Home grown immunity

Anyone with children will know that this time of year is one of constant runny noses, temperatures and coughs. Whether it’s school, nursery, or just a cafe, the chances are, if you leave the house, you will catch a cold somewhere along the way.

So while it is not possible to avoid winter illness, we can give our bodies some help in fighting them off. I am a real believer in natural immunity, and a lot of it can be grown in your garden. Here’s my top 5:


  1. Echinacea

This wonder herb has been used by native Americans for hundreds of years and is easily grown in our British climate. It has anti-biotic, anti bacterial qualities that help strengthen the immune system and fight of a variety of illnesses.  It is also a beautiful flower and makes a welcome addition to any garden.

How to use

Harvest the flowers, place in a sterilised jar and cover with strong grain alcohol (vodka can be used!) Leave on a window sill for a week, then transfer to a cool, dark place for a further 4 weeks, shaking once a day (the longer you leave it and the more you shake it, the stronger it becomes.) Pour into a tincture bottle and there you have it! General advice is to take between 15-30 drops a day, however this will depend on how strong you make your tincture.

The roots can also be dried and drunk as a tea, obviously you would sacrifice the entire plant using this method.


  1. Garlic and onions

Both of these contain brilliant anti viral and anti bacterial properties and have the added quality of making food taste great too! They are super easy to grow yourself and can be added to any meal to help give your immune system the added boost that it needs during illness.

How to use

Garlic and onions can be eaten raw, in salads for example, or cooked and added to any meal. Lightly fry in olive oil to give them a wonderful taste.


  1. Ginger

Another wonder herb that relieves pain, is anti septic, anti oxidant, reduces fever and has a mild sedative effect that promotes rest. In case you still aren’t convinced, ginger also contains nearly 12 anti viral compounds to help fight colds. As a plant, it loves warmth and hates drafts so is best grown inside in a sunny position.

How to use

Add some raw ginger to hot water and drink as a tea, cook with your onions and garlic for dinner or my personal favourite, if you have a juicer, is to add it, raw, to a nice vegetable juice.


  1. Leafy greens

Citrus fruits aren’t the only source of vitamin C; vegetables such as kale, spinach and chard are also packed with this immunity boosting vitamin and they grow brilliantly here in the UK. Research suggests that if you regularly eat foods high in vitamin C, it can reduce the duration of a cold.

How to use

These vegetables can be fried, steamed and kale can even be roasted. If you are going to cook them, steaming is probably the best way as it helps retain the goodness. However, it is even better to eat them raw so again my favourite way to eat them is by adding them to a fresh juice.


  1. Pumpkin seeds

I love growing pumpkins, they taste great and there is such satisfaction in growing something so big and beautiful. It is easy to scoop them out and chuck the seeds away, but don’t be so hasty! These little seeds are packed full of goodness, including  vitamin E, manganese, zinc and even a bit of protein. Zinc in particular, has shown beneficial in fighting colds, reducing the duration and helping boost immunity.

How to use

They can be eaten with or without the shell. To take the shell off, crack them with a rolling pin and put in boiling water, the kernels should come out fairly easily. Then simply place them in a hot oven to dry, toss in oil and spices and bake for another 20 minutes.






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