11 Ways to Naturally Boost Immunity and Protect the Lungs

29 51, 2020 12 min read

11 Ways to Naturally Boost Immunity and Protect the Lungs

*Disclaimer:This article is for information purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for the medical advice of a physician. If you think you may have coronavirus or any other ailment, please contact a healthcare professional immediately.

     **NB: Nourish’d do not claim any liability and responsibility for your health. The cleanse mentioned below is not intended as a cure or prevention for COVID-19, nor should it take precedence over medical advice from your physician.




Hello all you B-ooootiful souls! With COVID19 hitting South Africa, many of us are feeling afraid and uncertain. There’s no training manual for this kind of thing, but there are a few things we know for sure. One of them is that it’s important to keep calm - panic doesn’t help anyone in any situation, so try to stay as cool as the freshest, most organic cool cucumber over the next few weeks - you are loved.

Because this is a public health issue, it’s our individual responsibility to stay in tip-top health, as well as help each other stay informed and prepared. While many of 

We’ve created this blog to help you look after yourself and boost your immune system. We have also developed a new immune-boosting lung detox programme to help you stay healthy and protected. More about this later.

Here are 11 top tips on how to boost your immune system naturally and protect yourself from COVID19.

1. Drink Mullein & Echinacea Infusions

    An infusion is a super-potent tea which is made by infusing large amounts of herbs in hot water for extended periods. Extracting herbs using this method draws out far more bioflavonoids, phytochemicals, nutrients and minerals than would ordinarily infuse into a regular cup of tea. Mullein and echinacea are both readily available and are perfect for boosting immunity and cleansing the respiratory system.

      Mullein is a weed which grows all over the world and has been used as a natural treatment for tuberculosis, asthma and respiratory tract conditions for millennia. Prepared in the correct way, this potent infusion draws and expels toxins from the lungs and soothes the respiratory tract. If you’re experiencing any upper respiratory issues, it’s likely that mullein will initially increase coughing as it clears and cleanses. Echinacea is a potent antiviral herb that assists in increasing natural killer cell count and suppressing unwanted pathogens.

      How to make a mullein and echinacea infusion?

      You will need:

      A 1L heat-proof mason jar.

      ½ cup of dried mullein flowers

      ½ cup of dried echinacea

      A strainer

      A cheese-cloth

      Boiling water


      Place the mullein and echinacea in a mason jar and pour over boiling water. Allow to infuse overnight (or for 12 hours), then strain the liquid through the strainer and cheesecloth to ensure that all the little particles and hairs are removed (if not strained properly mullein can irritate the throat and lungs). Pour the strained liquid back into the mason jar, close the lid and either drink immediately or store in the fridge. Infusions shouldn’t be stored for longer than 24 hours.

      2. Practise Eucalyptus Steaming.

      Eucalyptus oil helps soothe airways, loosen and expel mucus from the lungs and relax the brain and body. There are a few different ways you can incorporate eucalyptus steaming into your life:

      First choice would be to steam with a nebuliser, but if you don’t have one of those, do not fret. 

      - Hang fresh eucalyptus in the shower and make it suuuper steamy.

      - Fill a bowl with 2/3 boiling water, 1/3 room-temperature water (you don’t want it to burn you, but the hotter the better), then add 2-3 drops of eucalyptus essential oil, stir well, place your face above bowl of steaming water, and drape a large towel over your head to keep the steam in.


      3. Airway-Clearing Massage, Breathing Exercises and Chest Physio:

        Manually manipulating mucus out of your lungs may not sound fun, or normal, but it’s an incredibly effective way of clearing the bronchial tract and detoxifying the lungs. This can be done through a number of massage, breathing and even yoga techniques. There are a lot of videos online on how to do this but everyone’s body is different, so it’s best to start by going to a registered physiotherapist and getting some initial guidance.

        One super-simple breathing exercise, however, is basic diaphragmatic breathing, or ‘belly breathing’. Here’s how to do it:

        1. Relax your shoulders and sit back or lie down.
        2. Place one hand on your belly and one on your chest.
        3. Inhale through your nose for two seconds, feeling the air move into your abdomen and feeling your stomach expand. Your stomach should move more than your chest does.
        4. Breathe out for two seconds through pursed lips while pressing on your abdomen.
        5. Repeat.

        This will help expand your lung capacity and strengthen your respiratory system against any potential infection.


        (pic by @thehealingroot)

        4. Do Cardiovascular Exercise

        Thanks to social-distancing guidelines, exercise might seem impossible, especially with gyms becoming no-go zones. But don’t let that stop you.

          Exercise is one of the most powerful ways to protect the lungs and respiratory tract as it pushes muscles, veins and arteries beyond their normal limits, causing them to adapt, expand and strengthen.

          There are plenty of ways to work out at home as well as in nature. YouTube is a great place to find workouts and high-intensity yoga flows. You can even listen to a guided meditation to help you stay calm and zen through this stressful period.

          There’s also the option of hikes and walks, just not in large groups. This is a great opportunity to slow down and enjoy the beauty of mama earth.

