(Part One of a series on Fighting Respiratory Viruses. Here’s parts Two,Three, Four and Five.)

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: This piece describes a protocol the author’s found highly effective for fighting respiratory infections over several decades, especially when augmented by some of the other methods described in the accompanying four articles. My experience is that the protocol works across a wide range of viral and bacterial infections, including a few cases recently with symptoms matching reports of the coronavirus’ common presentations. Be sure to note the precautions if you’re elderly or pregnant. This information is to be considered educational and not prescriptive. If you have a medical condition, please consult your physician.


t’s that time of year again.

And if it’s not, it will be again soon.

I’m in a profession where I don’t get to go to work sick. And there’s no paid sick days.

Not only that … when I used to visit patients they of course would often want to see me when they were ill, but understandably no one wants to see me when I’m under the weather. So over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at catching my respiratory viruses early when they can generally be stopped in their tracks.

When I was young, my mother used to do all kinds of wacky stuff with us; stuff nobody else’s mothers did with them. While other kids were getting tylenol and aspirin, we were being forced to drink strong, bitter teas, take uncomfortably hot baths, wrap ourselves with linens and cover ourselves with stinky oils.

Now that we’re in the midst of our first modern pandemic, I’ve realized that these are all ways of boosting innate immunity. I’ve also realized that there’s an excellent chance these methods got my grandmother, who survived the 1918 pandemic, through the Spanish flu after WWI. That’s probably where my mother learned them.

So I have a few “secrets” to share with you. The first one: medicinal teas.

Ginger root tea is the base for any respiratory virus-fighting medicinal tea I make (with one exception: sore throat. Ginger’s too hot for sore throats.) Ginger’s a natural antibiotic, a natural anti-viral, and is detoxifying to boot (More about this in another segment where we’ll look at an old naturopathic concept: respiratory viruses as the “brush fires” of the body.)

There’s a crucial difference between making a beverage tea and making a medicinal tea. The difference: how long you steep it. If you want many medicinal teas to work (especially the roots) they need to be steeped at least 45 minutes; better an hour. Want to make the tea even stronger? Keep it cycling through periods of cooling and re-heating, or better yet, make it in a thermos. Don’t let it boil, though … it’ll weaken the tea and quite likely make an unholy mess on your stovetop!

As with many things herbal, best not to overdo this in pregnancy. But a little’s ok … maybe a cup or two over the course of a day.

Now straight ginger root tea, made this way, is impossibly spicy to most people. The solution? Add apple juice to taste. Typically 1/4 to 1/3 the volume will do it for even the most strongly-brewed ginger tea.


There’s a crucial difference between making a beverage tea and making a medicinal tea.

The difference: how long you steep it.

There’s a crucial difference between making a beverage tea and making a medicinal tea.

The difference: how long you steep it.

Slice up a generous handful of ginger root, fill a two quart pot with water, bring it to a boil, then shut off the heat, add the ginger root, cover and let sit. Be sure you’re using fresh ginger root from a well-stocked produce department, not the kind that’s processed and dried and comes in teabags.

Dosage, as usual, is everything. Two to three 8 oz cups can be considered as one dose … and it’s best to take at least 3-4 doses/day; more if you need to put a lid on the respiratory virus quickly.

That’s another difference between medicinal teas and beverage teas. In an acute (or crisis) situation, many (not all) medicinal teas work best when you drink them like a fish.

When I’m fighting a respiratory virus I almost always have a cup nearby and sip from it pretty much constantly. In my line of work I don’t have a day to waste.

Ginger’s really good at helping with chest congestion characterized by white or clear phlegm. It’s also good with head colds. If you’ve got a sore throat or are coughing up yellow phlegm, replace the ginger root with 5-6 tea bags of Traditional Medicinal’s Throat Coat tea, available in any good health food store. Ginger is far too “hot” an herb to help with a sore throat, aleady a highly inflamed condition. Be sure to steep the Throat Coat in the same way as the ginger (apple juice probably not needed.)

If the problem is coughing, try 5-6 tea bags of Traditional Medicinal’s Gypsy Cold Care, or the Frankincense/Marjoram chest rub I discuss in Part Four. Same drill.

Next step: Sweat it Out!

(If you’re really serious, like I am when I’m fighting off a respiratory virus, you’ll do all four steps during the course of a day.)

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