16 Sensational Immune Boosters
Grow and use these natural herbs to detoxify your body
Many of us get the urge to de-clutter and lighten our load early in the new year: out with the old and in with the new! This concept can be applied to our homes and our gardens—and to our bodies. Early spring is a time of rejuvenation and a great opportunity to use plants gathered from the garden to detoxify our systems.
For centuries, herbs have been used to remove toxins, rejuvenate tissue and increase the effectiveness of the immune system. Many, such as mint, can be grown year-round in home gardens in warmer areas or in containers. Others, such as dandelion or echinacea, can be purchased at health-food stores when not in season. Or you can routinely harvest any of these plants from your own garden each fall and dry them for winter use. If you have just a small plot or a few empty pots, consider growing your own detoxifying herbs and plants, and using them often, fresh or dried, in teas and with both cooked and raw meals.
Note: These teas should not be used by infants or pregnant women or those whose health is compromised; if you have any special health considerations, please consult a professional before using herbal remedies.
This summer herb is a culinary favourite that warms the body and stimulates digestion. Used to cleanse the colon (large intestine), it’s also believed to help reduce fevers, dullness and muscle aches. When drinking as a tea, include a bit of local honey, especially if fighting a cold or flu. In addition to drying this herb at summer’s end, you can mince it with a little water and store it in frozen cubes for winter use.
With winter protection, Laurus nobilis is a popular container shrub in coastal gardens. Add the leaves of this spicy and bitter herb to teas and soups to stimulate digestion; just remember to remove the leaves from the liquid prior to ingesting. Historically the tea has been used to fight headaches and diarrhea. It has also been shown to help the body process insulin, lowering blood-sugar levels.
Fresh or dried leaves are used to make a mild detox and cleansing tea, high in vitamin C to improve immunity.
This hot pepper, used in a dried form, cleanses the colon and helps aid in the digestion of fat. It is also believed to promote good circulation and a healthy heart. Mix with lemon for a spicy tea.
Excellent for breaking down and eliminating body fat. Simply slice the raw vegetable and simmer for 10 minutes or more to make a tea.
Known as a bitter, the root of this useful weed is used to remove toxins from your liver and enable this hardworking organ to function optimally. If you don’t have dandelions in your garden, dried roots are usually found at health-food stores, and can be brewed into a tea.
This immune-boosting herb is also a wonderful cleanser. Simmer the fresh leaves, stems, flowers and roots for a health-boosting beverage.
Use this summer herb with a slight licorice fragrance to stimulate and detoxify the small intestine. Can be dried or frozen for use in teas and cooking.
With its natural antibacterial properties, garlic is great for eliminating unwanted bacteria; use it fresh and in soups and pastas when you’re feeling under the weather because of influenza, colds, bronchitis and parasites. One crushed clove steeped in hot water with the juice of half a lemon and a spoonful of honey makes a flu-busting beverage.
A mild bitter that cleanses the spleen, increasing immunity. Found at health-food stores, a small spoon of the dried herb makes a cup of tea.
A gentle herb for promoting natural detoxification throughout the body by means of a light sweat. May be antiviral. Makes a lovely aromatic tea.
Like echinacea, licorice root is a natural antiviral cleanser, helping to protect against influenza. Boil the root to make a tea, but do remember that a little goes a long way; large doses can cause such side effects as headaches or increased blood pressure so keep it to just one cup at a time.
Italian and flat-leaf parsley are both excellent cleansers and blood detoxifiers. Eat fresh or add to juices, soups and teas.
A cooling herb, perfect for summer days, mint aids digestion and clears the sinuses. Excellent for hay fever and allergies. Serve as a cool or warm tea.
Another natural antibacterial herb, sage helps relieve inflammation of the throat and cleanses the lungs, head and sinuses. Use in cooking and teas.
Cleanses the blood and lymphatic system and helps reduce blood clots. Aids in the digestion of sugars and fats. Helps improve circulation and strengthen the muscles. Best used in small doses as an addition to teas or soups.