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.
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) https://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.
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?
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 (https://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!
We do best when we allow ourselves to follow the natural rhythms and seasonal changes through Autumn. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy, when we are in flow with these natural patterns we can more clearly see our own worth and the value we bring to the world we live in, whether we spend our time in board room discussions or refilling sippy cups.
Autumn is a time of harvest. Reaping the fruits of our labours, enjoying them and storing them in preparation for winter. Autumn is also a season of transitions. From the searing heat and the long days of summer, towards the shorter, cooler days of winter. The leaves of many trees in our local Sydney landscape, change colour; turning stunning reds, yellows and browns. Finally, in their pursuit to conserve energy, as the sunshine fades and the temperature cools, they lose their leaves altogether. Creating not only fabulous piles to jump, roll around and crunch in, but also their own compost, to enrich the soil and ensure the next generation has the nutrients they need to grow.
Traditional Chinese Medicine explains that we each have 12 meridians, or energy channels that run through our bodies. Each season, one pair reaches their energy peak, giving rise to a particular set of mental, emotional and physical attributes expressing themselves most strongly and actively during that period. In autumn, the two strongest meridian energies, are the Lung and Large Intestine meridians. Both these meridian energies are about the cycle of life, about releasing and renewing. Just like the leaves of the trees mentioned earlier, these energies help us to release the old and unnecessary, and bring in the new.
Our lungs, which take in the air we breathe and then begin the distribution process, sending the oxygen from the air, all around our body. Similarly, the theme of lung energy is expansion, new thinking and the nurturing of these new ideas, through learning and experience. As well as the spreading of these learnings, knowledge and insights, through communication and personal expression. Strong Lung energy, helps us be most effective in performing our chosen tasks & maintaining our purpose.
One of the best ways to strengthen the lungs is simply breathing deeply. This nurtures and nourishes our immune system, supports our energy, and even promotes better sleep. When we breathe deeply and with intention, we flush our cells with the fresh, clean oxygen needed for all our body processes. One of the best things we can do to enhance our lung health, is walk outdoors, in the brisk autumn air, and take some long, slow breaths.
Our lungs are also seen as the receiver of pure Chi (energy). Through which, our spirit and sense of purpose is strengthened, and our connection to our personal perception of God. Whether we name it God, Christ, Buddha, universal energy, or simply our future or higher self. It is through this connectedness that we see and appreciate qualities in ourselves, raising our sense of worth, both of ourselves and others, fostering our humility and tolerance and buffering our strengthened boundaries.
Large Intestine is the partner energy to lung, and together they balance the body. The energy of Large Intestine Meridian is about our ability to let go of what is not needed, from our body, mind, spirit and emotions. Helping us to stay clean and clear, and not get bogged down with old habits, ideas, physical or psychological clutter, that no longer serve us. Making autumn a good time to reflect on what we may be holding onto and work these ideas through fully, to release them completely.
Of course letting go of negative thoughts and emotions is a good idea at any time of the year. But it’s particularly good in autumn, when our Lung and Large Intestine energies are at their peak. Sometimes, just awareness can create huge changes in how we see things, sometimes we need the help of a trusted professional practitioner, to help us clear the issues that are bogging us down or holding us back. Such as an osteopath, acupuncturist, or TEME practitioner (see website).
We usually, think of doing a major clean and declutter of our homes as a Spring Clean, but actually doing it in autumn can make our re-organising easier and support us emotionally, in the process of letting go of the old and making room for the new. Our lungs and large intestine both unconsciously remove the old and no longer useful components of the air we breathe and food we consume. We can use this added strength of lung and large intestine energy, while they’re at their prime. Our personal boundaries are bolstered, and we are enabled to more easily release the used, spent and unnecessary, and accept life for what it is, so we can truly get the most out of it.
Personally I have found that physical decluttering can help my emotional and psychological state. I may not know how to shift this stuck feeling I’m experiencing, but sorting and clearing physically, can help me shift my head space and move forward.
Try going through your wardrobe and putting together a collection of all the clothes you don’t wear anymore. Go through your computer and delete files you don’t need anymore. Sort and organise your desk, kitchen cupboards and general clutter. Take a trip to your local donation depot, give your old, disused items new life and make a donation you can feel great about!
These are just a couple of simple things you can do, to promote your health through the season of change, autumn.
Which things work for you? Let us know, in the comments below.
I don’t know who I am anymore… is this the way it is now?
Perimenopause, Menopause and Post-menopause
10 tips to a comfortable menopause journey
So, we know that menopause is a process that happens to all women at some
point. Many of us assume that the common symptoms of perimenopause
including hot flushes, irritability and discomfort are a “normal” and
inescapable part of the process. You may be surprised to know that this is not
the case! As with puberty, while our bodies change, it is not a life sentence.
