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Fortify your Immune System



The Fall weather has arrived, I am sure you can feel the changes as your bodies adjust to and prepare for cooler weather. Physically, one of the responses the body has to the sudden drop in temperature at night is an increase in appetite and a tickle or drainage in your throat. These symptoms occur as your hypothalamus gland adjusts to the sudden change of temperature. Mentally and emotionally we also find ourselves turning inward, we find ourselves a little more serious and less carefree than in summer. Fall is a time of harvest, of pulling in and building up energy reserves for winter. It is a time of planning, a time for re-grouping our thoughts and evaluating our goals. This is a good time to listen to the body and reflect on your self-care and make changes where they are needed. Fall is the time of year to pay special attention to fortifying your immune system, so it stays strong through the winter months.

I wanted to share with you some notes on several herbs that I keep on hand in my herbal medicine cabinet for the Fall season. There are 3 categories of herbal formulas which are helpful to have at this time of year.

· Formulas which help you adjust to seasonal weather changes such as Seasonal Defense, Burdock, Ginger, Seasonal Allergy, and CC-A

· Formulas which address allergies to the plants which bloom in the fall such as Sinus Support and HistaBlock

· Formulas which provide extra support and immune protection my favorites are Olive Leaf, Garlic, Echinacea and Goldenseal


Here's some information on some of my favorite formulas:


The herbal blend Seasonal Defense is a wonderful formula to support seasonal weather changes. The key herb in this formula is Andrographis paniculata. This herb activates the immune response in the body. Andrographis paniculata has been used for hundreds of years in China, India and Scandinavian countries to help the body cope with upper respiratory tract infection, fever, and sore throats. It is often considered a preventative herb for the common cold. The formula Seasonal Defense also contains the herbs Oregano and Thyme which help to thin mucus and relax your bronchioles so you can breathe better, and also have natural anti-microbial action. . Bitter Orange is commonly used as an expectorant which helps to eliminate excess phlegm and congestion. This herb also has antihistamine properties. Often when we start to get cold symptoms we wonder if the symptoms are from an allergy or a virus, this formula is addressing both these areas. The last herb in this formula is Eleuthero, also known as Siberian ginseng, is a powerful antioxidant and has immune and stress supporting properties. Burdock herb, which I have mentioned many times, helps the body adjust to the seasonal weather changes and helps minimize the drippy sinus many people get at this time of year.


Seasonal weather changes bring on sinus drainage, runny eyes, a tickle in the throat, coughs, and feelings of being chilled and unable to get warm. Formulas which contain warm and spicy herbs are helpful at this time of year. You can add warm spicy herbs to your food such as a nice cup of ginger tea, extra garlic in your soup, or add some horseradish or capsicum to various meals. Dr. John Christopher, the Master Herbalist who formulated the Sinus Support formula, used to recommend horseradish as a remedy for sinus infections. He would have you take a ¼ tsp. of freshly grated horseradish and hold it on your tongue until all the taste was gone. It would immediately start cutting the mucus loose form the sinuses to drain down the throat. This would help clear the pressure in the sinus and clear the infection.

I Hope this information helps you to better understand some of the herbs and formulas available to you to support your immune system.


One of my favorite formulas for Fall allergies is Nature’s Sunshine’s Sinus Support. The first herb in this formula is Capsicum Fruit which has antiseptic, decongestant properties (stimulates the productions of mucus fluids to remove irritants) and soothes inflammation in the mucus membranes. Because this is a hot herb, I find it best to take this formula on a full stomach. Sinus Support also contains Burdock, which I mentioned above as helping the body adjust to temperature changes. Burdock also helps the body deal with allergens. Goldenseal is another key herb in this formula. Goldenseal root soothes inflammation or irritation in the mucus membranes caused by allergens or microbes; it also has natural antimicrobial properties. Several other herbs in the formula have expectorant and decongestant properties, as well as properties to support your immune system.


Even with all our preparation we still sometimes pick up a virus or develop a bacterial infection in the sinus or lungs. I keep several herbs on my shelf which I consider the “Big Guns” for immune support. Olive Leaf, High Potency Garlic, Echinacea, and Goldenseal. I keep a variety because herbs tend to have an affinity to different areas of the body as well as having slightly different properties on how they support your immune system. While the herbs I mentioned previously can be taken daily if desired, I use these herbs when I feel my immune system has been compromised, or I know I am fighting off a virus or bacteria. If you start taking these at the first symptoms, you can often stop the attack in 3-5 days without developing full blown symptoms of being ill.

