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A healthy functioning immune system is paramount to protecting yourself from all foreign invaders, inside and out, and to maintaining a healthy balance within the entire bodily system.
It helps the body adapt to ongoing changes that it experiences, both environmentally and biologically.
Herbs and Spices are nature's medicines, and a blessing to behold, (and smell and taste). There are many that help protect us and treat various illnesses and conditions.
Here's my short List:
~Astragalus - aka, Huang-qi - Works to help prevent respiratory infections/ailments, builds resistance and aids in recovery. Well known to aid immune function. Antibacterial & antiviral. Okay to take long term.
~Cayenne Pepper - Stimulates circulation thus improves all bodily systems, including the immune system. Particularly beneficial for colds and flu and other respiratory symptoms. High in vitamins C and A. Helps cleanse the blood which nourishes the entire body.
~Echinacea - Very popular and known for its ability to boost the immune system and help to resist infection including viral infections. It works to detox blood and lymph. It's classified as antiviral, antibacterial, antiseptic, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory. Most often used in extracts or tinctures. Can be combined with other herbs for immune support. Safe during pregnancy. Note: do not use if you have an autoimmune disease or have ragweed allergies.
~Elderberry flowers and berries - Traditional and effective treatment for colds and flu. Helps dry up mucous, relieves congestion and reduces fevers. Don't use if breastfeeding. You can make tea or syrup from them either singularly or in combination. Or buy a prepared extract or other product. Antimicrobial, antiviral.
~Garlic - All around health giant. Stimulates the immune system, cell growth and the lymphatic system. Can help reduce fevers and is a natural antihistamine. Provides several vitamins and minerals. Use raw to retain garlic's healing properties, or put it into foods at the end of cooking. You can also take garlic supplements. Antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory.
~Ginger - Stimulates circulation, strengthens respiratory tract. Relieves gastrointestinal symptoms. Can help lower fevers through perspiration. Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory.
~Pau d'arco - Antiviral, antibiotic, anti-fungal and anti-malarial properties.
~Peppermint - Good for fever, chills, diarrhea, colds and flu. Expectorant.
~Propolis - Good for colds and flu and infections in general. Mix with honey for an extra boost. Antibiotic.
~Red Clover - Blood purifier, helpful for lung conditions/ailments, soothes nerves. Antibiotic.
~Reshi Mushroom - Used for allergies, immune stimulate, bronchitis, and as a liver aid. Has antibacterial and antiviral properties.
~Rose hips - High in vitamin C. Good in teas, syrups and jellies. Antiseptic and nervine.
~Shitaki Mushroom - another immune booster.
You don't have to go out and get all of these at once. Choose a few and supplement with good food and liquids.
As always, check with your licensed healthcare practitioner before adding any of these to your regime.
Test yourself for allergic reactions to any substance used as a health aid. Start with a skin test, then a low dose and increase gradually.
The best way to get our nutrients is through our diets, however, depleted soil may reduce the nutritional content in foods depending on how they're grown.
Supplementation may be necessary, esp. in times of duress or when facing health challenges.
~Vitamin A - Needed for the production of antibodies and white blood cells.
~Vitamin C - Protects against all manner of toxins and is important to immune system function. It helps reduce congestion; promotes healing of tissues; helps protect the lungs; and is needed to absorb iron.
We need to take in this vitamin daily because it's water soluble and is flushed out easily.
~Vitamin D - Strengthens immunity by stimulating immune cell production, and helps fend off infections.
~Vitamin E - Protects cell membranes, helping to defend against toxins and free radicals and support immunity. Be sure to use a natural source. Synthetics use the word 'acetate'.
~Zinc - Needed for immune health, to protect the liver and for vitamin A utilization. Alcohol depletes zinc levels in the body.
To ensure absorption, take supplements with meals. Ideally get as many as you can through food sources.
It's wise to follow supplementation guidelines if planning to use them.
Support intestinal flora and production of antibodies by getting plenty of probiotics :
~Yogurt & Kefir - choose unsweetened with multiple bacterial strains. If you want to sweeten it, use raw honey, pure maple syrup, or unsweetened fruit, etc. and avoid refined or highly processed sweeteners.
~Other Cultured Foods - i.e., buttermilk, sour cream, certain types of cheese.
~Fermented Foods - i.e., pickled foods, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, etc.
~Probiotic Supplements - Be sure to get multiple bacterias.
Living a healthy lifestyle keeps your immune system strong. Give your body what it needs - nutritious food and drink, plenty of liquids, rest, positive outlook, deep breathing, 7-8 hrs of good sleep, movement, and sunshine!
It's also important to reduce stress and limit vices.
And don't be afraid to give blood. It's actually good for you because it stimulates your body to produce fresh blood.