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Boosting Alternative Medicine - A strong immune system is your best defence

© Kat Morgenstern, April 2003

With fears of terrible and mysterious viruses, biological warfare or terrorist attacks running high, anybody would be well advised to bolster up their immune system, for no matter what bacteria or viruses are floating around, a strong immune systems is one's best defence. To enhance and fortify the body's natural defence system, a good, nutritious diet with plenty of naturally derived vitamins and minerals is a basic essential. Denaturalized foods not only do not feed the body the nutrients it needs, but worse, they deplete and weaken it. Use organic foods if you can, make fresh pressed juices a regular part of your diet, use plenty of fresh vegetables and whole grains - try to ascertain that they are not gene manipulated, and try to eliminate toxins from the diet and waste matter from the body.

In the old days people would take up a special spring cleansing diet for a few weeks each spring, which incorporated many wild herbs such as Dandelions and Nettles, while cutting out meat and animal products for a period of time. We would do well to remember the wisdom of such ancient customs.

Nature provides us with various 'superfoods' that are not just nutritious, but positively healing and which do a great job at fortifying the immune system and killing off germs. Onions, garlic and chillies are the most common of these. Among wild edibles, Dandelion and Nettles rank among the top healthful spring vegetables, offering a plethora of vitamins and minerals that vitalize and cleanse the body.

There are also several others foods that deserve attention:

Shitake mushrooms:
In Japan medicinal mushrooms such as Shitake or Reishi as well as several other species are well known and commonly used for both food and medicine. Shitake is said to stimulate the immune system, enhance vitality and lower the blood pressure. It is also said to have anti-tumour properties.
Reishi mushrooms:
This mushroom is not yet as well-known in western countries as the Shitake mushroom, but in China it is hailed as an "Elixir of immortality". Like the Shitake, it is said to help prevent heart disease, counteract hypertension and lower cholesterol levels. It is also said to boost vitality and stimulate the immune system and has both, anti-viral and anti-tumour properties.
Alfalfa sprouts:
Alfalfa does not just make a great hay for farm animals, it also provides excellent nutritional benefits to humans: it contains all known vitamins: vitamin A, the B complex, C, D, E, K, and U. as well as biotin, calcium, choline, inositol, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, protein, sodium, sulfur, and tryptophan, and it is a rich source of chlorophyll. Try to make your own sprouts at home. Sprouting containers can be bought at the health-food store or improvised. The important thing is that there is some drainage and that the seeds can be spread out. The sprouts are easy to add to the diet and they are tasty too: just sprinkle a handful on salads and sandwiches or add to the main meal to provide a delicious and nutritious little green crunchiness.
White flour has been carefully 'cleansed' of any amazing natural nutritional substances. Instead it is 'fortified' with added minerals and vitamins, to give it some kind of nutritional value other than calories. Luckily, the naturally occurring 'good bits' are saved and sold separately. Wheatgerm is nutritionally the richest part of wheat, containing high concentrations of vitamin E, an important antioxidant. Antioxidants support the body's immune system by removing harmful free radicals. It is also a rich source of folic acid (important in pregnancy), certain B vitamins (riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid) and essential amino acids, in particular lysine. Wheatgerm offers one of the best overall combinations of amino acids available in any vegetable substance. It is also rich in polyunsaturated fats,in particular linoleic fatty acid, which are vital for the body's self-repair mechanisms, e.g. when restoring membranes, hormones and cellular structures. As if that were not enough, it also boasts a number of essential minerals, among them zinc, iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, copper, calcium and selenium. Wheatgerm is available from health-food stores and can easily be incorporated in the diet: just add to cereals, juices, soups or salads.
This is basically wheat in its very early growing stages, when it almost looks like grass and has a sweet taste. It is rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, D, E, K (specific in the treatment of pneumonia), the B complex, including vitamin B12, as well as Folic Acid. It also contains important minerals such as Iron, Calcium, Phosphorus, Selenium, an antioxidant enzyme, Chlorophyll, and essential amino acids. Wheatgrass is great in juices, but can also be added to salads and sandwiches.


People with wheat allergies should avoid both, wheatgrass and wheatgerm.

If you want to experiment with growing your own wheatgrass or wheatsprouts, make sure you are only using organic and non-gene manipulated seeds.

There are also certain nutritional supplements that are worth mentioning. These can be included as a regular part of the diet or used specifically as supportive agents in times of crisis.

