Immunity and Health for 2022 with Amanda McQuade Crawford

By Joanne A Calitri   |   March 1, 2022
Amanda McQuade Crawford MFT and Registered Herbalist talks immunity and health for 2022 (photo by Joanne A. Calitri)

The rampant increase in social media influencers on health and fitness since the pandemic added to the plethora of data on exercise, diets, supplements, herbs, CBD, teas, juicing, protein drinks, meditation, breathwork, and mental health. Suddenly everyone is an expert on getting outside, adding Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and zinc to our diets, and how to support our emotional and mental health. 

The real question as the pandemic is getting under control is, where do we go from here? Is there an optimum mix for attaining and maintaining well-being on all fronts?

I reached out to Amanda McQuade Crawford MFT and Registered Herbalist for her latest immunity and health advice for our readers. Crawford is an herbalist and psychotherapist practicing integrative health care from Ojai to Santa Barbara. She graduated from Britain’s College of Phytotherapy, is a Member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, a founding member of the American Herbalists Guild, and a consultant in the natural products industry. She continues to serve the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia as a Review Panelist and the American Botanical Council as an Advisory Board Member. She is the author of two books on women’s health: Herbal Remedies for Women and The Natural Menopause Handbook.

Due to her packed schedule, we Zoomed over the weekend:

Q. How can we improve our immunity?

A. Starting at the base of our health pyramid and fundamental to our immunity, is how and what we eat, how we move our muscles in time and space, breathwork, relaxation, our social and emotional well-being, on a daily basis. 

When those are in place, our immunity is already thanking us; it’s boosted and performing better. We add herbs in small amounts on the top of that pyramid for fine tuning, to make what we do daily work better for us. Herbs are meant to help us, not as a blanket treatment for problems that would be improved remarkably with better circulation, metabolism, elimination. We can’t pin all of our health on one supplement in a bottle for $9.99.

What are your top five herbs for immunity right now?

I’ll give you six: Echinacea root, garlic, elderberry, thyme, oregano, and for more challenging infections, the Ayurvedic herb, Andrographis.

What is a key stress you are treating right now?

Many people have spiritual distress these days because they are worried about what is happening in other parts of the world, they are tuned into a greater concern, like the Ukraine, or the environment. They need grounding herbs to help them find an appropriate level of calm, so they can access their inner resources and take effective action on the issues in our world that mean so much to them. 

What about CBD to prevent and treat COVID?

I have been following the research about CBD for a long time. The recent research for COVID is using isolated compounds of it in vitro in tissue samples, and is really promising and very exciting, but because of the research methodology, we have a lot more to test and learn before we can extrapolate the data and prescribe it. 

I consult with and refer to CBD expert Kevin Spelman, PhD University of Exeter in Molecular Biology. He teaches at U.S. colleges and is on the forefront of the science in CBD and Nutraceuticals, Botanicals, Phytonutrients, and Cannabinoids.

Science is in the process of learning how powerful medicinal plants, including CBD, are. They have complex compounds, and when we isolate one to demonstrate efficacy in a scenario like COVID in lung tissues, that tells us something, but it does not tell us everything. It does not tell us what the whole plant or a synergy of compounds in that plant might do. 

There is a real need for better research design, to move away from merely looking at isolating the active principle, i.e., what can we make a drug of, to looking at the whole plant or whole plant extracts. 

What research design do you suggest?

Corporations that have funding do large clinical trials, do all safety research first, and employ scientific herbalists who are grounded in the use of plants, so the research design is more rounded and takes into account the complexity of plants. And to use whole plants in the drug compounds, which provide safer and stable long-term effective results. 

Your advice for pharma and natural medicine corporations?

Social justice is a really important part of this today. We can’t ignore the impact of harvesting medicinal plants, whether it’s in our backyard or across the globe, on the local communities whose land and resources we are using. We need to use traditional wisdom for plant rotation, soil health, water health, and to harvest the plant when it has produced the most beneficial compounds for us. Modern pharmaceutical approaches to natural medicine need to have more respect than to take a bulldozer to a foreign country and dig up all the medicinal roots to get back to the lab. 

That is why I am dedicating a percentage of my practice income to various animal rescue and environmental initiatives to protect social justice and environmental issues we may have. I’m inspired by other companies that reinvest part of their profit into future generations having a future. 

Your thoughts?

I have patients from those eating organically to others who have never seen a lentil! They usually come to me because of pain, or they are in various states of dis-stress or dis-ease. It is difficult for them to figure out the best choices to make with all the modalities available today, and the tomes of misinformation on the internet. My job is to help them meet their health goals by starting with a few modalities incrementally, which provide evidence of increased wellness to motivate them to continue take all the steps they need to be healthy. If the person is so stressed mentally and emotionally, the best herbs will not work.

As a psychologist, I have found our bodies only have one kind of language through signs and symptoms, which we can ignore or address. We need to ask our complex organism what it is seeking and to rediscover our powers of healing. 



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