Holiday shopping and celebrations are really picking up steam now. Many of us are vaccinated, boosted, and eager to return to some of our pre-pandemic routines.
But getting back out for shopping and mingling this winter doesn’t just mean a return to semi-normal. It also means we’re once again being exposed to all the ordinary seasonal viruses most of us managed to avoid last year.
As I explained in yesterday’s Healthier Talk (click here to catch up if you missed it), your immune system is likely slightly rusty after last winter’s shutdowns. That means you might need a little extra support as you enjoy the holidays.
So that’s what I want to share with you today. I’ve got some natural remedies that could help you shore up your body’s immune system. That way, you’ll be better prepared to fight back against all the germs lying in wait to pounce out there.
It isn’t a foolproof plan to avoid infections, of course. But it can make you feel a bit better about your chances of dodging the next seasonal illness you encounter.
Dodge winter infections with immune-boosters
You likely already know how important vitamins like C and D are for supporting immune function. But they aren’t the only natural way to bump up your body’s bug-fighting defenses.
Certain herbs could help your immune system fight off seasonal viruses and other infections too. And in some cases, they may help fight the infection should you end up sick anyway.
I’ve gathered my four favorites here for you:
Olive leaf extract:
I love olives. I buy a big jar every week when I shop. And I cook with olive oil every day. But the best part of this Mediterranean evergreen might be what’s left behind on the tree.
Studies show the leaves of olive trees are loaded with disease-fighting polyphenols.
One, in particular, oleuropein, is a natural antiviral capable of wiping out infection-causing microbes.
In one study, high school athletes given 100 mg of oleuropein daily had 28 percent fewer sick days than their peers given a placebo. And another study found the extract may help stop the viruses behind the flu, colds, and more from replicating.
Astragalus herb extract:
Also called huáng qí, astragalus has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. In TCM, it has dozens of uses, from fighting cancer to preventing diabetes.
But it turns out astragalus may be especially potent when it comes to supporting immune function. Studies hint the herb could help fight off various infections, ranging from the common cold to more unusual ones such as liver infections.
Lemon balm extract:
Lemon balm is a quietly rising star. It doesn’t get much attention yet because the evidence behind it is still emerging. But it’s very promising too.
Early research suggests lemon balm may be a powerful antiviral flying under the radar. Some studies show it may even help arm your immune system to do battle with one of the toughest viral infections of all: the form of herpes behind common cold sores.
Herpes is a “forever infection” in that the virus never goes away. Instead, it sits dormant, waiting for a chance to strike again. Lemon balm, however, may help keep those outbreaks in check. That ability could be a sign it may be able to battle other viruses, too.
This herb isn’t the same thing as that leftover Halloween candy everyone refuses to eat. It’s a natural remedy and potential immune booster that’s been in use since the days of Ancient Egypt.
Licorice root is best known today for its ability to help soothe digestion issues, including heartburn and reflux. It often has the glycyrrhizic acid removed in those cases as too much of it could potentially raise blood pressure.
But the glycyrrhizin in that same glycyrrhizic acid may also turn out to be a potent antiviral. It’s been tested as a potential remedy against SARS. Recent studies have gathered evidence for the extract’s possible use in combating COVID-19, as well. And licorice root and its extracts are widely used in TCM for their antiviral and antimicrobial abilities.
Your best bet is to talk with a doctor skilled in integrative or naturopathic medicine about using licorice root, as well as the rest of these immune-system-supporting herbs. Your doc can help design a personalized plan to help you dodge the worst of what this winter has to throw at you.
And don’t forget one of the most essential immune-boosters of all. It won’t cost you a penny, but at the same time, it’s priceless. And that, of course, is to get plenty of good quality sleep every night.
For even MORE tips on staying healthy all winter long be sure to check out my earlier report Your first line against viral infections.