Jordan Douglas, MS, HHC
While immune support has never really left our collective consciousness in the last eighteen months, it’s increasingly at the forefront once again as we transition into cooler weather, and cold and flu season. Remember that building foundational immunity strongly overlaps with building foundational health: getting adequate rest, daily movement, stress management, and eating a nutritious, balanced diet.
For extra support, we can turn to our kitchens and herbal medicine cabinets to keep ourselves and our families well*. Here are 5 herbal options to consider integrating into your daily seasonal wellness regime:
- Astragalus: Astragalus is a great herb to turn to for daily use during the colder months, as it helps to build, nourish, and revitalize us on every level. It provides broad-spectrum strength and protection to the immune system by enhancing both the specific and nonspecific immune responses. Astragalus is easy to take in capsule form; I also like to add the dried slices to broths and stews.
- Fire Cider: Fire Cider is a traditional herbal recipe that blends aromatic, spicy, and pungent herbs with apple cider vinegar. The foundational herbs used are garlic, onion, horseradish, and spicy peppers. I like to add ginger, turmeric, rosemary or thyme as well, and you can find my fire cider recipe here. Fire cider is quick, affordable and convenient to make. Enjoy a shot a day to keep immune defenses strong all season long.
- Elderberry: Elderberry syrup is one of the most delicious ways to support your immune system through the season. Elderberry has antiviral and antioxidant activity, and is particularly supportive to the upper respiratory tract. You’ll find a vast assortment of elderberry syrups in the Ellwood’s Nourish Department, including local favorites Commonhealth Botanicals and Red Root & Co. If you’re looking for a fun herbal medicine making project, elderberry syrup is easy to make at home, especially with kids!
- Ginger: This culinary staple adds incredible flavor to dishes and packs a medicinal punch. Ginger is rich in antioxidants and has antiviral and antibacterial properties, helping to quell inflammation and support a healthy immune response. Ginger is warming and helps to circulate blood and energy, making it an ideal herb to incorporate as we transition to cooler weather. Use ginger in cooking (try baby ginger that is abundant at our local farmers’ markets right now) or swing by the Juice Bar for a fresh ginger shot. You can also enjoy ginger tea by decocting the fresh root slices or in tea bag form (Pukka makes a great option).
- Chaga: Chaga mushroom is deeply supportive to the immune system and is one of the richest known sources of antioxidants. Chaga is rich in zinc and superoxide dismutase, which help to protect against oxidative damage, reduce inflammation, and enhance our innate immune response. With its bold, rich flavor, chaga can be blended with your morning coffee or enjoyed alone brewed as a tea.
*As always, be sure to check with your physician or health care practitioner before beginning any new supplement or herbal preparation.
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