Infections of various kinds have been around forever, but I’ve personally noticed that each winter we seem to take longer to get over viral infections in particular. We’ve reached the point now where we can no longer rely on antibiotics to help us, and it’s time to go back to looking at our own resilience towards infection, and the effective treatments we’ve used in the past. In the first of this three part series of blogs on herbal medicine for infections, we’ll start by looking at how herbal medicine can help protect us.
Our Lines Of Defence Against Infection
Our lines of defence against infection go much further than just our immune systems. We also need to think about:
Our skin or our internal skin, which is called ‘mucosa’ is a physical barrier which works well when its healthy!. Mucosa in our respiratory system and digestive system produces mucous, which helps to trap invading viruses, bacteria and fungi on their way in. If the skin is more permeable than it should be, or we’re not producing the right amount of mucous, herbal medicine can be used to address that.
Our microbiomes are complex and very important eco systems of bacteria, viruses and fungi which live in the main entry points for infection all around the body. The biggest is the gut microbiome, and it appears to feed all the others, so its important to make sure that the right species of bugs are in there, because they help to train our immune system. Long term use of certain medications, chronic stress, chemicals in tap water and in foods, and cigarette smoke all impact upon our gut microbiome. Herbal medicine combined with a nutritious diet, and some probiotic foods or supplements will help make sure that our microbiomes stay in peak condition.
Our immune system is the final line of defence, with particular cells which ‘seek and destroy’ any viruses or bacteria that make it through. Things that will affect our immune function include chronic stress, toxic overload, nutritional deficiencies, certain medications and chronic health conditions, and a sedentary lifestyle. All of these can be worked on with help from a Medical Herbalist.
Given that we’re all very different, it’s important to get yourself properly assessed and have a programme put together especially for you. We can see that protecting ourselves from infection isn’t simply a case of taking some herbs until the danger has passed. We need to be looking at how we can improve our overall health for the long term if we’re going to be stronger and more resilient against all kinds of infections.
How Herbal Medicine Can Help
Herbal medicine excels in preventing infection, and safely steering a person through the very early stages so that they’re less likely to need medical treatment. I think we each have a responsibility to take care of our own health, put measures in place to make ourselves more robust against infection. Medical Herbalists have an excellent toolkit which has helped mankind survive infection since the dawn of time, and I hope that more people will start to reconnect with their traditional medicine in the years to come. In the next blog, I’ll be looking at what herbal medicine can do during infections.