During the winter months the weather gets colder, our environment becomes damper, we cram inside and as a consequence we become more susceptible to coming down with a bacterial or viral infection.
Usually we think about our immune system when we first start to feel hints of illness, but unfortunately at this stage your body is already battling and it is not the strongest point of your immune system. The best chance you have of staying well is by looking after your immunity through these vulnerable months as a preventative measure.
I usually suggest to my patients to increase high-potency vitamin C and zinc supplementation. As well as immune enhancing herbs to have on hand to use if you feel those first stages of sickness and depending on the person I will utilize medicinal mushrooms to mobilise the immune system.
But if you are looking for a simple at home solution to add to this routine or use instead of supplementation I suggest this incredibly immune tonic that I created for myself and have been using for years.
Main Active Ingredients:
Garlic – nature’s antibiotic. Garlic works to rebalance the microbiota in our digestive system. This is important because 80% of our immune defenses are in our gut. For those with FODMAP sensitivities or are triggered by garlic you might want to reduce or remove this from your recipe. This ingredient will also affect your breath significantly, so might be better to have at the end of the day when it won’t affect your day.
Lemon – high in vitamin C, in this recipe I include the skin and rind where most of the vitamin C is hiding. Lemon is also known to support our digestive system and liver function which can reduce stagnation in the gut and improve immune defence.
Ginger – A powderful circulatory stimulant to bring warmth to the body and help move immune complexes and microbes the body is trying to move through the lymphatic system. Our circulation can suffer during winter due to the colder temperature as well as becoming more sedentary. It is important for our immune system that our circulation keeps moving so in addition to moving our bodies we can increase our intake of circulatory stimulants like ginger. Ginger can also soothe a sore throat.
Optional Additions for Extra Benefits:
Fresh Turmeric – Antimicrobial properties to help fight infections as well as powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Mānuka Honey – One of the many reasons I am so grateful to live in New Zealand, our access to Mānuka honey. A very potent antimicrobial remedy. The easiest way to determine better Mānuka honey from others if the UMF factor, basically, the higher the UMF the more antimicrobial benefits.
Thyme: Thyme has antimicrobial and expectorant medicinal properties to reduce the incidence of upper respiratory tract infection, relieve congestion and help a sore throat.
Orange: Contains vitamin C for the immune system, but the main reason I add an orange is because it adds a bit of sweetness to help the medicine go down.
*Note: You can take away ingredients you don’t want to include and play with the ratio of what you include to suit your needs.
- 3 Lemons, whole
- 6-10 cloves of garlic
- Thumb of ginger
- Thumb of turmeric
- 2 tablespoons of Mānuka honey
- Small handful of fresh thyme, leaves only
- ½-1 Orange, peeled
Place all ingredients into a blender, first removing stickers, seeds and twigs. Blend until smooth. It is good to be a bit chucky. Pour into a sterilized jar, label with ingredients and manufacturing date and place in the fridge.
For maintenance through winter: 1 teaspoon per day
When getting ill: 1 teaspoon every hour