begins anew.

To the rescue comes the immune system in the form of cytokines. However, the viruses are wiley little things, and stimulate the cytokines in such a way that they actually make the surrounding cells more porous to the viruses. More and more inflammatory cytokines are released to fight the invaders. Further, the virus strongly stimulate type 1 interferon production, but the virus combats that too by using a protein, the NS1 protein, which blocks the interferon (licorice). The virus also inhibits response of T and B immune cells (licorice, elder, red root, and zinc). This all happens within the first 3-6 hours after infection.

Subsequently, more and more inflammatory cells dive into action. The consequence of this is that more and more white blood cell filled mucus fills the lungs. The lymph system attempts to drain the lungs, but due to the amount of cytokines being produced, cannot keep up, or are themselves attacked so that they close up and the lungs fill with fluid (red root for lymph enlargement and drainage, inmortal for optimizing lymph drainage and pleurisy root for reducing inflammation in the pleurae and lungs. They can be used interchangeably to some extent).

More alphabet soup, more alphabet soup and more alphabet soup (it goes on for pages and pages), as the virus plays the body against itself. Herbs to modify the body’s response to keep it from killing itself are: Chinese senega root, Chinese skullcap, elder, ginger, houttuynia, licorice, boneset, cordyceps, Japanese knotweed, kudzu.

Each type of influenza sets off a slightly different cytokine cascade. For the avian flu, other medicinal plants are being added: Astragalus (the strongest), Magnolia offricinalis, Ginko Biloba, Folium syringae, Nigella sativa, Paeonia lactiflor and Lonicera japonica.

The bad news is that Tamiflu and Relenza are both excreted from the body in an activated metabolized form, flows unaffected through wastewater treatment plants and ends up in small amounts in waterways, where it comes into contact with waterfowl. Avian strains commingle with swine strains. As a result, resistance to these drugs is passed onto strains that can infect humans.

Treatment Options

Mild infection: At the first sign of the virus, tingling or soreness in your throat, take elderberry syrup or tincture. Alternatively, juice 1-2 pounds of fresh ginger root (dried will NOT work). Take 3-4 ounces of this. Add the juice of 1/4 of a lime, a large tablespoon of honey and 1/8 tsp of cayenne to 6 ounces of hot water. Drink 2-6 cups daily. Either of these will usually end the infection within a few days. If not, it will still be useful by thinning the mucus, and slowing the spread of the virus in the body and helping protect mucous membranes from damage.

Moderate to severe infection: There are three main formulations: (1) antiviral, (2) ginger juice tea and (3) immune complex. When combined, these formulations are most effective.

Anti-viral tincture formulation

Equal parts of Chinese skullcap, isatis, licorice, houttuynia, lomatium, red root, yerba santa elephant tree, osha and either inmortal or pleurisy root. In 80 – 100 proof vodka. It does not say this in the book, but because you have so many herbs in the formulation, I would use about half of the herbs to half of the vodka.

For moderate infections use 60 drops or 3 ml (a little over a half teaspoon) every hour

For severe infections use 1-2 teaspoons every hour

 Ginger tea

Juice 1-2 pounds of fresh ginger root (dried will NOT work). Take 3-4 ounces, and add the juice of 1/4 of a lime, a large tablespoon of honey and 1/8 tsp of cayenne to 6 ounces of hot water. Drink 2-6 cups daily.

Immune Complex tincture formulation

Equal parts of astragalus, cordyceps and rhodiola. Same protocol as the anti-viral tincture formula.

  • For moderate infections use ½ tsp 3x daily
  • For severe infections use 1-2 teaspoons 6x daily

Cough syrup recipe

Any or as many of the herbs below as you like:


  •  3 oz horehound
  • 2 oz cherry bark
  • 2 oz elderberry
  • 2 oz elcampane
  • 2 oz licorice
  • 2 oz mallow (or marshmallow)
  • 1 oz Russian or slippery elm bark
  • 1 oz vervain
  • 1 oz lomatium (or osha)
  •  7 pints water
  • 3 oz glycerin
  • Wildflower honey
  • 2 oz mullein tincture
  • 1 oz yerba santa tincture


Combine the horehound, cherry bark, elderberries elcampane, licorice, mallow, elm bark, vervain and half the lomatium (or osha) in 7 pints of water in a large pot. Bring to boil, stirring frequently as it heats to prevent sticking. Once it boils, reduce heat and let simmer, stirring constantly until liquid is reduced by half. Remove from heat and let it cool. Strain the liquid, mashing the plant matter to remove as much of the liquid as you can.

