I am a firm believer that gut health is closely linked to the immune system and I have discussed how we can improve our children's gut health. However, I also love to use herbs both for strengthening the immune system and for treating illness.
My favourite immune boosting herbs are:
During winter I give Lexi a daily dose of Echincaforce. Echinacea is an herb that has been found to boost the immune system. Medical research has shown it to be safe and effective in decreasing the frequency, duration, and severity of common illnesses such as ear and sinus infections, colds, and the flu. There is also research that shows there is NO NEED to periodically go off Echinacea to keep it effective. I follow an eight weeks on, two weeks off schedule. However, it's up to you.
Garlic forms the basis of almost everything I make. It's also known to carry powerful compounds that boost the immune system. Research has shown that if you crush or slice garlic and allow it to stand for ten minutes before you use it it increases the efficacy of these compounds.
Olive leaf extract is great for antimicrobial support, anti-fungal support and as an antioxidant. It is also conveniently available in syrups for children (make sure to choose an alcohol free one). It can also be used to control hypertensive activity, calm allergies and digestive challenges. Please consult a doctor or homeopath first.
There are times when our children's bodies can't fight what's going around and they get sick. These herbs can be used to lessen symptoms and shorten the duration of colds and flu:
The berry from the elderberry tree can be dehydrated and added to teas, used in a tea directly, or can be mixed with other herbs to help fight colds and flu symptoms. In addition to the normal assistance the elderberry gives to help reduce sore throats and cold symptoms, it also has heavy anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce inflammation throughout the body. This can help reduce aches and pains in your system as well, which leads to better sleep and fatigue relief.
Ginger is a root herb that is used for sore throats and stomach issues. You can use ginger in several ways including in teas, as a powder form, and in juices and smoothies. It does have a spice effect to it that gives a heat. For a fully boosting effective option, mix the ginger with orange juice to give a strong boost and toxin fighting option for your cold or flu and to boost your immune system reaction.
Honeysuckle is a plant that grows in most areas during the early spring and summer months. Honeysuckle flowers can be used to help boost the immune system and aid in fighting against sinus issues. It can easily be dehydrated and used in teas throughout the year. In fact, most people who use honeysuckle tend to harvest it in large quantities and then dehydrate it for use later on since it only grows for a short time. I buy already dehydrated honeysuckle from my local health food store.
Traditional healers since ancient times have used oregano extract as a natural remedy to treat respiratory issues such as coughs, colds, flu, sore throats, and bronchitis.Based on notable research studies, the volatile oils in oregano (thymol and carvacrol) have antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. For children 6 to 10 years old, 1 to 3 drops mixed with juice or water once per day will suffice. If the child is more than 10 years old, 1 to 3 drops with liquid 2 or 3 times per day is recommended.