By Miranda Tringis
Now more than ever we are all aware of the need for a strong immune system which is able to ward off and cope with viruses and other pathogens. Building a strong immune system is vital, to protect ourselves and those around us. Prevention is everything.
Nutrition: First and foremost, our food must be of high nutritional value, containing lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, which are rich in vitamins and minerals. Eat fresh vegetables every day, in homecooked meals, and avoid processed foods which have little to no nutritional value. Limit sugar intake to an absolute minimum, as sugar weakens our immune system. Your body –and waistline also – will be thankful to you if you limit sugar and simple carbs such as white bread, pasta etc. Fresh fruit juices and smoothies with fresh veggies, fruits, ginger and spirulina are rich in vital vitamins and have high nutritional value. In addition to a healthy diet you may supplement with extra vitamin C, B complex, D, or a multivitamin supplement.
Teas: drinking a fortifying, nourishing tea rich in vitamins and minerals, such as nettle, is a fantastic way to boost the immunity. Make it as strong as possible the following way: Put 2 tablespoons of nettle in a teapot or jar, add boiling water, close the lid and leave it to infuse for 1-2 hours in order to get all the nourishing goodness from the plant. Then strain and drink. You could also make it at bedtime and leave it to infuse overnight to make it extra powerful.
Apart from nettles, the top herbs for immunity are rock rose, elderflower, echinacea, thyme, sage, licorice, ginger, turmeric and oregano. These herbs also have antiviral, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties, which is exactly what we need at this time. Most of the plants listed above can be found in abundance in Cyprus, especially rock rose, which grows almost everywhere where there are pine trees. Herbs like oregano, sage and thyme are easy to grow at home, even on a balcony. When you grow your own, be sure to always add a few leaves of fresh herbs to your cooking, to receive the benefits and the amazing aroma, which will enhance any dish.
Tinctures: Extracts from Echinacea and olive leaf are concentrated natural antivirals, enhancing the immune system. Olive leaf extract also has strong antiviral properties. Tinctures are easy to take and ideal for those of us who don’t have time to make tea, you simply put the stated dosage of drops under the tongue or in a glass of water. It is important to take the tinctures regularly during the day in order to stay covered.
Essential oils: Essential oils can be inhaled to kill off pathogens in the lungs and to create a barrier near the mouth and nose, protecting you from microbes. Great anti-viral and antimicrobial essential oils to inhale are oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, cloves, tea tree, frankincense and lavender. You can travel with them and inhale them on a hanky or on your scarf any time you want extra antimicrobial action in the lungs. If you are travelling, I cannot recommend this method strongly enough. Simply put a few drops of one or more or the above essential oils on your scarf and breathe them in. You could also add a few drops of essential oil into your store-bought hand sanitiser, in your hand cream, in the bath water, onto your pillow at bedtime etc.
Oregano oil can be taken internally to give a turbo boost to the immune system, but always mixed into a thick liquid, like yoghurt or honey. Take 1-2 drops three times a day, especially if you feel you are already coming down with something. Oregano essential oil is nature’s most powerful natural antibiotic, you will feel the healing effect on the respiratory system right away.
Listen to your body. Self care is vital for a strong immune system. Make sure you get enough sleep and spend time outside in nature. Walks in the woods or on the beach are really invigorating for body and mind so get out in the fresh air to de-stress and recharge your batteries.
Miranda Tringis is a herbalist at Cyherbia Botanical Park, Avgorou, www.cyherbia.com