"The best and most efficient pharmacy is within your own system"
Robert C. Peale
The immune system is our body’s defence system, defending the body against infection. It comprises of cells, tissues and organs that all work together to try and protect our body from germs and microorganisms that can cause us to become ill.
When our immune system is healthy and working effectively we are less susceptible to disease and illness, but if our immune system is weakened or compromised through things such as stress, tiredness, poor diet or other illness, we leave ourselves exposed to the elements and we become more vulnerable to illness.
The environments that surround us have a direct impact on our immune function and how effective it is, or not. Science has shown that air pollution, sun exposure and stress all effect immunity. We also know that peoples immune response has shown to be better in people living in a rural / green environment, in other words in those people who live within a more natural and nature based setting.
The fact that 70% of our immune function is found in our digestive system also means that immune function is heavily influenced by what we eat. Good quality nutrition is therefore vital if our immune systems are to work effectively.
There are also many natural ‘nature ingredients’ that nature produces and provides us with, such as phytonicides, soil bacteria, botanicals and fungi to name a few, which science has shown can have huge positive effects on restoring, boosting and maintaining a healthy immune function and knowing what nature provides us with here is key in the long term natural health of our bodies immune function.
How the Practice of 'Forest Bathing' Improves & Boosts Your Immune Function
The practice of forest bathing originates in Japan, where it is known as Shinrin yoku. It is simply a term used to describe time spent within a forest environment and immersing yourself within a forest atmosphere and setting. The forest environment is long known for its serenity and together with the beautiful scenery, forests can’t help but induce a state of calm and relaxation. But forest bathing provides far more than just relaxation, and science is increasingly showing just how many health benefits are gained through the practice of forest bathing.
The trees themselves produce a variety of different biochemicals called phytonicides (wood essential oils), which are released into the air as aerosols. These aerosols, abundant with phytonicdes, have antimicrobial, antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and have scientifically shown to have a physiological effect on our immune systems.
By spending time within a forest environment, amongst the different tree species, you are breathing in these medicinal tree aerosols, where our lungs and tissues and even our skin will then absorb them. Cedar, oak and pine trees are most abundant in medicinal phytoncides.
Science shows that when we breathe in these tree chemicals, our bodies actually increase the number and activity of a specific type of white blood cell (the blood cells that fight infection & disease) called natural killer cells (NK cells). The role of these cells is to provide a rapid response when the body’s cells are infected by viruses and will then kill these infected cells. They also kill some tumour cells by releasing anti-cancer proteins. With forest bathing shown in research to increase activity of these NK cells within the body, it is even suggested by some studies that forest bathing trips may have a preventive effect on cancer generation and development, although more research is needed in this area.
So if you want to boost your immunity and destress at the same time, head out into the forests and breathe in those medicinal tree aerosols.
- Effect of forest bathing trips on human immune function, 2010. Environmental Health & Preventative Medicine
- A review of the current evidence for the health benefits derived from forest bathing, 2019. International Journal of Health, Wellness & Society
- Forest bathing enhances human natural killer activity and expression of anti-cancer proteins, 2007. International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology
"Just as the water reflects the stars and moon, the body reflects the mind and soul"
The Powerful Immune Boosting Properties of Elderberry
Elderberries have a long history of use as medicine, considered an excellent berry to restore and improve general health.
In the world of modern medicine, the elderberry has shown to live up to the history books, with science showing that this little purple glossy berry does indeed show some excellent medicinal properties, particularly for our immune system.
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If your gut isn't healthy, then neither is your immune system
Maintaining a healthy immune system is a vital component to overall health, but most people don’t realise that in order to have an optimally functioning immune system you need a very healthy gut. That’s because about 70% of your immune system is found in your digestive system. If that’s not healthy then neither is your immune system and that means you are left more vulnerable to picking up illness and disease and less able to fight them off effectively when you get them.
If you want to improve your immune system then the place to start is by improving your digestive system, specifically by improving the gut flora that is found throughout your digestive tract. Learn more here about digestive heath & gut flora
70-80% of your immune function is found in your digestive system