Astragalus for immune system recovery

Astragalus canadensis flowersAstragalus is an extremely valuable herb for restoring immune function after illness and can also be used to maintain the body’s normal defences against cold and flu. It is the number one remedy for preventing post-viral fatigue (including chronic fatigue syndrome) that can proceed the flu and other viruses such as glandular fever.

Astragalus should not be taken during the initial viral infection, its function is more specific afterwards (you are looking at using herbs such as Olive leaf, Echinacea and Andrographis during an acute infection).

Feel free to ask for a free taste test of the Astragalus herb on Thursday afternoon and Saturday mornings when our resident Naturopath, Josie, is in clinic.


Other factors to consider when undertaking a program to boost immune function are:

  • Cod Liver Oil which is high in vitamins A and D as well as essential fatty acids, all of which are necessary to boost and maintain the immune system.
  • Vitamin C with bioflavonoids. Vitamin C is the single most important nutrient for immune function and should always be taken with bioflavonoids to improve absorption.
  • Zinc boosts the immune response and aids in healing.
  • Probiotics should be taken to replace bowel flora if antibiotics were taken during the initial infection.


Diet and lifestyle suggestions

  • Get plenty of rest and good quality sleep (if you’re not sleeping well it is important to address that)
  • Skin brushing to stimulate the lymphatic system which in turn supports proper immune function by removing waste and toxins from cells
  • If you have any known allergies try to avoid contact with the offending allergens as much as possible as these place stress on the immune system.
  • Eat a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds and wholegrains
  • Great immune boosting foods are kelp, garlic, pearl barley, shitake mushrooms and umeboshi plums.
  • Avoid sugar and caffeine as they both deplete your body of essential nutrients and exacerbate fatigue.
  • Regular moderate exercise is essential for rebuilding and maintaining immune function.


The Importance of Stretching

Health In The Bay StretchingStretching is a very effective and important activity that has a number of known key benefits for all. These benefits include improved flexibility, a decrease in the likelihood of injury and muscle soreness, and an enhancement in physical performance.

Through stretching, the affected muscles will be lengthened, which helps to improve the body’s normal level of flexibility as well as to reduce general muscle tension. This increase in muscle length will also enable the muscles to contract over a greater distance and hence create a greater level of power. The body is then able to move more freely with increased comfort.

After physical exercise, the muscles can often feel tight, sore or stiff. Such soreness occurs due to minute tears that form within the muscle fibres, as well as an accumulation of blood and waste products, such as lactic acid. Stretching after exercise, therefore, helps to diminish any muscle soreness through improved blood circulation and the removal of waste products.

Exercise also creates fatigue, and results in a decrease in both mental and physical performance. Stretching muscles can help to prevent fatigue by reducing the pressure on the working muscles. For every muscle, there is an opposing muscle, and if these are made more flexible through stretching then the working muscles have to exert less force against them. The movements of the working muscles will, therefore, require less effort, which will result in the enhancement of an individual’s physical performance.

Additional benefits of regular stretching include improvements in posture, body awareness, energy levels, coordination, and stress relief.

Stretching should be carried out before and after any physical activity, and as part of an individual’s daily routine. A typical stretching routine should last for around 5-10 minutes, with each muscle group being stretched 2 or 3 times. Each stretch should be performed gently and slowly, and held for around 20 seconds only to the point where tension is felt in the muscle. Only stretch muscles that are 100% healthy and avoid areas that are recovering from injury. Stretches should never be performed when the muscles are cold. Prior to any stretching, light, physical activity that results in a light sweat should be performed for about 10 minutes.