September is here & Autumn is in the air!
And so starts the cold and flu season.
That's right, while you're thinking about pumpkin spice & cozy fires, those viruses are planning their attack!
A few years ago, my family spent much of the fall and winter passing around some sort of virus. With 8 people in our household, this meant weeks of illness.
I knew I had to do something to break this cycle and keep us healthy.
I'd made bone broths for years and always keep them going in the cooler months (I'm not up for hot soup much in the Summertime). I love sipping on a mug of broth in cooler weather and using it as a base for soups & gravies.
Then I read about adding certain, special ingredients to broths to sort of super charge them and help keep us healthy.
Fall & winter broths always included onions, garlic, ginger, sage, rosemary, and/or thyme. These are all wonderful, flavorful herbs that can help your body fight off viruses but they just weren't enough.
Immune Boosting Broth
It was my mother who introduced me to the herbal world. She had cancer and was searching for more natural alternatives to heal herself. This was pre-internet and before Amazon's huge book selection, so information was hard to find. Mom would send me newspaper clippings on herbs and handouts from herb stores she came across.
During my more recent research to help keep my family healthy, I came across 3 special ingredients that DO actually help keep us well through the cold & flu season.
These special ingredients meld well with gelatin & collagen rich broths. The long, slow simmering (or quick, if you use a pressure cooker or Instapot!) used to make broth is also perfect for extracting, or decocting, as the herbalists say, the special compounds in these ingredients that keep our immune systems humming!
My 3 Favorite Super Immune Boosting Ingredients
My 3 favorite super immune boosting ingredients all have special compounds that help keep our immune systems operating at its peak. They are also inexpensive (I spend less than $100 a year on them for my large family) and store easily at room temperature on a shelf or in a drawer.
The best part? They are super easy to use!
An herb long used in Chinese medicine for its energizing and tonic properties, it is used to prevent and treat long-term infections including chronic colds, recurring flu, and various viruses.
It is particularly energizing for the lungs and stimulates the rebuilding of the bone marrow reserve that supports and regenerates the body's "protective shield"! So...if you are prone to lung infections and bronchitis, Astragulus is for you!
All you need are a few woody sticks of Astragulus to drop in your broth when it firsts starts to simmer.
All edible mushrooms are known to have immune boosting properties.
Reishi, a hard woody mushroom, has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. Reishi is one mushroom that has been studied pretty extensively.
Reishi is known to up-regulate the immune system. But it also can down regulate the immune system.
Reishi is known as an adaptogen. This means that it can kick your immune system into high gear for fighting colds and other viruses like the flu.
But Reishi will also tone down your immune system if it is overacting, as our immune systems do when we have autoimmune diseases.
Pretty cool, isn't it? And Reishi also happens to grow in the Eastern U.S., although I have never harvested it myself.
Add a slice or two of Reishi when you get your broth boiling and simmer it for hours to get the most immune modulating benefits from Reishi.
Digitata or Kombu Kelp
Digitata is a Atlantic Kelp, Kombu, a Pacific one. The latter, Kombu, is used in Japanese Dashi, a delicious broth by which all Japanese chefs are judged.
Digitata & Kombu are relatives and have similar properties.
These seaweeds or, sea vegetables, add a wide variety of nutrients including iodine to nourish the thyroid and other iodine loving organs in our bodies (and there are many!) Without iodine our immune systems do not function well. Yeah, yeah, I know about iodized salt. Sadly, the form of iodine in commercially iodized salt is not optimized for our bodies. The the iodine from Digitata or Kombu is!
Digitata & Kombu also contain alginates needed for strong immune function. These alginates also help remove heavy metals and radioactive isotopes from the body.
I promise seaweed adds no “sea” or “fishy” flavor. Just lots of immune boosting goodness.
Add a 4" length of this seaweed at the beginning of your broth making.
These herbs are not used to “cure” colds and the flu, but are to be taken in smaller amounts every day, much like the health tonics of old. This is how they work best.
Using Immune Boosting Broth Everyday
By incorporating Astragulus, Reishi, and Digitata or Kombu into our broth pots every week and using that broth when cooking nourishing food every day, we easily incorporate these immune boosting herbs into our daily meals!
I try to cook a pot of broth weekly to sip on if we do get sick or to use in soups, gravies, and other recipes to add immune support to our diets every day.
Remember, all these ingredients work best when taken often in small doses before we get sick. So be sure and keep them on hand through the winter months, when they are needed most.
How to make & Use Lamb Broth
And if you aren’t sure how to use your broth or don’t care to sip on it, here are a few lamb recipes that incorporate this Immune Boosting Broth!