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.