We are currently living in a very difficult time – a time when many people are experiencing anxiety, fear, and even depression. All three of these emotions can make your immune system less effective and, in turn, can make your body fertile ground for illness. The following natural health tips discuss enhancing your immune system naturally. Included are the natural products my family keeps in our natural medicine cabinet, and implements if our immune systems need additional support. When practiced prophylactically, many of these natural health tips can help build-up and support a healthy immune system before illness takes hold. Without demoting responsible and necessary public health suggestions, every one of us also bears some responsibility for maintaining our own health and well-being. As such, I can think of nothing more important than enhancing your immune system naturally, especially in the face of new threats, such as viruses.
Immune-enhancing supplements can help put your body in a better situation to battle opportunistic infections that might happen with a case of severe illness. In that way, they can make a fundamentally successful outcome more likely. It is important to keep in mind that even if your immune system is strong, you may still carry and transmit a virus. Because we often don’t know much about new infections that appear on the scene, none of the tips in Enhancing Your Immune System Naturally are suggested or implied as a cure or a way to mitigate any virus or disease.**
The condition of your immune system depends on your diet, what toxins you’re exposed to, your physical health, and your emotional health. The good news is you can significantly enhance your immune system with healthy nutrition, as well as by strengthening your defenses and lessening the invading microorganisms it must defend against. You can also support it by increasing your physical and mental health. Your best protection against most health issues consists of a healthy immune system…and some common sense. — Loretta Lanphier, Naturopathic Practitioner
Tips for Enhancing Your Immune System Naturally
Your immune system is the forefront defense against viruses, bacteria, toxins in the environment, and other adverse microorganisms. As such, it’s imperative that we keep an eye on our immune system health. Below are my personal tips for enhancing your immune system naturally. Even though this emergency guide is thorough, it’s not all-encompassing — it’s what my family uses. Do your own research and always talk to a trusted healthcare professional about your particular health concerns.
A healthy diet is foundational, making it the most important of the immune system support tips. Eating healthy supports your immune system by supporting and balancing your gut — healthy, organic foods are the premium fuel for your body. Resist the urge to eat unhealthy just because you are sick. Many believe that when sick, it’s okay to gorge-out on comfort foods that are unhealthy and full of refined sugar – try to avoid this. Include fermented foods, fruits, and veggies, add healthy soups and stews with added vegetables and spices, cook with reasonable amounts of crushed garlic, onions, ginger, and turmeric. It’s also essential to consume healthy fats and oils.
Raw juicing can effectively help your body to cleanse and detoxify while giving the digestive tract, where much of your immune system resides, a much-needed break. In other words, juicing allows your immune system to place full attention to fighting disease rather than working hard on trying to more difficult-to-digest foods. Make sure that leafy green vegetables are foundational in each juice recipe. Green vegetables are a great source of vitamin C, a much-needed antioxidant and nutrient that supports proper immune system health.
Did You Know? Raw juicing is just a smoothie with the fiber removed, meaning that fresh vegetable juices are an opportunity to load up on nutrients, at much, much higher densities than with smoothies. You can only drink so much, and with a smoothie, the fiber adds volume that fills you up using a fraction of the ingredients that your stomach could hold if you removed the fiber and drank it as juice. Does that mean smoothies are out? No, smoothies have their place, but if one needs nutrient-dense food, raw vegetable juicing is not only digested quickly and more efficiently but the most beneficial.
99% of the mucus in your lungs that provides a significant barrier against infections is water. Drink lots of purified water. You can also include green tea, which contains a group of flavonoids called catechins that appear to inhibit viral infections by blocking the enzymes that allow it to reproduce. Make healthy smoothies using fruits and some green veggies as well as nut-based milk or purified water as the base. Your urine should be a very light yellow color and not smell — otherwise, you are most likely dehydrated.
Note: Raw Organic Apple Cider vinegar (with the “mother”) is full of enzymes and beneficial bacteria that promote intestinal balance. ACV also aids in balancing your body’s pH and transitioning it into a more alkaline state — which is necessary for healthy immune system response. Add 3-4 tablespoons of raw ACV to one gallon of purified water (store in a glass container) or one teaspoon of raw ACV in a 16oz glass of purified water. Drink the AVC water throughout the day. Use a straw to prevent the acidic ACV from having contact with your teeth.
“If you get dehydrated, it can change the mucus layer in your respiratory tract and your digestive tract that has antibodies that trap germs and stop them getting into your cells.” Dr. Jenna Macchiochi, Immunologist – The University of Sussex
Eliminate Refined Sugar, Refined Starches & Most Dairy
Eliminate refined sugar as much as possible, including sugar substitutes. Bacteria and viruses thrive on sugar. Small amounts of raw honey are okay to use in your green tea and healthy smoothies.
