With much of the world in shut down and hand sanitisers and strong chemicals being slathered everywhere, it can be hard to bring your body and mind back into balance. Fear and uncertainty can raise cortisol (our body’s stress hormone) and move us into living in our sympathetic nervous system, which is essentially our flight or fight mode.
The authorities and our communities are doing everything they can to protect us and it’s time to look inward and honor what our bodies are saying to us. Yes, there is fear, but that doesn’t have to rule us.
Treat your body kindly during these times, be aware but don’t drench yourself in unnecessary chemicals that may do more harm than good to your body.
Here are some natural antibiotics that can help support your immune system if you are feeling unwell or want some additional immune support:
Garlic – Adding more garlic to your diet is a great way to support your immune system as studies have shown that garlic reduces the risk of becoming sick in the first place, as well as how long you stay sick and it can also reduce the severity of symptoms. Garlic can be added to almost any savory recipe, so it’s easy to get enough in your diet. However, there are also capsules and tablets that have been formulated as a natural way to support immunity and you can also find recipes for garlic drinks and smoothies if you can stomach it!
Ginger – This wonder rhizome has anti-inflammatory properties as well as being antiviral. Studies have shown that fresh ginger can prevent viruses from attaching to and infecting upper respiratory tract cells by stimulating the respiratory cells to secrete an antiviral protein called interferon-beta. Ginger also inhibits mucous production and helps clear up congestion, as well as curbing nausea, soothing sore muscles and aiding healthy digestion. Ginger can be added to cooking or brewed into a tea (lemon, honey ginger is my favorite!) Don’t take more than 3-4 grams per day and for pregnant women, it shouldn’t be more than 1 gram.
Cayenne Pepper – The antibacterial and antivirulence properties of cayenne pepper is caused by the compound known as capsaicin. Cayenne pepper has been used for many years as a medicinal remedy, but it’s only recently that the studies have actually supported the theories with science and proven is potency as a natural antibiotic. Cayenne pepper is also rich in Vitamin C. You can add cayenne pepper to a lemon drink or include it in your cooking as a spice. Some people also use cayenne pepper for weight management as it is thought to increase the body temperature slightly, resulting in more calories being burned. Studies around this haven’t been as conclusive as the capsaicin results.
Oregano oil – contains several compounds that make it useful as an antibiotic. Carvacrol is the most abundant phenol that has been shown to stop the growth of several different types of bacteria. Studies have shown carvacrol to have similar properties to capsaicin, which is found in peppers and chilies. Thymol and Rosmarinic acid also help support the immune system and fight free radicals. You can use the essential oil topically on your skin or in a diffuser, or opt for a tincture that is specially formulated to take orally. Oregano oil has a very strong flavour, so don’t make the mistake that I did and mix it into your water bottle because you’ll never get the taste out! The best way I’ve found is to squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a cup, ad 6-10 drops of oregano oil and then take it like a shot. Guidelines state that you should start with a small dose to see how your body reacts and then gradually increase it and also that you should take a weeklong break for every three weeks of use
Olive Leaf Extract – comes from the leaves of the olive tree (Olea europaea) and has a variety of health benefits. Oleuropein is the main component that studies have shown to have antioxidant, antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti- inflammatory and immune-stimulating properties. It is a very strong flavour so you can go for a spoonful of the liquid in one shot, instead of trying to mix it with anything. The standard dose ranges from 500 mg to 1,000 mg daily.
Echinacea – Echinacea is a herb that has become popular in supplements and tonics to help fight colds. It is also known as purple coneflower or Black-eyed Susan. Research shows that it increases the number of white blood cells, that fight infections and activates chemicals in the body that decrease inflammation and reduce cold and flu symptoms. You can find echinacea in tablet form or as an extract. For the extract the guideline is to take 20 drops in water every 2 hours on the first day of cold symptoms, followed by three times daily for up to 10 days has also been used.
Turmeric – The bright orange colour of turmeric comes from a compound called curcumin. Curcumin has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties and studies have now confirmed that turmeric acts as an antioxidant as well. This is good news for your body because antioxidants will slow or delay specific types of cell damage to fight disease. You can find turmeric in just about anything these days and my favourite way is a whats known as a golden latte, a turmeric and coconut milk blend. Mixing turmeric with god, healthy fats (such as coconut milk or oil) will increase it’s bioavailability. On its own curcumin has limited bioavailability, because it has low solubility in water but because curcuminoids are lipophilic, this means they will attach to fats which optimises the absorption by the gut.
Raw Honey – Honey is known to have many medicinal properties – it has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds to help protect your body from flu. Honey increases T and B lymphocytes, antibodies, eosinophils, neutrophils and monocytes during immune responses in the body’s tissues. Plus it adds a delicious sweetness to any recipe. You can add honey to a lemon ginger tea or drizzle it on just about anything. Remember to opt for raw honey, because over processing can destroy some of its useful compounds.
All of these natural remedies you can find either around the house or from your local health food store. Before embarking on a herbal remedy, do check the dosages carefully and discuss it with your doctor or naturopath if you have any medical concerns.
In times like this, we need to treat our bodies kindly and remember to protect our minds as well as our bodies.
Regular meditation and gentle movement and breath practices such as yoga can help bring the nervous response back into balance and restore a feeling of wellness.
Written by Jade Hunter