Boost Your Immune System Using Echinacea and Licorice

Edited by Jan Margery Castillo, Eng, Lynn, Nuance

Whether or not it's winter, colds, flus and several other illnesses are always hanging around, waiting for your immune system to be run down, in order for them to strike. It is essential to be vigilant and equip yourself with the necessary vitamins and minerals to avoid these health dilemmas. It's better to take the necessary precautions to boost your immune system, rather than to deal with the annoying symptoms of these illnesses.

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There are many ways to protect the human body from the unwanted elements. Some people opt to buy over-the-counter drugs. They store multiple vitamins and medicines in their cabinets. However, it is not advisable to always depend on drugs. One of the big differences between pharmaceuticals and herbs, is although perhaps a bit slower to work, herbs don't have the crazy multitudes of side-effects conventional medicine has.

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One key to better health is to use natural herbs and medicinal plants. So many people can attest to how efficient herbals are for treating diseases and keeping the body healthy.

Two of the most powerful plants that are efficient for boosting the immune system, are Echinacea and Licorice. This article will provide a clear picture of how these two herbs have the amazing potential to protect you from harmful elements, and avoid getting sick in the first place.

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Immune System

The immune system plays a vital role in protecting your body healthy against viruses, bad bacteria and infections. It consists of the cells, tissues, organs and body systems that work hand-in-hand against foreign elements that could cause harm to the human body. It does a wonderful job in defending the body against microorganisms that cause diseases.

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Essentially, there are many things a person can do to boost the immune system. Proper diet, vitamins or herbal intake, good lifestyle habits and regular exercise are among the ways you can keep your immune system in top shape.

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Vitamins and herbs are a huge factor in supporting immunity. Studies over the past couple of years have different positive results on their efficiency in preventing illnesses. This is why many natural supplements are available in the market and many people undeniably choose them over over-the-counter drugs.

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Discovering Echinacea

One of the recommended herbaceous plants is Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia). It belongs to the same family as the daisy, which blooms from early to late summer. It grows up to two feet tall, and just like daisy flowers, the center is slightly spiky. The leaves are pink to purple in color. Today, almost all the parts of the plant can be used for health purposes. The seeds, flowers, roots and leaves are commercially sold as dried herbs or are processed into tablets, capsules, teas and liquid extracts. They are available at pharmacies, health shops and other supermarkets.

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This is commonly known as an "immune stimulant". The University of Connecticut once conducted a study in 2007 of this plant and they found out that Echinacea will reduce the chances of catching a cold by 50 percent, and also shorten its duration by an average of 1.4 days. This plant contains active substances that are anti-microbials. Echinacea also has alkylamides or alkamides, which boost the immune system.

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Proper Dosage of Echinacea

Since this is a natural herb, it is certainly safe and non-toxic, however, it should be used for only two to three weeks because the immune system should not be kept in an alert state permanently. Long-term use could also make it lose its effectiveness.

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The root of Echinacea is the most effective part of the plant, and when taken as a tincture, made from fresh cut root from a plant at least in its second year, is the best way to ingest Echinacea.

  1. 1
    Tinctures/Liquid Extracts
    .
    These are alcohol or glycerine based Echinacea. It's important to follow package directions because the extract strength varies. Usually an average recommended intake is about one to five drops per use, three times a day. Make your own Echinacea tincture by:
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    1. Chop two cups of fresh rhizome (root).
    2. Replant the plants, after cutting the stem two inches above the root ball.
    3. Rinse with cold water.
    4. Put chopped roots in a jar.
    5. Fill the jar with vodka.
    6. Put on lid.
    7. Store in a dark place for about three weeks, giving the jar a shake every day. It turns a lovely amber color and smells like maple when it's done.
    8. Strain and store in small jars with eyedroppers.
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  2. 2
    Capsule or Tablets
    .
    These are made from the root or herb powder. It is advised to take one half of a two-gram Tablet, three times a day.
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  3. 3
    Echinacea Tea
    .
    The root or herb of the plant is brewed as tea. Drink about three times a day.
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Licorice

Another plant that has many health benefits for the immune system is Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra). It belongs to the family of legumes from Europe and Asia and grows up to one meter in height. The flowers of this plant are purple to light blue and the fruit is an elongated pod that has many seeds.

