Mary’s Winter Immune Boosting Regimen, Part 2
Two weeks ago, I shared with you the first four steps I take to protect and boost my family’s health during the cooler months of the year when monster bugs tend to want to make their way into our lives. Something as simple as a slight cold can keep our family on quarantine for over two weeks as it works it way through the ranks, so letting down my guard isn’t an option!
If you missed the last post, take a few moments to read the first four steps here. You’ll want to have them in mind as you think about preventing illness this winter.
The next four steps are typically reserved for when we know we’ve been exposed to something nasty, we’re exhibiting signs of illness, or we’re already waving white flags of surrender because sickness has found us!
5. Herbal Teas
While we already use some herbal teas to help decrease our likelihood of getting sick in the first place, I ramp up our doses when we’re facing an increased assault. We cut out most solid foods when we are first feeling down, and replace them with herbal teas and rich bone broths.
I use Red Raspberry Leaf blended with Hibiscus and Rosehips to make gallons of that I sweeten slightly with some local raw honey. This is encouraged generously as the main drink throughout the day to supply both vitamins and minerals to my little “patients.”
Other teas you may consider for general immune boosting are Herbal Immuni-Tea, Lemongrass, Lemon Balm, Elderberry, Nettles and Alfalfa.
If we have sore or tickly throats, I use Marshmallow Leaf, Mullein, or Slippery Elm as well.
For upset tummies, I make sure to use Chamomile, Ginger, Peppermint, or Red Raspberry Leaf.
6. Set up a chart.
I usually set up a chart of what to take each hour and start plugging in different nutritional supplements throughout the day. Here are a few of my favorite protocols.
- Tummy Tuneup – Probiotics help boost the gut flora. Since as much as 80% of the immune system is located in the gut, healthy flora is a great support during illness.
- Vitamin D3 – Based on research I’ve read and the recommendation of the Vitamin D Council, we increase our Vitamin D3 intake for a day or two to between 500-1000 IU per pound of body weight. (These high levels should not be sustained, but are a great way of getting Vitamin D levels to where your body needs them to fight off a temporary illness.)
- Vitamin C – We use either Rosehip C or ChewC and take hourly to bowel tolerance. (Your body will let you know when you’ve had enough!) I find that this can often shorten an illness or decrease its severity, and Vitamin C is a must when there’s a cough involved.
- Berry Well – We use Berry Well as needed all day long.
7. Herbal Infusions
I make strong infusions for both internal and external use. Allowing your herbs to steep for an extended period of time helps to release the nutrients even further for a fomentation or even a strong herbal tea. I have included several examples of how we use infusions.
Garlic and Mullein Oil are great both for ear aches and for gently massaging the lymph nodes to encourage proper drainage.
Mullein Garlic Oil
1 head Fresh Raw Garlic
1 oz dried mullein leaves
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Peel and chop up the garlic and place in a small jar with the mullein leaves. Cover with olive oil and cap the jar tightly. Leave in a window for 2-4 weeks to allow to infuse.
If you need the infused oil more quickly, you can use a double boiler to gently and slowly warm it for about two hours on the stovetop. Cool before placing in a jar.
This infusion will last for three months in a cool dark cabinet, and over six months in the refrigerator. Strain out the garlic and herbs before use.
Garlic Poultices: When we have fevers or upper respiratory infections, I will make a garlic poultice and apply to the feet and chest. This often will bring relief and help boost the immune system and eliminate the cause of the fever. Watch this short video to see exactly how to use a garlic poultice.
I use Lobelia and Mullein for sore throats and coughs.
Sore Throat Love
3 Tbs Mullein
3 Tbs Lobelia
1/2 cup freshly boiled water
In a glass bowl, add herbs and freshly boiled water. Stir to incorporate the herbs in the water, adding more water if needed. Allow to brew for 20-30 minutes. Strain out herbs and reserve the brewed liquid.
Thoroughly saturate a clean cotton cloth in the herbal liquid, then wring out until it is damp but not dripping. Apply the cloth to the neck and wrap gently around the neck. To keep it in place, I use a piece of PUL fabric and lightly wrap it over the fomentation and around the neck as well.
