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building the immune system

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I don't really want people in our house getting sick this year.  My youngest DD is prone to chest infections - which she often gets as a secondary infection after an illness.  Last year she ended up in the hospital on IV antibiotics after the flu.  Chest infections can be a recurrent problem (they are in her), I would like to break the cycle of "gets sick, leads to secondary infection, on antibiotics."  Hence,  I would like some advice on how to build the immune system so that: 


a)  she does not get sick as often

b)  when she does get sick, she fights it off quickly.


She is not asthmatic. We do not smoke.


Here are my ideas - spam me with others!

-no mold and less dust in the house

-good sleep

-good food - particualrly things with vit. c and garlic

-lots of outdoor time


-Vit. C and Vit. D 

-I am considering cracking the window in her room and the whole house, as long as possible, to let in fresh air


While not immune system building, hand washing is also something I intend to stress.


Let me know if I missed anything - or your favourite aide in boosting the immune system.  I do not mind buying some supplements.

post #2 of 15

We love elderberry tincture or syrup.  It really seems to help keep the viruses away.  Now that I think of it, I need to go out and get some! 

post #3 of 15

I would add a good source of  Vit A, and I would give it in the form of Fermented Cod Liver Oil*. I would also add probiotics, both dairy (if no allergy/intolerance) and non dairy. This can be done with kefir, yogurt, fermented veggies, kombucha etc. I really like a product call Inner Eco which is coconut water kefir, its a local product, so it probably isn't available in Canada, but you might be able to find an equivalent. I add it to smoothies. I would also severely limit sugar and grains (especially boxed cereals). Another thing is to try and reduce any stress in the family, if possible. 


I also want to address the phrase" building the immune system". I think that this is really a myth and is not something you can build or boost, it just is. Look at the immune system more as a healing support system that works better when the body is in optimal health. An optimally functioning healing support immune system is not going to stop you becoming sick, but a strong healing support system will be able to handle things effectively and efficiently that in many cases you don't know you were even sick or if you do get sick, it lasts a couple of days and then all is well again.


This is also going to sound strange, but I am not that big on hand washing, because I don't think it does squat. Now I am not saying not to wash your hands after using the toilet, or handling food etc, but I don't think obsessive hand washing is going to prevent much of anything. A well functioning system, isn't going to get sick from a bit of dirt. 


As for your DD specifically, because she has been on antibiotics in the past and this would have taken its toll on her body, I would put my effort into gut healing foods. Also, as the weakness is her lungs, you might want to consider TCM, or homeopathy to address this underlying issue.


* You would need to take into account the Vit D in CLO and adjust the additional Vit D given.

post #4 of 15

Hi Kathy! Long post warning....


I agree with Mirzam--lay off the sugar! Really, it makes a world of difference. This is from WebMd:

"Even consuming just 75 to 100 grams of a sugar solution (about the same as in two 12-ounce sodas) reduces the ability of white blood cells to overpower and destroy bacteria. This effect is seen for at least a few hours after consuming a sugary drink."


If you even think you are coming down with something, immediately avoid sugar sources. Maybe give your digestive system a rest, and make soups that are easier to digest. I disagree with WebMd about avoiding fat though--you need good quality fat in your diet.


Each year I learn more about health, and each year I see improvement. Last year was the best year of all, because neither I nor my children got sick. Now, I could tell we were fighting off viruses every now and then (itchy throat and runny nose, nothing more), but the viruses never turned into a full-blown cold.

So, this is what we did last year:


*Eat less sugar. If you want to go further, eat less refined carbs like bread, pasta, and cereal.

*Vitamin/mineral supplement. This is the one we all use, and I LOVE it. I've used this for over a year, and *bonus*, it's made my hair grow longer than ever before. It's like Miracle Grow for your hair lol!  Beyond Tangy Tangerine. Mix in water. So delicious!

I raved about this so much, and now my mother, sister, and husband decided to try it. I can't wait to see if it works for them.


* Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV).....this is a must have in my home. It's inexpensive. Whenever you have a sore or itchy throat, add a dash to water and drink. Do this throughout the day and evening until the throat feels better. Cough? ACV water. Runny nose? ACV water. Need an energy drink first thing in the morning? ACV water. Drink to maintain your health, and drink if you are feeling ill. I drink it all the time because it works!

If you have sinus problems, put vinegar in boiling water and breathe in the steam. Do this several times throughout the day, and it will help clear your sinuses.



*Last year, we ate fresh pecans every day. There are pecan trees at my church, and we collected bags of them. They lasted throughout the winter, and we ate them like candy (dd, 2 years old, also loves them).


*Oil of Oregano.....again, for an itchy throat, that feeling you know will soon turn into a terrible sore throat. One drop under the tongue, hold as long as you can stand it, then follow with water. This has prevented sore throats in our family. I also use it for stuffy noses--clears them right up!


