Immunity Support and Caring for Your Family

When we choose to love, we choose to move against fear, against alienation and separation. The choice to love is a choice to connect, to find ourselves in the other.
– bell hooks

We encourage you to take this time together to deeply rest and rejuvenate, to play, and to revisit the calling of your hearts. It is easy for us to dive into technology as a distraction. If possible, let us remember that we can also dive into reclaiming traditions that have always given us strength and sustenance.

Here are some helpful tips and ideas for Immunity Support and Caring for Your Family from the staff of our Indigenous Women’s Health Program and Yiya Vi Kagingdi Doula Project.

Preventative Approach

  1. Practice hygiene –Wash your hands. Open your windows. Smudge and clean your house.
  2. Practice social distancing – If you don’t have to go out, please stay home. The more we practice this, the better off we will be.
  3. Eat well– Fill up on leafy greens, colorful veggies, onions and garlic, bioflavonoid and vitamin-c rich foods, berries, healthy fats, and lots of traditional foods. Cut out as much sugar as possible. Supplement your diet with nutritive herbs.
  4. Get sleep – At least 8 hours if you can.
  5. Stay well hydrated – Drink lots of water, teas, soups and broths.
  6. Get outside– There are many of benefits of being outdoors. It lowers stress levels and make social isolation easier. Remember to be respectful of closures of Indigenous sites and lands when making your excursions.
  7. Lower Stress– Many of us are in sympathetic “fight or flight” mode right now and we need to do everything we can to lower our stress. Again, spend time in nature. If you are unable to attend work or school, use your time off to rest, get lots of sleep, move your body, create, plant a garden. Unplug. Turn off the screens. Take breaks from the news and social media. Flower essences and herbs that support the nervous system are beneficial. 

Using Food as Medicine

Garlic: Garlic thins and stimulates mucous which is great when you have a bunch of it stuck in your lungs. If your stomach can handle it, try to get raw garlic in your body as much as possible. One way to prepare it at home is to chop a bunch of garlic, cover it in olive oil, add salt and pepper, and put it on toast. You can also add herbs (parsley, oregano, cilantro, chives). Add a squirt of lemon juice, and add to soups, stews, spread it on toast, dip crackers in it. You can also cook with it. Add it into your posole, soups and chile.

Ginger: Warming, spicy, great for the immune system in general, add it to soups, curries and stews.

Citrus: High in vitamin C, and great for general immunity. Citrus stimulates the liver and helps the body to break down toxins. Try adding lemon or lime to your water, or eating more oranges and grapefruits.

Chiles: Chiles help to thin the blood, get circulation moving, get your digestion jump-started, and generally increase activity across the board. In fact, in general, all of the spicy foods are great at a time like this. Bonus: many chiles are high in Vitamin C!

Onions: Onions thin mucous, which is really useful when people are suffering from thick, sticky, impacted mucous in the lungs. Onion is a powerful lung medicine and something that most of us have on-hand. Try making onion syrup, or cook up a bunch of onions in everything you eat, or do an onion poultice on your chest or feet. Many of our elders tell us to leave half an onion by the side of your bed at night as the fumes are said to be antimicrobial.

Herbal Care

Thyme:  Thyme helps fight respiratory infections and is a natural expectorant that serves as an antiseptic and helps expulse mucus. It’s also good for soothing coughs and fighting nasal congestion. Prepare it as a tea.

Usnea:  Usnea has long been used around the world to address infections, including sore throats, lung infections, wounds, urinary tract infections, and vaginal infections. Usnea is an antimicrobial herb, meaning that it affects a wide range of pathogens. However, it does not act like a pharmaceutical antibiotic that indiscriminately kills all bacteria.

Mullein: Mullein tea is a traditional treatment for respiratory problems, such as chest colds, bronchitis and asthma. Both the leaves and flowers contain mucilage, which is soothing to irritated membranes, and saponins, which make coughs more productive. Research has shown that the herb has strong anti-inflammatory activity, and lab studies suggest that mullein flower infusions have antiviral properties, as well.

Osha: Osha is well known in our communities and has been used for sore throat, bronchitis, cough, common colds and flu, swine flu, and pneumonia. It is also used to treat other viral infections including herpes and AIDS/HIV. Some people use it for indigestion. Osha is an herb that has been overharvested and is on the endangered species list. Although we are adding it to this list because we know that people in our communities have always used this medicine, we ask that we do so sparingly and only from sources that maintain the health of the plant stands.

Beebalm:  Beebalm (Oswego Tea) is a plant with many hats. It can find its way into your culinary spice cabinet, yet be some of our most potent medicine against infections. Chemically, bee balm is closely related to thyme. Both of these plants contain high concentrations of thymol, which is a strong antiseptic. The infused honey can soothe a sore throat. The hot tea can ease the discomfort of a fever and the inhaled steam can loosen congested mucous in the nose and lungs.

Doula Care During COVID-19

YVK Doula Project services will continue, with slight adjustments! 

We will transition to providing virtual prenatal and postpartum visits (phone or video conference), and virtual labor support to birthing parents and their partners, as many hospital policies are restricting L&D patients to only one visitor. For families choosing midwifery care, virtual and in-person doula support is available.

For low to no cost, our doulas provide families with:

Please call our doula coordinator at (720) 229-2522, or email for more information!