Immune Support Tips

Supporting Immunity Naturally with Nutrition and Traditional Chinese Medicine

The immune system is the most dynamic body component in determining our state of health or disease.  Our immune system constantly interacts with our internal environment, protects us from our external environment, and provides the inherent knowledge to sense the difference between friend and foe.  For many reasons, including, genetics and individuality, some of us may be overactive or not active enough, in our defences, which can create a variety of health problems like allergies, infections, and cancer.

There are many components to the immune system – organs, bone marrow, cells, antibodies, chemicals and the nutrients that help nourish and generate them.  The immune system protects us from viruses, bacteria, yeasts and fungi, foreign proteins, cancer cells and even provides protection against any of our own cells that no longer function properly.

Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is important to our immunity because a lot of our immune cells travel within it.  Unlike the cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system does not have a pump.  Like venous blood, lymph is under low hydrostatic pressure and may not flow readily through the vessels without the contraction of skeletal muscle.  This is why a stagnant lifestyle is a huge component affecting the strength of our immunity.

Different ways to increase circulation and cleansing of lymph:

Microsystems massage, yoga, breathing exercises, acupuncture and cupping, skin brushing, thymus tap, calf pump – any kind of jumping, hydrotherapy – hot/cold shower (always end with cold) and sauna’s.

Immune Support Nutritionals

Nutrients: Vitamins A, C, and E, Zinc, Selenium, Iron, Essential Fatty Acids, Adequate Protein Intake, Glutathione, B Vitamins, Water, Fiber and a Positive Attitude.

Herbs:  Aloe Vera, Astragalus, Boswellia, Echinacea, Garlic, Ginger, Goldenseal, Licorice, Maitake mushrooms, Pokeroot, Redroot, Reishi
mushroom, Shiitake mushroom and St. John’s wort.

Foods to Support Immunity:  Mushrooms, Dark Leafy Greens (collards, lettuce, root tops, chard), Lentils, Lemons, Bee Pollen, Honey
(raw, unpasteurized), Bright Colored Vegetables/Fruits, Ginger, Garlic, Onion, Cruciferous Veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, brussels, cabbage, bok choy, kale), Flax Seeds, Chia Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Walnuts, Almonds, Maple Syrup, Avocado, Red/Purple Grapes, Herbs, Sea Veggies (dulse, kelp, algae), Chlorophyll (plant blood), Raw Cacao, Goji Berries, Acai Berry, Quinoa, and Brown Rice.

Foods that Suppress Immunity:  Artificial Sweeteners and Aspartame (acceptable: stevia, xylitol), Processed Food, Deli Meat, Margarine, Fast food, Fried Foods, Sugar, Red Meat, Rancid Oils, Genetically Modified Foods, Dairy, Wheat (pasta, flour, bread), Alcohol, Drugs (pharmaceutical and recreational), Foods heavily treated with pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective:

According to TCM there are 2 types of colds; ones with heat symptoms and ones with cold symptoms.  Both are treated differently.  Here are some natural ways to help you get through these uncomfortable times.  Please note that not all foods are appropriate for everyone.  Some foods may exacerbate certain conditions so these are guidelines only.  For more specific dietary guidelines for your body type please contact your TCM practitioner for a consultation.

Cold Symptoms:

An aversion to cold, shivering, low or no fever, chills predominated over feelings of heat, no sweat, occipital headache, stiff neck, body aches, slight cough, sneezing, running nose w/white discharge.

Nutritional Treatment:

Raw ginger, honey, lemon tea –  Ginger is very warming and has antiviral properties.  Ginger is pain relieving, antiseptic and antioxidant. It is valuable for preventing and treating colds, sore throats and inflammation of mucus membranes. Ginger also reduces pain and fever and has a mild sedative effect that will encourage rest.

Honey  is antibacterial and coats the throat, and lemon has lots of vitamin C and is alkaline within the body, disease cannot live in an alkaline environment.

Raw garlic – Garlic is antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal.  It is also very warming so it is perfect for cold conditions.  Either put in foods or you can place slice against your cheek.  The blood capillaries are very superficial there and get absorbed into the blood stream quickly.  Has to be raw, the volatile oils are what have the medicinal properties and are destroyed with heat.  Add to dressings and food after cooking.

Avoid cold foods and drinks.

Heat Symptoms

Red eyes, head cold, fever, may have phlegm but will be green or yellow.  barking cough with sore raw throat

Nutritional Treatment:

Pear: cooling, and benefits the lungs.  But for the cold seasons you want to warm it up, makes a great natural cough syrup that’s safe for kids and adults alike.  (see below for recipe)

Ginger!!  Even with heat symptoms, ginger is good because it induces sweating and helps to push the disease out.  Only if it is still an exterior heat condition.  Avoid dry ginger because it will hold heat in.  While drinking your tea, you can also add some ginger slices to a hot bath, only until you break a mild sweat then get into bed for the night.

In both cases, avoid dairy and damp forming foods, which create more phlegm.  Other damp foods are wheat, orange juice, fried foods, and alcohol.

Immune boosting natural remedies and recipes:

Acupuncture and Cupping like massage, helps to stimulate lymph flow.  It also draws toxins out of the body and can loosen any potential phlegm in the lungs for excretion.  Cupping and acupuncture can be very effective at slowing and/or even stopping a developing cold if you get into see your practitioner soon enough.

Natural Neo-Citron recipe (Ginger tea)

Peel and chop 1-2 inches of fresh ginger and steep in hot water.  Add honey and lemon to taste.  Enjoy.

Add in’s:  Fresh sage – soothing on sore throats.  Garlic and/or cayenne, anti-viral and will help induce sweating.

Oat water:
Great immune booster.  Drink regularly to support healthy immunity.

Add 2-3 tbsp of oat groats or flakes to boiling water.  Simmer from 30 mins – 2hrs.  The longer the more potent.  Strain and drink the water.

Natural cough syrup:  (Safe for adults and kids)

Put 3-4 chopped pears  in pot of water, boil for 45 mins, water will dissipate and become thick.  You can also add flax to make it a little thicker.  Strain or add honey if desired.

For more information or to book an appointment, contact tina@perfectbalancewc.ca or call 519.804.1697