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Its main component is the glycyrrhizin. This is very sweet and used as natural sugar for various industrial and processed products such as tobacco and candies. This is 30-50 percent sweeter than sugar.

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Licorice as Immune System Booster

Like Echinacea, the most common use for the Licorice plant is to combat coughs, colds and the flu. Respiratory mucus or phlegm is easily expelled too, with the help of this herb, but this shouldn't be taken regularly either. Just like Echinacea, it could cause harm to the body, so the recommended use is limited to four to six weeks. If taken longer, the kidneys will likely retain water and sodium and lose potassium.

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The roots and bark are most commonly used, particularly in making Licorice tea. There are teas available at pharmacies and health stores, but the dried root and bark itself is powerful enough. Drinking six cups of tea a day is effective to clear ones throat and calm a cough. The natural sweetness really makes the tea addictive because it's very delicious.

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A simple Licorice Root Tea Recipe

  1. 1
    From a local herb or natural food store, buy a whole licorice root and chop it into smaller pieces
    .
    For a more enhanced flavor, you may grate or shed the roots. Prepare one teaspoon of shredded licorice root.
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  2. 2
    Boil one cup of water in a kettle
    .
    It is advisable to drink just one cup at a time, at least three times a day. However you may drink up to six cups of licorice tea if you have a sore throat or cough.
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  3. 3
    Prepare the licorice root and place it into a tea bag or infuser to hold it in place
    .
    Put the tea infuser into your mug and carefully pour in the boiling water to fill your cup. Let the tea steep for about five to seven minutes.
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  4. 4
    You have an option to add other natural flavorings such as peppermint or cinnamon for a minty or spicy touch
    .
    Add a bit of honey for additional sweetness.
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There are many other ready-made teas available in the market, but the do-it-yourself kind has proven to be more flavorful. Echinacea and licorice may also be combined and made into a cough syrup. These two ingredients are powerful immune system boosters. Below is a simple recipe on how to make an Echinacea and Licorice cough syrup.

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Homemade Echinacea and Licorice Cough Syrup

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  1. 1
    Ingredients
    :
     
    1. 1/2 cup Licorice root (shredded or grated)
    2. 1/2 cup Echinacea root
    3. 1 cup honey (make sure it is organic)
    4. 4 cups water
    5. 2 tbsp. or two thumbs of fresh ginger root (finely chopped)
    6. 1/2 tbsp. cinnamon
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  2. 2
    Procedure
    :
     
    1. Place all the dry ingredients (echinacea, licorice and ginger) into a pot with 3 cups water.
    2. Put it on the stove and let it boil.
    3. Add the cinnamon and then reduce heat to a simmer for 45 minutes or more. The longer it simmers the better because you'll get the best extracts out of the herbs. ##Wait until the water has been reduced by half.
    4. Once done, turn off the heat and pour the syrup into a glass jar and let it cool.
    5. Add the honey and stir.
    6. This natural cough syrup can be used two to three times a day at the first sign of a cold or flu. One to two tablespoons is needed every use.
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Other Benefits of Echinacea and Licorice

Aside from colds and flu, Echinacea can aid:

  • Sore throat.
  • Sinusitis.
  • Tonsillitis.
  • Bronchitis.
  • Strep throat.
  • Hay fever and other allergies.
  • Urinary tract infections.
  • Laryngitis.
  • Skin infections such as acne or boils and eczema.
  • Vaginal yeast infections.
  • Migraines.
  • Bee stings and more.
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Licorice, on the other hand, can also help treat:

  • Prostate cancer.
  • Malaria.
  • Tuberculosis.
  • Food poisoning.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Osteoarthritis.
  • Liver disorders.

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.

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Article Info

Categories : Holistic Nutrition

Recent edits by: Lynn, Eng, Jan Margery Castillo

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