From the Academy of Healing Nutrition Newsletter
with Roger Green www.academyhealingnutrition.com /
In one of our past newsletters we started the topic of seasonal colds and flu and investigated the issue of the Swine Flu “pandemic”. There have been people and critics on both sides of this health concern, suggesting everything from a necessity for extreme measures to the whole issue being a mere hype. Fortunately, we do not have to sit back and listen to the news about swine flu feeling helpless and anxious. It’s important to educate ourselves so that we are better prepared for this season’s challenges, both physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
The Center of Disease Control (CDC) and other government health organizations recommend that we wash the hands often and get a flu shot to protect ourselves from the H1N1 virus. Whereas hygiene plays an important role in keeping viruses at bay, recent research shows that flu shots do not prevent the flu, and in many cases do more harm than good. The traditional medical advice ignores mentioning the safe, natural ways to boost the immune system. In this article we will look at what comprises a healthy immune system and how diet, lifestyle and herbal remedies can help us stay healthy in the middle of the storm.
What is the immune system?
The immune system is an amazingly intricate and complex system that keeps us healthy and protects us against all sorts of invaders including viruses, bacteria, parasites and toxins. Much of it is supported by the lymphatic system, which is in charge of cleansing and purifying the body’s fluids.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine a strong immune system is characterized by a firm and well-regulated Wei Qi, or Defensive energy, which circulates on the surface of the body and is governed by the Lungs. Defense Qi prevents pathogens from entering the body by regulating the opening and closing of the skin’s pores. If lungs are weak, pores don’t close in time, allowing pathogens to penetrate. Lung weakness can result in lowered resistance, which in turn can lead to increased susceptibility to colds and flu.
The lungs are the only internal organ that has a direct contact with the outer environment through breathing, making it vulnerable to viruses and external pathogens. Factors that weaken the lungs include smoking, lack of physical activity, overworking, prolonged grief and sadness, emotional stress, and extreme climatic conditions such as heat, cold, dampness, dryness and wind.
Autumn is the season associated with the Lungs and Large Intestine in Chinese Medicine, and it is a good time to support these organs with appropriate foods and lifestyle choices.
Spleen is another organ that plays an integral part in supporting the work of the lungs. It is responsible for blood formation, especially red blood cells, and produces plasma cells, which make anti-bodies, tying the spleen to the immune system and to protection against various diseases. In TCM this organ is associated with element Earth and sweet flavor. A little sweetness tonifies the spleen, but excess of sweet food over-stimulates and weakens it. Refined white sugar reduces the production of white blood cells and can significantly impair your immune function making you susceptible to flu infection. Too much dairy, white flour products, cold, raw foods and fruit juices can injure this important organ, leading to accumulation of mucus, which gets deposited in the lungs.
As we move into Autumn and Winter, and into the colder and damper weather, the body tends to condense wastes and cleanse any excess mucus and congestion from our tissues in order to make them less stagnant and improve circulation. This allows us to be more in harmony with the externalclimate and season. In natural medicine, we call this process cleansing, but it often looks and acts like a cold or flu.
What can we do to strengthen the immune system and prevent the flu?
Much of prevention involves common sense personal care and positive lifestyle habits. Vital and energized bodies don't get sick as easily as stressed, toxic, and tired bodies. In the prevention of most illnesses, it's important to eat a wholesome and balanced diet, get regular exercise and propersleep, and learn to deal healthfully with daily challenges. Herbal and homeopathic remedies have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years to support immune system functioning, acting as natural immunity tonics to keep us healthy.
These simple strategies will safeguard you against the colds and flu and increase your natural immunity.
1. Make sure your vitamin D levels are sufficient. There has been a lot of research on the effects of Vitamin D on the immune system, linking its deficiency to lowered defense mechanisms against the seasonal colds and flu. Sunshine is the ultimate source of Vitamin D, but during winter months we do not have regular exposure to the sun, therefore, it is important to supplement with natural vitamin D3 in the form of colicalciferol (5,000IU daily) or cod liver oil. Vitamins A and D in cod liver oil offer strong protection against infection of all types, as well as against environmental toxins.
2. Get at least 8 hours of sleep so that your body is rested and capable of fighting any possible external invaders. Just like it becomes harder for you to get your daily tasks done if you're tired, if your body is overly fatigued it will be harder for it to fight the flu.
3. Be physically active: oxygenation of the blood is one of the best ways to stay healthy in body and mind. Exercise increases circulation and blood flow throughout the body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of finding an illness before it spreads.
4. Manage your stress. Being overly stressed puts a strain on your entire system leaving you susceptible to external invaders. Find time to relax amidst the hectic pace. Using lavender or Rescue Remedy to calm your mind will help your immune system stay strong.
5. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids so that your body can properly process toxins and function optimally.
6. Washing your hands frequently, especially after you sneeze, cough, or blow your nose, in warm or hot water and soap will get rid of a lot of bacteria and virus potential. Be mindful that viruses can be passed on from surfaces like doorknobs, pens or phones. Step up the cleaning duties at work and at home during flu season, make sure that everyone is on the same “hygienic” page.
