Tried And True Immune Boosting Remedies For Winter

Garlic hanging in an open marketSometimes Mother really does know best. My tried and true immune boosting remedies have been passed down through our family for generations.  Now I’m sharing them with you.  Many of these are herbal remedies that have been used for centuries and many doctors have started promoting them in recent years.  I can’t promise you a cureall, but I can tell you from my own experience, that these remedies will serve you all winter long.

Should you get sick, keep taking these natural cures to curtail the duration and severity of whatever “bug” you catch.  Before you know, you’ll be back in action ready to make the most of the dark days, cold nights and bright snow.

Bone Broth.  I think just about everyone’s grandmother has a version of Chicken Soup.  My recipe is intended to be used as a savory yet medicinal broth championed by Weston A. Price.  I brew it all winter long. I try to drink a cup every day, and I use it to sauté vegetables, make rice, and as my soup/stew starter too.  This style of bone broth has been found to fight infections common with colds and flu viruses. Bone broth is also known to heal leaky gut and leaky gut can lead to immune issues so this cure serves double-duty.

Cod Liver Oil.  I’m sure it sounds like a real throwback (my best friend’s mom used this religiously while we were growing up). However, Cod Liver Oil now comes in capsule form and definitely has a time and place. Some of the benefits of Cod Liver Oil are that it contains high amounts of Vitamin A, to support the immune function, and Vitamin D, which regulates immune function. There seem to be additional benefits from taking these two vitamins together, so Cod Liver delivers a doubly-effective boost to help your body fight off what is ailing you.  (If you’re pregnant or nursing be sure to consult with your doctor before taking Cod Liver Oil.)

Elderberry. This one has gotten so trendy they now sell it as a syrup or in pill form at Whole Foods and natural pharmacies, so it’s readily available.  I like to source my Elderberry syrup at my local farmer’s market but my kids prefer the chewable store-bought kind.  However you take it, elderberry stimulates the immune system.  It’s high in vitamins A, B and C and has loads of beneficial antioxidants.The syrup is a good aid when you feel the flu coming on. Start taking 1-2 teaspoons daily, or add to tea, until resolved.

Garlic. This one came from my grandmother who used abundant garlic when she cooked, but my Mom took it to new heights. She would make a raw garlic sandwich to ward off a cold and put a clove in our ears at the first sign of a possible ear infection.  Garlic is a natural antibiotic. It bolsters the immune system, fights free radicals, and detoxifies the body (among many other things).  When you start feeling sick, upping the amount of garlic you ingest is extremely beneficial.  (If you aren’t one for consuming pure, raw garlic try adding it to a cup of bone broth or in pill form, called kyolic, instead.) There’s no harm in taking garlic daily during cold season and it has been proven to help fight colds and flu.

Ginger Root.  Ginger is terrific for digestive issues and nausea as well as for colds and influenza.  The best way to ingest ginger is to juice it directly like this no-nonsense ginger juice recipe which can be consumed hot or cold.  For kids, or anyone who prefers a slightly sweeter taste, you can’t beat Honey Lemon Ginger Syrup because it will keep in your fridge all winter long. Be sure to use good quality, raw and local (if possible) honey to provide added anti-viral benefits.

Oil of Oregano.  My mother was always into herbs, but I didn’t learn about oregano oil until my Mother-in-Law turned me on to it. Once you learn about oil of oregano you’ll never think of the spice the same way.   The oil is derived from the plant itself and has been heralded as ‘nature’s ultimate antibiotic’. Two compounds found in oregano: carvacrol and thymol have powerful antifungal and antibacterial properties. Oil of oregano can be ingested or inhaled aromatically.  It has been known to help with the following conditions: Sinus infections & colds (diffuse);  sore throats (dilute in water, drink); respiratory infections /immune health (dilute in water, drink); bronchitis (dilute in water, drink).

I’m not suggesting that you use this instead of an antibiotic, or in lieu of going to a doctor, but for the adults in our family (oregano oil shouldn’t be used by children or pregnant women) it’s a fantastic resource. If we feel something coming on oregano oil can often give it the boot.  I use it sparingly and briefly, never more than a few days at a time.

Probiotics. As Dr. Alejandro Junger, the best-selling author of the CLEAN books, says, “a healthy gut makes for a clean bill of health.”  And probiotics are one way to a good gut. Your immune system is actually centered in your gut, most people don’t know that, but that is why it’s critically important to foster good gut health for overall wellness.  Stress, poor eating habits, antibiotics and environmental toxins take a toll on the bacteria that call your gut home.  (And that’s a lot of bacteria! Bet you didn’t know that you’re home to more than 100 trillion bacteria.)

To keep them all working together and to avoid what’s called gut dysbiosis, a term referring to when the bad bacteria overrun the good ones, you’ll want to add probiotics into your daily routine. Rather than reaching for an afternoon coffee, try kombucha. Or add saurkraut, kimchee, pickles or any other naturally fermented foods to your daily routine. You’re not only going to feel better and have more energy you’re going to have a stronger immune system.

Vitamin C. This was my Mom’s all-time, all-year, fail-safe remedy.  We always took Emergen-C, which now comes in a variety of flavors.  But Vitamin C, no matter what form you take it, has been around for ages and it’s no wonder considering that Vitamin C plays an important role in boosting the immune system.  It’s also useful for detoxing the body from environmental toxins.   If you feel a cold or flu coming on, start taking 1,000 -4,000 mgs.

Winter can feel long, especially when you feel “under the weather” so don’t let the wintry chill get you down. Try these natural immune boosting remedies to foster your bodies’ innate ability to beat germs and develop better resistance.

Do you have any family recipes or tips for keeping your immune system in top form?  Share your immune boosting remedies in the comment section below.

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Amy Ziff

Amy currently teaches classes on living a NoTox life, blogs about the chemical world we live in, curates Veritey Shop and is launching the first Nontoxic seal of approval. She is changing the world for the healthier one product at a time, one person at a time, one home at a time.

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of DrGreene.com. The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or DrGreene.com, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

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