Healthy everyday practices for strong immunity
In the uncertain times that we live in, it is empowering and gratifying to know how to care for yourself and your community. As herbalists, our role has always been to empower people so that they feel confident in how to take care of their bodies.
During this time of year, we wanted to emphasize the importance of the balanced, tonic approach when using herbs. Herbalists have always relied on tonics to build resilience and support immunity throughout the changing seasons, and it really comes down to the everyday stuff that we do during these.
1. Take immune tonic herbs. When something is classified as a tonic, it implies that it is meant to be taken regularly over the long-term with the purpose of toning and strengthening the body’s systems. Instead of waiting for something to go wrong before we attend to the health of your body, we strengthen and support our natural defenses with Immune Tonic, a simple formula, with benefits. With herbs like astragalus, reishi, maitake, licorice, ginger and schisandra, Immune Tonic is a well-rounded formula to support healthy defenses*
2. Up your intake of whole foods. That means avoiding processed foods and instead opting for foods with high nutritional value: fruits and veggies, greens, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fermented foods to support gut and immune health. Cut back on sugar and alcohol from your diet as both are known to affect the immune system when under occasional stress. Food as medicine is a great way to nourish your body, and a great protocol to keep you healthy and strong during any challenges that arise. Cooking at home more often is another way to make sure you are getting the highest nutritional value from your food.
3. Drink immune supporting broths and tea. In traditional folk medicines, immune supporting herbs were part of an everyday wellness routine. Broths and soups are the perfect vehicle for adding medicinal roots, herbs, and mushrooms and making them is an easy habit to adapt in our modern lives. Medicinal mushrooms like reishi, maitake, turkey tail, shitake, and adaptogenic herbs like astragalus play an important role in supporting healthy immune function and are key ingredients for seasonal wellness. Find a great broth recipe here. And warm tonic drinks like turmeric (golden) milk or adaptogen hot chocolate, and hot herbal tea, especially with herbs like hawthorn, cinnamon, and * We also have been loving Traditional Medicinals Reishi Mushroom tea for daily immune support.
4. Have fire cider on hand. The remedy is used to help warm up the body and traditionally used for support immune during the cold winter months.* Many people have their favorite version, but the base consists of fresh garlic, onions, ginger, horseradish, chili peppers, and immune-supporting herbs that sit in apple cider vinegar for the desired amount of time, then strained. Then a bit of something sweet like raw honey is added at the end. Made with pungent and warming herbs like osha, peppers, garlic, ginger, cayenne--the energetic warmth from the herbs help counteract an energetic ickiness that's termed "damp toxicity" in Traditional Chinese Medicine.*
5. Stock the home herbal apothecary. We find great joy in preparing the wellness center of our homes, and in doing so, we are ready for anything that comes our way. We stock up on items like elderberries, thyme syrup, raw honey, and astragalus root line the shelves, along with ample tea herbs, and a few fresh essentials like apple cider vinegar, lemons, ginger, garlic, onions and peppers, and herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage.
6. Stay hydrated with electrolytes. Put salt or electrolyte powder in your water to keep yourself nourished and hydrated. Salt and hydration are essential to our body's ability to function. Electrolytes are an integral part of how our cells work. We've been adding about ½ a teaspoon of sea salt into our water bottles every time we refill them.
7. Make your own hand sanitizer. Which is handy for cleansing on-the-go, but it is not intended as a replacement for frequent handwashing with soap and hot water. When making your own sanitizer you are aiming 60-70% alcohol in the end. More alcohol is not better. Most rubbing alcohol is 90% which would be used in a recipe with 2 parts alcohol and 1 parts aloe gel. Here is a recipe we made up the other day:
- 8 oz Rubbing alcohol
- 4 oz Aloe Vera Gel
- 10 drops organic clove bud essential oil
- 8 drops lemon essential oil
- 5 drops cinnamon essential oil
- 8 drops eucalyptus essential oil
- 5 drops rosemary essential oil
12 oz total
- Combine all ingredients in jar of your choice with lid and shake well to mix.
- Pour into smaller bottles if desired and rub a small amount into hands as needed!
8. Being prepared and taking good care of ourselves is fundamental. Get good sleep, wash your hands often, listen to your body about what it needs, and stay home if you feel drained and try to avoid stressing yourself out. Adopting simple habits like yoga or meditation can be helpful for occasional stress support, and get outside to breath fresh air, preferably in nature.