Maintaining a strong Immune System
The immune system is based within the gut. If your gut flora are happy, then your resistance will be strong. There is now a wealth of information available on this fact so I won’t go into detail here. In order to maintain healthy gut flora, follow as many of these guidelines as possible:
- Eat a diet rich in nutrients: fresh, whole organic foods. That is foods that are minimally processed.
- Keep the consumption of the following foods to a minimum: white flour goods, sugar, trans-fats and processed foods.
- Consume probiotic foods daily, including fermented vegetables, fermented drinks such as kefir or kombucha and good quality yoghurt.
- Keep stress to a minimum (stress is harmful to the good flora in your gut) and spend as much time as possible doing what you love (this is actually good for your gut flora. For more information, check out Grant Susaloo and Marvin Oka’s work on the multiple brains – including the gut brain.
When illness strikes
When it comes to viruses and using natural remedies, the earlier you treat the better. You know that first tickle or scratchy throat? That initial feeling of lethargy or not feeling quite right? It is at this stage you can actually stop a virus in its tracks. Don’t put it off for even an hour. Your body is telling you something with these signs and if you take note by treating with the appropriate immune boosters and rest, you are bound to avoid illness. See below for remedies for various common conditions.
Colds and Flus
My treatment for those initial stages of a cold or flu is to blast it with everything we have and to stop certain activities and foods.
Cease the following:
- Consumption of all dairy and cane sugar products (both will increase and support the growing inflammation in the body)
- Exercise (because your body requires extra energy to fight the virus, elevating the heart rate with exercise will use the energy needed to keep you well and will aid in spreading the virus). We have experienced viruses going from very mild to full blown within half an hour of strenuous exercise.
- Massage – never have a massage during the viral stage of illness as it will get worse.
- Getting cold – just like with exercise, your body will use energy needed to fight the virus to warm your body, making you more susceptible.
How to treat: First, take Ferr Phos every half hour for 2hrs. This is a homeopathic tissue salt that treats first stage of illness – namely inflammation. The body’s first response to the invasion of a virus is to become inflamed. Ferr Phos is available from health food shops and some pharmacies and is completely safe for children as well as adults.
Next, I mix up a concoction of powdered vitamin C (melrose with bioflavanoids), green powder (could include barley grass, spirulina, chlorella, alfalfa) and a herbal tincture I keep in the cupboard that contains immune boosting herbs including liquorice root, echinnaccea, astragalus etc. You can buy them already mixed at the health food shop or go to a dispensary and ask for something to be made up by the herbalist. I find the latter is more cost effective. I always have a bottle in the cupboard so that it is there to do its work early. Dosage will be advised by the herbalist or the label on the bottle as well as contraindications for particular herbs.
For the next day or so, the whole family consumes immune boosting teas. Check out the video where Ethan shows you how to make one.
After taking the above, have the person keep warm and rest until the initial symptoms have passed. If you follow this process, and you follow a healthy lifestyle, the cold or flu is very unlikely to eventuate.
If it does, in order to reduce the length of the illness, treat with hebal tincture and vitamin C as described above 3 times per day as well as herbal teas and rest. See below for specifics on different remedies.
Vitamin C – vitamin C is an immune booster and is great for helping to fight colds and flus. Take this both at the initial stage of illness and if it turns into a full blown cold or flu.
Echinacea – According to Stephen Buhner in his book: Herbal Antivirals, Echinacea is only useful at the very first stage of illness and will do nothing to treat a cold or flu once it has taken over. This made sense to me as it has certainly been my experience. In order to fight a virus, echinacea must actually touch the affected membranes and have contact with the viral cells just before or at the moment of infection. Afterwards it does little to alleviate symptoms.
Elderberry – a particularly good antiviral plant. Elderberry fights the influenza virus by preventing the virus from attaching to cells. With this in mind, if used at first onset it can prevent the sickness from taking over. Otherwise it will reduce the length of the cold or flu. For more info, check out this article.
Ginger – a tea made from fresh ginger or drinking the juice of ginger is a great way to inhibit viruses from attaching to cells. According to chinese medicine teaching and Stephen Buhner, dried ginger against the cold and flu viruses is useless. Apparently drying the root completely changes it as a medicine. The most superior method of ingesting ginger root as a medicine is by juicing it. Combine the juice with warm water, fresh lemon juice and raw honey to taste for a delicious and therapeutic drink. You may also add juiced turmeric, ground cinnamon and or cayenne pepper. Drink this as early as possible at onset of the virus and throughout illness.
Garlic – A natural antibiotic. Use fresh, raw garlic in salad dressings and dips to build immune function. If you are brave enough, consume a clove of crushed garlic in a honey and lemon drink or add to a sandwich.
Turmeric – Curcumin, which is found in turmeric has powerful antiviral, anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. Use the powdered or juiced root in drinks and take regularly throughout a cold or flu to reduce it’s life. As with all other remedies, the earlier you start treatment, the better. To make a delicious turmeric drink combine the following:
- 1 tsp ground turmeric or fresh grated root
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup non-dairy milk (almond is a great one to use)
- Raw honey to taste.
Other immune-boosting and antiviral herbs: Astragalus, cinnamon, yarrow, marshmallow, fennel, peppermint, lemon balm, burdock, nettle, elderflower, lime-flower, liquorice root.
Herbs specific for sore throats and coughs – thyme, sage, elecampane, mullein, liquorice root, hyssop.
These will often accompany a cold or flu, especially in children. I do 2 things in the case of infection.
- Use ear candles to clear the ears of fluid and built up wax. In fact if you do this as soon as the viral stage of the cold is over, it is likely you will avoid infections in the ear.
- Use garlic inflused oil to treat the infection. Crush a clove of fresh garlic in olive oil. Leave to sit for a few minutes and then strain the oil. Apply 2 drops into the ear every couple of hours. I rarely have to use the oil more than twice as it clears very quickly.
I recommend purchasing a good herbal reference such as How Can I use Herbs in My Daily Life by Isabell Shipard or any of Stephen Buhner’s herbal manuals. If you educate yourself you will rely less on others to treat your ailments and will have a better understanding of how to prevent illness in the first place. It is also good to know the contraindications of herbs.