It seems that building strong immunity is front and center these days. We have a pandemic that probably will be with us as a regular player, increase in stress which lowers immunity, erratic weather and storms, and the general instability of life.
In light of all this and as I turn 71 in a few weeks, I am returning to an old standard of herbal self care that has served me well in the past. I am adding Adrenal Support Formula and Immune Tonic to my morning routine at least 5 days a week. The key word here is Tonic. I am not treating an illness or weakness but rather nourishing, fortifying my Adrenals that help me deal with stress and my Immune system which deals with everything from covid to colds. The goal here is Vitality and tonics help us create that.
It's not herbal, but sleep is one of my new favorite medicines. This is because the nervous system is so overstimulated with our busyness, world news availability, responsibilities and the complexities of modern life (we drive rather than walk to work).
At night our nervous system and our back brain, our limbic brain can unwind itself as the neocortex and all the stim shuts down. Our brain waves slow as we do. This gives our cells a chance to recover and restore. One of my qi gong teachers, Bingkun Hu, who worked a lot with people with all kinds of illness would recommend sleep as a healing modality when ill.
My latest favorite herb for good sound sleep is Reishi, Ganoderma lucidum or tsugai. This herb helps quiet the spirit which in China is called the Shen. Reishi nourishes the heart and mind, is great for the liver and slows allergic hyper activity mediated by its work on the deep immune system. Taking 2-4 droppers before bed can help us fall asleep and stay asleep and have a more peaceful night.
Often a particular system gets impacted in a certain season, like the respiratory system in the winter with all the pathogens circling around. Say that you know you get a few colds or even always get bronchitis in winter. If that's the case, it is wise to start the season before with a Lung Tonic so that even if you do get a cold it will be less symptomatic and clear faster. The idea here is to pre treat the body so the illness doesn’t arise or is less impactful if it does.
When winter comes around I remember the Chinese habit of cooking nourishing restorative qi building herbs in a soup with bones for three days!!! nIt is called Fu Zheng Soup. The name means 'restorative soup' as best as I can understand it.
It can be made in a slow cooker with a lid, an Instapot (pressure cooker), or on a wood stove if attended. I have given this soup to people recovering from illness that has weakened them, postpartum, or just as a winter source of vitality. It is really easy to make, herbs, bones and water. In the last hour you can add vegetables as well. Then everything is removed and the soup is cooled and strained and put into ice cube trays and frozen. Then each day pop out 1-2 of these and heat in a pot and drink. It feels like herbal vitamins. You can really feel an energy pick up (without any caffeine or stimulant).
We will be selling packets of herbs as soon as we gather them all up this month. Probably by end of October. Complete with instructions.
You can buy bones, beef or poultry. I think fish bones might not work for this.
Another powerful immune support is the Breath. Nothing feeds us more than healthy breathing. Even if it is a short practice of conscious breathing before sleep or upon waking one can learn a lot about their own body and state of mind just by observing the breath. You might find your shoulders are up or the ribs or diaphragm aren’t moving or the breath is very shallow which actually can produce anxiety. Attention to the breath can reset our nervous system which will improve immunity. If you have difficulty breathing because of sinus blockage chronically try a rosemary steam with a few drops of essential oils or a handful of sprigs of fresh Rosemary simmered in a pot for ten minutes. Let it permeate your whole house or use a humidifier with the essential oil. Try our Breathe Deep Chest Rub that can be rubbed in front and back for clearing the respiratory system
Most people love elderberry syrup and it can be easily made at home or purchased. If you don’t want to purchase the syrup you can use our elder berry extract and even add ginger propolis, echinacea, or elder flowers to make your own special personal version. This is so supportive to maintaining healthy immunity.
Lastly, a healthy amount of exercise and getting outside is important. Yes, we get tired after work and all the busyness, but Ashwaganda, Eleuthero, American Ginseng, and Licorice can all keep your vitality up. These are non-stimulating tonics that feed and nourish our energy stores. They can be used as singles or in combination (as the Adrenal Tonic mentioned above).
Take care of your precious self.
My name is Bonnie Bloom and I am a clinical herbalist. Plants give us clothing, shelter, food and medicine. They are an intrinsic part of our earth ecology, diverse and essential. They breathe our carbon dioxide and generously give us oxygen. Where would we be without them.