HOW TO BOOST YOUR IMMUNE DEFENCES

With the current threat of viruses, our immune defences should be looked at with greater attention. Indeed, our immune system can be compromised by our way of life, our hygiene or stressful situations for example. This is why it is always interesting to strengthen them through prevention. Among the natural solutions, EOs dedicated to immune defences produce excellent results because of their high level of concentration. Although…

What is immunity?

Immunity is the body’s ability to defend itself against harmful substances that are dangerous to his survival or his normal live functions. These ‘threats’ can be of three types:

  • Microbes (virus, parasites, fungus or bacteria),
  • Cells that have become cancerous, or
  • a foreign body (a splinter for example).

A healthy immune system is not only a guarantee of health, but also of life!

It is made of several:

  • organs (the spleen or thymus),
  • tissues (lymphatic glands, bone marrow)
  • and some type of cells (white blood cells including lymphocytes).

Decrease in immunity: the signs

It has been known for a long time that with age or through sickness, the immunity system is weakened and the body becomes more vulnerable to infections.

The following symptoms may be a sign of a weakened immune system:

  • a persistent tiredness, often a sign of chronic stress or a lack of sleep
  • a lack of energy
  • you have become stressed, irritable or depressed
  • a greater sensitivity to infections, noticeable in frequent head colds, urinary tract infections, herpes eruptions, a persistent mole, etc…
  • wounds that take longer to heal.

If you are showing signs of a decrease in immunity do not hesitate to consult your medical practitioner and request to have a blood test

  • stressed, irritable or depressed
  • a greater sensitivity to infections, noticeable in frequent head colds, urinary tract infections, herpes eruptions, a persistent mole, etc…
  • wounds that take longer to heal.

If you are showing signs of a decrease in immunity do not hesitate to consult your medical practitioner and request to have a blood test.

People at risk

People who have been weakened by:

  • a chronic or grave illness: diabetes, a pulmonary disease, cardiovascular troubles, a cancer, an HIV infection, etc.
  • a particular treatment: for example, chemotherapy in fighting a particular cancer.

Older people have in general a slower immune system. As a result their immune system will be slower to respond to an infection than in normal adults. Furthermore, with time, the body produces less white blood cells.

 

The risk factors of a weakened immune system

  • Malnutrition: a diet that lacks balance in quantity and quality
  • Lack of sleep
  • Chronic stress: it reduces the capacity of the immune system to react (by reducing the number of lymphocytes) as well as the absorption of nutrients.
  • Exposure to toxins: the use of chemical substances for domestic cleaning or on lawns (herbicides) or consumption of fruit and vegetables that have been sprayed with insecticides.
  • Exposure to external atmospheric polluters as well as those inside dwellings (mildew, bacteria, tobacco…)
  • A sedentary lifestyle or, on the opposite, an overactive lifestyle.
  • Overweight and obesity.

 


The best Essential Oils

to boost your immune defences


 

ravintsaraRavintsara to strengthen your defences (Cinnamonum camphora):

Properties:

  • Immune-stimulant, antibacterial and mostly, strongly antiviral
  • General stimulant, physical and psychological (perfect in cases of convalescence for example).

 

1,8 cineole has a positive influence on the defence mechanisms or the organism (this molecule is also found in Saro or Niaouli for example).

 

recipeUsage:

  • On a handkerchief or a diffuser: breathing in or diffuse for 30 min 3 x/day.
  • In massage (thorax and feet) diluted in a VO (10 drops of Ravintsara for 20 drops of VO).
  • Apply 1 drop on each wrist morning and evening during 5 days. Stop 2 days then repeat. You can also mix 1 drop ravintsara and 1 drop tea tree (always do the allergy test before)

Ideal as a prevention, it is also useful in the treatment of ENT infections because of its expectoration and mucolytic properties.

 

precautionsPrecautions:

  • Very safe to use, it is perfect for the whole family: adults and children of over 7 year of age.
  • Not advised during the first 3 months of pregnancy.

 

lemonLemon essence to protect the digestive system (Citrus limon):

Properties:

  • Tonic and general antiseptic
  • Anti-bacterial (notably against streptococci) and antiviral
  • Psychological stimulant, cleansing and digestive.