Warm the liquid again, just enough to dissolve the honey (to taste) and glycerin. Grind the remaining lomatium (or osha) to a fine powder and add it to the liquid, then add the mullein and yerba santa tinctures.

Store in the refrigerator. This should keep for one year easily.

Take as needed.

There is MUCH more to this book than just the information I have summarized – pages and pages on influenza alone – not even counting other respiratory infections, encephalitis, cytomegalovirus, dengue, shingles, etc.

I highly recommend you add both this book and Herbal Antibiotics (both by the same author) to your survival library.


  1. Nebraska Woman says:

    As usual, you two are wonderful! Thanks.
    As a sidelight, Woodrow Wilson knew that WW1 was winding down, that we’d won, but he still insisted on drafting young men and putting them in army camps. These centers were a breeding ground for the flu virus. Thousands of needless deaths took place. WW was not one of our greatest presidents. In fact, I would put him at the bottom.
    I had a maiden great-aunt who often said the love of her life either died in the trenches or died of the flu.

  2. Thanks for the info!

  3. Thank you both Ladies for all of your hard work and research on this. Your continued presence among The Pack blesses us all!

  4. Good morning all,

    Sunday, when I found and bought all the herbs for this tincture, I discovered they were difficult to find, and most of the places would only sell them in 1 lb packages. I listed the places I purchased the herbs on Sunday in the WDYDTPTW comments section.

    Purchasing a pound of the various herbs was not a problem for me, since I like having a big supply of herbs anyway, and I have 6 kids and 1 grand kid between the ages of 20 and 40, and I will have to make massive amounts of this tincture.

    I will also keep it on hand, as the herbs in the tincture are specific to body functions, and would protect against ANY cytokine storm, not just influenza caused ones.

    • I wanted to repost Michele’s comment from WDYDTPTW that says where she bought these herbs.


      OUCH! Just ordered the herbs for the cytokine storm tincture – all except for pleurisy root and yerba santa which I will order from Mountain Rose herbs tomorrow ( it will be $40 plus shipping, but I get a 25% discount because I’m an herbal student – and they ALWAYS miss that unless I order by phone).

      The author said elephant tree was not necessary to the tincture – good thing – I spent HOURS trying to find it.

      All herbs ordered were in 1 lb size or greater.

      So, I ordered Chinese skullcap , isatis, and houttuynia from 1st Chinese Herbs – $87.28

      licorice root and osha root from Nutricargo (both of these are ones I need in my stores – so ordered 2.2 lbs of each) $68

      lomatium and red root from Monterrey Bay Spice Company $53.55

      Hope DH is done commenting, but ordered most of it from my separate account that holds my retirement money, so he won’t see most of the cost.

      This is going to be EXPENSIVE stuff, but if there is a pandemic, and it keeps our children and grandchildren alive – it will be worth TRILLIONS to me!

      • Thank you so much for saving us hours of work and indecision. You mentioned in a couple of places that powdered would not work. Is that just specifically those instances? I know several of us will have trouble finding some of the fresh ingredients.

        Your interpretation/rewording is incredibly valuable. Again, you have saved us hours of work and broke it all down so even I can make sense of it. Awesome job!

  5. Help! Been with all of you for over a year but tend to be a little shy to comment. I have been reading about the flu on this blog for some time. BIL got the “flu” on New Year’s Eve and was still very sick after a month. Big, strong man wouldn’t go to the doctor until we all ganged up on him. I was telling him this flu was killing people. He hit 103 fever and finally went. The antibiotics were not working after two weeks and when he finally couldn’t breath and went to emergency.

    After MANY test they found an abscess on his liver the size of an orange that was pressing against his lungs. They did surgery to drain it but could not find the cause. Duh?! No cancer and the docs could not identify the bacteria. REALLY! Now he is home after a week in the hospital, still on drains. This sounds like what happened to him.

    I have been using herbal medicine for 30 years and it has helped me so many times when western medicine failed. Dehydrated pounds of elderberries last fall and have been using it all winter. Thanks to all of you!

