An Introduction to the Plant Medicine Man Extraordinaire

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Time is of the essence. 

With an incubation period of 2 weeks plus, Covid-19 could be currently infecting any of us at this very moment, so let’s begin, shall we? 

And let us do so with a quote by one of time’s most honored and humble herbalists… Stephen Harrod Buhner. 

If you read to the end of this post, I promise to tell you a little known secret about him —but first, a word from the horse’s mouth.

`“The regrettable truth is that we live in a time of increasingly severe disruption of the ecosystems of our planet. As those disruptions worsen, more pathogenic microbial organisms will flow upward out of those disrupted ecological matrices into the human species,” he states.

Who is Stephen, though?

Well, for starters, he is the author of at least 17 books, including Herbal Antivirals, Herbal Antibiotics, and Plant Intelligence, plus numerous books on Lyme and various coinfections:  Anaplasma, Babesia, and Ehrlichia, Bartonella and Mycoplasma, Chlamydia and Spotted Fever Rickettsiosis

We use many of his titles in our clinical herbalism program. 

Below, we dissected his 20-page paper on Covid-19, which can be found here and his 5-page addendum found here

In fact, his entire website is a wealth of information, so please bookmark it for future reading. 

Stephen has been ‘around the block’ as they say —he started his path so very long ago, that he is quite above the hidden, petty fray that often divides herbalists behind the scenes and makes them clique-y, etc’.

This is why I love the real, raw, pioneering herbalists such as Susun Weed and Stephen Harrod Buhner. They go beyond that level of consciousness. 

And while most herbalists are trying to help their communities, I have known a few ill-trained ones whose procedures I didn’t agree with —like not checking for contraindications and drug interactions, or keeping people too long on herbs that they shouldn’t be, creating kidney pain and jaundice. Or diagnosing parasites through photographs —I just can’t… 

In any case, let’s get back to super, super-star Stephen. 

His 20-page paper and 5-page addendum on Covid-19 protocols are obviously QUITE scientific and an intimidating read for most. 

Here we attempt to break it down for the layperson (non-herbalist) —while admitting, it is still QUITE technical enough for the average herbalist to learn from. 

This piece contains the following information based off of his work, with charts for easy reference. 

Keep in mind these are general guidelines and approaches. 

As Stephen says in his addendum, this is COMPLICATED subject matter  —and he doesn’t feel like writing anymore books. So remember, a protocol is a general guide. 

If you have an autoimmune condition, always take caution.

Anyone working with an herbalist will find that the herbalist will change things quickly depending on what they ‘see’. 

It is not a case of one size fits all. 

Keep that in mind and listen to your intuition if self-treating / exploring these options. Do check for personal drug interactions, etc. 

Now let’s begin. 

Protecting Ace-2

The SARS-group of viruses attach to what is referred to as our ACE-2 linkages on the surface of our cells. 

We can benefit and protect ACE-2 via herbal upregulators and inhibitors. I know that inhibitors sound like ‘against’ but it actually is a good thing.

These will be helpful for EVERYONE, but particularly helpful for the elderly, whose ACE-2 linkages are weaker and more at risk.

ACE-2 Herbal Protectants

Common Name Latin or Botanical Name
licorice Glycyrrhiza spp
Chinese skullcap root Scutellaria baicalensis 
elder (bark, leaf, flower, berry) Sambucus spp
horse chestnut aesculus hippocastanum 
Japanese knotweed root polygonum cuspidatum 
aka Chinese, Indian rhubarb Rheum officinale 

ACE-2 Herbal Upregulators (increases levels in the body)

Common Name Latin or Botanical Name
kudzu Puria spp
Dan shen, red sage Salvia miltiorrhiza 
Gingko, maiden hair Ginkgo biloba

ACE-2 Herbal Inhibitors (protect the lungs from injury)

Common Name Latin or Botanical Name
hawthorn Crataegus spp
kudzu Pueraria spp

 Preventing / Dealing with Hypoxia

These herbs are said to greatly reduce damage to the lungs. 

Herbal Allies for Hypoxia Prevention / Reduction 

Common Name Latin or Botanical Name
arctic root, golden root Rhodiola

Cilia-Protective Herbal Allies 

Common Name Latin or Botanical Name
caterpillar fungus, yartsa gunbu Cordyceps spp
olive oil and leaf

and other berberine containing plants 

Bidens pilosa 

Getting Real About Covid-19

“Autopsies of those who have died by the SARS-group of viruses has revealed that alveolar damage in the lungs is severe… Protection of spleen and lymph are essential,” according to Stephen Harrod Buhner. 

Lymph & Spleen Herbal Allies

Common Name Latin or Botanical Name
red root Ceanothus spp
poke root Phytolacca 
Chinese skullcap  Scutella]ria baicalensis 
Dan shen, red sage Salvia miltiorrhiza 
black-jack  Bidens pilosa 

Infected Dendritic Cells

SARS-group viruses do not kill dendritic cells (DCs), however it does prevent them from maturing and working at full capacity in their normal adaptive immune response. Below are some herbs that will stimulate DC maturation and increase T-cell counts. 

