Back-to-school season can bring with it a number of health challenges. Here are a few herbal ideas to help make the experience a healthy, happy, and successful one.
Medicinal mushrooms are miraculous in their ability to “reset’ the immune system. Mushrooms like Reishi are known as immune amphoterics, which means they have a normalizing effect on the immune system; they stimulate an under-performing immune system, or they rein in an overactive one. School environments are particularly challenging for the immune system, so a regular dose of mushrooms can really help decrease your chances of getting sick.
I have been enjoying a mixture of powdered Reishi, Maitake, Shiitake, Maca, Cinnamon and Shatavari, with hot water, milk, and coconut oil (all available at the shop). This blend is good for building the immune system, adrenals, and the nerves. I also like Rainbow Light’s Immuno-Build mushroom blend for convenience and quality.
Other immune allies for the Fall include Elderberry and Astragalus- I mention these because they taste good and kids like them. Sweet elderberry syrups are easy to make, and Astragalus is an excellent addition to a warm, nourishing chicken noodle soup. For acute care, Echinacea is a good choice. I like to take a dropperful of Gaia’s Echinacea/Goldenseal formula if I feel a cold coming on. To make this formula more palatable, you can mix a dose with warm water and raw honey. Only use this formula occasionally, and be sure to lower the dose for children.
Stress & Energy
Adaptogenic herbs help us deal with stress, recover with stress, and get better rest at night. They replenish our stores of energy, and they give us increased endurance and flexibility. Thus they are wonderful allies for students in school. Choosing the right adaptogen for you can take time, and you may want to consult an herbalist to make sure you’ve got the right fit. In general, Ashwagandha is a safe bet and a great place to start. Add a daily teaspoon of powder to warm milk, yogurt, smoothies, etc. for increased energy and smoother sailing. Capsules are also available for convenience’s sake and should be taken with food. Other somewhat universal adaptogens include American Ginseng, Holy Basil, and Schisandra berry.
Memory & Concentration
School asks a lot of us in terms of memory and concentration. Herbs like Bacopa and Holy Basil can help improve mental clarity, memory recall, and focus. Holy Basil in particular helps create a calm mind by easing anxiety and hyperactivity. Bacopa is a true ally of the head and mind and has been used clinically to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Peppermint should not be overlooked for its ability to aid in focus and concentration. Peppermint has been shown to enhance memory and increase alertness. Essential oil inhalers are compact and easy to carry, and a Peppermint oil inhaler has the added benefit of acting as an antimicrobial against unfriendly pathogens.
Mental clarity, emotional well-being, and immune health all start in the gut, so taking care of digestive health is key to success in school. Taking a round of probiotics and a daily dose of Triphala is a great way to start caring for the gut. An herbalist I know sends their child to school with a daily thermos of Ginger tea with lemon and honey for combined digestive and immune health.