    Any thoughts? I can’t make anyone listen but maybe I can give some more unsolicited advise. Thank you Michelle and Bam Bam.

    • DesertDiva,

      I just hand family members a cup of tea and command them to drink.

      • DesertDiva says:

        Too bad he is a 50 year old man a couple states away! My DH and him are brothers and lost their Mom to doctor error when they were small kids. AND, their Dad my FIL, took me to my first health food store to help me with a health problem 30 years ago. You would think they would be drawn to a holistic approach?

        Thank you for all your advice the past year, I am listening!
        BTY, do you think the liver abscess could have been caused by untreated H1N1 (or some other weird mutation)?

    • The antibiotics were not working after two weeks and when he finally couldn’t breath and went to emergency

      Antibiotics for a flu??? Isn’t flu viral?? Not bacterial??
      The cells in your body are surrounded by an oily membrane. Bacteria are found on the outside of these cell walls and Viruses are on the inside of the cells.
      **Regular antibiotics are unable to penetrate the cell wall and so they only work on bacterial infections, not on viruses.*8

      Why he didn’t improve. My doctor taught me this years ago.

      • DesertDiva says:

        Yes, yes, thank you so much! You are absolutely 100% correct! All the test came back negative for bacteria and yet they keep trying different antibiotics. If that abscess ruptured, which it would have within days, it would have been fatal. Today he goes for another ct scan. I am on the phone to him within minutes.

        Please, everyone, watch this virus as it can be deadly. I am not sure what they can/will do but at least I have more information. Thank you JayJay!! Thank you Michele and Bam Bam for your article and information. This may save his life.

        • viruses usually do not form an abcess. This is bacterial or a parasite. Maybe not identified, but almost certainly not a virus. May not even be related to the “flu” he had

          • DesertDiva says:

            I just noticed your reply today. Thank you. I am guessing by your name you are a physician and not our fearless leader.

            I don’t get this whole thing. You are right, it may be not be related to the flu as he was sick (flu-like symptoms) for 6 weeks before he saw the doctor. The cultures came back negative for parasites. They said it was bacterial but could not define which one. My BIL did say “benign” for bacteria which leads me to believe he used that word for the colon cat scan.

            The doctors are treating the symptoms but have know idea where this originated or what it is, exactly. BIL still very sick and we are worried.

      • Often, it isn’t the flu itself that kills a person but opportunistic bacterial infections that set in and lead to pneumonia because the flu has weakened a person’s immune system.

        That’s probably why the doctors prescribed antibiotics in this case.

  6. HillCountryTXGal says:

    Thank you for taking the time to do this! Very informative.

  7. One hell of an article, very well done….

  8. yall need to co write a book!

  9. Here are some great Solutions that work and proven to be successful.

  10. Tactical G-Ma says:

    Ladies, you have outdone yourselves. This is my goal this year- to learn more herbal medicine. Thank you so much for all you contribute to this blog.

  11. I thought that skullcap grew wild in the U.S. west. Is that the same as Chinese skullcap? When I buy skullcap in the health food store or online it does not say that it is Chinese. I bought a couple of skullcap seedlings a year ago but they died before they got established. I guess I’ll try again. Can anyone tell me if this is the same skullcap that is referred to in this book? Thanks for all the information.

    • No, Chinese skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) is not the same as skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) that grows wild here, but it can grow here, and I will be purchasing seeds – a lovely plant.

  12. You are both awesome!! Thank you for such an informative article. I just ordered both of the books you referenced. Thanks again!

  13. My husband got the H1N1 flu this year as did my son. For my husband it turned into bacterial pneumonia and he needed antibiotics. My son turned the corner without intervention. There have been several deaths, although not at epidemic levels. My husband was talking about how in 1918 the death toll in the U.S. was made worse because aspirin’s patent had just run out and it was considered a cure all. As we know now aspirin thins the blood and increases bleeding. For people with the flu who were already experiencing internal bleeding aspirin worsened their condition. I do plan on making some of the syrup to have on hand, didn’t get a chance to before the flu hit this time. Is there anything that is proven to help with allergies? My husband has problems and my 9 year old son has just developed problems this year.

    • Hi Michelle – Michele here.

      What kind of allergies – seasonal or other?

      If seasonal (hayfever) buy LOCAL honey and have a teaspoon every day (how terrible is that?). This works after awhile, because the bees get into everything in the area, and so there are small amounts of the allergens in the honey – and eventually, you develop a tolerance to it.

