About the Recipe
Everyday there are new demands on our bodies. Our level of stress, no matter where it is coming from, can be the determining factor on our overall immunity. During the winter months, rather than fear the flu or colds, we can work to prevent illness. There are many factors that dampen our immune system or reduce its responsiveness to attackers, but there are equally as many ways to support ourselves.
One way to support our immune systems is with a relaxing cup of herbal tea. I will admit, I’m a tea lover. Drinking tea reduces the amount of effort my body uses for digestion with the same great benefits. Singular herbs are great, but often when we group herbs together they produce a stronger, “synergistic” effect.
Below I’ve gone over some non-traditional herbs for immunity and why I picked them for an immune boosting tea.
The juniper berries are better known for their alcoholic uses in gin, though few know of junipers antiseptic properties. Juniper was burned in order to fumigate and sterilize hospital rooms and surgical equipment during WWII. When taken internally it is antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal.
In a study done with rats, juniper lowered blood sugar levels. These findings lead scientists to the conclusion that it might be helpful for diabetics and the complications that can occur with fluctuating sugars. Balancing blood sugars can help improve immunity and mood as it reduces the stress on the body.
Tulsi or holy basil is an adaptogenic herb and can help the adrenal glands of our bodies cope with stress and avoid a state of overwhelm or increased anxiety. Holy Basil has also been found to help modulate immune cell activity helping to protect the body against disease.
Marigold or calendula is recorded to have been used for medicinal purposes as far back as ancient Egypt. Calendula was given its name in reference to the calendar because originally in the Mediterranean climate it would bloom on the first day of every month. When taken internally it has antiviral and antibacterial effects, with mild lymphatic action. This bright blossom aids the areas where the sun doesn’t shine – the lymph, lymph nodes are located in the groin, armpits, and under the chin. Our lymph is like the garbage collector of the body, anything the blood can’t recycle the lymph is in charge of disposing of. In order to keep up our immunity, it is helpful to support our lymphatic system by making sure it’s not bogged down with too much “garbage”.
Slippery Elm Bark
This fancy tree bark is a prebiotic and helpful for feeding our gut bacteria. It is a mucilage and often used for bowel conditions involving inflammation, or constipation. Slippery elm helps to coat our throats during a cold and soothes the mucosal tissues of our bodies.
When we think of fighting a cold or flu we often think to increase our vitamin C. This is where elderberries can help. Elderberries contain vitamin C as well as flavonoids to help with its assimilation in the body.
Elderberries have been proven effective in the fight against many different strains of the flu. The berries contain a specific protein that inhibits the virus from replicating. Therefore, not only can it help us to fight off the symptoms of the flu we might be experiencing, but it can also prevent us from catching the flu in the first place.
It is always a good idea to talk to your doctor or pharmacist before diving into the world of herbs especially if you are on medications or pregnant. Cycling herbs is also important. If you consume the same herb too often your body can build up a tolerance to it, and it will become less effective for you. This tea is a nice blend of herbs that are not regularly used for immunity but are potent just the same, in order to give you some variety. Try it and tell us what you think.
 Zakay-Rones Z, Thom E, Wollan T, Wadstein J. Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of Influenza A and B virus infections.” J Int Med Res. 2004;32(2):132-40.