Written On: Friday, Nov 02 2018

10 Autumn Immune Tonics

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In the last blog I talked about what a rollercoaster this year has been so far, and autumn is proving no exception. The past month has brought a whole range of changes, including a new job! As my days get even busier I’ve turned to my trusty slow cooker to rustle up nurturing soups and casseroles to keep us going. Traditional health systems such as Ayurveda endorse this approach – matching our food and habits to the changing seasons helps us to tune-in to ourselves and stay in balance.
That’s often easier said than done though. Autumn is often a time of new starts and new projects, with the school year and everything kicking into life after the summer break. In the flurry of activity it’s easy to get caught up in being busy, and that’s when we’re most susceptible to getting run down. We feel more stressed, we’re likely to take less time for ourselves and any healthy eating or fitness habits can go out the window.
So if you’re feeling under the weather at the moment, and would like some help using food and herbs to get you feeling yourself again, here are ten immune tonics you can make or buy.
As usual – don’t forget to check with me or your GP if you have any pre-existing health conditions or are taking medication

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1.    Echinacea

This herb needs little introduction. Most of us have heard of its immune boosting properties, useful to help fight infections of the respiratory, gastrointestinal and urinary tracts. It activates macrophages ,increases T cells and stimulates phagocytosis. So it packs a punch in your immune-boosting toolkit!

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2. Elderberry

Elderberry can be taken either as a tincture or a tea. Or it’s even tastier as Elderberry Syrup: get the recipe here, or contact me to buy some.
Elderberry is antiviral so it hinders the cellular replication of the virus, thus shortening the duration of the illness. Combine the decoction with some Manuka honey and ginger for an extra hit that tastes great too.

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3. Elderflower, yarrow and peppermint tea
…Or as I call it ‘Flu Brew’. Using the elderflower rather than the berry this time; elderflowers are indicated in any catarrhal inflammation of the upper respiratory tract and combine well with yarrow which is a standard remedy for helping the body to deal with a fever.  Adding peppermint which is also antiseptic, analgesic and diaphoretic makes a drink that is tasty, comforting, decongesting and immune modulating. This tea is perfect for symptomatic treatment of the common cold or flu and helps to bring a fever down gently. Contact me if you’d like some.

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4. Thyme and Liquorice Cough Syrup
Thyme and liquorice are both effective for soothing sore throats and coughs. Together in a syrup they are expectorant (so they help you cough out that cough!), antiseptic and very tasty. Contact me if you’d like to buy some.

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5. Garlic
Garlic is anti-infective, keeping away colds and viruses as well as vampires! It also has an antiseptic, expectorant effect in respiratory disease. Daily garlic supplements have been shown to reduce your chance of getting a cold, and shorten its duration if you do get one.

6. Turmeric
This spice contains curcumin, which has notable antioxidant properties. It also has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and stomach soothing benefits. It reduces inflammation by stimulating the adrenal glands to increase the hormone that lessens inflammation. Animal studies on this herb have revealed that turmeric protects the liver from the adverse effects of alcohol and certain toxins. Turmeric also helps in digestive problems by stimulating bile flow.  
A tasty way to take turmeric (other than in a curry) is as ‘Golden Milk’.  Here’s a great recipe from Katie Wells (makes 2 servings)


  • 1 cup of milk of choice such as almond, pecan, coconut, or dairy, or use bone broth in place of the milk for a more hearty tea
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder 
  • pinch of ground black pepper
  • tiny piece of fresh, peeled ginger root or ¼ tsp ginger powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 tsp honey or maple syrup or to taste (optional)


  1. Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth.
  2. Pour into a small saucepan and heat for 3-5 minutes over medium heat until hot, but not boiling.
  3. Drink immediately.
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7. Ganoderma
Ganoderma is a bitter mushroom also known as reishi. It has long been a popular herb in Chinese medicine, and is attributed with assisting in longevity and health. Its uses are focused on moderating the immune system: it is both able to reduce immune system activity when the system is over-stimulated, and bolster the immune system when it is weakened.
Aviva Romm shares a great immune boosting Miso and Mushroom Soup recipe here

8. Astragulus root
Astragulus is a herb which acts as another immune stimulant. It increases interferons (proteins which fight pathogens), enhances the white blood cell count and enhances NK cell (natural killer cells – white blood cells which form an important part of our immune system) activity. It also promotes stamina so is useful for post viral fatigue.

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9. Bone Broth
The old wives remedy of chicken soup when you’re poorly is more of a wise woman’s remedy. Nourishing, gut healing and therefore immune modulating. You can go for a traditional recipe or try this Vegan version made with seaweed and mushrooms.

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10. Fire Cider
This ancient recipe was reported to work against the plague! It’s so easy to make and tastes great too.  
Try your own with this recipe:
1 medium onion, chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
3-4 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger
3-4 tablespoons of freshly grated horseradish
organic apple cider vinegar
cayenne powder (the kick!)

Chop and combine the onion, garlic, ginger and horseradish in a wide mouth glass quart jar. Add just enough apple cider vinegar to cover them. Place it in a warm spot and let it sit for 3-4 weeks, shaking every day or two. Strain and discard the spent herbs.
Add honey and cayenne to taste. The finished product should taste lively, hot, pungent, and sweet. Fire Cider Vinegar also makes a fantastic salad dressing!

I hope this will help see you through cold and flu season! If you’d like more personal support on getting your immunity up to scratch, contact me to book in a consultation.


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