By Maoshing Ni, L.Ac., D.O.M., Ph.D.
With cold and flu season around the corner, it is more important than ever to bolster your
immune system this fall and winter. Here are some natural, simple
solutions that will help protect you!
1. Chestnuts bolster immunity
In both Asia and the Mediterranean region, chestnuts have been popular
for centuries. Chestnuts differ from other nuts with their low fat
content and high fiber. They have a mild, sweet taste and a crumbly
consistency. An excellent source of potassium, folate, vitamins B6 and
C, chestnuts strengthen the kidney-adrenal system and bolster the immune
system to fight off the flu and combat infections. This flu season,
introduce more chestnuts into your cooking: they are good roasted in the
oven, cooked with chicken, lamb, beef, or pork, or in any dish with
beans and legumes.
2. Stimulate your thymus
Your thymus is a fist-size gland located behind your sternum in the
center of your chest. It plays a critical role in the functioning
of the lymphatic and immune systems. It develops over time, reaching
peak size when you are in your early 30s, then begins to physically
diminish until it shrinks to the size of a pea around age 70. You
experience the gland's waning as waning energy in your body.
To support thymus health, the Chinese use astragalus root. Studies show
astralagus is an adaptogen, which means it corrects both high and low
metabolic imbalances, acts on invaders wherever they attack the body,
and promotes overall
Vitality. The usual dosage is 100 to 150 mg per day
in capsules or you can drink astragalus tincture or tea.
Another way to stimulate your thymus is to use acupressure. With your
index and middle finger, gently tap against the sternum (midway between
the nipples) 50 times, in the morning and evening.
3. Immune-supporting herbs
You can use the following herbs to help strengthen your immune system:
• Ligustrum has undergone much research recently, which has revealed
this herb's immune boosting functions. Its actions include increasing
white blood cell production, phagocytosis, and T-lymphocyte help cell
• Cherokee Rose is traditionally used to protect the body from external
pathogens with its astringent properties. It is also one of the highest
natural sources of vitamin C.
• Honeysuckle is a natural anti-microbial herb that has been used for
centuries to increase resistance and fight against bacterial, viral, and
You can find these herbs in health food stores, online, and at the
offices of acupuncturists and Chinese herbalists.
Or look into a formula that combines all of these herbs in one
immune-boosting herbal formula, called
4. Be healthy with bee products
Royal jelly has long been regarded in Asia as a longevity tonic that
enhances energy, virility, and immunity. Rich in vitamins and collagen,
royal jelly is used to feed queen bees. An antibacterial protein in the
substance, dubbed royalisin, is effective against certain bacteria,
including streptococcus and staphylococcus.
Bee propolis is rich in flavonoids that have antioxidant and
anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains terpenoids that possess
antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiprotozoan agents. Not
unlike some prescription antibiotics, propolis prevents bacterial cell
division and breaks down the invading organism's cell walls and
Find royal jelly and bee propolis in enriched honey or in supplement
form from herb shops and health food stores.
5. Beta-carotene Builds Immunity
Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant that improves immune function
and promotes mucous membrane health. In fact, a 1997 study conducted by
the Institute of Food Research in the United Kingdom suggested that
dietary intake of beta-carotene can enhance cell-mediated immune
responses. How to get these beta-benefits this flu season? Eat more
orange-colored vegetables, including carrots, winter squash, butternut
squash, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and yams. Additionally, these are all
an excellent source of Vitamin C, a famous immune support.
6. An All-In-One Immunity Soup
Cook up a broth of shiitake mushrooms, any kind of seaweed, cabbage, any
type of squash, carrots, fresh ginger, oregano, and onion in chicken or
vegetable stock. Shiitake mushrooms contain polysaccharides, sterols,
and coumarin, as well as vitamins and minerals that increase your immune
function. Seaweed cleanses the body, cabbage has ability to increase
your body's ability to fight infection, ginger supports healthy
digestion, and the remaining ingredients promote general health and
Eat this soup every other day to build a strong and healthy immune
7. Treat Your Body Right
Encourage your body to fight flu and other infections by giving it the
care it needs.
• Get at least 7 hours of quality sleep every night. Studies show that
your immune system function drops by an average of 60% after just three
nights of poor sleep.
• Keep your stress level low with meditation, tai chi, or yoga.
• Dry body brushing daily can activate lymph circulation that is
important to clear out toxic debris and stimulate immunity.
• If you feel your immune system has already been compromised and
illness is on the way, consider this
Cold & Flu elixir, which supports recovery as it boosts your immune
I hope you find the ways to build your immunity for a winter free from
cold and flu! I invite you to visit often and share your own personal
health and longevity tips with me.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!