Jump-Start Your Immune System for Fall

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cottagefallFall is the season of change. During this season it becomes obvious that change is necessary for the beauty of life to unfold. We learn to let go of old ways of being and embrace the cooler temperatures that bring us indoors and into the company of family and friends. As we let go of the high energy of summer fun, festivities and travel, we begin to settle down – we turn inward.

With the change in weather, this too brings a transformation to the way we live. There is an inward momentum driving us into warmer dwelling spaces to seek shelter from nature’s frost. Our earthly hempishere is now tipping away from the sun, thus changing the angle of sunlight and removing the abundant vitamin D we were soaking up not too long ago.

The beauty of fall is that we learn to adapt to these changes. The cooler air forces our internal thermostats to ignite their flames and circulation to move heat through our colder extremities. With the change in sunlight and temperature comes a challenge to the adaptability of the human body, as it now needs to work harder – if we are strong enough, our bodies will respond appropriately. However, when we are living and working on fumes, not eating appropriately and barely resting, we are functioning under a health deficit.

It is estimated that on average, children get eight to ten colds annually, and adults get at least three. How can we boost our immune system for the fall season? Here are a few natural ways to enliven your immune system and improve adaptation for fall, the season of change. 

Cod Liver Oil
This is not the same cod liver oil your grandmother used to give you. Cod liver oils today are manufactured so that they taste better and doesn’t cause a nasty burp taste afterward. Many cod liver oil products are naturally complete with vitamins A and D. Both of these vitamins are important for regulation of the immune response and modulation of inflammation and autoimmune disorders. While we don’t get enough vitamin D in the fall because of the change in the angle and amount of sunlight, we also don’t get enough vitamin A, due a lack of it in the foods we eat. Both of these nutrients are necessary for the body to defend itself against illness. It is also important to note that vitamins A and D can possibly compete for absorption. If you are low in one or the other, it may be wise to take them separately in order to increase absorption of the one that is deficient. After giving my kids a cod liver oil supplement during winter months, I’ve personally seen a significant decrease in cold symptoms. It is important to have your A and D levels checked to make sure that you have a sufficient supply.

Ashwaganda Root
This gentle herb is native to India and is used extensively for building healthy blood, regulating stress hormones and centering the mind. The botanical name is Withania somnifera. It’s Hindi name is “Horse Smell.” I must agree with this statement, as the smell can be rather unpleasant. However, if you can get past the smell, the magic of this herb is wondrous. Ashwaganda is a building herb that strengthens and tonifies the tissues. This herb was traditionally used in Ayurvedic practice to strengthen the nervous system and is sometimes referred to as Indian ginseng. I like to use it to reset the circadian rhythm in the individual that worries so much that it keeps them awake at night. When taken in the evening after dinner, it has a powerful relaxing effect on the adrenals, the mind and the nervous system. Most importantly this herb is a great adaptogenic supplement for the person that has difficulty with changing seasons.

Eleuthero Root
Eleuthero is also known as Eleutherococcus senticosus and Siberian ginseng. It has been used traditionally in Chinese medicine as a powerful adaptogenic herb. It revitalizes the mind and body, and transforms fatigue and immunity. Unlike ashwaganda root however, I prefer to use this herb in the daytime because it is energizing to the body, strengthens the immune system, and increases endurance. This is one herb that you might not want to take right before bed. This herb has been shown in studies to improve performance and ability for athletes, as well as increasing the lifespan of individuals taking it. Eleuthero is wonderful especially if you have used caffeine or stimulants to get moving during the day. One simple method of taking it is to include it in powdered form in your morning protein shake or smoothie.

Zinc
This trace mineral is found abundantly in shellfish, oysters, red meats and poultry.
Zinc deficiency is widespread throughout the world. Causes of this deficiency can be related to inadequate dietary intake, decreased absorption, increased excretion of zinc, excess copper mineral intake or an increased bodily need for higher amounts of zinc. Studies have found that zinc may be very useful for ADHD, acne, herpes simplex, and the common cold, to name a few. Studies have also shown that regular supplementation with zinc may be effective at reducing the length and severity of colds in the upper respiratory system. I don’t know about you, but I particularly like the sound of this as we move into the season of cold and flu involving the nose, throat and lungs.

If you get a jump-start on these supplements now, you may possibly be able to ward off colds before they appear. I know that they work for me personally when I can sit next to an individual with a cold and not get any symptoms myself.

Contact Village Green Apothecary to see what immune system boosters might work best for you.

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