As our little ones are now settled back into the school routine we feel we can finally recover from the (albeit wonderful) assault that is the summer holidays.

Have you ever noticed that just when you start getting back into a school-time routine, lo and behold, the kids start coming home with snotty noses, coughs and colds, or stomach bugs.

Then, before you know it, you’re coming down with it too! It’s little surprise that this happens though when you consider that we take our children back to school at a pivotal time of year; the autumn equinox. You may not be aware, but changes in season places an extra stress upon our bodies known as adaptive stress. This is at it’s most marked at the autumn equinox when we’re forced to adapt to changes in temperature and weather as well as an obvious reduction in our exposure to sunlight.

In those of us leading busy and stress filled lives, this additional seasonal stress can act like ‘the straw that breaks the camels back’, lowering our immune system activity just enough so that we’re prone to catch infection easily. The great thing about anticipating this seasonal dip is that we can give our bodies a well-earned boost at this time of year, rather than suffer.

Echinacea

echinaceaOne of the finest immune enhancers, and probably the most commonly used herb by the general public is Echinacea (pronounced eck-ee-nay-see-a). This large purple-flowered relative of our common daisy is wonderful for giving our immunity the edge when infections are rife. Tinctures (alcohol-based extracts) of the herb can be taken by adults at a dose of 20 drops three times a day as a preventative when everyone around is dropping like flies. At the first sign of an infection taking hold, which may be a tickly nose, scratchy throat, queasy stomach or loss of appetite, the dosage needs to be increased to 60 drops three times a day.

Elderberry

elderberryAnother great herb for this time of year is Elderberry. If you know this small tree you will no doubt have seen an abundance of the berries this year. They should still be visible on many trees in the Calder valley, and those remaining will be plump and juicy following the warm spell of last week. Elder flowers and especially the berries have an anti-viral effect especially potent against the common cold. A syrup of Elderberry can easily be made using ripe berries and sugar. Pick them on a dry day to avoid waterlogged specimens, and strip the fruit off the stems using the prongs of a fork. Add to a pan just covering with water. Simmer for half an hour until soft then strain and measure the quantity of juice remaining. For each pint of juice add 450g sugar and 10 cloves and heat gently until all sugar is dissolved. Boil for 10 minutes then cool and bottle for later use. The dosage is one teaspoon three times a day for children and two teaspoons for adults when a cold starts.

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