With the arrival of Fall, we move indoors, go back to schools and are with more people in closed spaces. Every year, the increase in cold/flus/bronchial problems increase. Generally, it does not matter what type of contagious disease is circulating, rather the important thing is to make yourself an unwelcome host to whatever virus/germs/bacteria are afoot. For the average person, building immunity is fairly easy, though it takes committment.
Though the hype continues to be about Echinacea as the herb of choice for colds, etc., it really is only one of many equally good plants and in some respects, it is inferior. ANY food/herb/spice that is aromatic and/or "hot", has the capacity to not only ward off germs, but destroy them as well. All of your culinary spices work as well or better-oregano, cloves, thyme, cayenne, cinnamon, sage, basil, rosemary--taken as teas or tinctures will do the same for you. Foods such as peppers, radishes, horseradish, nasturtium, peppergrass, garlic, onions...are also as good.
Echinacea should NOT be used preventatively--rather, only at the onset of illness and until symptoms cease. It should not be taken for any length of time by those with autoimmune disorders or blood cancers. The above mentioned plants can be taken all through the cold/flu season and also add nutrients to your diet as well. And...they taste better..except for my favorite remedy--"Fire Cider"--this is a vinegar based tonic to be taken once a day (1 Tbsp. is sufficient). It is HOT, and a bit much to swallow--but you won't get sick!
~ FIRE CIDER ~
Fill a gallon glass jar HALF full of the following in any combination you choose:
SLICED ~ Ginger root, horseradish, various types of hot peppers, radishes, beet greens, nasturtium leaves/capers or flowers, Calendula flowers, garlic, onions, peppercorns... You can also add rosemary, cloves, sage and thyme. Fill jar with Apple Cider Vinegar and let steep a few days before using. AS you use the vinegar, you may keep adding more so it lasts the entire fall/winter seasons. It does not need refrigeration, but vinegar based products need a piece of parchment or waxed paper under the lid to keep metal lids from rusting out over several months.
Dietary changes to enhance immunity include avoidance of sugar laden foods, fruit juices, white flour products. DO eat plenty of eggs, organic milk, whole cooked grains, soups/stews/casseroles, fermented foods--and drink lots of clean water.
BUT..... If you do feel something coming on, a syrup of ginger root or elderberries works wonders. To make a syrup, you just cover the herbs with water and boil until HALF the water remains, then strain the herbs, add an equal amount of honey, let cool, put in jar and put on the lid. Spoilage is a problem, so I always keep this in the freezer. It never freezes hard and can be scooped out with a spoon--pretty yummy too. The ginger is a bit spicy, but the Elderberry is a good preventative tonic for kids that they will not mind taking. (Commercial varieties of this are equally good--sold as Sambucol) Stay well!