      If not hayfever, depends what it is – but like allopathic medicine, I can give you lists of herbs (not pharmaceuticals) that deal with specific symptoms.

  14. Jersey Drifter says:

    A collaboration !!!
    The two of you are just amazing.
    A wealth of info that I for one find most interesting and much needed.

    • A request from Bam Bam on Sunday is the reason I even wrote it. There was so much alphabet soup in there, I had to read, and re-read to make sure I could understand what he was saying – then try to translate it into English – for example, one line in the book reads:

      “In response to being infected those cells also begin releasing cytokines and chemokines: IFNs, IL-1a and IL1B, IL-6, TNF-a, CXCL8, CCL2 (MCP-1), CCL3 (a.k.a. macrophage inflammatory protien-1 alpha, or MIP-1a), CCL4, CXCL9 and CXCL10 through the ERK-1, ERK-2 (extracellular-signal-regulated kinase 1 and 2), p38 MAPK (p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase) and JNK (c-Jun N-terminal kinase) pathways.”

      Whew! I tried to get almost all of that out of there, but failed in one or two instances (in one instance I was describing a RNA virus – vs a DNA virus) – and that was where Bam Bam was invaluable in addition to a few additions/re-wordings and being proofreader extraordinaire.

      • You did a great job with the article. I just gave a few pointers.

      • Alphabet soup is right! I’ve been reading (& re- reading) that book at night for a couple weeks now, trying to comprehend everything. A good book until I hit the “soupy” parts. I am slowly learning.

        Thank you both for a very well written and informative article.

        I lost two aunts and two cousins in the 1918 epidemic so the flu is particularly scary to me. I am trying to learn as much as possible before it happens again.

        Thanks again.

  15. Thanks for this! I know almost nothing about medicinal herbs, and have made it a point to learn more. In fact, this morning, while buying the ‘heirloom survival seed vault’ on sale at Amazon, I noticed the same company also sells medicinal herb garden seeds. I ordered those too.

    Is there a book(s) or website you would recommend to the beginner?

    • Sorry…I just noticed the book link at the bottom of your post.

      • Nann! Check out the books by Rosemary Gladstar on Amazon.

        • Thanks Bam Bam. I just ordered the 2 books you and Michele recommended above, as well as Rosemary Gladstar’s Beginner Guide. I found it in the “buy all 3” info, and it looked promising.

  16. mom of three says:

    WOW thank you two. I’ve been doing research and getting books at the library, to help me out. I tried to start a ginger root, I may have to try again. I will try the ginger tea, we have fresh ginger root.
    Hollywood, just came out with another WW2 movie it sounds good. Is this another what is old, is new again?

    • M3,

      I hope you are not talking about Monuments Men. This is a great idea for a movie. But the movie is terrible. My dh says it’s a “payback” movie. Someone really wanted this movie made and called in a bunch of favors.

      • If you want to know the real story of the Monuments men, watch a PBS documentary called “The Rape of Europa”, it’s absolutely fascinating. Fantastic documentary.

  17. Urbancitygirl says:

    Thank you so much for this informative article. Because of you two, I have decided to really pay closer attention to your comments/suggestions and will be keeping a notepad nearby.

    In my elementary introduction to herbals, I’ve made oil of oregano last fall, and elderberry tincture this winter.

    Hopeful to find natural remedies for bad seasonal allergies, asthma,(for myself) and high blood pressure (for DH).

    I’ve ordered elderberry bushes to arrive in the spring and hope to find additional medicinal herbs that grow in zone 5 that I can incorporate to help aid us. Although I won’t hesitate to order herbs online, it seems having them growing in my backyard would be best.

    Again, thanks for sharing what you “know”!

    • UrbanCityGirl,

      Absolutely right it’s better to have them growing in your backyard!

      Asthma – lobelia tincture
      High Blood pressure – hawthorn , garlic, ginger
      Seasonal allergies – LOCAL Honey.

      The medicinal garden seeds from MyPatriotSupply (on this site) are all good down to zone 3 – but their shipping is REALLY SLOW. Fortunately if you are in zone 5, spring is a month or two out.

      • High Blood pressure – hawthorn , garlic, ginger

        Is there a recipe for something to help with high blood pressure?

