In light of recent events, it’s worth mentioning a few simple means to boosting your immune system and protecting your body from everyday toxic insults.
We’ll start in your kitchen….
Most have heard of the health benefits of garlic, but not everyone knows to combine the powerful antimicrobial effect of garlic1 with the potent immune-stimulating effect of Raw, local honey2. The two make a powerful combo when it comes to at-home remedies. Get yourself some fresh garlic and mince it, dropping 1-2 Tbsp into about 6 oz of honey and let it sit for a few days before using it in your herbal tea or simply enjoying ½ tsp at a time to soothe a sore throat and more.
Water! Hydration3 is essential for all body functions, nonetheless your immune system. Our body is about 60% water and modest recommendations suggest we consume ½ our body weight in ounces of water daily.
Now, on to the yard….
We’ve already covered that excellent antimicrobial, garlic, but what else could we find at home for our immunity? Some very potent immune boosting herbs are found right here in WA; Elderberry (one of the great plants of the Pacific Northwest forest. found in nearly every county of Washington State. It grows in wet, cool shady areas4.), Lemon Balm (a mintlike, harry, branched plant found near the coastal lowlands and foothills of the Pacific West5), and Yarrow (a flowering plant with feathery leaves heralded for it’s anti-febrile constituents as well as hemostatic and anti-inflammatory effects5) are a few easily recognized herbs that, when sustainably harvested, provide a wide variety of relief for common ailments.
Don’t forget, your lifestyle matters!
Stress reaches into every aspect of one’s mental and physical well-being. Acute stress triggers a healthy immune response, whereas chronic stress will cause a deficit in your immune function leaving you vulnerable to attack6. There are many ways to combat stress including mental health breaks (ie. Stop desk work to stretch or walk, temporary news-fasts, tea break with a good book or meaningful conversations with a good friend), massage, or herbal tea (chamomile, lavender, or “cup o calm”). The automatic part of our brain is useful to keep us alive, but many times isn’t able to signal us when we’re shorting ourselves on breath. Shallow breathing causes the “slimy secretions of the lungs to accumulate, irritating the air cells and other tissues, which become inflamed7.” This can be a trigger for a simple cold to turn into pneumonia or worse. So, straighten up your posture, set an alarm to breathe deeply every 30 minutes and if you’re feeling up to it, get yourself an essential oil diffuser to impart antimicrobial molecules in the air you breathe as well!
Lastly, let’s take a walk through the supplement aisle:
Vitamin C is a well-studied and well-known immune support that is easily found in your grocery store. A 2013 study reviewed the use of Vitamin C as a continuous prophylactic (preventative) and treatment to the common cold with only 0.2 g used daily achieving “a reduction in cold duration8.” Commonly found with Vitamin C is Zinc, which is known for it’s role in immune function9,10 from the creation of immune cells to aiding the skin in preventing spread of disease.
All of these are gentle ways to stimulate a healthy immune system whether in combination or starting one step at a time. In the event that your immunity fails you, get in touch with your healthcare provider to uncover further necessary testing or treatments.
Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West – Michael Moore – p161and 272
Nature Cure; The Classic of Natural Health. – Dr. Henry Lindlahr, MD – p243
Douglas RM, Hemilä H, Chalker E, Treacy B. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007;(3):CD000980. Published 2007 Jul 18. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000980.pub3
Maggini S, Beveridge S, Suter M. A combination of high-dose vitamin C plus zinc for the common cold. J Int Med Res. 2012;40(1):28–42. doi:10.1177/147323001204000104.
Shankar AH, Prasad AS. Zinc and immune function: the biological basis of altered resistance to infection. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998;68(2 Suppl):447S–463S. doi:10.1093/ajcn/68.2.447S