During these days of uncertainty it's important we stay positive and do as much as we can to look after our health. From getting a good night’s sleep to eating a healthy nutritious diet – we can all take small steps to protect our wellbeing.
At Wild Life Botanicals we are passionate about the power of plants, and incredibly lucky to have a respected medical herbalist and naturopath Rachel Boon, working on our team. Rachel has put together her top ten herbal remedies from Mother Nature’s bounty that can help build greater resilience and support our immune system during these times.
The good news is that several of these ingredients can be found in our cupboards at home, or can be easily bought online, so no need to venture out the house if you are self-isolating. Where possible we have listed some of our favourite health resources at the end of this blog.
This is one of nature’s most powerful medicines being both antiviral, antibacterial and antioxidant in action thanks to several active constituents including Allicin, which is released when crushed. Studies have shown if regularly consumed it helps reduce the number and symptoms of colds.
Serving suggestion: Simply crush fresh garlic and add it to hummus, add raw into salad dressings, chop and add to any home cooking. Alternatively make a juice shot with raw garlic, ginger, turmeric and apple juice and take first thing in the morning.
A herb that grows wild all over the UK in areas near the sea, this beautiful botanical contains many active essential oils including Oleanolic Acid, which has been used successfully as an antiviral against many viruses including influenza. It is also antiseptic, antioxidant and a circulation booster. Research into polyphenol antioxidants present in Rosemary shows that they frequently suppress virus’ from entering the body. Rosemary is also used as a decongestant so helpful with a cough to elevate catarrh as well as helping with headaches.
Top tip: Sprinkle Rosemary on your roast potatoes, put it on your salads or make yourself some Rosemary water to sip throughout the day or why not make some Rosemary Oil by adding few sprigs to a glass bottle of extra virgin olive oil, leave to infuse for a few weeks before drizzling over your salads or pizza. I even have a Rosemary distilled water air-freshener spray in my bathroom!
(Rosemary is one of the key botanicals in Wild Life’s uplifting elixir)
A wonderful culinary herb that is easy to grow at home or buy in your local supermarkets. This super herb is antifungal as well as antiviral and antibacterial, which essentially means it helps the body destroy or resist pathogenic micro-organisms. In addition, powerful essential oils within the plant have a carminative effect and antispasmodic benefit, meaning Thyme is a great herb for use with digestive complaints as well as it's traditional use in the treatment of chest or throat related illness – coughs, colds, tonsilitis, asthma, bronchitis etc
Thyme is also a diaphoretic, which means it opens your pores to help cool the body down which is helpful when running a fever. Finally this tiny but powerful herb is considered a respiratory tonic, soothing our mucous membranes and making our lungs function optimally.
Serving suggestion: Sprinkle over roasted Mediterranean vegetables with garlic or take as a cough syrup with licorice, which you can get from Neal's Yard or from a local dispensing herbalist.
A lovely abundant herb in the UK, Sage is antiviral and has a local analgesic effect, so particularly supports the throat area.
Top tip: As a tincture or a tea, it is useful as a gargle to help alleviate the discomfort of a sore throat.
A herb worthy of its current fame with over 200 active constitutes that we know of so far, including the powerful curcumins. This herb is proven to be antiviral, antifungal and strongly antibacterial in studies. Turmeric can help reduce inflammation and cholesterol and is prebiotic, which means it helps feed good bacteria in the gut. It is used a lot for musculo-skeletal issues including treating joint aches and muscle pains, in addition it is used in the treatment of asthma and skin issues.
Turmeric is part of the ginger family and is known to be a blood purifier, a very potent antioxidant and a cholagogue, which means it encourages the flow of bile from the gall bladder so can play a role in fat digestion. Be warned – the curcumins that make it bright orange are very staining so be careful when working with it.
Serving Suggestion: Use the fresh root either raw in a juice or tea or add dried powder for cooking in curries and dhals, or make a tasty Turmeric latte.
