Winter (especially here in the Northeast) can be a very overwhelming time to get sick... and unfortunately, it seems to be the most common time to get sick as well (the flu makes it way around our office for sure!). We've put together a list of natural immunity boosters you can consume to stave off colds and the flu alike... the best course of action is always prevention!
Vitamin D: It is especially important here in Maine to get enough vitamin D. It is important for bone health, but also boosts mood and keeps the winter blues away. Expose yourself to vitamin D through natural sources, such as the sun and being outside; or consume it with egg yolks, salmon, mackerel, organ meats, and certain mushrooms. You can also take natural supplements, like cod liver oil or oil-based D3 supplements.
Probiotics: Kombucha tea is a wonderful source of gut-friendly organisms that strengthen your immune system. Kefir is another probiotic drink of cultured/fermented dairy chock full of good bacteria and is 99% lactose free. It packs more immune punch than other cultured dairy products, like yogurt. Other fermented foods, like sauerkraut, miso, and kimchi, are also full of probiotic goodness.
Green Tea/Chamomile Tea: Both teas help strengthen your immune system with their natural antioxidants, as well as keep you hydrated, which is something that many people take for granted. Want to grow your own? We sell chamomile seeds to get you started and it a very easy herb to grow.
Easy Exercise: Walking, light hiking, or snowshoeing are all great ways to get your blood flowing and to get some quality Vitamin D. A super high intensity workout is, contrary to popular belief, not good at the onset of a cold or the flu. High intensity workouts require the body to focus on repairing itself rather than fighting off an oncoming sickness, leaving you wide open and very susceptible.
Cut Sugary Items: Make an effort to cut out as many sugary items from your diet as possible. Your immune system stays depressed for several hours after consuming sugar. If you're drinking a can of soda every few hours, then your immune system and resistance could be lowered for most of the day.
Elderberry:Elderberry can shorten the flu by approximately 4 days. Take 4 TBSP of elderberry syrup daily for 3 days. Try this recipe to make elderberry syrup!
Mushrooms: Japanese Enoki, Shiitake, and Oyster mushrooms may increase immune cells. Plus, they are versatile for adding into a variety of dishes and even easy to grow your own now!
Garlic: Allicin, a compound found in garlic, is a potent infection fighter. Crush a fresh garlic clove (dried, cooked, or pre-chopped garlic lose their potency too fast to do any good) 15 minutes before use. Sprinkle on a salad, rice, or veggies or add to salad dressing or cream cheese. 1 clove a day is recommended.
Sage Extract: This works as an expectorant. Add a few drops to tea or hot water to help move mucus out of your respiratory tract. To make an herbal extract, we suggest following the instructions listed by Mountain Rose Herbs:
"This recipe is the simplest way to make your own liquid herbal extracts in your own home. Start with a clean jar that has a tight fitting lid and the herbs of your choice. If you can use fresh herbs, then fabulous! Fresh material is always preferred but availability is determined by your local bio-region, climate, etc and many quality herbs may not be available. If you cannot locate fresh materials, be sure to get good quality, organic herbs from a reputable supplier. Note: Try not to use powdered herbs; they will be difficult to filter out in the end and the debris will settle in your final product.
If using fresh material, chop the herbs finely. Then put in the glass jar. Next, pour a good, strong grain alcohol or Vodka over the herbs, completely covering the herbal material. If you are using dried herbs you will need to add more alcohol over the next day or two as the dried herbs absorb and expand. A good ratio for dried material is about 1 part herb to 5 parts alcohol and with fresh material 1 part herb to 3 parts alcohol.
After you have done this, cover with tight fitting lid and be sure to place a plastic bag sandwiched between the lid and the jar. This will prevent rust contamination from spoiling your extract.
Shake well and place the jar in a dark place & allow the herbs to soak or macerate for 4 to 6 weeks. Shake every few days. The alcohol will siphon and extract the active constituents from the herbs. After 4 to 6 weeks strain the herbs. Use a large sieve, strainer, press or potato ricer lined with fine mesh cloth or cheesecloth. Then pour into another large bowl or container. After you have done this grab the soggy herbal material and place in muslin, cheese or another fine cloth and tightly squeeze the material to extract every last drop from the cloth. The herbal material left over that is saturated, is the strongest in terms of active medicinal constituents. Now funnel the material from your larger container into smaller bottles, preferably amber bottles and store your tinctures in a cool dark place. Voila! You have now made your own remarkable medicinal herbal extract for a fraction of the price you would have paid at the store. By now you have probably noticed that your pantry is stored with some 16-20 ounces of liquid herbal extract……this will last you for some time. (It will keep for 3-5 years) Enjoy!"