The evolution of the immune boosting Immuni-Tea started when my eldest son (now seven!) began daycare at just over a year old. All moms know that once your child starts daycare they are bound to bring home all kinds of illnesses! I wanted to do everything I could to prevent this from happening for my son. I was already a fan of using teas with children – both as medicines and for pleasure – and I knew I could make a tea to boost his immune system (and mine!) Thus the Immuni-Tea was born.
The Immuni-Tea Boost
Immuni-Tea is a combination of several different botanicals – each selected to optimize immune function and speed recovery from coughs, colds and flus. For children I use fewer ingredients, and for adults a few more.
Elderberry berries are a powerful antiviral and help prevent viral infections from taking hold in the respiratory tract. Studies have shown that elderberry is effective against multiple strains of influenza virus and can decrease flu symptoms by several days. Elderberry flowers are also used to calm inflammation in the throat.
Optimal Immune Function
No single botanical has more research on it’s ability to enhance immune function than Echinacea! Echinacea is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial – it can help the body fight off both viral and bacterial infections. It is especially useful for coughs, colds, and infections of the throat, nose and sinuses.
Echinacea is more than just an antimicrobial – it also helps to repair inflamed or damaged tissues, preventing infection from taking hold. It also activates the body’s macrophage defense system – the immune cells that initiate destruction of viruses, bacteria and cancer cells. Echinacea is the ultimate preventative medicine during cold and flu season.
I don’t like to play favourites, but astragalus is my hands-down favourite immune boosting botanical. When your immune system is depleted, astragalus can strengthen it. It boosts both nonspecific and specific immunity, and restores depleted red blood cell formation in the bone marrow.
Perhaps most importantly, astragalus can stimulate the body’s natural production of interferon. Interferon is a protein released by virus- or bacteria-infected cells that cause neighbouring cells to increase their defenses. Interferon protects our cells by letting them know to prepare for a possible viral/bacterial invasion – like an immune alarm system!
Warm a Cold
Peppermint and Ginger
Peppermint and ginger are both warming herbs – they help maintain an optimal yin-yang balance (cold-hot) and can keep the body temperature at the appropriate temperature to prevent viral replication. They are both known “diaphoretics” – they can help to optimize a fever so that the immune system can work properly. Consult with your Naturopathic Doctor before giving these botanicals to children.
Calm a Cough
If you’re unlucky enough to already have a cough or cold, your Immuni-Tea can help!
Wild cherry calms the cough reflex, minimizing the symptoms of harsh, irritating coughs. Best used for dry, non-productive or persistent coughs – those coughs that just never seem to go away! It also has a great taste.
Soothe a Sore Throat
Slippery elm is a smooth, soothing botanical that can coat your sore throat and decrease swelling, allowing the body to reduce and repair inflammation. It is slightly viscous and adds a distinct thickness to the Immuni-Tea that makes it feel great when you drink it.
The Immuni-Tea is meant to be taken both preventatively and during active colds and flus. For prevention one to two cups per day is adequate. During a cold or flu increase to three or four cups daily. Steep a tablespoon of tea in hot water for five minutes with the lid covered for optimal potency.
Immuni-Tea is available at the Integrative Health Institute – 46 Sherbourne Street at King Street in Toronto. www.integrativehealthinstitute.ca
Dr. Lisa Watson delivers health care that supports balanced and attainable health at all ages and stages of life. Of primary importance is health care that nurtures the body, mind, spirit, family and community. As a Naturopathic Doctor and mother, Lisa believes that health care and a healthy lifestyle are intrinsically linked and that each serves to support the other. Dr. Watson practices at the Integrative Health Institute in Downtown Toronto.
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