If you live in the Northeast with all the snow and weather fluctuations, you know that many people are reporting that their sinuses are speaking to them. That’s a conversation most people want to avoid! In this blog, I’ll talk about prevention of and what to do when those “ahchoos” do hit!
Keeping Your Immune System Healthy
Last spring, I wrote an article discussing functional and naturopathic medicine approaches to keeping your immune system healthy, especially during “allergy season.” In it, I discussed the importance of maintaining a healthy gut. This is because the impact our bellies have on our immune and overall health is profound!
A 2008 article in Clinical and Experimental Immunology states this in the following way:
The gastrointestinal system plays a central role in immune system homeostasis. It is the main route of contact with the external environment and is overloaded every day with external stimuli, sometimes dangerous as pathogens (bacteria, protozoa, fungi, viruses) or toxic substances, in other cases very useful as food or commensal flora.
The authors go on to discuss the large amount of immune tissue in the gastrointestinal system and how it represents at least 70% of our immune system. Therefore, the interplay between our guts and the environment (food, pathogens, chemical exposures, etc.) is important for balancing our overall vitality. The article further explains this connection (bold emphasis mine):
The crucial position of the gastrointestinal system is testified by the huge amount of immune cells that reside within it. Indeed, gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) is the prominent part of mucosal-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) and represents almost 70% of the entire immune system; moreover, about 80% of plasma cells [mainly immunoglobulin A (IgA)-bearing cells] reside in GALT.
GALT interacts strictly with gastrointestinal functions in a dynamic manner; for instance, by increasing intestinal permeability in replay to particular stimulations, or orientating the immune response towards luminal content, allowing either tolerance or elimination/degradation of luminal antigens, or sometimes provoking damage to the intestinal mucosa, such as in coeliac disease or food allergy. The immune mechanisms implicated in these actions are very complex and belong to both innate and adaptive immunity; innate immunity supplies an immediate non-specific response that is indispensable before specific adaptive immunity, which needs 7–10 days to be efficacious, takes place. The results of their interactions depend upon different contexts in which contact with external agents occurs and may change according to different genetic settings of the hosts.
Tips for Healthy Bellies, Happy Immune System
In my above-mentioned article, I provided some suggestions for treating our gastrointestinal track with all the respect it deserves. These included avoiding food-allergen cross-reactions, supporting the intestinal lining, and loving on those belly bugs. I also provide additional resources for optimizing gut health in this blog, which gives step-by-step tips. Finally, I have written on how to avoid the toxins that can damage our bellies and our bodies.
The Stress-Belly-Immune Connection
We also want to support our stress response. Chronic, unabated stress can deplete the immune response and cause damage to our intestinal lining and hinder our belly bugs. In my article, I dive into some of the oils which support our stressed out body and mind. These include lavender, lemon, frankincense and myrrh, peppermint, copaiba, and eucalyptus.
The world of the belly is vast, and more is being discovered every day, including the recent discovery of the “new cells” that reside in it! The more we support its health, the better off we are. That should put a spring to your step!
When the Sniffles Come Anyway- 4 Natural Remedies with Essential Oils
But, what happens when our immune system goes awry and we end up with the sniffles?
Here are some DIYs to deal with symptoms of respiratory distress and to support clearer sinuses.
1. For stuffy head and to soothe the throat
Place 3 – 10 drops total of Lemon, Lavender, Marjoram and Lime in a bowl or pot of steaming water. Deeply inhale the steam.
This blend will help with too much mucus and clogged sinuses.
2. Remedy for that nasty drip “back there”
Combine 3 – 12 drops of Marjoram or Basil, Lavender, Cedarwood and Peppermint oils in a steaming bowl water. (Do not steam your oils in the water!)
Place your head directly above the bowl and slowly breathe in the steam for about 5 minutes a few times a day.
3. Achy Throat
Use a carrier oil and apply Lemon, Peppermint and Tea Tree (Melaleuca) essential oil directly on the throat. You can also apply from the back of the ears straight down the neck. Apply a few times a day.
4. For those “ahchoos”
Here’s to a happier, healthier, easy-breathing Spring!
Share your favorite DIYs below!
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. These studies are not specific for any essential oils company or brand, please refer to the source.
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.