        I am very worried about when TSHTF and my DH runs out of his blood pressure medicine. We have tried to buy a years supply of medicine but you would think it’s an illegal drug or something..lol!

        • Hawthorn is tasty and very valuable. It can be used as a tea or tincture, and both the leaves and berries work.

          Hawthorn does not have any contraindications. I would start it NOW, while he is being monitored by his doctor and his BP medication can be adjusted. It also helps with hardening of the arteries.

          Remember my friend Don, who had cancer? He also has a heart problem and had high blood pressure, so we started him on Hawthorn at the same time as the graviola. The heart problem remains as far as I know (it was some sort of heart valve issue) but his blood pressure took a nose dive, and his BP meds had to be adjusted down several times.

      • Michele,
        This is a difficult request, if not impossible. I was wondering if you could put together a list of which herbs we should probably have on hand to treat a wide variety of needs–and which should be left as leaves/stems/ or powders, however they came to us, and which should be in tincture. I am trying to put together what we are most likely going to need and have it in a usable condition. Thank you for all of your time and help.

        • From “The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook” by James Green

          The list of the 30 most useful herbs according to the California School of Herbal Studies:

          Blackberry, Black Cohosh, Calendula, Cayenne, Chamomile (German), Cleavers, Comfrey, Crampbark, Dandelion, Echinacea, Elder, Fennel, Ginger, Goldenseal, Gumweed, Hawthorn, Marshmallow (no, not the little white things you put in hot cocoa), Mugwort, Mullien, Nettle, Peppermint, Pipsissewa, Plantain (weed, not banana thing) St. John’s Wort, Skullcap, Valerian, Vitex, Willow, Yarrow, Yellow Dock.

          To that list, he added:
          Burdock, Ginko, Oat, Saw Palmetto, Siberian Ginseng, Reishi mushroom.

          Order these. Put them in containers or make tincture of them. Research them on the Internet or in books, THEN WRITE OUT THE USES and any contraindications so you will learn their uses, and glue it onto the jars, or keep in a notebook near your herbs.

          Did you notice by the way, that MANY of that list are common weeds????

      • Urbancitygirl says:

        I have ginger that I purchased last weekend. Will see what I can find on those combinations for blood pressure and how to prepare. I planted a hibiscus because I understand it will also help (tea).

        I will look up lobelia tincture for asthma.

        On local honey… Heard about it 3 years ago at work though I’ve had a difficult time finding it local. Even the produce stands are hauling it some distance. Maybe I’m being to literal about it. How ‘local’ does the honey need to be?

        My goal is to have these 3 areas covered by this summer.

        Thank you.

  18. We have been using Lomatium Dissectum in the glycerine tincture
    form for years now. you must take as soon as you feel the scratchy feeling in your throat. If you let the flu advance the tincture can’t help you. We are going to also add the Elderberry
    syrup to this.

    I get my Lomatium from Mountain Oaks LLC.

  19. Encourager says:

    Wow! I am in awe of you ladies, Michele and BamBam! Thank you for pulling all this together for us. I have one of his books, but trying to figure out what to do was mind boggling. You broke it all down and put it back together so that it makes sense.

  20. Encourager says:

    I am in the process of reading “The Autoimmune Epidemic” by Donna Jackson Nakazawa. Have either of you, Michele or BamBam, read this book? I would appreciate your take on it.

    Seeing as the author is an M.D., I think most of the book is written aimed at the medical profession as education for them about autoimmune diseases. I ended up skimming a lot of the info as it was overload for my poor brain.

    I was shocked about how a virus can trigger an autoimmune disease, even a simple virus. And I did not know that type 1 Diabetes was actually an autoimmune disease. Or that once you have an autoimmune disease, you are very susceptible to getting another and then another. Scary stuff!

    • Encourager,

      I haven’t read it. But if I see a copy online or at the library I will give it a look.

    • Example of triggering autoimmune disease: my mom had both knees replaced. While in the hospital she contracted crytosporidium. It took the doctors (multiple doctors) 3 months to diagnoise ghe crytosporidium. By that time she was also in much, much pain. The pain was eventually diagnoised as rhuematoid arthritis and lupus. One doctor told her that the rhuematoid and lupus were in her body, but were nit active until triggered by the stress the crytosporidium put on her body.

