With fall in full swing, you may be enjoying foliage, pumpkin-spiced everything, sweater weather, and finally breaking out your favorite wool hat. With all that beauty can also come the dreaded tickle in the back of your throat as cold and flu season approaches. As the days get cooler, focusing on boosting your immunity may mean you won’t even have to take a sick day this year!
There are many factors that contribute to a thriving immune system: getting plenty of sleep (seriously, is there anything sleep doesn’t help?!), eating clean and nourishing foods, practicing regular movement, and more. Another great way to up your immunity is adding herbs and supplements to your diet. I love to mix them into a morning elixir.
This warming, soothing medicinal elixir is as health-boosting as it is delicious. Before we get to the recipe (below) here’s how the key ingredients supercharge your immune system.
Ginger and turmeric are both proven to be powerhouse antioxidants that disable free radicals in your body. They’re highly anti-inflammatory, which can reduce your likelihood of developing chronic disease. They’re also antibacterial and antiviral (which means they decrease viral replication in infected cells) — all of which is optimal for your immune system.
Reishi is a functional mushroom that is considered the “queen” of functional mushrooms. It has been shown to have a positive impact on one’s white blood cell count, and has even been linked to fighting cancer. You could go even bigger by adding a functional mushrooms immunity blend (I like immune shrooms from Wylde One or Immune from OM) which contains reishi and other mushrooms that support your immunity. And, no, it doesn’t taste like a portobello in your chai!
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, which will help your body respond to stress, and has also been shown to reduce inflammation and build immunity through increasing white blood cell counts. This one from Supernatural is wonderful. You can also use astragalus root — another adaptogen known for its ability to boost the immune system — in addition to or instead of ashwagandha. (Note: Be Well makes an adaptogen supplement as well!)
Raw honey is highly antibacterial (did you know you can put it on a wound or burn?) as well as a powerful antioxidant, as it contains pinocembrin, pinostrobin and chrysin, which are disease-fighting flavonoids. I like to buy local honey from my farmers’ market, or Wedderspoon’s raw manuka honey, which is a powerhouse form of honey from New Zealand.
The chai spices (cardamom, cinnamon, cloves) included are also medicinal in nature, as they are also antioxidants and warming to the system, as well as supportive of the digestive system — and we know that good health starts in the gut!
Tahini and MCT oil serve as useful fats that help our bodies absorb all the benefits of the herbs.
An added bonus? The reishi and ashwagandha in this elixir will help you remain calm, cool, and stress-free throughout the day, though they are most effective when taken over longer periods of time, so add these to your morning elixirs, smoothies, or coffee daily.
- 1 tsp reishi or immunity mushroom blend
- 1 tsp ashwagandha (and/or astragalus)
- ¼ tsp cinnamon, ground cloves, cardamom
- ¼ inch chunk of fresh ginger, peeled
- ¼ inch chunk of turmeric, peeled (or ¼ tsp ground turmeric)
- 1 tsp MCT oil (or substitute coconut oil)
- 2 tbsp tahini (optional, if omitted add ¼ cup nut milk or coconut milk for creaminess)
- 1 tsp of raw local honey or manuka honey (or swap for 1-2 dates)
- Dash of black pepper
- 1 ½ cups hot water
- Blend all ingredients in blender and enjoy!