It can just be a transition. It is true that many women suffer horribly. It is
also true, that with a diet and lifestyle that supports our hormones to balance,
including cortisol and DHEA as well as the more widely known oestrogen and
progesterone, we can transition through this period of life, comfortably! Life
after menopause can be lively, exciting and something to look forward to. A
stage of life blessed with increased wisdom and being comfortable in your own
skin. Travelling through your Golden years with ease and grace.
These tend to vary
from person to person and some women hardly notice any. An incomplete list
Lower Sex drive
Headaches and migraines
Discomfort during sex (due to dryness)
Urine leakage when coughing or sneezing
Mood swings and irritability
Arm yourself with knowledge and find answers to how you can heal yourself naturally – access free gifts with free Registration to the Menopause Summit – get the Expert Advice
Perimenopause is the transitional stage between regular monthly periods and reaching menopause (defined as the point in time when a woman has had 12 months since her last period). The stage after this is classified as post-menopause.
Pre-menopause is the stage of life between puberty and menopause. A stage where hormones tend not to fluctuate much, a woman tends not to suffer any symptoms associated with menopause and she is in her reproductive years.
Perimenopause begins when the oestrogen produced in the ovaries starts to
reduce. Often resulting in several years of irregular periods due to the more
sporadic release of oestrogen and progesterone (as well as cortisol and DHEA).
Sometimes the hormonal fluctuations as so large or out of balance that we may
experience symptoms such as depression, moodiness and irritability, weight
gain, discomfort, reduced memory and concentration, muscle aches, as sense of
being uncomfortable in our own skin, hot flushes, hair loss, breast tenderness,
reduced libido and sexual pleasure and vaginal dryness, to name a few. This
stage may begin sometime between the ages of 35 and 50 years and can last from
as little as a few months, to as long as 15 years with the average, being
around 4 years. In the final stage, oestrogen levels may decline sharply. Symptoms
may be most pronounced at this time, expanding to include things like urinary urgency
and frequency or even incontinence; depression and anxiety as well as night
sweats, fatigue and skin dryness.
Menopause occurs when there is no longer enough oestrogen produced by the ovaries to trigger the uterine lining to build, the release of an egg or the shedding of the uterine lining. This is the point where fertility ceases. Contrary to what some of us thought, during the perimenopausal stage, conception is still possible.
Doctors can prescribe
Oestrogen creams for vaginal dryness, pain and discomfort
Progesterone creams for breast tenderness
The pill or other hormone replacement therapies to try to minimise symptoms
Creams or tablets to reduce bladder irritability
Look into the options and side effects for yourself before you decide
10 Natural Tips for a Comfortable Menopause Journey
Get more rest/sleep
Reduce alcohol intake
Be in a healthy weight range
Ensure you don’t have a vitamin or mineral deficiency (magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin C, omega 3, evening primrose oil [internal or topical])
Reduce foods that have the potential to alter hormone balance in the body => Processed, hydrogenated and trans-fats; Highly refined carbohydrates (especially sugars); Caffeine; Alcohol
Pelvic floor exercises to support the pelvic area and the bladder (as incontinence is a symptom of hormonal imbalance associated with perimenopause)
Using natural oils (jojoba, coconut, olive) as lubricants down there as a lubricant during sex, or during the day to allow more comfort
Add an anti-inflammatory, alkalising, plant rich diet
Always consult your doctor if you have strong pain, very heavy bleeding or bleeding for more than 7 days longer than your usual period
Are you ready to improve your health and vitality and reclaim your body and life? Dr Anna Cabeca has a new book with one approach to help you do just that.
I Sleep, but I’m always TIRED… Maybe its my Thyroid
Depending on which source
you look at, Thyroid conditions affect women somewhere between 4 and 10 times
more than men. The Thyroid Foundation of Canada states that about 5% of the
world population is affected and the Australian Thyroid Foundation adds that 1
million Australians currently have an undiagnosed Thyroid issue (that’s 1 in 25
people!). As rates of thyroid conditions (especially hypothyroidism) tend to increase
as we age and we have an aging population, we may expect to see numbers
increase further. The Thyroid Foundation of Canada goes on to state that Thyroid
disorders are very treatable. Given that a large percentage of the affected
population is unaware of their situation, this would lead to a substantial number
of people, unnecessarily feeling fatigue, irritability, discomfort and with an inability
to be fully productive.
