It is common practice for the average population to get their annual jab from the docs amidst the cold and flu season. I never knew any different.
I always dreaded this miserable time of year. One of my petty gripes was every third person complaining they had the flu, when really they had a cold. Hence why some people could not understand why they still got sick after getting the flu vac. But the real reason I dreaded the wintery months was because I was one of those unlucky ones who really came under the weather. It seemed to always be straight after my immunisation too (however, not intending to imply any relation).
It always started with a blocked nose and a slight cough, to a few days later not being able to breathe out either nostril and coughing so hard it felt like a punch to the chest and pins stabbing my throat. I would be bed ridden for days. My cough would take on the sound of hyena, I had to use ventolin due to short breath, and I would be so dosed up on cold and flu tablets that all I could do was sleep or watch Dr Phil or Ready Steady Cook on midday TV.
A couple of years ago I got tested for asthma as my breathing became so difficult, plus it runs in one side of my family. It turned out I was clear, but it was just something I had to suffer with every winter. The most extreme sickness I got was when I was 14 years old. Just like most years, I thought it was the annual visit from Mr Cold. But after several trips to the docs I was diagnosed with pharyngitis. I coughed so hard I fractured a rib, so then I had to be on panadeine forte to provide comfort. That sure knocked me out.
Fast forward to now, and all I get is a slight onset of sniffles before I send that cold packing with the best immune boosting herbs I know. We really do underestimate the power of good health and using nature’s plants and flowers. We also forget that herbal medicine was all we ever knew before modern medicine came about. Sure, if it is more convenient for you to get the jab than to skip health, then do so. But today I want to share another alternative.
When I first moved to Townsville, I got a cold almost immediately from the sudden change in climate. Instead of heading into the chemist as my old self would, I decided to check out the Happy Herb Shop instead. Melina, the business owner, described two key herbs that she and many others go to for mending a broken immune system. Herb Robert and Pau d’Arco. Like yourself right now, I had never heard of these herbs before, but they sounded promising. And really, what damage was drinking a cup of herbal tea going to do?
I am glad I got that cold, because walking into that shop also gave me the opportunity to work there from the following week. My eyes now continue to be opened by the plethora of botanicals that can heal just bout every ailment known to man. And that was what also led me to begin studying a Bachelor of Health Science in Naturopathy. Now, having worked there for 14 months, I can share with you my experience on immunity herbs and how they too have helped so many others.
Below I have listed three of the most common herbs bought through the shop for immunity. Whenever I start to feel a niggling blocked nose, or there are sick people around me, I immediately brew up a teaspoon each of Herb Robert and Pau d’Arco in hot water, steep for about 5 minutes and then kick back and enjoy. I will drink this between 2-3 times a day. I will also make fresh cold-pressed juices and spicy Indian soups packed with ginger. I will do this every day until the coast is clear.
Actions: astringent, antibiotic, adaptogen, antiviral, styptic, tonic, diuretic, digestive, sedative, antioxidant, antiseptic.
This herb is one of the most common immune boosters bought from the Happy Herb Shop. Also known as St Robert’s Wort, this plant is a blood oxygenator, which is valuable in making oxygen available to cells in the human body. Lack of oxygen in the cells can be can be caused by free radicals and a toxic state around the cells. This can give rise to pain, disease, and cancer (info from Isabel Shiphard, ‘How Can I Use Herbs in My Daily Life?’). Lack of oxygen to the cells is one of the prime causes of cancer, hence why Herb Robert is related to many success stories in fighting cancers. Using Herb Robert regularly can be great practice for immunity and cell health.
This Amazonian herb boosts immune function as well as red blood cell count. Widely used for candida, fungal infections, parasitic infections, leukaemia and anaemia. Teamed with Herb Robert, this makes a powerful concoction in fighting or preventing colds. Pau d’Arco is also used as an expectorant: to promote “coughing up” of mucus from the lungs in order to free contaminants that have built up (info from The Happy Herb Company). Brew up a pot of Pau d’Arco and Herb Robert and drink at least once a day at the onset of a cold or when cold and flu season is approaching.
Bark: Use for immunity and treating common colds.
Powder: Use when bigger doses are needed for ailments such as fungal infections of the skin.
Actions: antispectic, aphrodisiac, alterative, deodorant, tonic, antiscrofulus, antibiotic, analgesic, antifungal, antibacterial, immune stimulant, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, prophylactic.
Echinacea is well known as an excellent immune booster that fights bacterial and viral infections. Specifically used for tonsillitis, infected wounds and swollen glands. This herb contains a natural antibiotic echinocoside which is comparable to penicillin in that it is active across a broad-spectrum (Isabel Shiphard). Echinacea is a blood purifier and powerful lymphatic cleanser. Use for cold and flu prevention and infections of the upper respiratory tract such as tonsillitis, laryngitis and nose and sinuses. Steep one teaspoon of the herb in hot water for a relaxing and healing tea. A customer from the shop brews this with fresh cinnamon which also tastes delightful.