Avoid excess sugar, alcohol, processed foods and chemicals in your diet, as these wreck havoc on the immune function.
-Eat garlic regularly. It works like a broad-spectrum antibiotic against bacteria, virus, and protozoa in the body, and unlike antibiotics, no resistance can be built up so it is absolutely safe to use. To get the most out of garlic, it should be eaten raw, or added to the meals at the end of cooking.
-Take a high quality probiotic or consume fermented foods and beverages like sauerkraut, miso and kombucha daily. Eighty five percent of your immune system is located in your digestive system, so enhancing your gut health with probiotics is a very effective method to ward off cold and flu viruses.
- Include these foods high in Vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants and minerals in your diet: blueberries, goji berries, amla, broccoli, spinach, green leafy vegetables, ginger, scallions, turmeric, wild salmon, herring, brown rice, beans, almonds, pumpkin, seaweed, kelp, green tea and shiitaki mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms are amazing for the immune system and are available at most supermarkets.
-Consider taking maitaki or reishi mushroom extracts a couple times daily between meals.
- Bone broth plays a double role of supporting the immune system and helping the body to detoxify.
Here is a recipe of an immune boosting soup that incorporates many of the powerful anti-viral, strengthening and cleansing foods. It’s a good soup to eat regularly during falls change to winter:
Super Immune Soup
8 cups of water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 bulb garlic (yes, the whole bulb), minced
One 1 1⁄2 inch piece of fresh ginger root, grated
1 1⁄2 cups vegetable stock (or chicken broth)
1 small bunch of kale
5 pieces sliced dried Astragalus Root
2 cups fresh, sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 large reishi mushroom
Miso paste (1/2 to 1 tablespoon mixed directly into your plate)
1. Bring water to boil in a large pot.
2. Heat olive oil, sauté garlic, onions, and ginger until soft and aromatic. Add contents of skillet to water. Add broth, shiitake, astragalus, and reishi. Simmer covered for two hours.
3. Remove from heat, allow to sit for two more hours.
4. Remove astragalus and reishi mushroom. Reheat.
5. Add thinly sliced kale and simmer for 5 minutes and turn off the heat.
6. Add cayenne powder if desired (just enough to bring out a light sweat).
At this point, I usually add a bit of miso. Miso offers a nutritious balance of natural carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, and protein of the highest quality, containing all of the essential amino acids.
Unpasteurized miso is a "living food" containing natural digestive enzymes, Lactobacillus, and other microorganisms which aid in the digestion of all foods, and which have been shown to ward off and destroy harmful microorganisms, thereby creating a healthy digestive system (Source: www.southrivermiso.com). Look for it in the refrigerated section of the store. South River Miso is one of, if not the best quality miso you will find. It’s a little pricey, but so worth it.
Astagalus (Huang qi), as well as the mushrooms, are available at Asian groceries, but you can also buy astragalus from internet suppliers like Mountain Rose Herbs, which is a high quality, reputable herb company. I throw a few pieces in practically every soup and tea I make. It is the main herb you think about for “herbal immune system nourishment.” Astragalus builds up the body's vitality, prevents and hastens infections. This is a commonly used herb in Chinese medicine and is part of many immune-supporting formulas as sliced herb for boiling, in extracts, or in capsules.
Ginger possesses potent inhibitory action against various pathogenic microorganisms. It also possesses anti-influenza, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-yeast activity. Ginger assists in digestion and helps clear the lungs of mucus.
You can make variations of this soup, or ommit the reishi if you cannot find it.
To our health and freedom of choice!
Inga Bylinkina email:
Herbs and herbal formulas
There are several effective Chinese patent formulas that have been successfully used over hundreds of years for the prevention against flu. One of the most popular herbal formulas is Jade Windscreen with Astragalus (Yu Ping Feng San). Astragalus is the best herb for building Defensive Qi. Other useful herbs for prevention and tonification include Codonopsis, Schizandra, American ginseng, Eleuthero, Echinacea and elderberries.
If you start coming down with a flu, stop taking these herbs and try another Chinese formula called Yin Chiao. Planetary Formulas has a version of this popular herbal combination with Echinacea, which has been used successfully in the beginning stages of colds, flu and fevers.
Another useful remedy from Planetary Formulas is Echinacea-Goldenseal with Olive Leaf.
Wildcrafted Oregano is a phenomenal wildcrafted oil with many health benefits, including its ability to fight viral infections and candida. It's extremely useful as a first aid product, too, and can help your body heal more quickly.
Ayurveda, India's traditional 'science of life,' has the remedy for swine flu in the form of the basil leaves commonly known as Tulsi (or Holy Basil). Tulsi is well known in India for its remarkable healing properties, but the anti-flu property of Tulsi has been discovered by medical experts across the world quite recently. Tulsi improves the body's overall defense mechanism, including its ability to fight viral diseases. Apart from acting as a preventive medicine, Tulsi can also help a patient recover faster (Source: Yahoo News August 12, 2009).
Most of the supplements, herbs and formulas are available from various internet suppliers or from your local health food shop .
Building Natural Immunity By Inga Bylinkina
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Monday, 24 October 2011 06:18
posted by Dragon
Stay with this guys, you're helping a lot of poeple.