We’ve entered the time of year where our immune system is called to action more frequently than not. The kiddies are back in school, cooler weather is upon us, which likes to bounce from warm days to cold days, to damp days. Even though, I must say, this year in Minnesota has been different, November 1st and 70 degrees!! Not common in our neck of the woods!!
We are Northerners, you would think our bodies have adapted to abrupt temperature changes. This seems to bring viruses to life. How does your Immune System work? How can you stay healthy and virus free? This is the body’s house keeper, its vacuum cleaner. A system that isn’t like other systems in the body, its free flowing and on guard!
Your Immune System is made up of billions of cells and multitudes of molecules. It doesn’t stand alone, the lymphatic system works with it. Not only that, the heart and circulatory system works with your immunity. The skin, the lungs, the kidneys, digestion, nervous system, and the endocrine system all work with your immunity. Its all a very wonderful community inside of your body, your being.
This amazing immune system is divided into two categories- the non-specific or simply immunity; which works in a generalized defense fashion. The other is the specific or acquired immunity; which is more specialized form of defense. The non-specific are general mechanisms that work to clean up invaders before they reach the internal systems or organs. Your largest mechanical barrier is your skin of course and the mucous membranes. You have chemical barriers as in your hydrochloric acid in your stomach, phagocytosis via the white blood cells, (phagocytosis in a sense are the white bloods cells, ‘the pac men’, they devour pathogens before they can create any havoc in the body), and another generalized mechanism, a fever.
If you’re healthy, these may be all you need for your defense. Your energy serves as your ‘molt’ around your castle, (your body), this picks up on pathogens that may be close by. A person with a cold, the flu going around, or whatever virus is in the community. Did you know, your skin, your ear wax, yes, your ear wax, your nose, and your stomach can defend most anything off just fine.
Have you ever noticed, when maybe sweeping out a very dirty garage, you get done and blow your nose, and yuck, you have black mucous. Be thankful, your nose is your air filter, it just stopped any pathogens or bacteria that’s been lying in your garage for months from entering your lungs.
We spoke a bit on your hydrochloric acid in your stomach earlier. You may have just eaten some bad ‘food’, it wasn’t entirely clean. Let’s say it had some unwanted bacteria or germs, its now entered your stomach and your hydrochloric acid has the job of gobbling up all those unwanted pathogens from the bad food / beverage or substance. Its dispels it into the mucous so it can be expelled from your body. It didn’t stand a chance against an acid so strong it could burn a hole on your skin if dropped on it! Your healthy body at work again.
Are you stuck on that ear war thing? Your ear wax along with the tears in your eyes contain a strong disinfectant called lysozyme, your body’s personal antibacterial agent. Amazing, defenses all there and standing by. I stand in awe all the time, when I think of the human body. God, our Creator, in his infinite wisdom created a most magnificent body, with everything in its place all working together, in which should be in perfect harmony, to keep a body healthy.
Yes, equipped with everything you need, but, you also need to take care of your body. Stay virus free. You can’t put lemonade in your car and expect it to work. Same with the body, it needs Good Fuel. The main ingredient to keeping all of these working the way they are suppose to, is a clean diet. Whole foods, healthy foods, eat your fruits and vegetables! Yes, you can eat your meat too. Clean, lean healthy grass fed meats. Cold water fish, clean lake fish. And drink your Water!
Rest is optimal of course. If you don’t rest your body becomes tired, run down. This gives the opportunity for a cold or flu to enter your body. The door can’t shut, its tired. Now let’s turn to exercise. You have to move, walk, jump, yoga, dance, just move. How many of you sit at desks, computers, how often do you move. Your lymphatics depend on it as well as many other parts of the body. Your lymphatics are connected to your immunity. Don’t let your lymphatics get stagnate, you’ll be more prone to viruses if you do.
Herbs along with healthy food is beneficial to boost your immune system when it needs a little help. They have the ability to wake up your immune system and bring it to attention. Remember to do this only when its needed, over stimulating an immune system on a daily basis tires it out. Only if you have a chronic illness that has depleted your immune system is when you may want to use immune boosting herbs for a longer period of time.
In my clinical practice I use different herbs for children and adults. Kids are gentle little beings, you don’t have to use strong immune tonics. Their body responds to herbs quicker than adults. They haven’t been ‘socialized” yet.
As a suggestion, here are some herbs to keep in your kitchen cupboard. I hope they are there already.
~~ Rosemary – antiseptic, antioxidant, rejuvenative, simulating, rubefacient
~~ Thyme – antiseptic, aromatic, astringent, stimulating
~~ Sage – antibacterial, astringent, antiseptic, antirheumatic
~~ Cayenne – stimulating, antimicrobial, anticatarrhal, carminative, antirheumatic
~~ Cinnamon – antifungal, antiseptic, aromatic, stimulant, astringent
~~ Allspice – aromatic stimulant, carminative
~~ Fennel – anti-inflammatory, carminative
~~ Ginger – antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, aromatic, circulatory stimulant,
~~ Parsley – antioxidant, antiseptic, nutritive, diuretic, antirheumatic
~~ Basil – (holy)more specifically, adaptogen, antiseptic, circulatory stimulant
~~ Cardamon – sweet, pungent, warming, digestive aid
~~ Nutmeg – anti-inflammatory, aphrodisiac, astringent, circulatory stimulant
~~ Celery Seed – anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, diuretic, cooling
~~ Horseradish – antirheumatic, circulatory stimulant
~~ Mustard – antirheumatic, circulatory stimulant
And what are some great antioxidants you ask;
Garlic — Onions — Blueberries — Cranberries — Elderberries — Raspberries — Blackberries — Peaches — Pumpkin — Grapes — Carrots
I see some are wondering what some of the above mentioned unfamiliar actions for some of the herbs. Let me help to clarify;
Adaptogens, help to increase resistance to stress and helps balance body functions
Rubefacient, draws blood to the skin
Carminative, helps to release gas from the gastrointestinal tract
Aromatics, can stimulate digestive juices
Just another thought before I go. The winter months keep your body warm. Eat with the seasons, hot soups, hot drinks/teas, hot meals so to speak. No ice in your liquids, these slow down the digestive function. Make your soups with the bones, bone broth is nourishing and aids the immune system. If you have a cold, no dairy, no cheese, no yogurt, and No Ice Cream. These are all mucous forming, a cold or chest congestion moves out of a body faster if you eliminate dairy. Breads are also mucous forming. Flour is mucous forming.
Here is one of my favorite recipes;
French Onion Soup
1/3 cup butter
1 large sweet onion
3-4 cups beef broth, homemade or organic
1/2 tsp sea salt
So these last two ingredients, optional if mucous in not an issue with you
Mozzarella cheese or guda or goat
In a large sauce pan melt the butter. Slice the onion in rings and add to the butter. Saute the onions until almost transparent. I will add a litte more butter if I think it necessary. When the onions are ready add your beef broth and salt. Cover and let flavors simmer for 15 minutes. Dish up into soup bowls, oven safe, and set a slice of French bread on top and sprinkle with the cheese, shredded. Set the bowls on a cookie sheet and put into the oven on low broil. Broil only until the cheese is to your liking. Stringy or soft brown. I add variations to this recipe, mushrooms, parsley, or garlic. Yum, yum!
So there you have it, my little blurb on your immune system. Hopefully it shed some light on how you can stay healthier this winter season.