*Rebounder (mini trampoline) Jump jump jump. Jump start your lymphatic system! Keep moving throughout the winter. Put the rebounder in the house and if your kids are rowdy, tell them to jump. It works so well!


And, this goes without saying, but limit junk food/fast food/restaurant food, and try to eat as many healthy foods as possible. Drink lots of water.


Now, this year coming up, I will do all of the above, but I've added more to try:

*Fermented foods and probiotics

*Unheated, raw whey powder

*Going to try to make coconut water kefir

*Essential fatty acid supplement

*Bone soup, homemade stocks, etc. No noodles or rice, just meat, vegetables, herbs, sea salt.


If you feel like you are fighting a cold, make sure to rest. Stop doing everything else, and give your body the chance to heal itself.

post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 

You people rock!  Thanks for the advice - keep it coming.



post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 

Becky - is there a difference between Braggs apple cider vinegar and just any old ACV?  I can get ACV easily, Braggs might be trickier.

post #7 of 15

Any organic, raw ACV with the "mother" will work.

I copied this from http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/the-benefits-of-apple-cider-vinegar/


"Clear [apple cider] vinegar has none of the benefits of raw organic apple cider vinegar. Through its processing and distilling, it’s been stripped of everything beneficial and can be detrimental to your health due to the fact that it is dead instead of alive.

Only raw organic apple cider vinegar has the “mother of vinegar” that makes the vinegar so beneficial. The “mother” is made up living nutrients and bacteria. You can actually see it settled in the bottom of the bottle like sediment."


It looks disgusting, and the flavor is very strong. You can dilute it in water, and add a sweetener if you can't stand the taste. I add a bit to my vitamin drink, and even my son will drink it this way. I've asked family members to try breathing the steam, and it has worked for them. Several years ago, I used the steam to clear up what I believe was a sinus infection. It was the only remedy that worked. I think a combination of oil of oregano,  ACV drink and steam would really help you recover. Also, it seems to be important to repeat throughout the day. One try will probably not be as effective as multiple tries.

post #8 of 15

Also, this is not a remedy, but it could be very helpful.

I work at home, so I have the opportunity to listen to health programs all day long. Fun times! After years of collecting info, I would like to share a few of my favorite programs.


The Bright Side with pharmacist Ben Fuchs. Each show is packed full of information. He has such a cheerful disposition, and it is fun to listen and learn. His shows are archived, and you can also Youtube search his work.  You can learn so much from his show!



Dr. Mercola....I know, he's not so popular, but I like his shows. His interviews are interesting, and you don't have to buy anything....listening is free! Most recently, I've been learning about the importance of digestive health, gut bacteria, fermented foods, etc. This page of interviews is full of amazing information, and if you can make the time to listen, I think you'll be happy you did.


It has given me a completely new outlook on my family's health, because herbs, vitamins, and supplements can only go so far. The theory is that you want to colonize your gut with the right bacteria:

"natural intestinal flora contributes to digestion and the metabolism of vitamins and is of critical importance for the host organism. Recent research has shown that the intestinal flora also plays an important role in the formation of the immune system in the intestines and that changes to it can increase the risk of food allergies or chronic inflammatory intestinal diseases."



Also, it's believed that bacteria cells in our bodies outnumber our own cells (10 to 1 they say), so we are basically just bacteria farms! So, you want to colonize yourself with the types of bacteria that are beneficial. This is so fascinating to me, and I am excited to begin working on my own "farm" lol! These interviews discuss how to provide the right environment for the beneficial bacteria.

post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 

I googled Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar plus the city I live near and yeah!  I can get it locally.  


I am glad I asked - I really would have used ACV from the local grocery store.  I have had ACV in the past - but it was just the straightforward grocery store stuff.

post #10 of 15

Excellent! I don't think the success of ACV is because of the placebo effect, because I've had skeptical, cynical family members try it. I always tell them to be honest, and let me know if it Doesn't work. Believe me, they would let me know if it failed! Any input is helpful, both positive and negative. Surprisingly, everyone who has tried it has had success.


Also, the first ACV remedy I tried was with the regular pasteurized kind, and I can tell you that the organic raw type actually works!

post #11 of 15
I can share what we do to do boost immune function in my son. FWiW, he had extremely low IgA (and some IgG) levels. We have been doing these things and his last test they were better. I'm not saying high--they were low still but in the normal range. This is a big improvement and with that we've had better illness fighting too. He came through the flu this past winter wonderfully.

1. Probiotics, specifically ones that are proven to boost the immune system:
a. Florastor (this probiotic has proven immune boosting effects)
b. Epicore (also proven to boost the immune system)..safe too. If I had to pick one maybe epicore and another good quality probiotic or probiotic food with it.

