Immune System Strengthening in 6 Simple Steps (Plus, an Immune-Boosting Soup Recipe!)
Last week, the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil told us we’re in for six (now down to five!) more weeks of cold weather. Though disappointing, it seems to be mirroring those nasty cold and flu viruses that are sticking around as well- and this year has been one of the worst yet for getting sick. Boost your immune system with the following foods & herbs (take the herbs within one day of experiencing symptoms) to help kick those viruses to the curb.
1. Echinacea + Ginseng: These herbs work together to help stimulate the immune system. To prevent illness, take the Echinacea blossoms. If the cold or flu has already hit, take the Echinacea root. Combine with Ginseng to help rev up your immune system.
Recommended Echinacea/Ginseng supplements:
- Shaklee’s Defend & Resist
- Wise Women Herbals Panax Ginseng
- Oregons Wild Harvest Echinacea Purpurea Tops (Blossoms)
- Oregon’s Wild Harvest Premium Echinacea (Root + Whole Plant)
- Herb Pharm Asian Ginseng
For the kiddos…
- Ginseng tends to be stimulating, so it may be best to keep that one for yourself. Replace the ginseng with goldenseal, which is antimicrobial. (Note: Adults can use the goldenseal herb as well, but avoid during pregnancy.)
- Echinacea that’s been formulated especially for kids
2. Elderberry (Sambucus): Not only is this herb antiviral, but it’s also packed full of antioxidants plus tastes amazing! Use daily for prevention or acutely for cold & flus, especially when accompanied by coughing. You can mix the syrup in 1 cup warm water or take as is.
Recommended Elderberry syrups:
- Gaia Black Elderberry Syrup
- Oregon’s Wild Harvest Elderberry Honey
- Wise Women’s Herbals Elderberry Syrup
3. Vitamin C: This water soluble vitamin is antiviral, antibacterial, and has been shown to increase white blood cell activity and levels of interferon in the body. Pair with flavonoids to enhance these effects. Add foods high in flavonoids, such as berries, oranges, bell peppers or sweet potatoes, and Vitamin C to your daily diet throughout the year to keep your immune system top notch.
Recommended Vita-C + Flavonoid supplements:
- Shaklee’s Chewable Vita-C (we like to combine these with Defend and Resist- it tastes like a sweet tart!)
- Shaklee’s Vitalized Immunity (put a tablet in water and it turns into a fizzy orange drink!)
- Shaklee’s FlavoMax
- Pure Encapsulations Ester-C
4. Zinc: Zinc can be taken in lozenge or tablet form. This mineral enhances white blood cell activity and inhibits viruses, helping to reduces the duration of common cold by up to 7 days! Note: Do not take more than 150mg zinc per day for longer than one week.
Recommended Zinc supplements:
5. Chaga + Reishi Mushrooms: Have you been following us on Instagram?! If so then you know we drink chaga daily to help boost immunity. On top of their immunomodulating effects, chaga and reishi mushrooms also have powerful antioxidant and anticancer properties. Take one or both daily to give your body an all around boost.
Recommended Chaga & Reishi Mushrooms:
6. Hydrotherapy: Hydrotherapy has been used for centuries- even Hippocrates was known to use it! Hydrotherapy is the use of hot and cold water to promote health. There are many different ways to use hydrotherapy, one of which is focusing on cold water showers (or take a page from these Russian children and go play in the snow!) Towards the end of your shower (or during the duration of your shower if you can!) begin to make the water colder, at least enough to make a noticeable temperature difference (if you can make it colder than that, great!) End all your warm showers with at least 2 minutes of cold water to help boost your immune system.
Note: During acute infections, discontinue any supplements that contain iron, as this is a food source for viruses and bacteria.
Also, be sure to check with your naturopathic physician regarding which herbs and supplements are best for you and what amounts are appropriate. If pregnant or nursing, consult with your health care provider before taking new herbs or supplements. Consult your pediatrician before giving your child new herbs or supplements as well.
Food as Medicine…
Here at Mama Steps, we believe that while supplements are helpful (and sometimes necessary), it’s so important to incorporate healing foods into our everyday lives. Eat this Immune Boosting soup throughout the day when your immune system needs some support!
Immune Boosting Soup (Makes 4 servings):
- 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 3 cloves of Garlic
- 1 inch ginger, shredded
- 4 green onion stalks, chopped
- 4 celery stalks, chopped
- 4 carrots, chopped
- 1 cup Reishi mushrooms (American grown), chopped
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 4 springs of rosemary
- 1 Tbsp. Astragalus powder
- 32 oz bone broth (or 16 oz bone broth + 16 oz filtered water)
Heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add the white onions for about 5-7 minutes (or until they’re translucent). Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add the ginger, green onions, celery, carrots and mushrooms and sautee for another 5 minutes. Finally add the spices, powder and bone broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for at least an hour before serving to ensure the flavors are fully incorporated. The longer you leave it, the more potent it will be, which is a good thing. 🙂