Olive Leaf – I feel this herb has the widest spectrum of anti-microbial activity of this group. Olive Leaf is powerful and works quickly to support your body’s ability to deal with both infections and viruses. Olive leaf is a potent source of antioxidants which seem to play a role in why this is such a powerful immune system stimulator. When I use olive leaf, I typically take 4-6 daily until I feel my immune system has things under control.


High Potency Garlic (1 tablet = 1 clove of garlic) – this herb has natural antibiotic properties and is excellent for thinning mucus in the lungs and sinuses. Garlic has special affinity to the lungs. If you crush a clove of garlic and rub it on the bottom of your feet you will quickly be able to taste the garlic and smell it on your breath. You can do this (cover your feet with heavy socks) when you feel you are fighting a cold (especially if it has gone into your lungs). I prefer to make Garlic soup (6 cloves of garlic in 24 ounces of chicken broth) to stimulate my immune system when I feel run down. I also keep a bottle of garlic on hand for when I feel I am fighting something off, in which case, I take 3-6 of them daily.

Echinacea is a wonderful immune supporting herb. In low doses (1-2 capsules daily) it helps keep your immune system more alert. In higher doses (6-9 capsules daily) it is a powerful anti-viral herb and helps clear toxins from the blood. I take echinacea to cleanse my blood when I have been stung by wasps, because I am allergic to their venom. When I feel my immune system is compromised (perhaps because of lack of sleep or poor diet) then I will take several echinacea for a few days to help rebalance my system.

Goldenseal has a special affinity to the sinus (remember it is in the Sinus Support formula). It has anti-microbial properties and helps to sooth inflamed tissues. I tend to reach for this herb when I think I might be getting a sinus infection, it has saved me having to take antibiotics over the years. Like Olive Leaf, goldenseal is a very powerful herb. I use this herb sparingly for it is an endangered herb (due to over harvesting). goldenseal is considered an endangered herb. It can be cultivated commercially but It takes 5 to 7 years to grow harvestable roots from seed or cuttings. Goldenseal also seems to really help with urinary infections as well as stomach and digestive disorders.


Another herb I keep on hand during the fall and winter is Mullein. Mullein has an affinity for the lungs and sinus. I always keep it on hand in my herbal medicine chest. It soothes irritated lungs and helps with a dry unproductive cough. Mullein will help put moisture back in the lungs and loosen the mucus so it can be expelled. I normally take 3 capsules, 2-3 times daily as needed.


For a Damp cough that produces lots of phlegm, the formula Seasonal Allergy (formally ALJ) would be a better choice. This formula contains Fennel, fenugreek and horseradish which are all spicy aromatic herbs. They act as expectorants to loosen and dissolve mucus. In addition, these herbs have a focus on the digestive tract to help break up gas and intestinal spasms. Seasonal Allergy formula also contains Boneset herb, which gets its name directly from its traditional use of helping the body fight off the flu. The flu’s original name was “break-bone fever” because of the achy bones that came with the onset of the symptoms. The herb Boneset was found to help get rid of the aches and pains associated with the flu, and that is how the herb got its name. Boneset has traditionally been used to help the body overcome cold symptoms. I often combine garlic with this formula.

I Hope this information helps you to better understand some of the herbs and formulas available to you to support your immune system.

See this link to view more information on these products on my affiliate website.

As we move into this beautiful time of year remember to embrace gratitude. Gratitude helps to reduce the stress response and balance brain chemistry. Be grateful for the gifts our Earth provides, and the wonderful healing plants it provides. Practice Good self-care – take time to create some special time for yourself. It is good to nourish the lives of others, but make sure you take the time to nourish and meet your own needs as well.



Disclaimer: Supplement recommendations are not designed to treat a disease condition. Discussions are for educational purposes only. Supplements should be used to nourish and strengthen the natural function of the various body organs and systems so that they will have a greater capacity to heal themselves. It is not intended to replace your doctor's recommendations. Any questions or concerns that you have regarding existing medical conditions, or the use of medications with supplements, should be discussed with your nutritionally oriented medical doctor.


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Photos by Valerie Greguire, all rights reserved

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