With the disruption and changes in our “normal” climate along with the faster pace of super bugs and foreign virus’, now is the time to become acquainted with ways to enhance your immune system. Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, the use of herbs is generally for a limited time – to get your body systems in balance. Most will become ineffective if used consistently.
First, what is our immune system?
Our immune system is a combination of the white blood cells, lymph system antibodies, the complement system*, the spleen, the thymus, and the bone marrow.
What are some of the herbs to consider and how to they work?
Garlic – great anti-viral, anti-bacterial when used correctly. This is also a blood thinner so do not use with any existing blood thinning medications. It works especially well when used at first sign of the illness.
I take it raw either with honey or bread; 1 clove diced and placed in the honey or bread. It is important to chew the garlic pieces to release the essential oil. The oil is what helps to address the pursuing illness.
Rooibos – helps to restrict damage to DNA and encourages the production of two detoxifying enzymes. It can be taken as a tea
Astragalus – increases the body’s numbers of killer t cells and antibodies. Can be a tea or added to soup or stew recipes.
Echinacea – anti-viral, antibiotic that works best in early stage of illness. It can be taken as a tea, tincture or pill. If a pill, please check label to insure that it is free of fillers and non-helpful ingredients.
Elder – elderberries are rich in antioxidants and have had success against avian flu. Again, it is important to take this at the sign of illness. I buy elderberry crystals and mix them with a low sugar fruit juice. I take 1 – 2 TBSP daily during the times I feel most susceptible.
When making an herbal tea, it is best to boil the water and then pour into pot over the tea leaves/bags and let it steep covered for at least 10 minutes. If taking a tincture, read the label for the proper amount of drops to add to water; it doesn’t need to be an 8 oz glass of water. I usually take a sip of water and add the drops to the water in my mouth.
Personally, I prefer to take my herbs by tincture method. Since I deal exclusively with Herbalist-Alchemist, I know that quality of the herbs that are used. I also value the knowledge and experience that David Winston has used in developing his formulas for specific needs. In the winter, I use his Immune Balance Compound which contains Reishi mushroom, Turmeric rhizome, Scutellaria, Ashwagandha, Licorice and unprocessed Rehmannia. I will switch this with his Sinus Support Compound which has fresh Echinacea root, Osha root, fresh Eyebright, fresh horseradish root and Bayberry root bark. And, I will add my Elderberry juice chaser!
If you have existing health challenges, please remember to check with your doctor before adding any herbs to your immune protocol.
*Complement is a system of plasma proteins that can be activated directly by pathogens or indirectly by pathogen-bound antibody, leading to a cascade of reactions that occurs on the surface of pathogens and generates active components with various effector functions.