The Thyroid gland is an
important part of the endocrine system. Its job is to control many bodily
functions via secreting hormones – T3 (triiodothyronine)
and T4 (thyroxine). They
regulate the body’s temperature, metabolism and heart rate and in doing so affect
many areas. The Pituitary (and Hypothalamus) glands monitor and control the
amount of T3 & T4 that the Thyroid releases. Thyroid conditions create either a state of Hyperthyroidism or
Hypothyroidism, that is, too much or too little thyroid hormone production,
Thyroid disorders may
be caused by iodine deficiency; autoimmune diseases (namely Hashimoto’s
Thyroiditis and Graves’ Disease); viral and bacterial induced inflammation (thyroiditis);
congenital; malignant (cancerous) and benign tumours/nodules on the thyroid
gland, disfunction of the pituitary or Hypothalamus glands; or as a result of some
treatments (surgical removal of the thyroid gland [or part there of] & toxic
changes from radioactive iodine therapy).
tend to vary as there are many factors involved, further, as symptoms tend to
start slowly and gradually progress, it may take a while for sufferers to
realise that they are not just tired or stresses etc.
weak slow heart beat
muscular weakness and constant fatigue
sensitivity to cold
thick puffy skin and/or dry skin
pale and cold (maybe clammy) skin
voice may be croaky and hoarse
slowed mental processes and poor memory
weight gain/difficulty losing weight
goitre (increased size of the thyroid)
rapid, forceful heartbeat
muscular weakness (due to muscle loss)
weight loss (due to muscle and fat loss) in spite of
restlessness/irritability, nervousness/anxiety and
Generally is treated
by medicating with T4 thyroid hormones (and sometime T3 also). This is a life-long
treatment and requires frequent blood test monitoring.
Hashimoto’s is an
autoimmune condition creating a low level of Thyroid hormones and is the most
common cause of Hypothyroidism. As with all autoimmune diseases, the immune
system is over-active and is associated with inflammation. A diet and lifestyle
that reduces inflammation and supports the immune system to balance, may be of
benefit in combination with medication and monitoring. It is also worth noting
that generally only T4 hormone medication is given, but some people respond
better with a combination of T3 & T4 hormone medications. Further, some
people find that animal derived Thyroid hormones are more effective for them
than the synthetic medications. So be aware that there are a few options out
there and if your symptoms are not responding as expected, some experimentation
with the support and guidance of your GP is possible.
Lifestyle changes that
may assist in the management of hypothyroidism include:
Reducing gluten intake
Checking MTHFR gene function and your body’s
ability to absorb and use Folic acid/folate/folinic acid effectively – and supporting
Supporting Adrenal overload and the body’s
herbs (such as Siberian Ginseng, Rhodiola and Ashwaganda)
Supporting Kidney and Liver functions and the
body’s detoxification processes
Eating an anti-inflammatory diet
dairy, red meat, processed sugar, packaged foods
omega 3, green leafy vegetables
Supporting optimal Thyroid function
(electrolytes) – using water, sea salt and honey
Graves’ Disease (a
genetic autoimmune disease) is the most common cause of Hyperthyroidism.
Nodules on the Thyroid (cancerous or benign) and Thyroiditis caused by viral or
bacterial infection can also be causes.
Treatment is based
around reducing the levels of thyroid hormone in the body. This can be done via
Thyroid blocking drugs
Destroying thyroid cells with radioactive
Surgically removing the thyroid gland (partial
treatment is required, a healthy lifestyle may generally support optimal
response to treatment, your general health and your resilience.
It is also important
to note that the treatment of Hyperthyroidism may result in a subsequent hypothyroid
state, meaning that Thyroid hormone medication may be required.
But when we’re stressed out and busy, how often do we reach for a chocolate bar, a packet of chips or make ourselves another coffee? It can be difficult maintaining healthy habits when we’re under pressure. That’s why it’s useful to have healthy habits set up before we need to rely on them. In other words, making it easier for our bodies to work smarter, not harder.
Food trends come and go so often, it can be difficult to know what we should be eating.
One thing is clear, however – eating is a positive, life enhancing act of self-nurturing. That’s why it’s important to focus on the mind, and our beliefs around eating first. Eating should bring joy, not guilt or pressure.
Try to develop awareness in your body by finding what food works for you. When you eat something, does it make you feel alive and energised, or do you get a quick rush of energy and then feel flat and drained soon after?
Ever had a large pasta dish for lunch and not long after, you’re struggling to stay awake? By 3pm you can’t keep your eyes open, and you’re hunting for a coffee and chocolate bar for another pick me up?
Having a large meal focuses your body’s energy on digestion, leaving little energy for focus and concentration. The carbohydrate loading of the pasta itself makes it worse by creating a quick energy increase and then dropping flat. You then repeat again with the caffeine and sugar in the coffee and chocolate bar and wonder why you feel lousy.
What can we do differently?
