DISCLAIMER: The following article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as medical advice, as a substitute for medical treatment for any acute or chronic conditions. Please consult your physician before taking any herbal supplements, as they may alter the effects of your current medication. Self-treating any condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.
Yesterday we went over how to boost our immune system through self-care. Today we will go over a few of my favorite herbs my family and I use to help support our immune system, especially through flu season. I began studying herbalism in 2013 and the journey has been both enlightening and rewarding. I don’t think you ever stop learning and experimenting. As my teacher told us; instead of learning 100 different herbs, learn 10 and have 100 different uses.
As a little girl, I remember my grandmother always had a cure from her garden. Sore throat? Tablespoon of honey with crushed fresh garlic and oregano did it. Upset tummy? Fresh mint or ginger tea. Of course, since we are Dominican, aside from the herbs we had vapo-rub…which cured anything and everything under the sun according to Nana. I digress…now ON TO THE HERBS!!
Echinacea- studies have confirmed that echinacea raises the body’s natural resistance to infection by stimulating the immune system. It is rich in polysaccharides, which help protect cells against the invasion of viruses and bacteria. Echinacea is always more effective if taken in the beginning signs of illness or can be taken as a preventative.
Note: The effectiveness can decrease if taken continuously, the suggested use is 5 days on and 2 off. Drink small doses in teas or tinctures.
Elder- Both the flower and the berry parts are used, and both are absolutely DEEELISH! Elderflower is a diaphoretic which helps lower fevers, while elderberries have immune-enhancing properties. The berries have powerful anti-viral properties that help in treating viral infections. Berries are also used in treating upper respiratory infections.
Note: Never eat uncooked blue elderberries as this can lead to upset stomach and diarrhea. Blue/blackberries are used in syrups and jams. I make a few batches of elderberry syrup throughout the year, especially during flu season. Stand clear of the toxic red berries. Elderflower makes a beautiful tea and I have even had it in kombucha. Elder is especially effective when combined with echinacea.
Garlic- Seriously guys, this is probably my absolute favorite herb. Garlic is antiseptic, antiviral, diaphoretic, antispasmodic, and one of the most antimicrobial plants. It helps with respiratory infections, as well as significantly supports the digestive tract in the development of natural bacteria flora while killing pathogenic organisms. Oh, and did I mention that it tastes amazing in almost any recipe? Yea, so there’s that. There isn’t a lot I don’t add garlic to when I cook. Chop up some garlic and put that bad boy in your veggies, in the water when boiling pasta or potatoes…and don’t get me started on fresh garlic bread.
Shiitake Mushroom- Shiitake has been known to enhance the body’s resistance to infection. It contains significant immune-enhancing properties and stimulates the production of interferon, macrophages, and lymphocytes, infection-fighting agents that are important to defend against viral infections and illnesses.
Note: If you are like me and have a texture sensitivity, I suggest purchasing organic powered shiitake. I add it to soups, sprinkle a little in sauces and definitely in my seasoning mix. I also make homemade capsules and add that to my regimen when the kiddos or I get sick. I even add some powder to my elderberry syrup for extra kick viral butt support.
Astragalus Root- Last, but definitely not least. Astragalus root is one of the best herbs for building immune strength and helping to give the body energy. It stimulates the immune system and is used to prevent and treat infections, including chronic colds and flu. Astragalus strengthens the immune system's ability to resist infections. Make as a tea or add to soups and broths.
Some other things to mention when working through a cold or flu is to avoid as much dairy products as possible or anything that might cause mucus build-up.
Add herbs like onions, garlic, oregano, astragalus, and echinacea to soups and broth. Turmeric and cayenne help stimulate and activate the immune system. Cinnamon helps stimulate circulation, clear congestion, antiseptic and supports through colds and flu.
These are some of my favorite herbs to use and are easy to add to our daily lives, don't forget to sprinkle in gratitude, love, compassion, and kindness and you will always have a recipe for success. We are in this together. Stay safe. Stay aware.
Personal Development Coach