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Immune health hacks – Boosters and Basics

Immune health – A very trending topic at the moment! Are you looking for ways to keep your immune system tip-top and the environment around you safe too? We have some great natural immune hacks we think you might enjoy! The first cab off the rank is of course…

Thieves oil

We mix up a batch of this every change of season and keep a bottle on our desks to keep the critters at bay, not to mention it smells amazing too! Here is how we mix up the ‘mother blend’:

Combine the following essential oils to make the “mother” blend:
– Rosemary 30 parts.
– Lemon oil 30 parts. – Eucalyptus oil 15 parts.
– Clove bud oil 50 parts.
– Cinnamon 30 parts.

Use only 3 to 5 drops per 100ml of water or oil and use to sterilize topically. You can add 3 to 5 drops into a water spray bottle, shake every time before using and can spray throat, into honey or teas, or over body hands, etc to sterilize. It can also be added to an oil base to use topically or add to shampoo and conditioner or soaps etc. This is a great home remedy for kids to use on gentle skin without the alcohol-based sanitizers!

Immune health – Herbal decoctions

This herb has been studied for its history of traditional use in Chinese medicine for immune health support and now shown by modern science to confirm these benefits. Licorice has been studied and isolated into its unique compounds, more than 20 triterpenoids and around 300 flavonoids which have been shown to work as Anti-viral, Anti-microbial, Anti-inflammatory, and Anti-tumour properties. Reference

Preparing a Herbal Decoction

‘Making a decoction’ is easy once you know how to!

Here is an easy to follow a method to use for your fave herbs:

  1. 1 tsp to 1 tbsp of your chosen herb per 1 cup of cold water
  2. Add the herbs and water to a stainless-steel saucepan.
  3. Bring this up to a gentle boil and then let simmer with the lid on for 20-30 mins.
  4. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool to drinking temp.
  5. Strain out the ingredients and set those aside as you often get 1-3 batches out of the same herbs.
  6. Consume the decoction, if you don’t get through all of it, you can refrigerate and consume within 48 hours of making it.

Decoctions are great for getting in immune-boosting herbs like Licorice Root, Ginger, Garlic, Reishi and, others like Elderberries. Perfect for tea-like drinks in the wintertime full of goodness!

Immune health and Micronutrients!

Zinc is one we can’t stress enough, it’s involved in over 500 enzymatic processes in the body. Especially when it comes to the immune system. Zinc plays a crucial element in the following processes of the immune system specifically:

  • Development and function of immune cells.
  • Neutrophils.
  • Natural Killer cells.
  • The function of Macrophages.
  • Immediate Immune response, Phagocytosis, intracellular killing and cytokine production which is our chemical messengers that respond to immune threats.
  • Zinc deficiency greatly impacts the growth and function of our Thymus and bone marrow cells which are the major elements of the adaptive immune health response in the body.

Micronutrients in foods –

We often harp on about the importance of eating locally and eating seasonally, to ensure that you are not only supporting your local farmers and independent businesses but also modifying your gut exposure to certain foods in a natural feast and famine way that would occur with normal seasonal eating based on your environment.

Fruit and veg are essential for getting in your micronutrients, load up on those bright colors and greens!

Immune Health Soups and Broths!

Veggie and bone broths are an ancient tradition in many cultures; even dating as far back as Egyptian philosopher Moshe Ben Maimonides who began recommending it for the application and treatment of respiratory tract complaints… in the 12th century! Colds and flu are normally coming about in colder weather or seasonal changes where we experience different pollens which are also an immune compromiser until the body can recognize it, bugs and viruses, etc.

The temperature of a good wholesome broth can help keep us warm and you can load it up with a tonne of greens, root veggies, and herbs that have natural healing properties. The old Chicken soup even was credited scientifically recently for its positive effects on immune health:

“The recipe they used was called “Grandma’s soup,” which not only include chicken, but also onions, sweet potato, parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery stems, and parsley, with the addition of salt and pepper. Many tests were conducted on the soup. For example, to determine which components of the soup contained neutrophil inhibitor activity, samples of chicken and a portion of each of the vegetables were boiled for one hour. The broths then were harvested, frozen, and saved for assay.