  21. Encourager says:

    What is the shelf life of dried herbs? Before mixing into the remedies.

    • Encourager,

      I try to keep only one year’s worth on hand. They don’t “go bad” so much as they loose their potency. You can make up single herb tinctures and keep them for years–then mix the tinctures together in a cup of tea.

    • The shelf life – like that of stored foods depends a lot on how it’s stored.

      Powdered much less than cut or whole due to the smaller particles being exposed to oxygen (as flour has a much shorter shelf life than whole wheat). In a tincture – almost forever if you don’t subject it to extreme heat or sunlight.

      Right now I’m in tincture mode for all my powdered herbs – just because of that. When I bought a whole case of the large 100 proof bottles of vodka, I asked for a straw with it, either she didn’t get it, or had no sense of humor, because she just looked at me strangely. Oh, well.

  22. Great article! I was talking to a friend about it and I mentioned that you tube show that portrays what could happen if a pandemic hit. She wants to watch it (yay, it might actually make her start prepping, even if only a bit). Anyways, I can not remember what its called. Its about that married couple with a kid who start out in cali, and end up in Idaho or somewhere. If anyone remembers the link or how to find it I would appreciate it. Thanks.

  23. Thanks for putting this article together – well done both of you!

    I do have a couple of questions:
    I prefer using products I can produce myself instead of purchasing. How much ginger do you recommend growing to be sure you have enough fresh root available when needed?
    Same with elderberry and lomatium? (As an aside, I would recommend mixing milk thistle 50/50 with the lomatium. I’m one of those people that will get hives if I take lomatium straight. The side effect isn’t serious but damned uncomfortable when you’re already ill. The addition of milk thistle stops the hives for some reason).

    And a question on elderberry use – since elderberries may cause the immune system to become more active (hence the warnings against use if you have an autoimmune disease), do you recommend stopping its use at some point if the body seems to be going into a cytokine storm? Are there warning signs that should be heeded?

    Finally a general question. With all the stories about contaminates in imported Chinese food products, do you have any worries about herbs imported from Asia?

    Thanks again for the fine article.

    • K. Fields,

      How much ginger to grow? How much room do you have? Ginger is so good for so many things. One of my favorite snacks (because it just is and not because it’s good for me) is crystallized ginger. YUM!

      Elderberry is an immune modulator, not an immune stimulator. Immune modulators balance and strengthen immune function in the body, whereas immune stimulators can create a hyperactive immune system.

      Because Elderberry is an immune modulator rather than an immune stimulator, is safe to take daily as a preventative against cold and flu viruses, as well as used to treat symptoms of cold and flu. Elderberry also works to keep the virus from sticking to the cells – thus stopping them from replicating.

      Somewhere I read about the issue of lomatium and possible hives, not sure where, and I did NOT know that milk thistle would stop that – and milk thistle is so good for your liver.

      Do I worry about contaminates in Chinese food products? Does a bear potty in the woods? Of course, it would be stupid not to given the history of some of the products in recent years.

      The company I ordered from, 1st Chinese Herbs is in Olympia, Washington, and all the herbs state they are lab tested for purity. I sincerely hope that is true, but since I do not own a lab, nor know what to do with one even if I had one, I’m going to have to trust in this instance.

    • Good question, k. fields

  24. A coworkers was in the hospital for three weeks and not really given a chance to survive. Local doctor told her she just had a cold and would be fine , next day she goes to another doctor who does a chest x-ray and finds pneumonia and her organs are starting to fail. Send here to the Big hospital and diagnose H1N1.
    She is going to make it but was diabetic and now had so much damage she is now on the heart/lung transplant list.
    This hit her hard and was tested at the local hospital for flu but was found neg.

    Just goes to show it can hit everywhere and everyone. Some may make if and some may not, sure hope we don’t get any pandemics like in the past but can not see how we will not.

    Thanks for all the good info, I have bought a few books on herbs but sure like the way Bam Bam , and Michelle are here as a good resource !!!

  25. WOW! Got my order from 1st Chinese Herbs already!

  26. I am in the starting phase of raising chickens for eggs and meat — Does having chickens ( or pigs) raise one’s risk of getting flu? What can be done to minimize the risk?


    • It is possible, that an infected wild bird could poop over your chicken yard, and those girls of yours – being the hygienic things they are – could eat it and become infected.

