As we as a society become more in touch with the human body and how it operates, we become more in tune with how to heal it. Right now, more than ever, we are discovering just how complex the human body is – a complex healing machine.
But, as much as technology brings us closer and closer to more advanced techniques to keep our bodies healthier than ever, technology also brings us many potential invaders to the precious inner workings that exist within each us.
As these invaders – toxins of various kinds – penetrate our world consistently, our immune systems are one of the first things to be compromised.
We just don’t have time for that!
Being consciously aware that our bodies are absolutely amazing self-healing machines is important, but being aware that helping to clean it out and protect it more from the influx of these invaders is vital.
There are a multitude of ways to help protect your immune system. From exercising more to detoxing to cleaning the chemicals out of your medicine cabinet, we can do so much.
And all of these are super important…
…but they typically require you to invest more time!
One of the easiest ways to help protect your immune system is through your nutrition. We all KNOW this, right? But, what most of us don’t know is what to focus on and how some of the most simple ingredients can pack the most punch in protecting your immune system. The best part? You already have them hiding out in your cabinets.
Food as medicine!
Our ancestors knew the deal. As I was growing up, I would hear about “old wives’ tales” and recipes from my ancestors that told tales of using this herb to heal that ailment. These stories were abundant. And, being a kid, I would roll my eyes and dismiss it as silliness.
It wasn’t until I got older that I learned the validity of these stories. How many of us still wear those kid-like glasses when it comes to some of the wisdom that was shared with us when we were growing up? I know that I do from time to time!
Not only are these herbs super duper immune healing power houses, but they also are fabulous for acute issues. For example, when I have motion-sickness or increased inflammation or nausea, I know what spices to turn to in order to assist in decreasing my symptoms. So, if your immune system does become compromised, then you know what herbs to concentrate on to help you ease the symptoms until your body heals.
In this article, I am going to share some of my favorite herbs to help boost the immune system and/or heal the body. As I have used them over the years, I realized how effective they actually are AND they taste simply amazing. That’s a bonus!
Ginger is perfect for helping to quiet nausea, speed food through the digestive tract, and protect against gastric ulcers. Small studies have also shown that ginger can help with pain, including menstrual cramps, muscle pain, migraines, osteoarthritis or other chronic inflammatory conditions.
It can cause heartburn and gas in large quantities and it may interact with some medications, so make sure that you check with your doctor first before ingesting large quantities.
How much: If your doctor approves it, it’s best to use ginger daily. It’s best if you can use fresh ginger instead of powdered. I love concentrated ginger oil too!
Serving suggestions: Try a pinch of ginger in tea or dice it and add to a zesty Thai soup. It’s also great in baked goods, from gingerbread to gingersnaps. Try adding chunks of candied ginger to pear or apple muffins for an extra zing. And, if you get motion-sickness, try Gin-Gin’s natural ginger candy for relief.
Tumeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, is a strong antioxidant that’s been shown in studies to fend off cancer growth, amyloid plaque development, and more. It has also been shown to boost heart health due to it helping to regulate triglyceride and insulin levels. Tumeric is also amazing for inflammation…it is like a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory but without the nasty side effects. in a 2009 study, it was discovered that a daily dose of curcumin is just as effective as ibuprofen for osteoarthritis in the knee. Curcumin helps to regulate the immune system. It has positive effects on people with autoimmune disorders, such as multiple sclerosis.
Like all herbs and spices, however, too much turmeric might not be a good thing. It has been shown that when ingested in large doses, it can inhibit blood clotting and may exacerbate gallbladder issues, so check with your doctor before using more than a typical culinary amount.
How much: Aim for a teaspoon of turmeric at least three times a week. Make sure to mix it with a little black pepper so that your body can absorb it better.
Serving suggestions: Add a big pinch to a pot of lentil soup or sprinkle some into a tea. You can buy teas commercially from companies like the Republic of Tea or Yogi, or make your own by chopping up an inch of fresh turmeric root and infusing in hot water for 15 minutes. I love sprinkling turmeric on my eggs in the morning. The heat also allows the antioxidants to better be released.
Cinnamon is a nutritional powerhouse. It helps to keep cells safe from oxidative stress and dangerous free radicals. Antioxidants help fight such diseases as cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and Parkinson’s. Cinnamon is also fantastic in fighting cardiovascular problems.
Cinnamon helps the hormone insulin work better, which reduces blood sugar levels. Diabetes will fear cinnamon’s presence!
Cinnamon is also regarded as a warming expectorant, used to gently reduce congestion and phlegm in the lungs, and dry up runny noses.
How much: Aim for a quarter to half a teaspoon most days of the week. True cinnamon, often labeled “Ceylon cinnamon,” has higher levels of antioxidants, so seek it out if you can.
Serving suggestions: Sprinkle a little on fresh fruit, a steaming bowl of oatmeal, or a scoop of peanut butter, or add to fish, chicken, or lamb dishes, especially with cumin and chili powder. No time to cook? Sprinkle some cinnamon in your morning coffee or tea.
Basil, while often associated with giving Italian food a load of flavor, is traditionally used to treat asthma, stress, and diabetes. Basil has strong antimicrobial and antiviral properties, even against nasty bugs like Listeria and E. coli. It is especially great for anyone with arthritis or other inflammatory health problems. Basil is also a great source of beta-carotene, which turns into vitamin A, as well as magnesium, iron, and calcium.
How much: Aim for a tablespoon of fresh basil or quarter to half a teaspoon of dried basil three times a week.
Serving suggestion: Basil epitomizes summer foods, such as cold tomato or pasta salads. But don’t stop there. Add it to pizza, pasta, or anything with tomatoes any time of year.
5. Cayanne or Chili Peppers
Capsaicin, the active ingredient in peppers, works as a great topical pain reliever for headaches, arthritis, and other chronic pain problems. Capsaicin inhibits the release of P-protein, which in turn interrupts the transmission of constant pain signals to the brain. If you don’t feel like smearing it on yourself, orally ingesting capsaicin has been linked to the release of endorphins and the regulation of blood sugar and has been shown to have anticancer benefits.
How much: As little as an eighth of a teaspoon can have positive health benefits.
Serving suggestions: There’s a whole world of chili peppers out there, from the mild poblano to the fiery habanero. It’s worth experimenting to find your favorite. Chili peppers work particularly well in salsas, soups, chicken dishes, and even in caramel or chocolate desserts. I LOVE chili chocolate!
Now it is your turn. How can you begin to use these spices to boost your immune system and heal your body from within? What are your favorite herbs and which ones do you need to give another chance?
Your body is a beautiful, healing machine. When given the respect and supportive ingredients to be the most effective, it will treat you well. Stay in the game of life this season and protect yourself daily from all those invaders that fill our world.
You can’t get rid of all the invaders.But, you DO have the power to surround yourself with the good stuff and create your own healing, protective barrier!
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