An Essay by Korey J. Brownstein

I believe in the potential of medicinal plants.

As more of us work from home because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), we are exposed, more than ever, to misinformation and fake health news on the Internet. Health claims that state dietary supplements and natural medicines can treat and prevent COVID-19 are untrue. Vitamin C to chlorine dioxide (an industrial bleach marketed as Miracle Mineral Solution or MMS) are two examples. What we do not want is another 1918 flu pandemic where the case fatality rate increased due to aspirin overdoses (Starko 2009; Because I researched medicinal plants and am the founder of, people are asking me how they can prevent COVID-19. I am at a loss on answering this question. All I can recommend, like many researchers in the biological and health sciences, is social distancing and wash your hands.

Since dietary supplements are natural, they are perceived as safe. Nonetheless, kratom and yohimbe are two supplements that can be deadly. Please do not drink diluted bleach or colloidal silver. Their ability to prevent or treat coronavirus is unknown. But if you must take a supplement, take something that is safer such as Echinacea or elderberry. Research has shown that these herbs stimulate the immune system. Eat foods rich in vitamin C and zinc instead of taking supplements. The body absorbs vitamins and minerals more readily from food.

We will get through this, but do not die trying like an Arizonan man after he saw President Donald Trump’s hydroxychloroquine tweet.

(Korey Brownstein, Ph.D., received a doctoral degree in Molecular Plant Sciences from Washington State University. His many achievements include the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Postdoctoral Enrichment Program, NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology, and others. Presently, he is the founder of NatureClaim, LLC and a researcher at The University of Chicago.)

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Looking towards the dead

A Poem by Craig Shay

Uncomforting talk,
spoils gala festivities –

Every age
is a landscape overflowing with savagery.

Look away!
Wrapped in the comfort of consumerism –

It costs a fortune to keep
the devils at bay.

Petrified voices sound
so truly apathetic.

Dissent burns away,
to fine ashy dust –

Safely we sleep,
as sycamores surrender
to summers hostage situations –

Cherry trees grow tall
through wooden bedposts –

While the dead march on,
through paper megaphones,
under the disguise
of moonlight in disarray.

Look on!
Don’t look away.
Don’t look anywhere for answers.

Junior Murvin said:

“Police and thieves
in the street (oh yeah)
Fighting the nation with their
guns and ammunition

Police and thieves in the street (oh yeah)
Scaring the nation with their guns and ammunition

From Genesis to Revelation
And next generation will hear me.”

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I won’t be drinking tea

A Poem by smzang (Sarah M. Zang)

First year English
and already they can say forgive.

They have forgiven
but can we? The travesty
of spraying agent orange
to further peace;
translate that please.

It’s Sunday
and the sun is shining here,
I’d drink my tea in peace,
trace the steam rising
towards the ceiling fan,

and Dow chemical all around me.
I shiver at my ignorance.
They make our luxuries
and with the other hand

they poison the planet. I
will do without them.
It’s about more than forgiving;
it’s making sure
it can never happen again.

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The Trailer

A Poem by Bob Boldt

When I turned off Schumate Chapel Roadonto Morris,
my way was blocked by a great leviathan,
a huge white-vinyl-sided, ninety-foot-long mobile home.
Three men, one waving a flag at me,
were attempting to help the tractor driver
negotiate a perilous bend in the road.
Irritation turned to curious amusement as I realized
the situation looked hopeless.
The roads were narrow,
Between steep, undulating knolls.

The unlikely impresario of the Lilliputians
was a gangling Okie.
Dressed in a grey grease-stained T-shirt and torn blue jeans,
he looked as if he had stepped out of a Dorothea Lange album.
I sat behind my wheel, a front row seat
for what I assumed would be a rout.
I could have U-turned out of there but curiosity held me fast.

The director of this rag-tag operation
walked back and forth a few more minutes.
I thought he looked confused, daunted, perhaps, even defeated.
Then his hand went up, signaling the driver to throttle
the Hemi Diesel forward mere inches swinging the great Moby’s tail
toward the culvert at the side of the road.
It looked like disaster as the monster shuddered side to side, beached between a roadside satellite dish and a row of mailboxes.
The hand dropped abruptly, and the driver cut the engine.
Brake lights went on at the rear of the cab.
What now?

Ahab signaled the driver to cut his wheels sharply left.
The other two wranglers rushed forward,
working with planks and wedges under the forewheels.
With precision any orchestra conductor would envy,
The captain’s left hand signaled the driver slowly foreword;
his right, with rotating swirls the degree of turn necessary.
The engine growled its disbelief
as the great beast tipped its nose up as if to breach.
The tail dipped and swayed sideways,
missing the satellite dish by eight inches.
Beneath the tremendous weight, the punished boards
creaked and cracked as the turn was slowly accomplished
and the home came to rest squarely on solid pavement.
Without a bow or even applause, the captain swung aboard the cab of the tractor-trailer as it slowly lumbered past me
before I even remembered to start my engine.

Today I read of a CEO who, with a few keystrokes,
unemployed fifteen hundred of his workers
and a highly paid Monsanto executive
responsible for the poisoning of thousands
of Vietnamese children and veterans.
And I saw a seemingly ordinary man, without a misstep or mistake,
pull a family’s home out of a ditch and send it on its way.

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45 Years Later

A Poem by Devlin De La Chapa.

he still talks about the hill,
going up the hill
coming down the hill
not Hamburger hill
just a hill, in the middle of a place
displaced by war’s chemicals
combative to communism
combative within himself
exasperated with his past
guarded of everyone, everything
his soul, a piper cub
flying high on a Monsanto and Dow dream
dispensing all that was once beautiful and sacred
clutching on dog tags from within an eternal nightmare
of an unborn son

(for Dennis Dermody, forty-five years later)

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The Jungle Revisited

A Poem by Gertrude Wong

The trees were wrapped in vines and monkeys,
fruit hung heavy from the branches as if heat could be water,
and there was water, a lot of water, water everywhere,
waterfalls and cascades and deep thriving rivers.

Monsanto came with diseases–horrors–evils–
diseases of greed and money grubbing and everything terrible–
and the jungle changed and the jungle died
and the people of the jungle changed, too,
and nothing was ever the same again.

Do you not think the Black Plague cannot touch us again?
Do you not think Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever can not still reach out?
Do you not think GMO’s creating a resistance in corn
do not change us who eat it (Remember always Agent Orange)–
our resistance is growing weaker and weaker and we tumble downwards,
down onto the paths of least resistance until we lack resistance.

Let the next great plague hit us and it will.
What will stop it from passing through us?
Monsanto’s greed? Monsanto’s evil? Monsanto’s disease?
Monsters destroyed our jungles, our photosynthesis engines,
our water, our soil, our genetic building blocks
and these are the Monsantos, the Dow Chemicals, out there,
killing us slowly…killing us…killing…

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