DC Maturation Stimulating Herbs

Common Name Latin or Botanical Name
caterpillar fungus, yartsa gunbu Cordyceps spp
licorice Glycyrrhiza spp
red root Ceanothus spp
elder (bark, leaf, flower, berry) Sambucus spp
supplement: zinc

Covid-19 General Antivirals

So, there are many herbal antivirals —but Stephen, who wrote a book on the matter (linked above), says that some herbal antivirals will not be strong enough to prevent Covid-19 infection. 

Generally speaking, they work by blocking key viral proteins responsible for attachment and entry into the cells. 

Here we list some of the very strongest according to Stephen, who says these herbs are, “effective as antivirals for coronaviruses as a group,” —meaning used in some form or combination. And below that, we get even more targeted and list Coronavirus-specific antivirals. 

Note: Paul Bergner recently came out with an entire paper about licorice NOT actually being antiviral if used orally. You can find that here

In any case, because Stephen listed it, we do as well, as I personally don’t have either of their levels of experience and expertise. 

Covid-19 Herbal Antiviral Plant Allies

Common Name Latin or Botanical Name
Chinese skullcap  Scutella]ria baicalensis 
fish leaf, lizard tail Houttuynia spp
dyer’s woad Isatis spp
licorice Glycyrrhiza spp
weeping forsythia (the fruit) Forsythia suspensa (the fruit)
ku shen Sophora flavescens
red spider lily  Lycoris radiata
Japanese honeysuckle  Lonicera japonica 
Japanese knotweed Polygonum cuspidatum 

Here is a bit more about the fruit of weeping forsythia:

Covid-19 Specific Antivirals

Antiviral Herbs to Prevent ACE-2 Linkage (stop the virus)

Common Name Latin or Botanical Name
licorice Glycyrrhiza spp
Chinese skullcap  Scutella]ria baicalensis 
horse chestnut aesculus hippocastanum 
Japanese knotweed Polygonum cuspidatum 
aka Chinese, Indian rhubarb Rheum officinale 

Reducing Immune Load

Here are a few herbs for reducing the autoimmune effects of a Covid-19 infection. This is a general list. If you already have them on hand, all the better, but you definitely don’t have to have all of them.

Herbal Allies to Reduce Immune Load 

Common Name Latin or Botanical Name
caterpillar fungus, yartsa gunbu Cordyceps spp
arctic root, golden root Rhodiola
Milkvetch Astragalus spp

Shuanghuanglian Formulation

This following formulation helped greatly during the original SARS outbreak and is now being tested in clinical trials to fight Covid-19.

Stephan says that the suggested dose is 1 tsp 3x per day. 

Shuanghuanglian Formulation

Common Name Latin or Botanical Name Amount  / Parts
weeping forsythia 

(the fruit)

Forsythia suspensa (the fruit) 2 parts
Japanese honeysuckle  Lonicera japonica  1 part
Chinese skullcap  Scutella]ria baicalensis  1 part

It is suggested this be taken in conjunction with the following SARS-Group Immune Protocol. 

SARS-Group Immune Protocol

Common Name Latin or Botanical Name Amount  / Parts
PART 1: 1 tsp. 3-6x per day
Chinese skullcap  Scutella]ria baicalensis  3 parts
Japanese knotweed Polygonum cuspidatum  2 parts
kudzu Pueraria spp 2 parts
licorice Glycyrrhiza spp 1 part

(bark, leaf, 

flower, berry)*

Sambucus spp 1 part
PART 2: 1 tsp. 3-6x per day
caterpillar fungus, 

yartsa gunbu

Cordyceps spp 3 parts
dong quai, 

female ginseng

Angelica sinnensis 2 parts
arctic root, golden root Rhodiola 1 part
milkvetch Astragalus spp 1 part
PART 3: 1 tsp. 3-6x per day
Dan shen, red sage Salvia miltiorrhiza  3 parts
California lilac, feltleaf Ceanothus  2 parts
black-jack  Bidens pilosa  1 part

Plan B Herbs for Covid-19

This is a list of alternate herbs if you don’t have, or can’t procure, the ones suggested above. Work with what you have! 


Backup Herbs for Covid-19

Common Name Latin or Botanical Name 
mugwort, wormwood Artemisia annua
sickle senna, sickle wild, senna tora Cassia tora
golden chicken fern, wooly fern Cibotium barometz
Chinese yam Dioscorea batatas
eucalyptus  Eucalyptus spp
Korean or Japanese gentian Gentiana scabra 
Japanese honeysuckle Lonicera japonica
ginseng Panax ginseng
he-shou-wu Polygonum multiflorum
mulberry mistletoe Taxillus chinensis 
tongue fern Pyrrosia lingua 
Chinese or Indian rhubarb Rheum officiannale 

Please note —this post is simply about dissecting Stephen’s papers. They are worth reading, possibly printing and skimming, even. 

See our other posts for more info on other herbal antivirals as suggested by other herbalists that are NOT listed here —such as osha, for example, and linden, oatstraw, etc. 

Oh yes, and that secret we promised… It’s really quite wonderful. If you email Stephen at Stephen Buhner < … 

You will get a fabulous autoresponder… 

Be sure to click on #5 of the list for a hilarious mini-autobiography that will truly have you in stitches. Enjoy!!!!! 

You can thank me later. Come back and leave a comment if you love it!

Did this help you understand his paper any better? Did you find the herbal charts helpful? Are you happy to be introduced to Stephen’s life work? Let us know in the comment section below!


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