A healthy immune system helps to keep us in a state of balance, homeostasis. It can recognise unhelpful organisms, respond, mop-up and return us to good health. The more stressed, malnourished and challenged it is or if there is underlying disease, the harder the immune system has to work and the more symptoms we will experience under viral or other influences.
Firstly, the immune system remains strong when the nervous system is calm and relaxed. The thymus gland (involved in immune function) reduces in size under stress. A simple breathing exercise to remain calm is to extend the exhalation to twice the length of the inhalation. Sit in a relaxed calm way and take a few deep breaths sighing out and relaxing down into the space. Start to gently breath in for the count of two and exhale for the count of four…if this feels comfortable you can extend to a count of three on the inhalation and six on the exhalation. Breathing like this engages the relaxation branch of the nervous system creating a sense of peace and calm. After a few minutes, return to normal breathing and then gently come back into an alert state of being.
Vitamin C, especially mixed with zinc is a wonderful immune support. Vitamin C helps the good functioning of cells in the body and can be used as a preventative for the virus. If you chew or suck a vitamin C after being in a public place, it can actually help to denature any viral particles before they get into the lungs and trigger an immune response. We have also opted for garlic capsules for ease and to make sure the kids are getting some each day.
Hand washing and using a home-made sanitiser can give you confidence in handling mail, interacting with the outside world and feeling pro-active.
The Lymphatic System is a major part of our immune system. The lymphatic system is an important transport system, helping rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials. It transports lymph, which contains white blood cells, around the body. Lymph is a clear and colourless fluid; the word “lymph” in fact comes from the Latin word lympha, which means “water”. The lymphatic system primarily consists of lymphatic vessels, which are similar to the circulatory system’s veins and capillaries. The vessels are connected to lymph nodes, where the lymph is filtered. In the case of infection, the lymph nodes can get overloaded and swell.
Eating lots of leafy greens and rainbow colours from vegetables ensures a wide range of vitamins and minerals. This gives us the best opportunity for staying well and nourished. Refined sugar dampens down the immune response so be aware of this when choosing foods to have in for a lock-down situation. Try to ensure lots of hearty, healthy snacks are available, like nuts, crackers, fruit.
Eating lots of garlic and even supplementing with garlic capsules is a great way to support the immune system and discouraging the virus to get int the system. We have been adding garlic to rich chicken broth but vegan veg stocks with yeast flakes is also nutritious and delicious.
Getting good rest and decent sleep is vital to efficient immune responses. If you are feeling overwhelmed and finding it hard to sleep we recommend calming herbal teas. We have a lovely Heart and Soul Tea with lime flowers, rose, Lemon balm and hawthorn but any of your favourite calming teas will be of benefit, Chamomile included.
Herbs to support rest and relaxation include:
This excerpt is taken from The Sensory Herbal Handbook, which is available now!