As the familiar saying goes, an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure. Well, cold and flu season is upon us, are you and your loved ones prepared?
In order for your body to work to its best ability, Naturopathic medicine states that you must give it the proper tools and environment. No, we are not talking about hammers and screwdrivers or living in a germ-free bubble. Here are 7 tips for improving your immune response to the nasty germs floating around busy airport terminals, schools, or while you are stuck inside…as well as to your general well-being.
Use What Your Mother Gave Ya!
It is never too late to start adding herbs to your diet that will help strengthen your immune system. Mother Nature provides an abundance of therapeutic plants and, scientifically speaking, our bodies are amazing. Let these factors work together to keep you and your family healthy.
Echinacea – there are several types of Echinacea but look for Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea which have been used for centuries by Native American tribes. Echinacea helps support a healthy immune system. Echinacea purpurea is arguably the most extensively studied of all species of echinacea. Laboratory studies have discovered that Echinacea purpurea contains alkamides, which bind to cannabinoid receptors and inhibit tumor growth and pain chemicals in the process.
Echinacea angustifolia is nicknamed Elk root. In particular, it is good for the respiratory system. It has been used in the treatment of the common cold, sore throat, and nasal congestion. In addition, it exhibits antimicrobial properties, which effectively wards off infections of the respiratory tract.
Elderberry root – Gives a gentle boost to your immune system and helps reduce allergic reactions. Elderberry also helps your body stop the flu and other viruses by inhibiting viral replication. It also tastes lovely in any tea.
Astragalus – This root has been used extensively in traditional Chinese medicine. Astragalus contains several beneficial compounds that have health-protecting benefits. These include saponins, sterols, isoflavones, and polysaccharides. Research shows that astragalus has immunostimulatory properties- it increases the number of stem cells in bone marrow and lymph tissue and encourages their development into active immune cells. It appears that this herb helps trigger immune cells from a “resting” state into heightened activity and one study showed that it increases the production of interferon. Astragalus also enhances the body’s production of immunoglobin, stimulates microphages and it can help activate T cells and natural killer cells.
Licorice – sweet, strong flower that is moistening as well as anti-inflammatory and anti-viral. Also known as “sweet root,” licorice root contains a compound that is about 50 times sweeter than sugar. It acts as a demulcent, a soothing, coating agent, and as an expectorant, meaning it helps get rid of phlegm.
Shiitake – supports the immune system, is a rich source of iron, great source of vitamin B2, B5 and B6, and a good source of fiber, protein, vitamin D2 and magnesium. Studies show that Shitake also benefit one’s cardiovascular system and provide anti-carcinogenic support. Very helpful for people with autoimmune disorders.
Amla – The Amla berry has been revered in Ayurvedic medicine for over 5000 years for its’ anti-aging and immune-enhancing benefits and as a general tonic for optimal health. Amla is the most commonly used herb in India and is the key component in “trifalla,” a well-known Ayurvedic formula. In fact, over 50% of traditional Ayurvedic medicine formulas contain Amla . Vitamins from an all-natural whole-food source like Amla are also safer and more effective than laboratory-created synthetic or crystalline vitamins, which are often from genetically engineered ingredients.
Don’t have time to grow your own herbs, dry them, and make a tincture that takes a month or more to be ready? Purium offers “Immune Shield” which includes all of the aforementioned herbs in a non-alcohol tincture. Just a few drops can keep children of all ages healthier, as well as re-balance little bodies when they aren’t at 100% strength.
Being hygienic is important. Wash your hands but avoid antibacterial soaps – regular soap, like Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, and water are still superior and do not come with the added issue of creating antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Keep your family’s insides clean and balanced with daily green drinks as well as warm lemon water with local honey. It would be great to also add any of the herbs listed above to your tea. Drinking lots of water in general is also very important, of course!
Practice good oral hygiene. Traditional Naturopath Michael Wohlfeld says that your eyes may be the windows to your soul but your mouth is the window to your internal health. Keep your mouth clean by “oil-pulling” with organic coconut oil or sesame oil. This Ayurvedic practice helps pull harmful bacteria and plaque from the mouth.
Go to Sleep!
Anything from too many sugar-laden holiday treats or the excitement of holiday festivities can keep us up at night and cause our bodies to go out of whack. We need sleep…but we really need DEEP sleep. Make sure that you and your kids resist looking at glowing screens for about 30 minutes (or more!) before heading to bed. Meditate and write in your journal before bed in order to quiet your mind. If you still have trouble, count all the things that you are grateful for and see if you aren’t snoozing before you get to the end of that list! For extra help from Mother Nature, try a tart cherry concentrate like Purium’s Apothe-Cherry which naturally contains the sleep hormone melatonin.
Boost Your Mood!
Never underestimate the power that stress can have on our bodies. Exercise helps boost endorphins and decrease stress. Even if it seems gray outside, get out there and know the sun is still shining behind the clouds. Wake up earlier and go to sleep earlier so you can enjoy the daylight hours. Enjoy the time spent with family watching favorite holiday movies but then break out the Wii to get everyone moving, or pump some jams and turn it into a dance party. Go for a walk, go sledding, shovel some snow, visit your elderly relatives or neighbors– anything to get out in the world and to get moving around and feeling good each and every day.