      It is likely that most of the problems with infected poultry are due to agribusinesses overcrowding and unsanitary conditions.

      I can’t tell you much about pigs at all. I can eat a small amount of bacon, ham or sausage, but pork chops and the like (maybe because I’m eating more of it at one sitting) makes me every sick (you know the up all night, in pain, visiting the little girls room type of sick), so I have never even looked into raising them, nor could I tell you how likely you are to catch something from them.

      • I am the same way with pork, Michele… so glad to find out I’m not the only one who is like that (well, not really, but you know what I mean lol)

        Do you know what causes it? Everyone I have talked to about it chalks it up to IBS, but it is much different from what my IBS flair ups feel like…

        • Shandi,

          I have absolutely no idea why pork and I cannot be friends – it just doesn’t like me. I’ve even tried taking digestive enzymes with it, by the handful, and that doesn’t help either.

          I’ve given up and gave all the pork roast DH had in the freezer to his daughter.

          • Shandi & Michele;
            Like both of you, I started to have a problem with pork, an I love bacon. I purchased bacon via Zaycon, no preservatives in the meat just bacon, salt, curing agent. Amazing I ate bacon and did not have an upset stomach for the first time in a very long time, the same with their specialty ham.
            Dh & I both are so use to home grown or raised for us by local farmers never having experienced an illness from the meat. Ours started after buying all our pork products over the counter as time went on. It sounds like you are reacting to what was put into the meat as a preservative, or what the pig was fed. It can make a world of difference in the quality of the meat, not just pork, any meat. If you still have a reaction to local raised pork that is fed grains, fruits and veges and no antibiotics then you are truly having a reaction to the meat of the animal.

        • Pork is very hard to digest. It slows down the digestive tract which then allows leakage from the gut. So a homeopathic doctor told me. Maybe there was a reason God said not to eat pork…

          I have some problems with shellfish, too. Hard on my digestive system.

    • Encourager says:

      I agree with Michele.

      I would also say regarding chickens, that good hygiene is extremely important. Keep your coop and run clean; provide plenty of fresh air and water for your chickens. If you do not have a cement floor, I suggest you dig down about 4-6 inches and put down hardware cloth to prevent mice, rats and other animals from digging into your coop. Staple the hardware cloth to the bottom frame of your building. Fill dirt back up and spread hay, not straw (straw is hollow and mites live in the stems) down on the floor.

      Even if you have to be out there with them, let them roam around for an hour at least every evening just before sundown. They will head back to the coop for you once it starts getting dark – at least mine did with a bit of a bribe with corn.

      Keep your chickens healthy! Add crushed garlic to their waterer – and scrub out the waterer on a regular schedule. Do the same with the feeder.

      There was a study done over 25 years ago where calf milk replacer was given to the chickens, watered down by half. They then tested the birds and even those that had tested positive for Salmonella before the study, had no Salmonella in their system. Since hens pass down Salmonella to the eggs, it it nearly impossible to eliminate it. But this study did. Can’t remember why that worked, but it did.

      We did this for a batch of meat birds and the butcher said they were the healthiest birds he had ever butchered. We made sure ours were the first butchered that day so they would not be re-infected with Salmonella. BTW, we only gave them the milk mixture for about a week. I went to a country farm supply and they were kind enough to sell me a partial bag of it.

      Never have raised pigs and never intend to.

  27. Thank you for an extremely useful and well written article! I really appreciate the work that went into this article. Last week I received some lomatium, licorice, scutellaria baicalensis and lobelia seeds that I had ordered from Horizon Herbs. Because of the information in this excellent article I will be putting in an order for some others as well. Thanks also for the list of suppliers for the ingredients in the cytokine storm tincture. As usual, you ladies have provided us with some very important information. Thanks again!

  28. LittleAnniePrepper says:


    Would you recommend taking the elderberry tincture if you have rheumatoid arthritis (actually psoriatic arthritis)? The pharmaceuticals I take actually depress my immune system. I also have hypothyroidism. I get so excited with all this natural medicine and then it seems like so many of the warnings are for people with autoimmune diseases. And yes, I now have 2 of them. It’s kind of creepy to think that I’m likely to get more.

    My thanks to both you and Bam Bam for giving us this information.

    • You are on your own on this one kiddo, since you are under a doctors care, and most probably on steroids as well for the RA.