Royal Jelly:
Royal jelly is that magical substance that gives such endurance and longevity to queen bees. It is a highly nutritious substance, rich in the B vitamins, as well as A, C, D, and E vitamins, certain enzymes, hormones, and as many as 18 different amino acids. Royal Jelly is a powerful nutritional healer that can have a beneficial affect on a wide range of conditions from respiratory ailments, to liver and kidney disease, pancreatic disorders, stomach ulcers, skin disorders, nervous complaints, stress and hormonal imbalances.
Bee Pollen
There is no other substance that compares with Beepollen in terms of nutritional completeness. Derived from the pollen that honeybees collect as they buzz from flower to flower, collecting nectar, this is the only substance that can sustain the human body with nothing added but water and fibre. It contains all the essential vitamins and minerals, proteins, fats and oils, amino acids, as well as over 5,000 enzymes and coenzymes, hormones, high concentrations of the nucleic acids RNA and DNA, and several antibiotic substances. Bee pollen comes as a sweet grainy substance, which can easily be added to juices, yoghurts or cereal and makes an excellent fortifying addition to the diet. It is also probably one of the best survival foods.
Nutritional Yeast:
Nutritional yeast, which comes as a dry, flaky substance available from health-food stores, is an excellent source of protein. It contains 16 amino acids and provides fully 45-52% protein by weight. It is also an extremely rich source of B vitamins, essential for the nervous system, and of chromium. It also contains a host of other minerals, such as potassium, calcium, manganese, and copper as well as 10 other minerals and trace minerals. Nutritional yeast improves the skin and aids the nervous functions. It is particularly valuable at times of high stress, especially mental stress and aids concentration. It also improves the immune response and enhances vitality. Nutritional yeast not only is a most healthful supplement to add to the diet but also has a pleasant flavour and is great in soups and sprinkled on salads.
Spirulina belongs to an extremely ancient group of organism, known as blue green algae, which grow and are even cultivated on certain lakes. The amazing thing about these simple organisms is their exceedingly rich nutritional value. Spirulina provides high concentrations of amino acids and carontenoids, which are vitally important to the immune system and research has confirmed that even small amounts of Spirulina enhance the immune system response. It also seems to positively interact with vitamin C, extending its action. More studies are needed, but it is thought that Spirulina has good potential as a therapeutic food for certain cancers and as nutritional support during radiation therapy. Chinese doctors use it to reduce cholesterol and to stimulate vitality. It is also thought to act beneficially on the liver and kidney, possibly acting as a protective agent against certain liver toxins. If your immune system response is low and you find yourself easily blown over by passing germs, this substance might significantly improve your power of resistance.
Chlorella is also an algae, though it belongs to the group of green algaes. Like its blue-green cousin it is also a rich source of protein and essential amino acids as well as nucleic acids, which supplement human RNA and DNA and help in tissue growth and repair. It is also a rich source of carotenoids and B vitamins. A special nutrient known as 'Chlorella Growth Factor' stimulates the proliferation of certain beneficial bacteria such as the Lactobacillus Acidophilus, which plays an important part in the digestive processes helping the body to break down and absorb the food. People who have been on courses of antibiotics would do well to include Chlorella in their diet in order to offset the antibiotic's negative effects on the microbacterial balance of the body.

While a strong immune system is invaluable in warding off and overcoming diseases, there are also certain antibacterial and antiseptic substances that are extremely useful in helping to kill germs.

During the horrendous times when the black death ravaged the old world and killed off thousands of people, there were some that mysteriously managed to avoid getting infected. The story goes that 4 brothers or friends had been going around stealing the belongings of those who were on their deathbeds or freshly deceased. At first, people did not pay much attention as they thought the thieves were fools. No doubt the black death would sooner or later get the better of them and make them pay for their sins with their lives. However, weeks went by, but this band of thieves still went about their dirty business seemingly unaffected. One day they were caught and although normally they would have faced the death sentence, they were promised their freedom if they revealed their secret of immunity. It turned out that they had inherited a secret herbal formula that was powerful enough to ward off the deadly disease. This formula has since then become known as 'The Vinegar of the Four Thieves'. By now there are many, slightly differing formulas that are circulating under that name. Here is one that should be quite effective:

Mix all ingredients and fill into a sterilized jar. Cover with cider vinegar and infuse for 4-6 weeks, strain. While this mixture is not poisonous, pregnant women should avoid it as it is very powerful. It is best to use preparation as an external disinfectant spray, do not use internally.

Clove oil is a particularly powerful antiseptic and can be mixed in a base oil to use as an antiseptic lotion. Oregano essential oil is also a powerful antiseptic, and some people like to carry a bottle to sniff at whenever they feel that they might be in a room with too many germs floating about.

Finally, use common sense: if you know that there is an outbreak of an infectious disease in your area, try to stay away from public places, especially enclosed spaces, where there are a lot of people. Wash your hands frequently and don't share water bottles and cutlery etc. If you must be in an enclosed space with many people, prepare a tissue doused in a strongly antiseptic substance (e.g. clove or oregano) and cover your nose and mouth with it.

Prevention is the best medicine!

Be well and stay well

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This Article was originally published in the Sacred Earth Newletter. The Newsletter is a FREE service containing articles, news and reviews on all things herbal and/or ethnobotanical, with an approximate publication cylce of 6 - 8 weeks. If you wish to subscribe, please use the subscription box to submit your e-mail address.


Please note that although all the references to edible and medicinal herbs are tried and tested, their efficacy cannot be guaranteed and has not been approved by the FDA. Furthermore, everybody responds differently to various plants, and adverse reactions cannot be ruled out. Historical information regarding poisonous plants is included for educational purposes only and should not be tried out at home. Everybody uses herbs at their own risk and thus must make themselves fully aware of their potential power. Any information given here is educational and should not replace a visit to the doctor should this be necessary. Neither Sacred Earth nor Kat Morgenstern accepts responsibility for anybody's home experimentation. Links to external sites are included as pointers to further resources - we do not endorse them or are in any way responsible for their content, nor do we thus verify that their content is accurate.