Cold and Flu season is upon us! Add to that the stress-boosting activities of the coming holiday season, now is a great time to review how we can strengthen our immune system.

First and foremost, before you go shopping for herbs and supplements, let’s review the simple steps we can take, or add, to ensure our immune system is supported.

  • Eating a colorful combination of fruits and veggies, lean protein and drinking enough water are at the top of the list.
  • Getting exercise, by adding only 2-3 10 minute walks a day can improve your body’s immune system.
  • Make sure to get some sun; 20-30 minutes is a good baseline.
  • Finally, and frequently the most difficult things to do, are getting enough sleep and managing our daily stress.

If you are able to check off the above basic steps, then you are ready to try more ways to ensure you can be strong, healthy and full of energy.

Here are some herbs to help you out.

  • Astragalus: This root herb works as a system-wide support for the immune system by working as an adaptogen; i.e. it adapts to the specific needs of ‘your’ body, to help deal with stressors and boost the immune system as a whole.
  • Black Elderberry: This berry is used as a daily booster for your immune system.  You can find it in syrups or capsules.  If you live around Julian, you can pick black elderberries, but remember- they need to be cooked before consuming!
  • Echinacea  (Purple coneflower, echinacea purpurea): The extract of this native plant is usually used at the onset of a cold or flu symptoms. This is probably one of the most familiar to us today. It has been used for centuries and continues to be popular today.
  • Oregano: Oregano supports healthy immune function and like many herbs, has high levels of anti-oxidants. Oregano also supports a healthy digestive tract.
  • And don’t forget these immune boosting foods: garlic, ginger, broccoli, kale, citrus, chiles and peppers (red bell peppers have MORE vitamin C per bite than an orange!). They are probably already in your kitchen or pantry or on your shopping list and help keep your immune system strong, too.

All of these immune boosters can be found at your local healthy food stores. Many can be found in herbal teas, too.


Contributed by Vickie Emanuel – Organic gardener, health advocate and enthusiast for over 30 years –

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