      I think some to a lot of the pain might be due to inflammation, so see if anti inflammatories like turmeric and ginger are OK to take with your meds and condition. Also, what about cannibus? This could be real important to you – if TSHTF, it is possible you would be without meds – and as I understand RA, the pain would be unlivable.

      Research herbal treatments for your conditions on the web. See if you can find an Integrative medicine doctor, who is much more likely to be receptive to herbal treatments.

      The other thing I would recommend is to look VERY CLOSELY at your diet. Personally, I believe if your diet is optimal, you body would heal itself. Natives who eat their traditional native diets have almost ZERO disease of ANY kind.

      My father had RA, and eventually died due to the steroids they were giving him for the inflammation and pain. Because his immune system was so compromised, a minor cold turned into pneumonia, and that killed him.

      • To what should we compare our diet?

        Also, are the autoimmune diseases hereditary? If so, would the correct diet help prevent them from becoming active?

      • LittleAnniePrepper says:

        Thank you. I appreciate the advice.

    • LittleAnniePrepper,

      You might look into juicing. You can pick up an inexpensive juicer at Amazon for $50. Juicing is an excellent way to get fresh ginger every day. I take Levothryoxin for my thyroid and want to prevent a secondary auto immune disease.

  29. patientmomma says:

    You ladies are wonderful! I love the article and ordered the book. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!

  30. Hunker-Down says:

    Thanks ladies.

    We have one of the books, the other is on our Amazon wish list. We’re saving for an oil order (not 10W30).
    We have much to learn! Thank you!

  31. I was just watching something about the Spanish flu. It mentioned that a couple years later people started suffering from something called encephalitis lethargica (dubbed the ‘sleepy sickness’), and one researcher said he thinks the flu virus just moved to the brain. I just heard about this so as yet havent looked it up, but I though maybe Bam Bam might want yo add her magical research skills to this.

  32. Rosemary Gladstar’s home study herb class is currently only $275!

    Here is the link:

  33. Thank you for the great synopsis of the book, and the well done and thorough article. Nice to read such good research.

    Biscuit Root (Lomatium dissectum) is a well-accepted native American remedy because of its success in treating the Spanish Flu in 1918. It grows primarily out west in the Nevada’s and California. My mother learned about it from some Shoshone friends of my grandmother. She cut the root up like parsnips, and boiled it until she got a broth.

    Am going to buy that book!

  34. Another amazing natural product to take that is very easy to find is Aronia. In fact, many of you may be growing this in your yards and not even realize it is an amazing natural healer. Also known as Black Chokeberry. Check it out! I use it in the form of SuperBerrys concentrate. I have had some amazing results from using the product and plan on planting some acres of it when I finally get my farm.

  35. And just wanted to say I just purchased the Fusion Juicer using the link on your page. I hope you get something for this. The DW and I were looking for one and she has said she like this one. I was on the fence but when I saw it advertised on your site I figured it was a sign!

  36. Awesome article. Just awesome. Those two books are going to get put into my personal library. Can’t wait to talk to my DM about this. She loved the elderberry syrup/tincture that was written about previously and has been making batches and batches of it. Again,.. very cool article.

  37. I just bought both the printed and Internet version of Rosemary Gladstar’s The science and art of herbalism courses.

    It looks like a really good beginner herbal class and seems like it might be just the ticket for some of you. You can order it as Internet only, printed only or the combination (I like to have printed versions).


  38. Michele & BamBam,
    Thank you consolidating the information into a usable form for the wolf pack!!
    Bonus: What to purchase and where it can be ordered for the flu tinctures.
    Extry Bonus: List of 30 plants/herbs to grow. to keep you and your loved ones healthy.
    Extry Extry: Rosemary Gladstar’s online herb class.
    So many resources from you two.
    Thank your again

  39. grandma bear says:

    Wow, so appreciate all your hard work ladies! Thankyou! I have learned so much!

  40. mom of three says:

    My husband, has been juicing for three months tomorrow and he has lost weight, and eating fatty foods, have been making him sick to re introduced to his diet. Keeping sickness to a low roar is top of my list. Keeping sick friends, at bay is hard. My sister and her family live in Alaska, and every time they come down they get sick. They don’t get the nasty virus that the lower 48 states do. Thank you for the wonderful article, and the hard work both of you ladies, do.

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