How To Support Your 3 Stages Of Immunity
Our immune systems are complicated and during cold & flu season can be supported in a variety of ways. Using medicinal herbs to better our health is a way to stay vibrant, active and happy during these cold winter months.
Lets break it down in a simple way to understand...
Think of our immunity as a community or kingdom. There are multiple aspects of the same system that work together to keep your immunity (the community) strong. These systems will fight off invading bad bacteria (anything that comes towards your castle).
When we think about what herbs do what for immunity, the above analogy is my go-to in explaining how herbs work. They all work differently and do different things. There is not a one stop shop for "I want to raise my immunity / beat this cold". It's all dependent on where you're at, how you feel and what situation you are in.
When we know the long, winter months are approaching, it is wise to look at our "building" herbs as our first go-to. These herbs work in a way that build your immunity up on a deep level BEFORE any sickness is starting to spread around. These are especially useful for people who either work in physically tight-knit locations where there's a lot of people (and potential sickness) or children who are going to daycare, kindergarten, school, ect. I like to describe these types of herbs as helping your immune system build up stronger, stair by stair. Imagine a staircase. When these herbs are taken daily, your immunity is being built slowly but surely, one stair at a time, until your immune system is raised to the top of the staircase. When your immunity is built high and strong, bacteria and viruses that are circling around won't be able to "invade your castle".
- Reishi Mushroom
- Turkey Tail Mushroom
- Shiitake Mushroom
Activators / Stimulators:
Herbs that activate or stimulate the immune system can be looked at like the warriors protecting the castle. These herbs are the most well known. When there is a threat around you (other people are sick or a bacteria/virus is just starting to enter your body) your body will turn itself onto "warrior mode" to try to fight the bacteria off. Our bodies do this naturally. We can either support this stage or ignore this stage. There are a lot of herbs that are used to support this stage. These herbs are not necessarily antibacterial or antiviral. Yet, some do have this added property. They are used more to active your own immune system and support your personal defenses so you can fight off this intruder. These are beneficial at the beginning stages when you are first starting to feel symptoms. Bacteria will enter your body through any opening it can, i.e your mouth, nose, ears, eyes. This is why you tend to get a sore throat or stuffy/runny nose first.
Activators / Stimulator Herbs:
- Echinacea (also a light lymphatic cleanser)
- Vitamin C
Antibacterial / Antiviral:
Antibacterial and antiviral herbs are the heavy hitters. These are the bombs being thrown towards the investors of your body. They are used to come into the "invasion" and destroy bacteria. This feels like an easy way to go while you're in it. Yet, the downfall is that once the bacteria or virus is killed, your immunity is still low. These herbs do not activate or build your immunity.This makes it easy for another bacteria or virus to enter your body right after. Your defense mechanisms are still at a low point and it's necessary to rebuild immediately. In this scenario, after the bacteria is killed off and you start feeling better, it is useful to start using activators to fight off surrounding bacteria while you build your immunity back up with building herbs.
Antibacterial / Antiviral Herbs:
- Oregano Oil
- Olive Leaf Extract
- Grapefruit Seed Extract
The stronger your immunity is, the less time you'll have to spend fighting off cold or the flu. If our "kingdom" is supported and strong, the less likely we'll have to fight off invaders through the rough months. When we create a strong, healthy environment within our bodies, bacterial and viruses have a much less chance of being able to invade. Being aware of how to properly take care of our bodies sets us up for success throughout these cold, winter months.
Stay warm, drink tea, eat soup and have fun this winter!