Tyra Burgess, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM)
As July creeps into August, my mind and my time is thrown into preparation mode. New clothes, new shoes, book bags, and folders. Did we pick the right school? Did we read enough? Did the math tutoring help, so Suzy Q can feel good and ready when she starts 6th grade? In all this crazy and commotion, there is a part of back to school that we all need to do, but has no marketing team to tell the world about how essential IT really is! What is IT??? It is preparing our children’s immune systems for the upcoming stress, microbial exposure, and change in environment we call back to school.
At the beginning of each school year our kids systems are subjected to each and every other child’s vacations, vaccinations, swimming hole, swimming pool, cousin Conner, and let’s not start on airplane rides. We rush into a new schedule, and have a bundle of nerves about the first day. “Are my clothes cool? Will people like me? Will I like my teacher?” are on every child’s mind, and enough for our kids to worry about. Illness should not be an additional worry when a simple investment in your child’s health, more specifically your child’s immune system, can have far reaching benefits.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that “schools inherently foster the transmission of infections from person to person because they are a group setting in which people are in close contact and share supplies and equipment.” —Read more here.
In 400 BC Hippocrates said, “Let food be your medicine and let medicine be your food.” Both aspects of this phrase must be considered — not just food as medicine, but also medicine as food” — that means superfoods (the most nutrient-rich plant foods in the world) and tonic superherbs (herbs that can be taken regularly like food). Out of 40,000 herbs used worldwide, perhaps only 50-60 of them are tonic superherbs. These superherbs should be taken for long periods, because, like all tonics, they are more like food and they build health treasures within and nourish our “stress defense shield.”
Here is my list, of the best foods, teas, and herbs to include in your family’s diet to prepare for school. When new table partner Ted sneezes his version of Influenza all over your kid’s arm, you can have no fear, because they are prepared.
The root of our immune system is in the gut. In Chinese medicine, there is a relationship between the Lungs and the Colon, they rule descending, and dispersing air and nutrients, they are also regulators of our immune systems. Much like we protect our kid’s Lungs from the dangers of inhaling smoke, pollutants, and chemicals, we need to protect their colon from the toxins that our children ingest through water, food and pathogens. Because of this, number 1 on my list is probiotics.
Probiotics–Consuming a combination of good quality probiotics (these include friendly bacteria such as: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidus infantis, B. longum, L. bulgaricus, S. thermophilus, L. plantarum, L. salivarius, Enterococcus faecium, etc.) and cultured and fermented foods like coconut kefir will lead to enhanced immunity as the beneficial probiotic bacteria are symbiotic allies to your body that help: fight viruses, candida and other infections; produce B vitamins; and assist in detoxification. Probiotics help build up that “stress defense shield.”
Bee Propolis- Famously known as “bee glue,” is a sticky, waxy substance made by bees said to contain anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties and it builds the immune system. It is abundant in amino acids, antioxidants known as bioflavonoids, vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Propolis has been used for centuries to enhance the immune system, to treat various skin conditions, aid in preventing cancer and treat viral infections such as genital herpes. In a study published in the August 2010 issue of “Phytotherapy Research,” scientists found propolis can alter or regulate the immune system. During this study, subjects who were given bee propolis showed higher levels of proteins and compounds that play a central role in regulating the immune system. More on bees.
Warning! Propolis doesn’t have a taste that is considered appealing. However, it is important enough to demand, regardless of the high whine factor this remedy tends to produce.
Reishi Mushroom–Reishi is queen of the medicinal mushrooms. Reishi is the most well-studied herb in the history of the world and is the most revered herbal mushroom in Asia for over 2,000 years. The Daoists consider Reishi an “elixir of immortality” that is celebrated for its ability to significantly improve the functioning of the immune system by protecting us from the onslaught of viruses, bacteria, unwanted guests, pollution, chemicals, molds, and the toxicity that we are often subjected to in our world. Reishi helps build up our stress defense shield creating feelings of well-being within despite our stress levels. I find with kids, if you can hide it in food, it is the best way. For powdered Reishi click here.
