In the first segment we talked about eating habits and how that can effect our immune system. One of the first things we can do when we begin to feel some kind of cold, flu or disease coming on is fall back to clean eating.
Now let's look at supplements. There is no greater way to build your immune system than by knowing your own physical "weak" spots and adding supplements that are "tonic" in nature to building up and supporting those weak organ systems.
Physical "weak" spots are those organ systems that are specific to you and your family members that have had chronic or debilitating problems over time. Every person is unique and each one has a characteristic weak area that demonstrates symptoms whenever your body becomes tired and fatigued. When we are self aware about these symptoms, we can go on the offensive for our own health by dropping back to great eating and reaching for those supplements that we have on hand that help rebuild and head disease off at the pass. Even better, if you are aware of your weak spots, you can include tonic herbs to your daily supplement intake that will strengthen those organ systems so that sickness can't get in to begin with.
What is a tonic herb? Certain herbs have an affinity for specific parts of the body. If I exercise one are with a weight every day and not the other, over a few weeks time the arm being exercised will be stronger than the one that wasn't. These herbs are gentle over a long period of use and safe to use that way.
As an example: my weak spot is my sinus and respiratory system. Whenever I feel my sinus begin to develop post nasal drip, dryness and congestion, I lay off any sort of sugary foods or additives, foods that cause extra phlegm production and processed carbs. I reach for excellent protein foods, non-hydrogenated fats and short chain fatty acids, varieties of vegetables and low glycemic fruit (mostly berries). I then begin a methodical increase of high intake vitamin C with bioflavinoids (2500 mg per day divided up into 3 applications), digestive enzymes with each meal, live bacterial probiotic capsule formula with upwards of 8 to 10 strains of bacteria including a bifidus and a dophilus culture, Echinacea as a blood cleaner to keep the virus or bacteria from traveling throughout the body and N-acetyl- cysteine (an enzyme that specifically aids the liver in filtering toxins out of the blood). BUT, the tonic herbs I use daily all year round include, Vitamin C, a mineral supplement, N-acetyl cysteine, ashwaganda, B12, Vitamin D, and tumeric.
This is only one example of being ready for a viral onslaught. Some folks have problems with their lungs, whether it be bronchitis or asthma and some of you may even have issues with COPD or other existing problems that make your life miserable when cold and flu season comes around. In those cases, put the soldiers on guard early. When cold season starts in September as kids go back to school, start taking higher doses of Vitamin C, take N-acetyl-cysteine as a daily supplement, start taking echinacea tincture 2 weeks on and 1 week off.
But even before the winter season hits, visit your friendly herbal nutritionist, alternative health provider, or naturopath. My biggest warning would be DON'T just go on the web and try to pick the supplements that tout themselves as the best or the cheapest. There is a lot of information on the web - some of it is good, but some of it is advertising that doesn't meet the mark. Make sure you know the reputation of the companies you are looking at, otherwise ask the practitioners that know. Many people have been misguided by tainted or low viability supplement companies that cause them to lose confidence in the ability to get well with supplements. An ounce of caution is worth a pound of cure.
The following are a number of supplements and a quick synopsis of how they can be used to build up your immune system by taking them daily over time as a tonic. This is only a small segment of possibility, but my hope is that it will cause you to start to examine your own health, ask some questions and begin to learn those supplements that will be your soldiers of health for the long haul.
Hawthorne - blood pressure regulator for high or low BP and strengthener of heart and circulatory system
Bitters - Strengthens the liver and digestive processes
Elderberry Syrup - High in Vit C and antiviral especially for colds & flue
Olive Leaf Extract - great for sinus infections, colds, bronchitis
Probiotics - Keeps gut flora balanced and wars against infective bacteria. Use refrigerated brands.
Meadowsweet - a naturally buffered aspirin that heals digestive lining and is antiviral
Apple Cider Vinegar - as daily tonic or included in fire cider for extra punch
Onions & Garlic - cook with them, sulfur content fights colds and virus
Four Thieves Formula - aromatherapy used externally and inhaled to prevent sickness
Mullein - oil for ear infections and tincture as mild expectorant to eliminate mucus from lungs
Astragalus - builds deep immune system and infections & sickness that won't heal
Turkey Tail, Reishi, Chaga, Shitake or other mushroom formulas - improve body's response to sickness
Tumeric - another herb that improves body's response to disease
For more information on specific herbs for specific problems contact Cathy at the Potting Shed. You may want to consider doing a personal consult. We can design a personal protocol for your unique "weak" spots or life challenges.
Note: If you are dealing with a debilitating disease for which you are taking prescription drugs, be sure to consult with your care provider before using other supplements. Some supplements can supply deficiencies caused by specific pharmaceuticals, but some can interact with your medications. Be sure to discuss this with someone knowledgeable before you begin.
It's fall and winter is approaching. This is the time of year that everyone thinks about fighting colds and flues as the kids have gone back to school and begin to come home with all manner of shared illness. This is the time many of us think about what we can stock up on ahead of time to be prepared. The next few Blog posts will be a preparedness series.
