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Immunity Boosting First-Aid Kit


Build your healthy medicine chest now, so you'll have the remedies you need on hand. Dried plants are shown, but all are readily available as supplements at natural-foods stores.

Echinacea Purpurea, E. Angustifolia
(pictured at left)

What It Does
Echinacea root (as well as flower and leaf) cut the duration and severity of colds.

How to Use
Take 1 teaspoon tincture (root or whole plant) four times a day.

Theoretically, it could overstimulate the immune system. Check with your doctor before use if you have an autoimmune condition.

Hydrastis Canadensis

What It Does
Goldenseal root is antimicrobial; it helps heal sore throats.

How to Use
Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of tincture to a cup of water; gargle as needed.

This herb is endangered due to overharvesting; choose cultivated goldenseal. Don't use if pregnant or nursing; use with caution if you have high blood pressure or glaucoma.


Medicinal Mushrooms

What They Do
Maitake, shiitake, turkey tail, and reishi mushrooms build immunity.

How to Use
Take daily as a tonic. Choose a multiple-mushroom supplement with any of the above; follow package directions.

Shiitake and maitake mushrooms (fresh or dried) can be used in soups and stir-fries.

Astragalus Membranaceus

What It Does
Astragalus root builds deep immunity; helps prevent colds and flu.

How to Use
Take in tincture or capsule form as a daily tonic; follow package directions.

Dried astragalus can be incorporated into soups; strain before serving.

Sambucus Nigra and S. Canadensis

What It Does
Elderberry syrup can help cut the duration and severity of the flu.

How to Use
Follow package directions.

Some elderberry products contain echinacea and vitamin C.

Eucalyptus Globulus and E. Fruticetorum

What It Does
In a steam, eucalyptus essential oil eases congestion and cough.

How to Use
Add five to eight drops of oil to a 3-quart pot of near-boiling water. Drape a towel over your head to create tent; breath in steam for five minutes.

Do not take internally.

Slippery Elm
Ulmus Rubra

What It Does
Slippery-elm lozenges soothe sore throats.

How to Use
Take one lozenge every two hours as needed.

This herb is endangered due to overharvesting; choose cultivated slippery elm.

Read more about boosting your immunity in Winter Wellness.

Body+Soul, November/December 2006