Ginger-provides antiseptic, lymph-cleansing, circulation-stimulating, and mild constipation relief qualities along with a potent perspiration-inducing action that is quite effective in cleansing the system of toxins, which will help keep illness at bay. Ginger is also anti-inflammatory,
Dark, leafy greens like kale and broccoli rabe are seasonal and contain bitter properties that aid in digestion as well as phyto-nutrients necessary for the vitamins and minerals our bodies need to fight off sickness.
Legumes- in the form of beans: Black, adzuki, chickpeas for good quality plant-based protein-good for health and the planet. Soy is an option-but please, organic only. Conventionally grown soy is pretty much grown from genetically modified** seeds as of now. Fermented forms are best in tempe and miso. Tofu is not fermented. Conventionally grown soy has been genetically modified (**ie-its genes have been tampered with to get higher yield and be protected against herbicide damage when the soil it is grown in is sprayed.)
Antibiotic-free, wild fish like salmon, cod, mackerel for their Omega 3 EFA’s. I do not recommend eating tuna, swordfish or shark as these cold water, high fat fish contain higher levels of mercury than salmon and cod as well as the lighter white fish and are becoming endangered from over-fishing by large-scale fishing operations.
Medicinal Mushrooms~Immuno-stimulatory, adaptogenic, antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-allergic, anti-oxidant, and cyto-toxic
Some of the more popular mushrooms...
Reishi (Ganoderma ´lucidum)
Traditionally used to increase vitality and to stimulate the immune system, Reishi has also been used to alleviate asthma and other allergic symptons and to support liver function.
Shitake (Lentinula edodes) This gourmet edible is commonly used medicinally. The main constituents of Shiitake are polysaccharides, but it also contains triterpenes and ergothioneine, Research indicates Shiitake is useful for fighting cancer, immune stimulation, cholesterol reduction and the treatment of HIV. Also a potent antioxidant.
Maitake (Grifola frondosa) a medicinal polypore that is also a delicious (my favorite!) edible being composed of a bracket of soft, over-lapping, fan-shaped fronds. It is best known for its anti-tumor and immune-stimulating properties due to its high levels of beta-glucans. Researchers have found Maitake to help regulate blood glucose levels, reduce cholesterol levels. It is also adaptogenic, assists the body with stress. Possesses strong antioxidant properties
Cordyceps (Cordyceps sinensis) Now favored by Olympic athletes and training enthusiasts to improve physical performance and endurance. Traditionally used to increase vitality, alertness, and virility.
Adaptogens - a class of medicinal herbs that nourish the adrenal glands, thereby improving the body’s resistance against stress. This is my favorite class of herbs because they address health at the deepest level (bone marrow and cells) and can nurture it back to an optimal level of vitality over time, if consumed in the proper amounts. Again, the medicinal mushrooms listed above fall into the Adaptogenic category of medicinal herbs.
Eleuthero root (Eleutherococcus senticosus) helps to reduce stress by improving adrenal function through nourishment of the
adrenal glands, enhances immunity and promotes vitality and strength. Increases energy, reduces fatigue
Not recommended for children.
Licorice-a traditional medicine for the endocrine system and liver. inhibits some viruses, including Herpes Simplex
helpful in bronchial problems such as bronchitis and coughs by bringing up mucus (expectorant) and soothing mucus membranes
safe for children in medicine and food. (Note: eating vast amounts of Licorice can raise blood pressure)
Reishi and other medicinal mushrooms contain adaptogenic properties that are safe for children atcorrect dosage.
Astragalus - a well-known deep immune tonic (used over the long term- a wonderful adaptogen).
And just a word or two to the wise…
Taking herbs as medicine should be a complement to a healthy lifestyle, which includes a diet containing whole foods and drink making up the bulk of your menu.
Eating highly acidic foods frequently (the key word is frequently) meats, alcohol, sweets, flour-based products, coffee, then using medicinal herbs in place of chemical drugs probably will not give you the results you’re looking for.
The lesson here is that there is no quick fix to health - there are ways to cover up and relieve symptoms, but only a healthy lifestyle increases the chance that you will live long and with vitality.
Health is a life long pursuit that is not achieved in a day, a week, or a month. It is a lifestyle that it seems, Mother Nature, is nudging us to discover, for our own good.
Let us each ultimately take responsibility for our own health and vitality – in body and in spirit!