 

Pour eating habits (fast food being the main culprit), cigarettes or the accumulation of toxins in your organism will participate in making it weaker. All the bad molecules end up in your liver: lemon essence contains limonene which has a detoxing and a liver-protecting effect that will allow a certain cleansing of the liver and eliminate as well as possible the noxious components and give a real whiplash to your organism.

Furthermore, inhaling its scent has antiseptic virtues that will stop the development of many pathogenic organisms.

 

recipeUsage:

In diffusion, in combination with Ravintsara to purify the air (useful in hospitals, schools or living spaces).

 

precautionsPrecautions: 

  • Dermo-caustic and photo-toxic: do not go in the sun after local usage and do not apply pure on the skin(maximum concentration of 3% in dilution in a VO).
  • Do not use if taking anti-coagulants.

 

Tea tree essential oilTea Tree EO to stimulate white blood cells (Melaleuca alternifolia):

Properties:

  • antibacterial and also stimulant regarding white blood cells
  • stimulant and energising too.

 

It helps the organism in eliminating bacterial infections that the immune system cannot fight alone.

 

recipeUsage:

Diffusion, local use.

  • breathe directly from the bottle or put 2 drops on a handkerchief and breathe in.
  • in application on the inside of the wrists, or diluted in an VO at 20 % maximum.

 

precautionsPrecautions: 

  •  Not recommended during the first 3 months of pregnancy.
  •  Caution should be taken for pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as children under the age of 3.
  •  not to be used internally with very little children.

 

Special massage to boost immune defences

Dilute in one tablespoon of VO

recipeUsage:

Apply 6 drops of the mixture on the thorax, collarbones, wrists and/or back, 3 times a day, 2 weeks per month

 

Diffusion of EOs to boost your immunity

 

recipeUsage:

Diffuse 6 drops of the mixture in a EO diffuser, or pour some on a pebble. Repeat 3 times a day if the risk of infection is high.

precautionsPrecautions:

  • for adults and children over the age of 6.
  • not to be used if pregnant, Palmarosa has an utero-tonic effect.

 

Roll-on to boost your immune defences:

recipeUsage:

Apply on wrists every morning.

 

Children from the age of 6 onwards and adults:

recipesIn an opaque bottle of 50 ml, mix:

1ml = about 25 drops

  • 2ml of Ravintsara EO
  • 1.6ml of Tea Tree EO
  • Sweet almond vegetable oil : enough to fill the bottle.

This mixture can be kept for 3 months.

 

recipeUsage:

Apply 5 days out of 7 on the sole of the feet or on the inside of the wrists to all members of the family during the period of high risk.

 

For children between the ages of 1 and 6:

One-year old child: 1 drop of this preparation

Two-year old child: 2 drops of this preparation, and so on…

 

recipesIn an opaque bottle of 20 ml, mix:

1ml = about 25 drops

This mixture can be kept for 3 months.

 

recipeUsage:

Apply 5 days out of 7 on the sole of the feet

 

 


Lifestyle habits to retain a strong immune system

*according to current knowledge


 

1/ A healthy diet

In industrial countries, the lack of micro-nutrients is more and more common and, in particular, as a result of a fast food diet. This type of malnutrition results in a lack of vitamins and minerals.

To boost immune defences it seems certain that some vegetables are more effective than others:

  • Mushrooms, and in particular shiitakes and oyster mushrooms.
  • Garlic, onions and shallots are also to be chosen for their anti-microbe properties. Garlic increases the number of immune cells.
  • Organic carrots (=beta-carotene) favours the production of white blood cells

healthy-diet-for-immune-system

How to strengthen the gut flora, our first line of defence

The intestinal flora (or micro-biote) consists of non-pathogenic bacteria that protect the intestine. They are the ones that stop ‘bad’ bacteria to enter the blood stream or to proliferate inside the intestine.

The micro-biote would represent 70% of the efficiency of the immune system. Therefore, in order to allow these bacteria to help fight those that are pathogenic, you need to provide a favourable environment.

Pre-biotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that have the purpose of been ‘food’ for the good bacteria (pro-biotics). They are found essentially in the form of non-digestible fibres. It is strongly recommended to eat 2 or 3 foods rich in pre-biotics every single day.

