If I could pick one thing that I do every year to prepare my family for cold and flu season, it would be stocking up on an Immune Boosting tincture.
Now don’t get me wrong… I love using garlic during this time of the year too, especially since it has awesome antibacterial properties, but when it comes to working to KEEP my family from catching what’s going around… it’s this tincture, hands down. I mainly use garlic when we actually do get sick with something so that it doesn’t turn into an infection of any sort. Make sense?
How The Immune System Works… Briefly
The immune system is the first line of defense we have against foreign invaders in our body. When something enters the body, eventually it will come into contact with a white blood cell.
White blood cells are constantly on the prowl looking for things that aren’t supposed to be there so they can destroy them. When one finds something, it sends out a signal that tells other white blood cells to come help him out. Once the others get there, they all work together to fight the intruder off.
As you know, foreign substances like viruses and bacteria continue to multiply as well. This gives the white blood cells a real run for their money. As the intruders continue to multiply and take over the bodies cells, the more and more white blood cells have to come and fight them.
This process continues until someone wins. Either the bodies immune system or the invaders.
Why Boost The Immune System
You see, if you give the body healthy foods to eat, then the body is going to start off far ahead of the invaders. It’s going to be strong and ready to protect and heal itself when it gets attacked. It’s like the walls of a city… standing guard to keep invaders out.
But, when something does get in or when there’s a crack in that wall the next line of defense is the soldiers on duty… the white blood cells or the immune system. It pays to have many of them on duty, looking for these invaders so that they can get a head start on defeating them. Nutrition in and of itself plays a huge role in keeping our immune system strong, but we can also use herbs to help stimulate or boost it when need be, specifically when we know there are invaders out and about.
When we use things like herbs to boost the body’s immune system, it gets more white blood cells patrolling in the blood stream and it allows the body to have more of them available to fight if they’re needed.
Immune Boosting Herbs
There are a lot of herbs out there.
Western herbs. Eastern herbs. Ayurvedic herbs. I’m sure there are others… I’m pretty sure they’re labeled depending upon where they originate from.
Herbs are plants. They’re weeds, and they grow all over the world. I’m a big believer in using the herbs that grow where you live for the things you need. I think our bodies become accustomed to our environments and they will respond to they plants that grow in our environment as well. But hey, that’s just me.
So if you’re looking for herbs that boost the immune system, all you need to do is Google “best immune boosting herbs” and then check to see if they’re okay for your kids to take or for you to take if your pregnant or nursing… or even if they’re okay for you to take if your currently taking medications of any sort. That may take a several Google searches, but remember… Google is your friend.
The herbs in the formula below are great for everyone. Kids, older folks, mamas nursing their baby, and mamas growing babies. Plus there’s no upper limit on how much to give, but we’ll talk more about dosage below.
Ingredients For Your Immune Boosting Tincture
The herbs I use in this formula are equal parts of:
Echinacea, elderberry, and astragalus are all major immune boosting herbs. In fact, I use all three of these herbs separately during this time of the year too. I make a single alcohol tincture of echinacea root to give at the first sign of illness, I make elderberry syrup for giving when flu-like symptoms come around, and my astragalus root goes into my chicken broth during the cooler months.
Nettle, rose hips, and peppermint are great nutritional herbs that are very beneficial to the body and help with the taste of the tincture… specifically the peppermint.
When it comes to picking a menstrum to make your tincture from – a menstrum is what you infuse your herbs into – you have two great options.
Alcohol or food grade vegetable glycerin. I personally make both, and here’s why.
Alcohol is a better preservative, but it also extracts the properties of the herb better. And… since alcohol is filtered by the liver, it works to get the herbs into the body well. At least that’s my thoughts on the subject. If you chose to use alcohol you need to go with a 40-50% alcohol (80-100 proof). Any kind will do. It just depends on the taste you’re looking for. Vodka is cheap, but tastes awful. Brandy is more expensive, but makes for a better tasting tincture. I just go for the cheap stuff usually because I mix my tinctures with juice to take them so I don’t really taste them anyway. An alcohol tincture will typically last 2 years although if they’re stored properly, they’ll last even longer.
Glycerin on the other hand is also a preservative, but it doesn’t last as long as alcohol. A glycerin tincture will usually last around 1 year. Another downside to glycerin is that it has a harder time extracting the properties of herbs so it’s better to make glycerin tinctures using some heat. Glycerin on the upside does flavor your tincture nicely and it doesn’t affect blood sugar levels so if you give this kind of tincture to you kid, he’s not going to be jumping off the walls 30 minutes later.
Like I said, I make both. The man and I take the alcohol one, and I give the kids a 50/50 mix of alcohol and glycerin… well maybe more like a 40/60 mix.
The reason I mix the kids has nothing to do with the alcohol. I don’t have aversions to alcohol in anyway, and giving my kids tinctures made with alcohol isn’t going to harm them. It’s not like they’re drinking the tincture. Gross! I guarantee you if your kid took a swig of most herbal alcohol tinctures, he’d spit it right back out. They’re not delicious or anything. The reason I mix it is for the taste. The glycerin sweetens it and my kids will take this tincture straight in their mouth this way… no fussing about it.
Making A Tincture
There’s not much to say about how to make a tincture in this post because I’ve already outlined it all here on the Using Herbs page – Making Tinctures, Glycerites & Vinegars. Just follow the steps, and in the end you’ll have a tincture. They’re super easy. Just try it once, and you’ll see!
How To Take Your Immune Boosting Tincture
When it comes to actually using your tincture, you’ll need to start taking it as soon as you want to start stimulating the immune system to work… like when a cold is going around or when official flu season starts and cases of it have been reported in your area.
The preventative dose I usually take is 1 dropperful 3 times a day… my kids get half that.
An active does (what I’d take when I started actually showing symptoms of a cold) would be 1 dropperful every 2 hours for the first day, then moving down to 1 dropperful every 4 hours the next day, and back to 1 dropperful 3 times a day from the third day on… again giving my kids half that does at the same frequency.