Stephen Rennard, M.D., FCCP, said the results of the study demonstrate that chicken soup inhibits neutrophil migration to standard stimuli. The inhibitory effect was observed clearly at concentrations without cytotoxicity. Dr. Rennard said: “A variety of soup preparations was evaluated and found to be variably, but generally, able to inhibit neutrophil chemotaxis. The current study, therefore, presents evidence that chicken soup might have anti-inflammatory activity, namely the inhibition of neutrophil migration.” Link

Our infamous bone broth recipe:

Bone Broth Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2kg of ORGANIC beef bones with marrow (you can use just veg if you prefer).
  • 4 carrots, chopped.
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped.
  • 2 medium onions, pool on, slice in half-length wise and quartered.
  • 4 garlic cloves, peel on and smashed.
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt.
  • 1 teaspoon pepper.
  • 2 bay leaves.
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme.
  •  5-6 sprigs of parsley.
  • ¼ cup of ORGANIC apple cider vinegar.
  • 8-20 cups of cold water.

Optional: Adding in your anti-inflammatory herbs and adaptogens like Turmeric, Reishi Mushroom, Holy basil, Rosemary and Liquorice root. Reishi gives an excellent stock flavor!

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a crock-pot or slow cooker
    2. Add water to cover all ingredients.
    3. Turn on and give it 24-48 hours slow cook down.
  2. Remove or turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly.
    5. Discard bones and Let stock cool to room temperature, consume immediately or cover and refrigerate.
    6. Use within a week or freeze up to 3 months.

Get some sunshine!

Sunshine helps to energize our T-Cells (Thymus Cells) we spoke about the thymus above and its initial response role in Immune actions. T-cells are produced during an adaptive immune response to pathogens in the body and reside in our thymus, which sits just under our clavicles at the top of our sternum.

The effect of sunlight on T-Cells is believed to be because of low levels of Blue light found in rays emitted by the sun, actually improving the motility of T-Cells, thus giving them a more rapid ability to respond to threats. The increased T-cell movement and agility are driven by a signaling pathway activated by the synthesis of hydrogen peroxide which is prevalent in the body. Hydrogen peroxide is a compound released by our white blood cells to kill invading pathogens and improve the mobility of other immune cells, including our very important Thymus cells. link

Sunlight also provides the body with Vitamin D, which, as we know is also essential for immune function! So, getting some morning sunlight on your chest is a great way to help wake up the cells a little more, get some good Vitamin D absorbed and also, the cascading benefits may also reach as far as our sleep/circadian rhythm. Our body clock that regulates sleep and wake cycles is found within each one of our cells and communication from light taken in by our eyes also drives this! Which brings us to the next topic…

Immune health and Sleep Hygiene

This is a no brainer, we always chat about the importance of sleep. Feeling off, get some rest. Big day? Get some rest. Training hard? Get some rest. We say it often… but why? Sleep is so important that’s why. Its specific role in the immune system is incredible!

Our life is organized chaos, isn’t it? Everything and especially our bodies; can be organized into rhythms. Sleep and wake rhythm when functioning correctly plays a very important role in the following functions:

  • Physical and mental activity and attention spans.
  • Cardiovascular function.
  • Temperature regulation.
  • Immune leukocyte population for a response to threats.
  • Cytokine production (remember these are our chemical messengers for immune response communication).
  • Regulation of pro-inflammatory signaling.
  • Melatonin and growth hormone.
  • Cortisol regulation in response to inflammatory signaling and stress.

Reference

So, if you are feeling rundown and tired, get some much-needed sleep while you are working on improving your immune health, your body will thank you for it!

Take home message…

Always use common hygiene practices like washing your hands, wiping down surfaces and being mindful of yourself when you cough or sneeze around others. This information does not replace your requirements for a doctor or health care professional if you are feeling unwell, please consult with your health care professional.

These are just tips that can be easily added into your everyday health regime and we hope you enjoyed them!