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Do you ever wonder why some people get sick all the time and others get through the cold and flu season without even a sniffle? (You secretly want those people to get sick, don’t you?)

I think the reason some people get sick and some don’t is all about our vitality. In Ayurveda it’s called ojas, and it’s the foundation of our immunity. When we have a strong immune system, we can fend off those nasty cold and flu bugs. The key going into the fall and winter is to clean out the toxins and build up your immunity.

If you have a history of digestive or respiratory weakness now is the time to go the extra mile.

I like to start boosting my immune system early in the season before everybody starts sneezing and coughing. One way I do that is by working to improve my digestive function, ground zero for good health. (Sorry but I am probably always going to be harping about digestion!)

When digestion is strong, the body is able to assimilate the nutrients from food and that helps increase immunity. When digestion is not up to snuff, you have the potential to be that person that gets sick all the time. Digestion is a huge topic and it’s way more than just what you eat and how much you poop, but here are a few things I do to help my digestion:

  • Drink warm water and herbal tea throughout the day.
  • Take bitters before or after meals to encourage digestive juices to breakdown food and assimilate nutrients.
  • Don’t snack to let hunger and digestive fire build.
  • Eat the biggest meal at lunch when digestion is at its best.
  • Eat lighter and earlier dinners.
  • Eat food with lots of life force and less processed/packaged food. (Yes, this means cooking!)
  • Add spices to every meal like fresh ginger, cumin, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, fennel, pepper… these herbs contain properties that enhance digestion.

In addition to adopting healthier lifestyle habits like supporting digestion, getting plenty of sleep and staying hydrated (and I am probably always going to harping about hydration too!) I also rely on herbs to boost my immune system, particularly herbal immune tonics. These herbs are slow acting and traditionally taken on a daily basis during the fall and winter to strengthen immunity.

Most immune tonics fall into the category of immunomodulators, which are herbs that have balancing, effects on the immune system, as opposed to immunostimulating herbs which are taken at the onset of an illness.

Make sense?

Okay so cut to the chase already right!

I talked about these herbs in a post last year but they will work this year too 😊

Astragalus Root

I have heard Astragalus called one of the most powerful immune building plants on the planet. Pretty impressive huh?!

So, what does it do?

  • It is an adaptogen so it helps the body adapt to stress. And, as we know, stress is a huge factor in getting sick!
  • It helps strengthen the lungs and is great for people that tend to have respiratory issues.
  • Astragalus is anti-inflammatory, which is at the root of most disease.
  • It boosts the immune system, which is what we are trying to do!
  • It protects the cardiovascular system.
  • Its anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant.
  • Astragalus also increases vitality during the recuperative phase after an illness.
  • It has been shown to help prevent the common cold as well as decrease the duration of infection.

Astragalus is a food herb so it’s safe to take it regularly and in large amounts.

It is best used daily to build immune strength. Its medicine is slow and sustained with full benefits happening after a few weeks of taking it daily.

The best way to use it is in food. I love throwing it into whatever pot is cooking on the stove. Add it to broths, soups, grains like rice or quinoa, herbal chai tea, or try mixing the powder into protein balls, smoothies, baked goods, oatmeal, granola and hot cocoa.

Elderberry

Elderberry is one of the best immune tonics. Why?

Because it’s effective, nourishing and quite yummy tasting!

  • It boosts the immune system, which is our goal!
  • Its antibacterial and anti-viral so it helps prevent colds and flu.
  • It a decongestant which helps with all that mucus build up.
  • Is antioxidant which can help lower your risk of infection.

I like to take it pretty much throughout the fall and winter because it gives me protection against colds, flu and other viral infections. Because really, who wants to be sick? I want to be one of those people who doesn’t get sick!

And, if you happen to be the not so lucky one to get sick, take it to stimulate your immune system, help break a fever and decrease all the snot in your nose. So basically, it helps lessen the symptoms and the severity of colds and flu.

I usually take it as a tincture because it’s easy or as an elixir because it tastes so good. But you can take it as a syrup or make a tea or honey with the dried berries.

Another thing that’s fun to do is to make a strong infusion (tea) and a honey and a tincture and then combine all three. Jazz it up even more by adding in cinnamon, ginger, clove or orange peel.

You can take big doses (by the tablespoon) several time a day. And, its safe for kids. 

What are you waiting for? Get some Elderberry today and stay symptom-free this cold and flu season!

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