We use this remedy at the first sign of a sore throat, even sleeping overnight with the fomentation on the throat. This promotes health, soothes irritation, and encourages the lymph system to drain.
- Sage and Thyme Decoction – While it’s not the tastiest tea in the world, this strong tea is great for when breathing has become a chore. We suggest using 2 Tablespoons each of Sage and Thyme in 2 cups of freshly boiled water. Steep for 20-30 minutes and then give by the spoonful as tolerated. You can add to a small amount of bone broth to make more palatable.
8. More Herbs
The last step we’ll cover today is dried, ground, or encapsulated herbs. These can give your body small, concentrated punches of nutrients with easy doses. They can be added to smoothies or taken in capsules.
In addition to taking it as a tea, I also recommend using Red Raspberry Leaf capsules when you do not have access to the tea or simply need extra. It is high in Vitamins A, B, C, and E. It also has an impressive mineral content with potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and more. This is a handy way to use it when you’re out of town or just away from the house.
Other herbs we use encapsulated or dried are Slippery Elm in smoothies for sore throats, Cayenne to boost health and help with digestion, Plantain for digestive problems, and Ginger for stomach problems. We use Turmeric in soups and golden milk, or encapsulate it for ease of use.
In my next post, I will wrap up our series with the last three steps and the other supportive measures we use. We would love to hear what you use with your family! Tell us in the comments about your favorite tips!
Could you describe what a typical cold/flu season looks like for your family? Regarding how much your family gets sick and the duration/severity? I’ve heard some say that when they use herbs/oils/supplements their kids never get sick. I find this a little hard to believe, especially if their family spends any time out in the community. I’m kind of riding the fence in regards to using traditional healing vs. Western medicine and I’d like to have a practical picture of what to expect if our family went completely traditional. I understand the arguments made for the safety of traditional healing but what can be expected regarding efficacy?
Great Questions! We are considered a large family with five kids- all are 11 and under. We get about two – three colds a year. We have not had the flu since we had kids that has been diagnosed by a doctor. In the last 6 years, we have only had two stomach viruses that has hit our entire family. Since starting this type regimen, we have gone from 5-6 colds a year to the 2-3. And the durations have gone from 2-3 weeks for our entire family to approximately 1-2 weeks. We aren’t cold/sickness free but it definitely has gotten beter for us.
I definitely see the benefit in using the natural remedies and have enjoyed not having the side effects. I have seen our kids grow in health, instead of just using medications to symptom manage.
Thank you for these helpful tips, Mary. We have been developing a little regimen over the last two years for fighting my husband’s chronic sinus issues naturally. The progress and success are definitely encouraging! In addition to implementing many of the things you mentioned, one of our favorites is called “The Wet Sock Treatment”. A pair of cotton socks is saturated in cold water, wrung out, then tossed in the freezer for a couple minutes to get nice and cold. Slip these on right before going to bed, then pull a pair of dry wool socks over them and head off to dream land! Your feet warm up within seconds, but the brain is tricked into thinking that they are still cold (due to the wet sensation) and triggers the heart to keep pumping blood down to them. Normally when we sleep our heart rate slows down, the white blood cells fighting the virus aren’t being replenished as quickly, the lymph settles, and we generally wake up feeling worse. The wet sock treatment causes the heart to keep a fresh supply of white blood cells fighting throughout the night so that you actually wake up feeling better than when you went to sleep. It sounds crazy, but it really does work amazingly well and your feet are so toasty warm and dry when you wake up! We do this for the first three nights of a sickness and that usually takes care of the problem.
Some of our other favorites include: massaging Beeyoutiful’s Winter Breeze ointment into the chest and bottoms of the feet, diffusing Bandito Blend around the house, and steam baths of essential oils (three drops in a bowl of boiling water, hang head over steam while under a towel tent, and breathe deeply to open sinuses).
After a lifetime of fighting debilitating sinus infections, my husband can tell the difference that using natural remedies is making. He still benefits from occasional use of over the counter medications, but the most lasting relief consistently comes from good nutrition, herbal supplementation, and essential oils. Thank you to Beeyoutiful for all the great products, practical advice, and creative encouragement for healthy living!