Thursday, October 7, 2010

Boost Your Immune System

It is that time of year again, cold and flu season, the germs really seem to spread once school starts.  Working in the children's department of the public library I see my share of sniffles.  Both cold and flu germs have been making their way around the staff, and I was no exception. I have spent the last couple of weeks battling a sinus infection, so that has got me thinking about how we can boost our immune systems.

I avoid taking over-the-counter medicine if I can.  "Today's Herbal Health" by Louise Tenney states "If drugs are used to suppress flu or cold symptoms, the elimination process is inhibited and toxins remain in the body...the toxic material begins to settle in the organs of the body and can eventually create what we call chronic disease, such as arthritis, diabetes, or asthma, among others."  There are times though that a prescription antibiotic is necessary, that was the position I found myself in.  Antibiotics, however, kill both the good and bad bacteria so when taking an antibiotic it is a good idea to eat yogurt, kefir, or other fermented foods since they have probiotics in them.  With that in mind, I have been drinking a lot of Spinach Blueberry Smoothies.

While most of us will end up with a cold or perhaps even the flu this winter, a strong immune system can help protect against serious symptoms.  I realized I needed to give my immune system a boost.  Below is a list of herbs and supplements that I have used and had success with in the past.
  • Echinacea will help strengthen the immune system and fight infection.  Echinacea activates white blood cells, stimulates immune function, and neutralizes harmful enzymes.  Useful for the prevention and treatment of colds and flu.
  • Astragalus boosts the immune system and fights viruses, bacteria and inflammation.  I take astragalus extract whenever I get a deep cough, it has eliminated a nasty cough within a few days.
  • Elderberry tea or syrup will help fight infections, heal and help eliminate symptoms.
  • Garlic is a natural antibiotic.  I will be using lots of garlic in my cooking.
  • Licorice Root  contains glycyrrhizin, which inhibits the growth of viruses, germs, and bacteria.  It also activates white blood cells.
  • Feverfew is used for fevers, inflammation, and pain.
  • Ginger is beneficial for colds and flu.  It helps relieve pain and nausea.  I usually have a cup of hot ginger tea every afternoon at work; it is also good for digestion.
  • Vitamin A helps heal infections.
  • Vitamin C with bioflavonoids fights infection, increases resistance, and heals capillaries.

Also, rinsing the sinus' is helpful when dealing with a cold or sinus problems, my doctor even recommended this.

This list is by no means complete, it is just what I have used and found a measure of success.  What have you used that I should add to my list?

Excerpts from "Today's Herbal Health" by Louise Tenney, M.H.