Foods that are rich in pre-biotics:

  • Legumes: garlic, asparagus, artichoke, banana, onion, leek, barley, wheat, citruses, kiwi, tomato
  • Grains: barley, flax, chia…
  • Roots: chicory, dandelion

It can happen that there are not enough bacteria in the micro-biote resulting from:

  • a poor diet (with too many foods too processed, containing too much sugar…),
  • following an antibiotic treatment.

This can be remedied by consuming pro-biotics, in the form of a food supplement or through a better diet.

Foods that are rich in pro-biotics:

  • Yoghurt, fermented milk (Kefir)
  • Gherkins, olives, pickles,..
  • Products derived from soja: Miso, shoyu, …
  • Kombucha…
  • Non-pasteurised beers

 

Foods that boost directly the immune system

Some micro-nutrients seem to play a direct role acting on the immune system.

These are in particular:

  vitamin A

This vitamin stimulates the production of white blood cells as well as that of antibodies.

The foods to choose that are filled with vitamin A

  • Cod liver oil, animal liver
  • Egg yolk, butter, dairy products

vitamin C

This is a powerful antioxidant that allows the body to:

  • fight against free radicals,
  • limits the oxidation of immune cells while also stimulating the immune system.

In addition, it helps the absorption of iron.

Here are the foods to give you all the vitamin C you need:

  • Guava, blackcurrant
  • Yellow pepper, red pepper, kale
  • Lemon is rich in vitamin C and is a powerful antiseptic. It is believed to be effective in fighting about twenty different germs

zinc

Zinc plays an important role in system immunity. A zinc deficit would seem to provoke a disruption of the immune response and a inflammation phenomenon.

Here are the foods that contain a lot of zinc:

  • Raw oysters
  • Beef
  • Grilled sesame
  • seafood (=selenium indispensable for a good immunity)

2/ moderate physical activity

By improving blood circulation, exercise would seem to allow divers substances of the immune system to circulate more freely within the body. A good circulation is essential to prevent infection from a wound for example.

In older people, some studies indicate that physical exercise if practised regularly will help prevent the decline of immune functions.

3/ managing stress

There is no doubt that stress has a negative effect on our health if is present in a constant or prolonged fashion. Stress brings with it a flow of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin. These hormones are very useful short term but very harmful if they are produced for a prolonged period. They harm the immune defences directly.

To reduce your stress levels

  • take hold of the situation at the onset of tension
  • find better ways to confront such situations (rather than trying to avoid them)
  • practise activities that you enjoy
  • make use of EOs
  • consult a psychologist or a psycho-analyst if needed

4/ other factors that are important for a healthy immune system

  • Getting enough sleep (on average a night sleep of at least 7 hours). Take a rest also when your body is asking for it.
  • Do not smoke
  • Try to maintain a healthy weight
  • Protect yourself against STDs
  • Eat plenty fruit and vegetables
  • Only drink alcohol in moderation
  • Season your dishes with spices and aromatic herbs
  • Use antibiotics only if absolutely necessary and respect the dosage. Also, for women, do not use vaginal douches for a hygienic: this practice destroys the natural vaginal flora.
  • Use house cleaning products with the least chemical substances and choose organic foods when possible.

5/ basic hygiene measures to avoid contracting or transmitting an infection

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially before food preparation and after a visit to the toilet.
  • When sneezing, direct your face towards the inside of your elbow.
  • Do not remove the scab of a wound that is healing and try not to squeeze a pimple.
  • Disinfect regularly all surfaces in the kitchen and also in the bathroom with water containing bleach.
  • Don’t kiss or shake hands with everyone.

6/ other useful supplements

  • Coneflower (echinacea):  the queen of prevention.

Following some research, echinacea might be able to ‘ring a bell’ and also wake up the immune system when in danger.

  • Manuka honey

According to Dr. Mercola, clinical trials have shown that Manuka honey is effective against over 250 bacteria strains.

  • Propolis

During 3 weeks: twice a day, morning and evening 400 mg.

Propolis is one of the most powerful anti-viral available.
You can also buy a propolis spray for the throat, and use it at the first sign of sore throat, to prevent the virus from reaching your lungs
Tea with thyme is also very effective in “killing in the egg” an emerging infection

 


Conclusion

health and immunity are strongly linked: take care of your health from day to day and you will have an improved immunity, and vice-versa.


 

 

 

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