2. Colostrum. We us this one and order it from this place.

3. Healthy vitamin D levels--you want levels 50 to 80 on a 25 OH D test. The rule of thumb is 1000 IU per 25 pounds to maintain current levels/more to raise low levels. This only applies to vitamin D3. WE supplement to maintain good levels here.

4. Optizinc http://www.vitabase.com/supplements/antioxidants/zinc.aspx

5. Healthy sleep, handwashing, fruits/veggies, etc. lifestyle stuff.

Other thoughts: We used Sambucol when we got influenza. I have used oregano oil for infections but it's an antibiotic. I would not use it in places where i would not use a regular antibiotic. It has its place but if you use it treat it like an antibiotic in terms of killing of beneficial bacteria. I would only use the P-73 form. Anyway, I am specifying all that because there is a lot of misinformation on various sites about oregano from those selling it particularly. There is controversy about vitamin A and particularly how it affects vitamin D. I no longer use cod liver oil for that reason. You'd want to do research and draw your own conclusions though. It really is controversial.
post #12 of 15

I agree with all PP's! I would also add chiropractic care. Personally I believe regular care does wonders to keep the immunse system strong.

post #13 of 15

here is a recipe you might try.


The Naturalist’s Herb & Spice Cough Syrup

Honey (demul...
Raisins (expectorant)
Onion, Garlic, Lemon (antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial)
Thyme, Sage (expectorant, antimicrobial)
Ginger (cough suppressant, anti-inflammatory)
Cloves, Allspice, Cinnamon, Cayenne (pain killer, improve circulation, antimicrobial)
Chamomile (relaxation/sleep aid)
Wild Rose hips (vitamin C)

1 Onion - Grate
1 head of Garlic - Rasp/finely mince
1-2 Lemons - Juice and chop
Large handfuls of fresh Thyme & Sage - Finely mince
2 tbsp Ginger Powder (or more if fresh)
2 tsp each; Cloves, Allspice, Cinnamon, Cayenne

Add all the above ingredients together and mash/muddle/pound together with a wooden spoon until it is thoroughly mashed together, using a bit of water or lemon juice if needed.

Then add:
½ C. Dried Chamomile Flowers
½ C. Dried Wild Rose Hips (do not mash if dried whole)

Pour 4 C. boiling water over mixture and gently mix, and let steep overnight, or for 2-3 hours on the lowest stove top burner setting. You do NOT want to cook/simmer/boil this mixture in order to retain more of the medicinal properties.

Part 2:
1 C. Raisins – simmer with enough water to cover raisins until raisins are soft and the water is absorbed, puree this mixture (add a bit more water if required) and set aside.

Part 3:
Strain the mixture from part 1. I used cheese cloth so I could squeeze out every last drop of goodness.
Add the pureed raisin mixture from part 2.
Freeze mixture in ice cube trays (I used Baby Food freezer trays). There will still be solids that can settle to the bottom, so mix while pouring your portions out so that it includes all ingredients.

Part 4:
Add equal parts of the finished mixture and honey together, this will make a syrup consistency. Store in the fridge, it should last a week. This was quite a bit of work, and I wouldn’t want to go through this every time I needed a batch – that is why I chose to freeze the mixture in portions. Every time I need some medicine, I can just pop a frozen cube out, thaw, mix with honey, and store in the fridge for the week!

I did not hear my daughter (18 mo old) cough even once last night, she loved the taste, she went to bed without a fuss, and slept through the night! I would call it a success!!!

*Note, this medicine is NOT intended for children under 1 year of age.
post #14 of 15

Thanks for the cough syrup recipe! I would love to make some this year, and I like how you can freeze what you don't use. Glad to hear it worked for your baby!

post #15 of 15

Kathy, here is some "science" for you:


Long term use of probiotics and synbiotics to reduce the incidence and severity of respiratory diseases during the cold season.






A significant decrease in the total length of respiratory episodes (-1.51 d; P<0.001 in the group C and -1.39 d; P<0.001 in the group D) and in the length of cough (-3.08 d; P<0.001 in group C; -2.83 d; P<0.001 in group D), cold (-1.02 d; P=0.019 in group C; -1.32 d; P=0.001 in group D) and flu episodes was reported. The severity of episodes recorded a statistically significant drop in regard to episodes considered as a whole, the cold and flu classes in both groups and for cough too in group C. The number of episodes also dropped considerably in terms of overall episodes, cold (group C) and flu. CONCLUSIONS: These results demonstrate that a regular, long-term intake of various synbiotics may improve health by reducing the incidence and severity of respiratory diseases during the cold season.




ETA: More science here: 27 studies on the benefits of probiotics in children

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