Chaga—Chaga is the king of the medicinal mushrooms. It contains the highest amounts of anti-tumor compounds of any herb. These compounds are in the form of betulin, betulinic acid and lupeol, which are powerful anti-mutagenic compounds naturally present in the white part of the birch tree’s bark (in which the chaga typically grows). Chaga is also extremely high in nourishing phytochemicals, nutrients, and free-radical scavenging antioxidants, especially melanin. Chaga is second only to cacao in antioxidant content. To date, chaga is the most powerful cancer-fighting herb known.
Gynostemma–According to the scientific herbal research being conducted in the People’s Republic of China, gynostemma has been identified as the most medicinal of all the Chinese herbs. It contains 120 saponins (immune modulating molecules that are fat soluble on one side of the molecule and water soluble on the other side) — all of which possess unique and specific health-giving properties. Gynostemma is a true tonic — you can take it or make tea out of it nearly every day with benefits that accrue the more you consume it. Gypenoside 49 (49th of the 120 saponins) has been identified as a telomerase activator that reduces aging factors in us genetically.
Ginseng–Known throughout the world for its amazing energy-restoring and strength-building properties, ginseng is an adaptogen that helps our bodies adapt to stressful environmental conditions. Ginseng root can boost energy, induce mental alertness and increase endurance. Ginseng also helps fight pain and alleviate radiation damage to healthy tissues.
This herb has a strong effect, so finding a supplement made for kids is important. Check out this fantastic red ginseng tonic for kids.
Chlorella–Chlorella is a natural green micro-algae, and a superfood detoxifier. It contains high levels of complete protein with properties that bond with heavy metals and chemical toxins, helping to eliminate them from the brain and nervous system. Chlorella is the highest chlorophyll-containing plant in the world with 40 times the chlorophyll content of the best wheatgrass juice known.
Zeolites-–Zeolites are a form of unique, volcanic mineral compounds with crystalline structures that form a sort of cage. This cage works like a magnet to attract heavy metals, chemicals and other pollutants (e.g. radioactive isotopes), capturing them and allowing their easy removal (without being re-absorbed) from the body. Zeolites have been shown to have anti-viral and cancer-fighting effects.
Shilajit–Contains 80+ minerals and fulvic acid which assists in the removal of toxins, improves nutrition to cells and helps restore electricity to the blood. Shilajit promotes the movement of minerals into muscle, tissue and bone. It is an Ayurvedic mineral-herb which translates as the “conqueror of mountains and destroyer of weakness.”
Astragalus Root–One of the most potent immune tonics used to improve the Lungs, strengthen muscles, increase metabolism, reduce stress and strengthen the genetics. The first telomerase activator product to make it into the market is TA-65, an extract of astragalus.
My list making skills on this topic could go on and on, however we haven’t the time or space. So what are we to do with this magical list? That is the beauty, you can create your own regiment. I will also share mine.
At the beginning of August, I start our kids on two things, no matter what. The first is probiotics. I do what I call power packing their systems and I give them 3 to 4 capsules of adult strength probiotic just before they go to bed at night, for 30 days. The reason I give them before they go to bed, is because this gives the friendly bugs the longest amount of time that the colon is not working to root and establish themselves in my kids guts. Loose bowels is a sign that you need to administer less.
Next, is propolis. By the second week of August, I give each of my kids is a dropper full of the amazing hive protector, and I give it to them until several weeks after school has started. A powerful organic anti-microbial, and immune booster, bee propolis can treat and prevent many virus, bacteria and fungi, while also making our bodies over all less susceptible to attack from invasion. By protecting and creating and army in my kids guts, and improving their overall defenses system wide, my kids start school with an immune system ready to take on anything!
As with all supplements and nutrition if you are unfamiliar or have a particular illness that you are dealing with, seek the guidance of your herbalist or nutritionist.