Known as the Purple Cone Flower Plant, you can use both the plant and the roots. This herb is a known as an immune modulater, which simply means it can either power up the immune system or calm it depending on what is needed. It is a very useful antimicrobial herb that is used for many viruses that attack the sinuses, throat and upper respiratory tract.
Scientific studies have already proven that Echinacea helps support recovery from influenza through boosting the immune system by activation of white blood cells. If all that isn’t enough for its place in the top ten it is also a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and blood cleansing via its action on the liver.
Top tip: As well as ingesting as a tincture, capsule or tea, this herb also has a local analgesic effect so it can be used to gargle with for sore throats.
7. Lemon Balm
A gentle yet powerful herb that is a delicious smelling member of the peppermint family, it is also a potent antiviral that works by stopping the virus from entering the cells. It is super easy to grow at home and worth having a pot of it in your garden. Used for people that are run down and experiencing coughs and colds or cold sores but also very helpful to reduce anxiety as it has a calming effect on the nervous system. Lemon Balm is also a natural mood lifter, anti-depressant as well as being a diaphoretic herb which helps cool the body during a fever.
Top tip: Take as a tea or a tincture, which can even be applied locally to cold sores.
(Lemon Balm is another one of the key botanicals in Wild Life’s uplifting elixir)
Another botanical beauty that is an adaptogenic herb, which offsets some of the damaging effects of stress on the body and boosts the immune system. Harvested almost exclusively by hand by women in India, this herb is often called Indian Ginseng related to its ability to increase strength, vitality and energy. Due to it’s immune enhancing properties and antimicrobial activity, Ashwagandha is often used to build resistance against respiratory infections and can help treat asthma. It is also used to support auto immune and nervous system conditions.
Top tip: As a root that is ground into a powder it can either be taken in a capsule or made into a comforting warm drink with the addition of plant milks and agave nectar or jaggery (Indian sugar) or if you are working with a medical herbalist, you can take this as a tincture.
(Ashwaganda is one of the key botanicals in Wild Life’s uplifting elixir)
9. The Elder Tree
A very powerful native tree that is a medicine chest in itself used by apothecaries throughout the ages. The flowers, leaves, berries and bark are all vital herbs within a herbalists’ toolkit. The flowers and berries are known antivirals and used extensively for supporting those with catarrh, colds, flu or inflammation of the upper respiratory tract.
Elderflower is also diaphoretic, helping cool the body at a time of fever. An added bonus is the berries are busting with Vitamin C (avoid eating too many berries raw as they are mildly toxic, these are better cooked), which supports the immune system.
Top tip: Depending on the time of year you can either buy fresh or dried elderflowers and make a tea or source a tincture of elderberry or elderflowers from your local medical herbalist.
10. St John’s Wort
A beautiful native yellow flower grown in the UK most commonly used to regulate mood by increasing the levels of serotonin and GABA in the brain. Studies have also shown it to be antiviral against many infections including influenza, HSV 1 &2 and polio to name just a few.
Top tip: Get yourself some loose leaf tea or tea bags from your local health food shop and enjoy a few soothing mugfuls, or contact your local medical herbalist who can dispense a tincture for you as part of your consultation to rule out any contraindications. We always recommend working with a herbalist when taking St John's Wort to avoid any contradictions due to any existing medications.
Rachel has been a practicing Naturopath and dispensing Medical Herbalist since she graduated from the College of Naturopathic Medicine in 2005. Working with adults and children in clinics, retreats and in the community Rachel uses bespoke herbal remedies, diet and lifestyle advice to treat chronic and acute health conditions in West Sussex.
Here at Wild Life Botanicals supporting your health and wellbeing is at the heart of everything we do, and we hope you enjoy trying these 10 immune-boosting botanicals at home.
Feeling inspired? Along with trying your independent local health food store, browse our favourite health resources here:
If you feel a more bespoke approach to your health is required, please contact a registered herbalist via one of the following professional associations:
Stay well and stay positive,
Wild Life Botanicals team x