Now that we are well into winter many of us are also well into the dreaded cold and flu season. The flu seems to be especially bad this year. Aside from the obvious steps of avoiding others that are sick, washing your hands when you’ve been around the general public and maintaining a healthy whole foods diet, what natural herbs can you have on hand to give your immune system an extra boost?
There are some very potent allies that can easily be found to help!
I think that most of us know that there are a lot of benefits to garlic. But did you know that garlic supports the body in ways that no other herb can match? It is an effective
antimicrobial, acting on bacteria, parasites and viruses.
The oil that is found in garlic is excreted through the lungs which make this very effective against infections of the respiratory system such as bronchitis, colds and flu. Garlic also supports the development of natural good bacterial flora in the digestive tract which in turn strengthens the immune system overall since the majority of the immune system is located in the gut. So it’s great preventative support for the digestive and respiratory tracts. Load up in your dishes when you are cooking by using fresh garlic as liberally as you are able. When you feel a cold coming on you can actually swallow fresh garlic cloves whole or mince them up in a little bit of raw honey and take throughout the day.
That simple little herb we love to sprinkle in our pizza and spaghetti sauce has a hidden secret. Oregano is one of the most potent natural antibiotics you can find. And also, it is packed with one of the largest numbers of antioxidants you can find. Oregano is used for respiratory disorders such as coughs, inflammation of the bronchial membranes and as an expectorant. The volatile oil found in oregano has been proven to be effective against various bacterial strains, fungus such as candida and as an anti-parasitic.
You can purchase oregano oil in capsule form and also sprinkle the crushed leaves liberally on food at the onset of an illness to support the body in combating illness.
Many of us by this point have heard of elderberry for colds and flu. You may have seen elderberries growing along the edges of fields or even along the road in the summer. It’s one of the most clinically tested natural remedies for colds and flu and has been found to be quite effective. Elderberry is so highly effective against respiratory infections and flu because of the way that it stimulates the immune system into action.
Elderberry has a couple of different ways that it helps the immune system fight the flu virus or other respiratory viruses. It actually contains a substance called agglutinins that can cause receptor sites on certain strains of the flu to become locked up. What this does is strengthen the cell membranes of healthy cells so it will not allow the virus to penetrate that cell. By inhibiting the growth of a substance called haemagglutination found in the flu virus it inhibits the virus’s ability to “stick” to the cell membrane. This
substance also has an anti-inflammatory affect which could explain why it lessens the severity of aches, pains and fevers of those treated with the elderberry syrup. The flu virus sends out enzymes to try to dissolve the walls of a healthy cell which will weaken the cell and allow the virus to penetrate that cell. Elderberry compounds throw a wrench in this process by inhibiting these enzymes that would weaken the cell which offers protection for up to ten different strains of the flu virus. Flu shots attempt to immunize
against one or two strains which doesn’t even prove to be effective at doing this yet the elderberry offers a significantly higher protection against 8 to 10 strains of the flu. Elderberry is usually found in a syrup or tincture form and is becoming more widely available even in local drug stores and grocery stores.
This particular herb has also had several clinical studies done that have proven its ability to support the immune system against colds and flu. Although Echinacea is not one that you want to use for long periods of time but rather at the first sign of illness and then discontinue use after the cold or flu has passed because the body will become used to it and it won’t be as effective. The extracts of Echinacea are reported to significantly reduce the symptoms accompanying the common cold. When taken soon after an exposure it may lessen the severity and lead to an earlier resolution. It has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and immunostimulating effects on the body. It works by causing the body to produce more of the infection fighting white blood cells that will
naturally combat an infection in the body. Many times you can find preparations that contain elderberry along with Echinacea as they complement each other in supporting the body during illness.
These are just a few of the wonderful natural herbs that are freely available to us that have substantial healing qualities. Every family would benefit from having these on hand during the cold winter months when sickness is making its rounds to give the body that little extra helping hand to do what it was made to do. Keep you healthy!