Having Trouble Shaking Those Autumn Croaky Throats and Achy Flues? Here are our Top 3 Healing Herbs to Boost Your Immunity!

As we travel through the turbulence of change, again, that is Autumn, here are our Top 3 Healing Herbs to Boost Your Immunity.

First let’s start with our immune system, what is it?

Our immune system is a vital part of our body, it keeps us safe from disease. Everything from a simple cold or flu, to more severe illnesses such as cancer.

It’s what defends our bodies from diseases and is also often the reason we feel unwell when those same diseases are trying to take hold.

Please be aware, even healthy bodies can feel unwell whilst fighting infections. A strong immune system, is not necessarily one that doesn’t ever feel unwell. It’s one that goes through the disease process more rapidly and recovers more quickly.

So what can we do, to boost it and get through the disease process faster?

Great question, here are 3 herbal suggestions that may help you.

  • Echinacea
  • Garlic
  • Vitamin C

Echinacea:

Throughout history echinacea has been used to treat scarlet fever, syphilis, malaria, blood poisoning, and diphtheria. Today, people commonly use it to reduce the duration and intensity of symptoms of common colds and flu, as well as for respiratory tract infections, ear infections, sinusitis, tonsillitis, sore throats, coughs, and fevers.

Traditional health practitioners have used Echinacea for its suggested antiviral, anti-microbial and antioxidant properties. It can enhance the activity of our immune system and reduce inflammation. Primarily echinacea defends us against disease by strengthening our body’s immune system. It does this by stimulating the cells involved in tissue repair, “fibroblasts”, as well as activating the process of “phagocytosis”, where special white blood cells scavenge bacteria, very much like “Pacmen”. No wonder Echinacea has become a herb of choice for immune support.

So what can Echinacea really do for me? In a review of over a dozen studies, Scientists from the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, found that echinacea reduced the chances of developing a cold by 58% and the duration of a cold by 1 – 4 days. (The Lancet Infections Diseases (July 2007 edition) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/252684.php).

There are three different species of echinacea are commonly used for medicinal purposes: Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, and Echinacea purpurea. And different chemical compounds that play a role in its therapeutic effects: polysaccharides, glycoproteins, alkamides, volatile oils, and flavonoids. These are found in different parts of the plant. The roots tend to have high concentrations of the volatile oils, while the above-ground parts of the plant tend to contain more polysaccharides; the substances that trigger the activity of the immune system. Echinacea can be bought as tinctures, capsules, tablets and ointments. These preparations can contain one, two, or even all three species and one or multiple parts of the plant. Like with any other herb or supplement, it’s best taken under the supervision of a knowledgeable health care practitioner.

The magic of Garlic:

Garlic can help boost your health on many fronts. From boosting your immune system to combat chest infections, coughs, colds and congestion http://healthylivinghowto.com/1/post/2014/01/amazing-health-benefits-of-garlic.html.  

It is a powerful natural antibiotic and also has anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. Garlic is a great source of vitamin B6 which is needed for a healthy immune system and the efficient growth of new cells. This vitamin B6 can also assist with mood swings and help maintain your positive attitude, through the challenges of this ever changing season of transition!

The most potent known part of Garlic, is a compound it contains, called allicin. Allicin is a fragile compound that only survives for a few hours, once the garlic clove is opened. So the most effective way to consume it, is to eat it – grilled or roasted, crushed or sliced. At the first sign of your next cold, why not try the old folk remedy of eating a clove of garlic that has been dipped in honey, and see if it works for you?

Simple Vitamin C

Chronic stress can weaken our ability to fight disease. Vitamin C and other antioxidants can boost our immune system. Vitamin C specifically, is needed perform their task, especially phagocytes and t-cells, helping to repair and protect the cells of our body (http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/what-to-eat/eat-to-beat-stress-10-foods-that-reduce-anxiety/slide/3).

By having more antioxidant-rich fruits such as: oranges, lemons and limes, as well as blue berries and kiwi fruit, and vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, tomatoes and capsicums, we can boost our immune system (http://www.pcrm.org – Physicians commit for responsible medicine).

Blueberries look small, but just a handful, pack a powerful punch of antioxidants including vitamin C, making them a great stress-busting and immune system boosting snack. Try some with a handful of nuts on your next break.

Hints for choosing supplements:

Fresh, from whole foods is always the best way to go. But if you’re looking for a convenient, cost effective and consistent way to optimise your intake on a daily basis, even on the days you don’t quite eat the way you know you should. Or if you’re wanting to kick start your healing process or have specific deficiency or weakness you want to manage… Here are some things to look for, in choosing them.

Make sure that they are plant based, organic and are not genetically modified (GMO). Choose ones that use the whole plant. That is the best way for our bodies to recognise it as a food and so digest it as such. This also enables our body to use it effectively, rather than a chemical version that it doesn’t recognise, and therefore can’t use properly.

Organically grown, means that we’re not putting toxins like pesticides, in our body, when we’re focusing on enhancing our health. And if the company takes the extra step of monitoring the vitamin & mineral levels of the soil to ensure that they are in there, then you know you’re actually getting the vitamins and minerals that you’re looking for. Quite simply, if the vitamins & minerals are not in soil, they can’t be in plant.

How do they process the supplement? This will affect the freshness and potency of the ingredients in the supplement. Look at the way they process it, how long it takes, and what do they use to form the tablet or capsule. All of these will affect which nutrients get into the product in the first place and if they are still in the product at the point you take it. For example, as we mentioned earlier, the Allicin in garlic, only lasts for a few hours. The processes used to create garlic tablets can destroy it. If you decide to take garlic in tablet form, it’s best to use one that is created within only a couple of hours.

Finally, what kinds of plants are being utilised in the supplement? Are they using a variety of plants, including specific and less accessible ones? For instance, fruits such as guava, acerola cherries & pomegranates, are very high in particular vitamins and minerals. Acerola cherries, for example, have 65 times more Vitamin C than oranges and are not commonly found local green grocer.

So, increase your garlic and Vitamin C levels with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, this Autumn. You may like to have some echinacea tablets on hand, as well, to boost your immune system and get through the disease process, to have you back on your feet faster!

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