Coronavirus Anxiety: 8 Herbs for the Elderly in Isolation

Coronavirus Anxiety: 8 Herbs for the Elderly in Isolation

By Cynthia Thaik, M.D., FACC

Unprecedented times call for extraordinary measures. The coronavirus, or COVID-19 has taken the world on a roller coaster of fear and anxiety. From the high infection rates to lockdowns, we can say that most of us have not experienced anything of this proportion in our lifetimes. Amongst the worst affected are the elderly. People over the age of 65 are more susceptible to coronavirus and have a higher mortality rate. 

The elderly with chronic diseases such as hypertension, cardiovascular issues, high blood sugar, etc. are at a higher risk for complications from the virus. However, more than the virus, lockdown, and isolation has caused more fear and anxiety amongst them. A large number of older adults live alone and have no one to look after them. In this time of need, we have listed some herbs to help them deal with anxiety and reduce symptoms of any other issue that they are experiencing. 

HERBS TO HELP THE ELDERLY IN COVID-19 ISOLATION

CHINESE HAWTHORN

Crataegus is a renowned herb used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is available in regions with a temperate climate, especially in Europe. The species of this plant used in China is different from what is used in western countries. 

In China, people use this in the form of a decoction to treat hypertension. It lowers blood pressure levels. Potent antioxidant agents like flavonoids show potential effects on heart-related issues. According to a study, Rhynchophylline, an alkaloid, shows an ability to obstruct platelet accumulation and blood clots, which indicates that it may prevent stroke and reduce the risk of heart attack by lowering blood pressure, increasing blood circulation. 

BASIL

A tropical, branched herb of the mint family, it adds flavor to food and has numerous health benefits too. The sweet basil is used in various Mediterannean cuisines and adds a distinct flavor to all the food items. When used for diet, sweet basil provides various minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Another type of basil, called holy basil (or Tulsi), has medicinal significance in Southeast Asia and plays a therapeutic role. It is a different form of sweet basil and is also an ayurvedic medicine.

Basil may have a positive effect on lowering blood sugar levels following meals. It also manages immunological disorders like asthma and allergies. The juice of its leaves acts as a medicine for diabetes and fever. It has antispasmodic properties and helps to relieve abdominal pain too. 

CANNABIS

Cannabis or CBD has many health benefits. Reducing anxiety is one of them. CBD does not induce intoxication. A component known as THC or tetrahydrocannabinol induces that effect. A crossover study shows that a single dose of CBD oil can notably lower blood pressure levels. It widens the blood vessels, allowing proper flow of blood too. Cannabis is now available in a variety of forms, such as edibles and oil. 

Some studies also show that cannabis oil Canada can reduce inflammation and cortisol levels in the body. This keeps the stress levels low and helps maintain good cardiovascular health.

MILK THISTLE

Silybum marianum or milk thistle is a herbal remedy derived from the milk thistle plant. It is a prickly plant with distinct purple flowers and white veins. Its leaves and flowers are often eaten as a salad. The above-ground parts and seeds are used to make medicines.

One of the active compounds present in this plant is the silymarin. This herb has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which are good for people with diabetes. Studies show that it protects the kidney from damage due to diabetes and inhibits tubular cell injury. It also increases resistance to oxidative stress, which is the major cause of Alzheimer’s disease. It improves cognition and treats different conditions that affect the brain.

GYMNEMA

Gymnema is a woody, climbing shrub native to Africa, China, Australia, The Arabian Peninsula, and India. It has a long history of use in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. It contains substances that reduce the absorption of sugar in the intestines. It also increases the amount of insulin in the body and the growth of cells in the pancreas. 

The cytoprotective mechanism of Gymnema Sylvestre possesses anti-stress properties. It is known to destroy sugar. A review mentioned that people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, showed signs of improvement after using Gymnema.

LEMONGRASS

Lemongrass is a herb whose leaves and oil are used for medicinal purposes. It is mostly taken orally, used for aromatherapy, or applied on the skin directly. It is also used as a flavoring in food and beverages. Lemongrass is also used as a fragrance for deodorants, soaps, and cosmetics. It helps prevent the growth of a few types of bacteria and yeast. 

Lemongrass contains certain substances that are considered to reduce pain and inflammation, improve the sugar and cholesterol levels in the body, restores the menstrual flow, and has antioxidant properties.

It is a traditional medicine that possesses antihypertensive properties. A test on individuals showed reduced anxiety and tension after immediate use of lemongrass. It relaxes the tissues and oxidative stress.

ALOE VERA

It is a popular medicinal houseplant, easily available everywhere. It is recognized by its thick pointed leaves that can grow to about 30-50 cm in length. Its leaves are filled with slimy tissues that store water. The slimy component is the gel that we use. This gel contains bioactive compounds, including amino acids, vitamins, antioxidants, and much more.

Aloe is a well-known home remedy for burns, cuts, and other skin conditions. However, recent studies have found traces of active phytosterol compounds that reduce blood sugar levels. This plant also purifies the air around us, reducing anxiety-inducing elements. 

GINSENG

It is Chinese herbal medicine, known to treat several diseases. As a slow-growing, short plant, ginseng is classified based on its length and color. The harvesting period also matters a lot. The fresh ginseng is harvested after four years, white ginseng between four to six years, and red ginseng after six years. It contains two compounds knows as ginsenosides and gintonin which complement each other to provide health benefits.

Ginseng has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that positively affect the nervous system. Koreans believe that it renews the mind and body and improves the physical condition. They use it widely for people with hypertension and cardiovascular issues. It restores blood flow to normal levels too. 

Research shows that it also suppresses stress and protects the nervous system. It is as efficient as the antidepressants and fluoxetine that are available commercially. 

 

CONCLUSION

These tough times call for strict action and care. If we stay in the safety of our houses, we can ensure the safety of others too. Boredom, stress, and the onset of depressing feelings can irritate. To help with these, we have mentioned some herbs which can be of help. However, as always, consult with your doctor before starting any new medication or supplements. Take care and stay safe. 

About the author

Dr. Cynthia Thaik, M.D., FACC is a Harvard-trained cardiologist serving the greater Los Angeles community at her holistic health center in Burbank and Valencia, CA. Dr. Thaik is the author of Your Vibrant Heart: Restoring Health, Strength, and Spirit from the Body’s Core. To learn more about Dr. Thaik or the Holistic Healing Heart Center, or to schedule an appointment, please contact info@drcynthia.com or call (818) 842-1410.