Eliminate most dairy, especially if what you drink/consume is not organic. Dairy can cause inflammation and excess mucous in some people. Most healthcare professionals will tell you this is a myth, but I’ve seen way too many people feel better just by eliminating dairy.
Nourishing your digestive tract is extremely important. Probiotics have the ability to enhance the immune system and stimulate digestion. Considering that 70% of your immune system resides in your digestive tract, maintaining a healthy balance of probiotic bacteria is essential for supporting your creator-given immune defenses. Probiotic strains have shown antiviral activity against a variety of infectious viruses such as respiratory viruses. We use Floratrex Probiotic and Prebiotic or Latero Flora according to the instructions on the label.
High Dose Vitamin C
High-dose vitamin C (intravenous) for certain health concerns is currently being implemented in many countries. Most everyone recognizes the value of vitamin C for immune support. The evidence is tremendous for vitamin C and we have personally used it in both forms — IV and orally. My family takes 2,000 mg of Vitamin C daily. However, at the first signs of illness, we take 4 grams in divided doses of Vitality C. For a severe situation, one gram of Vitamin C each hour may help reduce the severity of colds, flu, and viruses. Additional reading.
Zinc is an essential mineral and is necessary for wound healing, the functioning of our immune system, eyesight, brain development, the proper functioning of sperm, and the synthesis of testosterone. The NIH indicates that children and the elderly with zinc deficiency in the developing world are more vulnerable to pneumonia and other infections. The agency reports zinc allows the body to produce and activate T-cells (t-lymphocytes), which are some of the white blood cells that respond to infections. This 14 page review article discusses the evidence and the benefits of zinc for viral prevention. Food sources include red meat, shellfish, legumes, seeds, and dark chocolate. We use Zinc Orotate.
Quercetin is known for its immune-boosting and broad-spectrum antiviral benefits, as well as being inexpensive. One of the most well-studied attributes of quercetin is its antiviral capacity. The main mechanisms of action include: 1) Inhibiting the virus’ ability to infect cells; 2) Inhibiting replication of already infected cells, and 3) Reducing infected cells’ resistance to treatment with antiviral medication. Published in 2007, Research funded by the US Department of Defense found quercetin lowers your risk of viral illness following extreme physical stress, which might otherwise undermine your immune function and render you more susceptible to infections. We take 500mg two times daily.
Medicinal Mushrooms are most likely the most potent food supplements for boosting immunity, in general. There are numerous types and products such as shiitake, maitake and oyster mushroom, Chaga, turkey tail (trametes versicolor), etc. We use either ImmPower from American Biosciences or Kinoko Platinum AHCC from Quality of Life and follow the directions on the product label.
Up to 37 trillion cells are located in the adult human body, at least 20 trillion cells are immune cells.
Selenium takes action on the genetic material of viruses (its RNA or DNA). It has three highly valuable effects: 1) Inhibits the ability of the virus to multiply (replicate); 2) Reduces the ability of the virus to mutate into a more aggressive (virulent) form; 3) Increases the possibility that the virus will stay inactive or less active and not harm you. An ordinarily harmless virus can become much more destructive in a person who is selenium deficient. Doses in the 400 mcg range are safe. The signs of chronic selenium toxicity – garlic odor of breath and sweat, metallic taste in the mouth, brittle hair and fingernails – are very distinctive, and easily reversed by lowering the dose. I highly recommend using plant-based selenium made from a high-quality, certified-organic mustard seed that is GMO-free, vegan, and gluten-free. Plant-based selenium provides naturally occurring selenomethionine, which has the highest bioavailability of the organic (carbon-based) selenium forms. I take one capsule of 200 mg plant-based selenium in the morning and one capsule in the evening. Note: Do not take selenium and iodine at the same time.
Wild Mediterranean Oregano Oil Blend
Oregano oil is very beneficial for your immune system since it can help defend against harmful organisms. Organic oregano oil’s potency comes from a compound called carvacrol, which can help reduce harmful, attacking organisms in the body. For emergency support, we take eight-ten drops of wild Mediterranean oregano oil blend Oregatrex in a vegetable capsule up to three times daily. Since this potent oregano oil blend is very spicy and very hot, always take it in a veggie capsule in the middle of a full meal.
Magnesium, used in divided doses, which is a bronchodilator, helps to relax your bronchial muscles and opens your airways, allowing more air to flow in and out of the lungs. Magnesium also increases the activity of the part of the immune system involved in the formation of antibodies (immune response). It acts on cells making them more active in protecting themselves from microbial, bacterial, and viral attacks. We take magnesium according to the product label.
