Indianapolis Edition

Herbal Allies for a Strong Immune System

In the age of information, it can feel like a tornado of articles and advice on health and how to eat are constantly swirling around us. So let’s cut through it all and get to it. Certain plants can heal, strengthen and create vitality in the body.

Before the age of pharmaceuticals, we were a people with a close relationship to the herbs and plants in our area. After all, this is the knowledge the pharmaceutical industry is built upon. Now, in the age of taking pills for illness or discomfort, our culture has forgotten the simple magic and beauty of using plants to heal. Guess what my friend? That world is as close as your neighborhood health food store, vibrant café or even right outside your door.

This winter has proven to be a doozy when it comes to sickness. As I’m writing this article, we’ve had over 100 flu-related deaths in Indiana and this is happening in communities around the country. The flu is hitting people harder and lasting longer. Allergies are also on the rise—seasonal, food and the like.

Our immune systems are being exposed to more pollution from the air, water and food than ever. What do we do?

You don’t have to spend a lot or have some secret herbalist connection. Turn to the people’s herbs and you will find relief.

Here are the top four herbal allies I recommend using as prevention; not only during cold and flu season, but all year long.

1. Garlic is one of my favorite herbs and in my opinion, one of the very best for the cold and flu. It’s easy to get, affordable and highly potent. It’s been used for centuries for everything from strength, virility, stamina and a variety of diseases and ailments. I like to use garlic for it’s antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. If taken in time and in conjunction with plenty of water and a clean diet, it can stop a cold or flu in its tracks.

2. Raw local honey is such an important food for humans. Like garlic, raw honey has also been used for approximately 8,000 years and is anti-bacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal. Honey is also super high in antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Make sure you are getting real honey. The best place to get it is from your local beekeeper. Farmers’ markets are a great place to find them. A bonus: When you support your local beekeeper, you support the bees. They need all the help they can get.

3. Turmeric, the magical root the color of the sun. Its claim to fame is the anti-inflammatory action that takes place when you consume it. Turmeric is known to 16 Indianapolis Edition AwakenIndy.com help with not only the immune system, but with arthritis, improving digestion, helping skin disorders, cuts, burns, cancers… the list goes on. We’ve been using turmeric at Ezra’s Enlightened Café from day one and countless customers keep coming back for our shot that helps take care of the cold and flu. Our Ginger Turmeric Immune Boost is a potent blend of ginger, turmeric and lemon juice with a bit of raw local honey.

4. Elderberry is a staple in our herbal home apothecary. The science is in—elderberry is an absolute powerhouse when it comes to beating the flu. We use it in syrup and tincture form as well as tea with the dried berries at my house. You can be adventurous and make the syrup or the tincture yourself, but all the forms will be available at your local health food store.

And now for how to use these plant friends.

Prevention is key. Use garlic and turmeric daily in your cooking. Take a few droppers of elderberry tincture a day. Use honey to sweeten your tea. These practices will keep your immune system in fighting shape. (A healthy clean diet goes a long way here too.)

When you’ve been exposed:

Garlic & Honey Remedy

It’s exactly as it sounds. Simply chop one clove of raw garlic and set aside. Add honey to your spoon and sprinkle over the chopped garlic. Have your glass of water ready and swallow it down. No chewing, just swallow. Don’t worry; you’ll mostly taste the honey. Do this as soon as you think you’ve been exposed or you start to feel symptoms. Twice a day until you are out of the woods.

Turmeric & Elderberry Tea

Add a tablespoon of turmeric powder to your mug and fill with hot water and stir. After it’s cooled for a few minutes, add a tablespoon of honey. Now you can either add two droppers full of elderberry tincture or you can leave out the honey and add two tablespoons of elderberry syrup instead. Either way, stir and drink until it’s gone. Drink throughout the day when you start to feel symptoms or know you have been getting exposed.

Getting in touch with our herbal friends is fun. It brings magic into your kitchen and, well, it works. It’s often more affordable than a doctor visit and the prescriptions that come along with it. I would venture to say it’s healthier for you too. Cheers to your health!

Audrey Barron is the owner of Ezra’s Enlightened Café, a neighborhood wellness café and juice bar serving up healing food daily along with conducting monthly classes. For more information, visit EzrasEnlightenedCafe.com. Check out Barron’s recipes and writings at GaiaChef.com.

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