Part of being prepared is not just what to stock up on, but also how to begin NOW to build up our immune systems. Many people suffer needlessly because their immune systems are low. Our immune systems were created to overtake germs and viruses that enter our bodies and destroy them BEFORE they make us sick. If they don't work well, the best cold and virus fighting aids won't keep us from getting sick. So building a good immune system is a key to good health whatever the time of year. These next series of blogs will offer you good building materials to do just that. AND, don't forget that you can always ask questions by commenting to this post.
"Those who believe they have no time for health will sooner or later have to make time for illness" Edward Stanley, The Conduct of Life
All the organ systems of our bodies are meant to work synchronously. When any one of them gets out of sorts, it affects all the rest. Your respiratory system along with your digestive tract are the two organ systems that have direct contact with the outside world; meaning they are our first line of defense against the germs and viruses that can attack our systems. How do they become weak? Anything that irritates and inflames our digestive tracts causes a breakdown in the lining at any point along the way. That means that eating excellent, anti-inflammatory foods is going to help us maintain that stomach and gut lining. It also means that the nutrients from that food that feed, sustain and strengthen the rest of the internal organ systems will be absorbed well and used efficiently; and that is right down to the cellular level. It also means that all the nutrients that the respiratory needs to be sustained and strengthened are going to work efficiently also. You see you really are what you eat!! If your body is not fighting so hard just to digest food, it will have more energy to fend off the attackers when they come along and have a lot more soldiers to do so.
So the first order of business is what breaks down that system and how do we avoid it? This will be our first topic of discussion in this series. We will start with food and then progress to supplements, herbs and other considerations in our next few blog posts.
The Cellular Healing Diet Pyramid below will be your guide.
. Highly glutenous grains - wheat, barley, corn, soy, oats - there has been a lot written about gluten forming foods so I won't belabor the point; but consider these things. Non organic grains in these categories are highly treated with pesticides and especially with glyphosate a key ingredient in products like Roundup used in growing and drying before harvesting. Many of the digestive difficulties attributed to gluten sensitivity are a result of the use of these herbicides that actually tear apart the lining of the digestive tract when we eat them. Steer your purchases towards alkaline grains like quinoa, millet, buckwheat, amaranth. Use smaller portions of the more glutenous grains or as limited additions to other dishes perhaps once a week. Buy only non-GMO brands that have the non-GMO seal on the packaging, which means no genetic modification has taken place. Gluten irritations cause an increase in phlegm and mucous that inhibit absorption and in turn can cause similar congestion in other organs like liver, bowels and lungs.
. Processed foods - This one can be confusing. If you think that processed foods are only the ones that come in preboxed or packaged dinners; think about this: grains that have been ground, like flours, are all limited in the amount of nutrients now available because the whole part of the grain is missing. That includes even good grains like lentils and rice made into pastas and noodles. The more processing the less value to your system. Purchase foods in their whole forms as much as possible and use good grains in their processed forms on a limited basis.
. Toxic fats and oils - We know a lot more today than we did even 2 or 3 years ago as the science of food continues to give us a clearer picture of what healthy food is. We have for years believed that vegetable oils were good for us. This is not the case as in their processing they are hydrogenated in order to maintain shelf life which renders them "toxic" in that they begin an artery clogging process. Pure fats like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and foods like nuts, olives, coconut cream, milk and aminos, whole fat grass fed dairy, butter, ghee, cheese (if you're not allergic) are some examples of the great fats that actually stimulate better metabolism and actually help stabilize insulin and clear arteries.
. Alkalinity is key as your digestive tract needs alkaline foods in order to be absorbed efficiently along your digestive process. This is all about the pH of the food, not its natural form. For example citrus fruit has an acidic form but it's pH is alkaline and thus is good food for us. Foods like sugar, coffee and alcohol are extremely acidic and interfere with your body's ability to absorb nutrients and actually contribute to malnutrition. Good, fresh fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors, organically grown and ripened on the vine are your alkaline allies. Buying them as locally as possible will ensure that the ripening process has occurred naturally and not synthetically by spraying as they travel to your destination.
. Cancer is a name that causes fear in many peoples' hearts. Extreme amounts of sugar feed cancer cells and help them to grow. Sugar also depletes our immune system and weakens it so that we are more susceptible to bacteria and germs. Holiday times can be especially fraught with folks coming down with all manner of sickness because of the overabundance of sugar choices during festive meals. Develop your dessert menus with low or no sugar substitutes and make a conscious effort to limit your sugar intake.
. Too much meat based protein. Although good grass fed meats are good for us; a large portion of meat at every meal is not advisable because it will tend to make us too acidic and upset the alkaline balance needed for good absorption. Remember that protein does not just equal meat, but many other foods have good protein like a variety of vegetables, eggs, nuts, dairy. Too much meat can also put undue stress on your kidneys. Make sure you take good advantage of a variety of vegetables daily in multiple colors as each color has unique nutrients that your body can use to build your bulletproof immune system.
. What a dinner plate looks like - a typical plate for dinner might look like 2 tablespoons or more of good fat, a palm sized portion of protein, a similar sized portion of good carbohydrates and twice that amount of vegetables.
That's enough food information to get you started. Watch for the next blog segment as we continue to look at other circumstances that affect our ability to improve and build a healthy immune system.
Over 40 years of Herbal and nutritional experience.