Iodine is excellent for supporting your immune system. Every cell in your body relies on iodine. There’s no bacteria, virus, or mycoplasma that can survive or adapt to an environment that is rich in iodine. Iodine also gives tremendous support to your thyroid, which is very important for supporting the immune system.
It’s a good idea to obtain your iodine from food. Foods such as seafood, seaweed, and sea vegetables are all amazing sources of iodine, even in small amounts. If foods sourced from the sea are not your thing, you can supplement with an organic nascent iodine supplement. We take two dropperfuls before lunch. For a severe situation, we take two dropperfuls both morning and afternoon, before 3:00 PM. If you experience side-effects, back your dosage down, and carefully monitor any side-effects. As always, consult with an iodine-literate healthcare practitioner about the amount that is right for you.
Studies now confirm that flu and cold health benefits of elderberry include its ability to enhance immunity, offset flu symptoms, and calm those pesky respiratory infections. While synthetic flu drugs concentrate on dealing with infections after they have developed — and may provide you with harmful side effects as well — elderberry has natural stopping ability. We use Sambucol elderberry syrup according to the product label.
Currently, there have been 75 nutrients identified in the gel of the aloe plant. These nutrients include vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B3 (niacin), B6, choline, folic acid, alpha-tocopherol, and beta-carotene. Additionally, aloe gel and whole leaf extracts improve absorption of both vitamin C and vitamin E. Although Aloe vera leaf is not a natural vegetarian source of Vitamin B12 as many sites indicate, it does seem to have the ability to enhance the absorption of B12 for older people, according to some studies. Aloe vera provides 19 of the 20 required amino acids and seven of the eight essential ones. It also contains digestive enzymes like amylase to break down starch and sugar, and lipase to help break down fats. One of the many healing compounds of Aloe vera leaf is Acemannan which is a D-isomer mucopolysaccharide in aloe vera leaves. This compound has been known to have immunostimulant , antiviral, antineoplastic and gastrointestinal properties. My family takes Aloe Fuzion and we double the label dose during illness.
Vitamin D deficiency may present an increased risk of viral infections. Vitamin D deficiency is often linked to a compromised immune system. Exposure to sunlight (sunshine has disinfectant qualities) is the optimum way to encourage your body to produce vitamin D. Unfortunately, sunshine is not always accessible. Gathered data from 16 clinical trials involving 7,400 people show that taking vitamin D supplements reduces the risk of experiencing at least one respiratory infection including influenza and pneumonia by a third with positive benefits seen within 3 weeks. An organic and vegan D3 (not D2) supplement, is an easy way to bridge the gap.
Because turmeric contains potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it is often used to naturally treat the common cold, coughs, headaches, sore throats, and congestion. Some studies indicate the active ingredient in turmeric — curcumin — could be responsible for supporting the action of T cells, B cells, and natural killer cells. This immunomodulatory effect seemingly helps to protect against a large range of harmful organisms. We use an organic turmeric raw extract with black pepper.
The body requires N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) for immune health and fighting cellular damage. Beneficial primarily for its role in antioxidant production, some researchers believe NAC can also contribute to longevity. NAC can relieve symptoms of respiratory issues because of its antioxidant and expectorant abilities, as well as its ability to loosen mucus found in your air passageways. Other health benefits of NAC it’s the ability to help replenish glutathione levels in your lungs and reduce inflammation in your bronchial tubes and lung tissue. NAC may offer improvement with other lung and respiratory tract issues such as cystic fibrosis, asthma, and symptoms caused by nasal and sinus congestion due to allergies or infections. Research on diseases associated with NAC and glutathione deficiency indicates immune function could be enhanced — and likely restored — by using NAC. This particular factor has been studied most in people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). When needed, we take one capsule three times daily between meals.
Those uncomfortable symptoms that you have when fighting off the flu or a cold are a result of your body’s inflammatory response to the virus, rather than the result of the virus itself. Proteolytic enzymes have potent anti-inflammatory properties and can also fight viruses as well as supporting your immune system. They are produced naturally by your pancreas and are used by your body to “eat up” scar tissue, cleanse toxins from your blood, fight viruses and improve your immune system, so you may even find that you get sick less often. The body stops producing optimal amounts of proteolytic enzymes in your late 20s, which is why taking a quality proteolytic enzyme supplement is important, especially if you are 40 or above in age. We take proteolytic enzymes every day of the year – virus or no virus. Use according to the label.
If possible, open the windows in your home to breathe in fresh oxygenated. Opening the windows for a while every day also helps to air out your home. Walking outside in nature can also help with stress while providing sunshine and fresh air.
