Anti-Germ Warfare- The Natural Way
Ellen Kamhi, Ph.D. R.N. THE NATURAL NURSE
The media world is a-buz about ‘bugs’! However, the new threats of “swine flu”, bring
us back to a basic discussion. Should be just sit around and wait until we become a
victim, and then take an antibiotic or Tamiflu and hope that the illness goes away? Or
would it be wiser to be a health advocate, and shore up our immune system- the body’s
natural defense mechanism. (One interesting point to consider is that Tamiflu was
developed by Gilead Sciences. Donald Rumsfeld was Chairman of the Board of Gilead
from 1997-2001, when he became Secretary of Defense under Bush. )
The best approach is to do all you can to help support your natural immune system. The
efficient functioning of the immune system is of paramount importance to everyone,
adults and children alike, since it controls our ability to fend off illness, whether it
be a deadly disease, or even the common cold. The immune system is made up of a
combination of specialized cells, chemicals, tissues, and organs. These include the lymph
nodes, thymus gland, spleen, bone marrow and tonsils as well as specialized white blood
cells, which recognize and engulf invading microorganisms and cellular debris.
The ability of the immune system to function optimally is influenced by many factors.
These include inherent genetic makeup, environmental influences, (such as pollution,
pesticides, hormones, artificial flavoring/colorings in food), obesity and stress levels; not
only exposure to infective agents, whether they are natural or man-made. We can aid our
immune system by eating a high amount of organic green vegetables, whole grains and
nuts, while cutting down on ‘junk food’ consumption. Stress reduction, through prayer,
meditation, yoga and moderate exercise, such as a daily walk around Century Village’s
great walkway- is more important than ever when we are under sustained stress.
Herbs may be used in several ways to aid in our Anti-Germ Warfare personal campaigns.
Tonic herbs strengthen the immune system over time, while strong immune system
stimulants have a more immediate action, and are used during an acute infection. Many
herbs have been scientifically proven to have strong broad spectrum anti-microbial
Herbal tonics work to help maintain a dynamic balance in the body and usually need to
be taken long-term. Astragalus is said to build Wei chi. “Chi” is the Chinese concept of
life energy force. One study by the National Cancer Institute demonstrated Astragalus'
ability to help strengthen the immune system's resistance, especially to viral infections.
Reishi has been called the "mushroom of immortality”, and has been used for centuries
as an overall tonic. Ligustrum berries are used by Chinese physicians specifically for
their immune enhancing activities. Codonopsis is a Chinese herb that contains the bitter
yellow compound, berberine, that helps the immune system prevent infections. Other
immune system tonic herbs include Siberian Ginseng and Schisandra. Schisandra has been shown to build non-specific resistance, improve brain function, increase work
capacity and build strength.
Osha Root has been used traditionally by both the Chinese and Native Americans, (who
called it Chuchupate), for increased immune function. Echinacea is a well researched
and respected immune system stimulant. It helps increase the activity of white blood
cells, which engulf invading microorganisms. Thuja is an herbal extract from the
Northern White Cedar tree. It is a strong immune stimulant that Native Americans used
for colds, coughs, bronchitis and other respiratory infections. Possibly the mushroom
with the greatest capability of stimulating the immune system is the Maitake. Maitake
contains specific chemical components that have been scientifically studied for their
strong immune enhancing effects.
Oil Of Oregano(Origanum vulgare) is rich in vitamins and minerals including
Vitamins A and C, Niacin, Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Iron, Potassium, Copper, Boron,
and Manganese. In addition, the herb contains many active chemical constituents
that provide beneficial support to our bodies, such as thymol and carvacrol. These
components strongly discourage the growth of microorganisms, an action recognized
by traditional herbalists throughout history as well as supported by modern scientific
research. Oregano oil is exceptional in its ability to destroy many different kinds of
microorganisms including bacteria, fungus, virus and parasites. Oregano oil has been
shown in scientific studies to actively inhibit and destroy E. Coli, candida albacans and
the bacterias that cause strep and staff infections. Unlike pharmaceutical drug antibiotics,
oregano oil does not cause the development of resistant strains of bacteria. Although it is
always possible for an individual to have an allergic reaction to any substance, there are
no known adverse effects to oil of oregano.
The bitter compound, oleuropein, extracted from the olive leaf, has the capacity to
destroy and inhibit the growth of an incredible array of pathogenic organisms, including
bacteria , yeasts and viruses, such as the cold and flu virus, herpes, and even retro-
viruses. Bacteria and parasites destroyed by oleuropein include planterum, E. coli and
malariae, to name a few. Apparently, the old anti-malarial olive leaf and wine remedy
had some merit! No toxic effects have been reported, even at high doses.
Rosemary ( Rosmarinus officinalis)has been used as an anti-infective agent since ancient
times. Rosemary was regularly burned in hospitals and sick-rooms to purify the air and
prevent infection. It was also used in courts to keep the judge and jurors from contracting
plagues and fevers that the prisoners brought up from the dungeon. A sprig of Rosemary
was also often carried at funerals. The aromatic oils of rosemary contain active essential
oils, rosmarinic acid, phenolic acids and tannins with antioxidant and antimicrobial
Thyme (Thymus) was used by the Greeks to keep venomous creatures away from
the home. The Egyptians used it to mummify their dead, due to its antimicrobial and
antioxidant activity. The thymus gland got its name from thyme, due to its similar
structure to the thyme flower; interesting because both thyme and the thymus gland
promote immune function. The principle components consist of phenol, thymol and
carvacrol. An article in Chemical Abstracts in 1977 revealed that thymol’s antimicrobial
activity is 20 times stronger than phenol.