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 includes:
Lower Sex drive
Headaches and migraines
Discomfort during sex (due to dryness)
Urine leakage when coughing or sneezing
Mood swings and irritability
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
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.
Instagram will have us believe that the path to an excellent life involves green smoothies and yoga poses on the beach. While that may work for some, for most people, building a strong and healthy body and mind involves a much greater investment of time and energy.
Although this sounds daunting, don’t be put off, because the rewards are huge.
According to Gallup research, people who invest time into building a healthy mind and body are kinder, happier and more forgiving.
They have more energy, find it easier to maintain a positive attitude, learn new and more difficult things, can concentrate longer and are generally better problem solvers.
And importantly, they deal better with stress, trauma and depression.
In this three-part series, we give you some easy, practical tips on how to feel more refreshed and energised so you can focus on creating your excellent life.
Part 1: Notice
By doing things that we excel in on a regular basis, we can maximise our sense of achievement, satisfaction, confidence and contribution. This can make us feel like contributing even more, further enhancing our productivity.
How to tackle those annoying tasks
We all have those tasks that we need to complete, but don’t particularly enjoy doing. Household chores, work emails, exercise… I could go on!
A practical tip to help you tackle those unavoidable tasks is to notice what time of day you feel most awake, strong and capable.
If you feel best first thing in the morning, great! Get those less inspiring tasks done and out of the way early so that you can enjoy the rest of the day. If it’s later in the day, make sure you set aside time then to get those items ticked off the list.
The next thing to take note of are your priorities. This will help you focus on the important items rather than what’s urgent. This can help you work smarter rather than harder and feel more in control. We can’t manage time, but we can manage our priorities.
You may have seen the idea of prioritising important tasks illustrated with a container being filled with large rocks then topped up with smaller rocks, then pebbles, then sand is added to fill in the tiniest gaps. And just when you thought nothing else could fit, a cup full of water is tipped in, to trickle into all the crevices. The point being, if you begin with the Big Rocks, your highest priorities, you can fit everything else in. But if you start with the pebbles and the sand, you’ll never get to the Big Rocks.
To illustrate this, here is a personal story about my husband and I, and our garden. Our garden had been neglected for a few months and was a complete mess. Feeling overwhelmed, my husband was stressed out and paralysed as he couldn’t see where to start.
To help remedy the situation, we created a list of all the things he could see that needed attending to. To our amazement, once it was all down on paper, he got his head back. His sense of overwhelm started to clear and he could make sense of what he wanted to achieve. We prioritised the list, by looking for just a couple of things that would make the biggest difference and that was enough to get us started. He was also able to delegate jobs to me and clearly communicate what he wanted done in a way that I could understand.
Another way to trick ourselves into success is to create 20 minute sessions. This allows us to work through larger projects that might look daunting. Once we’ve reached the end of the 20 minutes, we can choose to do another session, but we don’t get stuck there.
Breaking tasks up can be invaluable. Each component of the job, in its smallest possible piece forms a list. Completing these smaller tasks seems doable, almost a no brainer. They can often fit into these 20 minute bites and ticking them off can get addictive.
These 20 minute sessions can be interspersed with breaks to clear your head and re-energise. A few ways you can utilise these spaces include:
Meditation or visualisation. You can do this on the train or bus, a walking mediation while you’re walking through the park or by the water. Or just by sitting quietly and focusing on a positive, uplifting statement.
Books, podcasts or music. Reading or listening to something uplifting can be a great way to keep your mind focused and positive. For example, reading about successful people who’ve already crossed those tricky minefields ahead of us can help us gain ideas, perspective and confidence.
Incorporating daily movement. Going for a walk or even doing stretches at your desk are quick and easy techniques that allow our unconscious mind time to process, assimilate and file the previous experience and help us mentally put it away, rather than dwell on it.
Einstein said “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” In other words, no one is good at everything, so it’s important not to judge everyone by the same standards.
Let’s start by taking a moment to notice what we’re good at – our own personal strengths. Think for a brief moment about a time when you felt you were operating at your best.
Are you more likely to be:
Dealing with big picture challenges, or does getting into the small details light you up?
Energised by starting a new project, or by doing and completing an existing one?
Focusing mainly on tasks, or do you come alive when you are dealing with people?
Buzzed by doing the researching, analysing or refining of concepts or when you are sharing, presenting or selling these concepts?
Now that you are aware of some of your strengths, notice where and how you already use them, whether you’re at home, at work, in your local community or engrossed in a hobby?
How might you be able to utilise them even more?
When do you notice that you’re operating at your best? Let us know in the comments below.