Smoking cigarettes is not your friend, especially with any illness that can attack the lungs – put those cancer sticks down, and please don’t smoke inside your home.
Rest and Sleep
Rest as much as you need, but also try to get up and move around. It’s especially crucial for those who have lung issues. Lack of sleep reduces the activity of T-cells (a vital type of immune cell) and weakens your immune response. Studies of identical twins show the sleep-deprived twin had increased inflammation markers and unfavorable immune markers. Going to bed (sleeping — not reading, watching TV, or on your laptop) by 10:30 PM every night goes a long way in restoring stress hormones to healthy levels, thus supporting healthy immune function. Sleep, relaxation, and meditation are fantastic supporters of your immune system. Insomnia and exhaustion cause a quick decline in immune support.
Practice Breathing Exercises
Keeping your lungs healthy is essential. The Wim Hof Method Breathing is excellent. It takes most people some time to be able to do the entire session. And that’s okay. Go as far into each session as you can and then begin to add more time every 3-4 days. You can find the Wim Hof Method Breathing instructional video here.
Healing Activities for Emotional Health
Enhancing your immune system naturally can be accomplished by using your down-time to read a good book, listen to relaxing music, work on a puzzle, watch funny movies, play games, take a walk in nature, etc. In other words, do things that you like to do and make you happy. Healing activities can help boost your emotional health by lessening stress.
Let Go of Fear
Just a reminder that fear signals danger to your body and sets up a fight, flight, or freeze response, which sends a wave of immune-damaging stress hormones into your body. Replace fear with immune-supporting emotions like faith, hope, love, joy, and gratitude. Media tends to rely on panic and fear because those emotions sell advertising. We get much more fiction than fact from most TV stations these days. An excellent acronym for fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. Remember this when anxiety, doubt, and fear begin to creep into your mind.
More Virus-Preventative Measures
Other important non-pharmaceutical interventions for preventing viruses can be recalled by using the acronym “WHACK”. Stebbins 2011; Yardley 2011; Mayo Clinic 2011). These preventative measures should be taught to children as well as adults.
|W ash or sanitize your hands frequently.|
|H ome is where you should be when you are sick.|
|A void touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.|
|C over your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inner crook of your elbow.|
|K eep your distance from sick people when possible or wear a mask.|
In addition to avoiding those infected with a virus, the CDC also recommends all linens, eating utensils, and dishes used by sick individuals be thoroughly washed in a dishwasher or by hand with soap and water prior to being used by anyone else (CDC 2011a). If you have symptoms of a virus, please self-quarantine yourself and call your healthcare practitioner.
Enhancing Your Immune System – History Repeats Itself
Many of us have lived long enough to have seen history repeat itself in one way or another. In the 1950s, we experienced the polio epidemic, which, in fact, was already declining when the polio vaccine was introduced. In the 1980s, we experienced the AIDS pandemic that was supposed to wipe out the planet. Then the SARS epidemic of 2003, which killed 774 worldwide. Next was the 2013 Avian flu, which infected 1500 and killed 600 people. All were labeled as pandemic situations. So let’s put all this in perspective. Every single day in the USA, 1600 people die from cancer…and no one blinks, and we hear nothing from the media. The take-away? Prepare mentally, physically, and spiritually. Learn about the importance of enhancing your immune system naturally. Work on your health every day. Viruses burn out soon. Stay calm. Follow preventative measures. Use common sense. Live your life.
** As always, and especially if you are immune-compromised, check with your doctor BEFORE taking any vitamins or supplements to make sure there is no contraindication with any prescription meds you are currently taking. You can also search this out online by typing into a search engine “the name of the drug + contraindications” or “the name of the drug + the name of the vitamin or supplement” (don’t use the quotation marks). Your healthcare provider knows all of your particular health issues, and it’s always best to talk with him/her BEFORE taking vitamins/supplements.
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Loretta Lanphier is a Naturopathic Practitioner (Traditional), Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Holistic Health Practitioner, and Certified Clinical Herbalist as well as the CEO / Founder of Oasis Advanced Wellness in The Woodlands TX. A 20-year stage 3 colon cancer survivor, Loretta is able to relate to both-sides-of-the-health-coin as patient and practitioner when it comes to health and wellness. “My passion is counseling others about what it takes to keep the whole body healthy using natural and non-toxic methods.” Read Loretta’s health testimony Cancer: The Path to Healing. Loretta is Contributor and Editor of the worldwide E-newsletter Advanced Health & Wellness.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Oasis Advanced Wellness/OAWHealth/Loretta Lanphier, NP does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Oasis Advanced Wellness/OAWHealth are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician of choice.