Building immunity

Published 3:42 pm Wednesday, April 13, 2016

He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herbs for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth. — Psalm 104:14

Greetings again, folks! Hope you’re having a smooth transition into the spring season. I mentioned last month that I would continue a little on the subject of the immune booster “Echinacea” (Echinacea augustifolia, E. purpurea, and E. pallida).

According to long-time herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, this immune-system booster is one of the most important herbs of our times. Echinacea was listed in the United States Pharmacopeia until 1950, but it had fallen out of favor in this country until it was rediscovered in the mid-1970s by a group of errant herbalists. Though incredibly effective, it is not known to have any side effects or residual buildup.

Echinacea works by increasing macrophage T-cell activity, thereby boosting the body’s first line of defense against colds, flus and many other illnesses. It is used as a preventive as well as a curative. Though potent and strong, it is 100 percent safe for children, the elderly and everyone in between. Contrary to what many believe, not only the root of the plant but also the leaves and flowers are very potent and enhance immune functions. Most of the compounds in Echinacea are water soluble.

The roots are prepared as a decoction; the aerial part of the plant is infused. The entire plant can also be used to make a tincture. Echinacea is active in dried form and can be powdered and encapsulated, or the powder added directly to food or drinks. Take Echinacea in frequent small doses in tea or tincture form to boost immunity at the first sign of a cold or flu or to treat a bronchial infection. For sore gums and mouth inflammation make a mouthwash from the root, with peppermint or spearmint essential oil.

Note: Echinacea’s effectiveness will decrease if it is used continuously. It is best to use it in cycles, generally 5 days on, 2 days off, repeated until the infection or illness has corrected itself.

On a different note, we are seeing a renaissance of food culture in America. In response to fast food, bad food, food-borne disease outbreaks in mass-produced food, factory farming and the alarming rise of obesity in our country, people are finally starting to think a bit more about the stuff that goes into our bodies every few hours. Is it organic? Does it contain genetically modified organisms? I’d like to spend a little time in the next column issue speaking about these topics.

Alice Russell, also known as “Me Me,” resides in the Randolph/Saxe area. She can be reached at

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