Let’s start with eating less, more often.
Eating a little bit every hour or two is a great way to keep your metabolism going and your energy stable. This helps to boost your metabolism and keep it running at a higher rate. It can stabilise blood sugar levels, which helps concentration and enables your body to cope better with stress. It can stop the rollercoaster of high and low energy and help maintain or even reduce weight, if that’s a goal you have. So, three small meals a day, with snacks in between, is a good start.
Proteins are the building blocks of our body. They make up our skin, bones, muscles, ligaments, hair and nails. Foods such as dairy, eggs, meat, fish, nuts, legumes and some plants e.g. broccoli, avocado and spinach are good sources of protein.
Proteins are made up of molecules called amino acids. Nine of these are essential, meaning that our body can’t make them, so we need to eat them. Different foods contain different types of amino acids, so eating a wide variety of foods ensures we have the best chance to consume a whole range of them.
Protein is also a natural appetite suppressor as it keeps the levels of Ghrelin, a chemical in our system that makes us feel hungry, lower for longer.
Protein is also great at improving our mood and our resistance to stress. Tryptophan is the amino acid that produces the hormone serotonin. Serotonin can reduce depression, anxiety, headaches, insomnia, memory and learning problems and generally improve our mental processing ability. Research suggests that if we want to remain in a positive, uplifted and stable mood, eat small, regular protein portions through the day. So next time you’re feeling flat, instead of that chocolate bar, grab a handful of nuts such as raw almonds and observe how you feel.
Carbohydrates are found in fruit, vegetables and grains and contain the various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are vital for maintaining our general health. They can boost our immune system so that our body can defend itself against bacteria, viruses and free radicals that are in our everyday surroundings, as well as repair and protect us at a cellular level. And of course, they’re important for increasing our energy levels.
This is another reason why small portions more often are so important. If we have a large carbohydrate hit all at once, like with the pasta meal I mentioned earlier, you get an energy boost for a very short time, then fall in a heap and need tooth picks to keep your eyelids open. The more natural and less processed the sugar in the food is, like fruit rather than chocolate, the lower the spike. If you have protein with carbohydrates, such as peanut butter with an apple, that can also lower the energy spike and make it last longer.
Good fats, bad fats
If you remember that motor oil ad – Oils Ain’t Oils, that’s true for our bodies too. Our cell walls are made of fat, so we need fat, but not just any fat.
Many oils change their structure and how they operate in your body when they are heated. These are fats like trans fats or hydrogenated vegetable oils. They’re heated to preserve items such as muffins from the convenience store – they never get old or go off. They just clog our cells.
The safest fats to cook with don’t change much when heated. These include coconut oil, rice bran oil and ghee. Great oils to eat raw in things like homemade salad dressings include olive oil, avocado oil or straight avocados.
Omega 3s, found in deep sea fish and flaxseed oil, have been shown to increase our ability to handle stress, lower depression and anxiety and other mood related conditions, such as autism. They also help us to think faster and clearer. The neurones, or nerve cells in our brains, actually operate better and fire quicker. This is especially beneficial in pregnant women, for the development of their baby’s brain.
And don’t forget to drink water. We are more than 75% water, so drinking 2-3 litres a day helps flush your system and is also important for digestion, especially in processing fats.
Planning is key
Planning what you eat can be simple and empowering. I spoke to a lawyer not so long ago. She was recently married and she and her husband were working very long hours. Out the door early and back around 9pm, too late to start preparing dinner. We talked about the types of food they like to eat and worked out a plan for them to store simple salad basics in the fridge at work for a healthy lunch that they could easily add different things to, like olives or feta cheese. We also worked out a basic weekly dinner plan that they could prepare and cook the night before and keep in the fridge to heat up as soon as they got home.
Once you’ve planned out what you need, create a shopping list then either buy the items online and have it delivered, or, if you go to the shops, make sure you go with a full tummy, rather than being hungry. You’ll be far less tempted to buy things that are not on the list.
Making better choices
Marketers spend thousands of dollars on item placement at the supermarket because it can have enormous impact on what people buy. How could you use that concept to encourage better food choices on a daily basis at home?
What is visible at eye level? These are things we see often, and our unconscious mind will most often be tempted by them, even if it’s not what we went to the fridge for. So, put as much in the way of fresh fruit, vegetables and proteins at eye level.
On harder to see shelves, put breads or grains, and behind them, any treats you might keep in the house. Reducing the number of times our unconscious mind is exposed to seeing them is an easy way to keep them out of sight and out of mind. This means we are less tempted, without restrictions or punishments. Having your mind and body working with you rather than against you, is another way you can work smarter rather than harder.
What are your go to foods that help you feel nourished? Let us know in the comments below.