written by Danielle Zies
A bittersweet change is in the air. Leaves are changing colours, days are getting shorter, pumpkin spice everythings are available on every street corner, and mustard scarves are in fashion. Yes, it is safe to say that fall is here in all of its glory.
As the season changes, so do our routines. Work picks up again after the summer slow down and stress levels start to creep up on us as the holidays approach. Adapting to these changes is an important part of staying healthy throughout the year, but doing little things to boost your immune system can be the cherry on top when it comes to avoiding falling victim to seasonal sickness.
As it starts to get colder outside, there are things you can do to turn up the heat inside your own body that can be extremely beneficial in strengthening your immune system. When I say turn up the heat, what I really mean is using diaphoretic herbs, and when I say diaphoretic herbs, what I mean is herbs that make you sweat. These “sweat herbs” help create heat within our bodies, which offer many benefits such as:
- An increased metabolism which helps stimulate our immune defense systems
- Promotes perspiration and opens up surface capillaries, bringing heat to the skin's surface (induces a fever) which helps speed up the elimination of toxins
- Increases circulation, which means more oxygenated blood goes to your vital organs- they like this, it helps them function optimally
- Helps to relieve muscle tension, aching joints and other inflammatory conditions
Top 4 “Sweating” Herbs to add to your world to help boost immunity
- Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial herb. Sore throat? Ginger is your best friend. Make a tea or chew it raw and let its spicy anti-viral juices run down your throat- not only will it soothe the pain and reduce inflammation, but it will also work to stop bacteria and viruses in their tracks. Ginger is also great for relieving an unsettled stomach.
- Garlic is one of the most effective anti-microbial herbs available, it is also crazy delicious. Incorporating this food into your daily diet is a great way to keep your immune system strong. It works particularly well for coughs and congestion. Make garlicky bruschetta, or if you are feeling brave, pop a clove.
- Garlic is also a good source of vitamin C, which as we know, is an important vitamin for preventing sickness.
- Cayenne is a strong heat builder and circulatory stimulant, it is also a potent anti-septic. It is an excellent remedy for a cold; it can be used as a sore throat gargle and can help calm irritating coughs. Sprinkle it in soups or add it to your green juices.
- Oregano oil is a powerful immunity builder! It contains thymol and carvacrol, two oils that have been shown to have amazing anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. A bottle of oregano oil should be a staple in every medicine cabinet.
- At the first sign of sickness, add a few drops to some warm water and drink it on an empty stomach. It is spicy and shockingly strong tasting, but it works wonders.
Spicy Immune Boosting Elixir
This is a great every morning drink to help increase circulation, boost metabolism, cleanse your system and help keep your immune system strong. It is also a soothing, decongesting, virus fighting tonic if you do happen to fall under the weather this season.
- 1 cup of water
- 4 quarter sized slices of ginger
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- 1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp unpasteurized honey
Boil water and pour over ginger slices in your mug, infuse as you would tea for 10 minutes. Add in lemon juice, honey and cayenne pepper. Drink up and when you feel the burn, you’ll know it’s working its magic.
(*Note* if you already have a fever, omit the cayenne pepper as it may create too much heat in the body)
Danielle Zies is a nutritionist and holistic culinary expert located in Toronto. She is the founder of Simply Nourished, a wellness company that strives to nourish clients from the inside out using the delicious power of whole foods. Simple recipes, simple ingredients for a wonderfully Simply Nourished you. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.