          5. Consume Large Quantities of Vitamin C:

          Vitamin C is an essential micronutrient. It helps maintain the electrochemical balance of the body, provides anti-oxidants and - most importantly - enhances and empowers the immune system. It does this by supporting the epithelial barrier function (preventing pathogens from getting in via thinner skin in the nose, mouth and around other orifices), protecting the body from oxidative stress and preventing microbial infestation. It also plays a role in controlling the production of different immune cells and may even help regulate gene expression. So it’s pretty powerful.

          Studies have found that supplementing with vitamin C can help prevent and treat upper respiratory tract infections. Although the shelves of supermarkets and pharmacies may have been cleared of all artificial vitamin C supplements, there are plenty of natural, and more bioavailable, options.

          Some of the most notable are: 

          • Oranges: An oldie but a goodie, and it’s orange season! 100 grams of orange (or 100ml of cold-pressed orange juice) provides 88% of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin C.
          • Baobab: Although slightly more scarce and a little less palatable, baobab is one of the richest sources of vitamin C in the world - with just 10g of the powder providing half your recommended RDA.
          • Camu Camu: The vitamin C MVP, this little berry has the highest concentration of vitamin C in the whole wide world! Just one teaspoon (5g) provides 1000% of your RDA.

          6. Eat/Juice Immune-Boosting Foods

            Food is medicine and without adequate nutrients, our immune system cannot stay strong. Juicing is an incredible way of getting in an abundance of bioavailable live nutrients in a delicious and convenient way. Local juice bars also need your support now more than ever!

            Here are a few foods to incorporate to keep your immunity strong:

            - Medicinal Mushrooms:Besides containing selenium, which can help prevent the development of severe flu, mushrooms also contain B vitamins, niacin and riboflavin, which help keep the immune system healthy. Medicinal mushrooms such as reishi also function as adaptogens, helping your body find full homeostatic balance by working intelligently on hormonal, endocrine, nervous, immune and organ systems. 

            - Ginger:This root is full of antioxidants, zinc, calcium and magnesium.

            It’s often something we turn to once we’re already sick, but prevention is the name of the game right now, and a study proved FRESH ginger had immune-boosting and anti-viral properties against respiratory ailments.(Chang et al., 2013)

            -Garlic:This has been proven to boost the immune system and lessen the severity of cold and flu symptoms. One of the major components in garlic that helps with this is allicin, a type of sulphur, which strengthens immunity and aids digestion.(West, 2020)

            -Turmeric:This contains the compound curcumin, which is what gives the spice its bright, vibrant yellow colour. Curcumin has been proven to have anti-inflammatory properties and boost immune cell function.(Jagetia and Aggarwal, 2007)

            -Dark leafy greens, and green vegetables in general, provide minerals such as calcium, zinc, folates and antioxidants. Green veggies also have lots of great fibre that help our gut stay balanced and healthy. (Think broccoli, spinach and kale)

            -Fruit:This is an amazing source of vitamin C, as well as antioxidants. Think citrus, berries, bananas and papaya.

            -Fermented foods:Probiotics are very important for keeping the gut healthy – and if the gut isn’t healthy, the immune system won’t be strong. So eat lots of fermented foods like sauerkraut, raw apple cider vinegar, kimchi, yogurt and miso.

            Besides the few mentioned above, incorporating more fruits and veggies in general will help your body stay strong! Also, try to avoid over-processed foods. Wholefoods are easier on the digestive tract, which means our bodies spend less energy trying to digest our food.



              7. Eat Bee Products (Pollen, Royal Jelly, BeaBread, Honey)

                While this one may not be so popular among vegans (and we fully respect your decision), we can’t ignore the power of bee products in boosting immunity. From the more common honey to the rarest of propolis, the bee kingdom has an abundance of natural miracles to offer:

                1. Honey: A traditional home-remedy for any kind of fluey ailment, the soothing and anti-microbial properties of honey help line the throat and kill any invaders in the mouth.
                2. Bee Pollen: Known as a complete survival food, the power of pollen lies in its nutritional diversity. Because one bottle of this bee magic is made from the pollen of hundreds of different species of flowers, each with its own amino-acid profile, it’s a nutrient dream packed with the widest variety of plant proteins of any food. If you’re super lucky you’ll find something called ‘bee bread’ which is the pre-digested form of pollen that the bees have fermented inside the hive.
                3. Propolis: This is a sticky black resin that bees lay down at the entrance of their hives and pack in any cracks to keep invaders out. As it enters, each bee rubs itself on the layer of resin coating the entrance. This functions as an anti-bacterial/fungal/viral bath, killing any pathogens they may have picked up. Propolis is made from a combination of tree resins, pollen and honey and makes a potent pathogen killer for humans, too. You can pick up propolis tinctures in most health shops.


                8. Make sure you are getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night.

                  Yep, beauty sleep  -it’s essential, now more than ever.
                  When we’re asleep, our bodies work on all the internal stuff that needs to be done, our cells are repaired, and our subconscious processes our feelings and fears - as well as our memories for the day. Studies have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus,so duvet up!

                  9. Make important and basic lifestyle changes

                  Before going into all the magical natural ways of boosting immunity and detoxifying the respiratory tract, let;s cover the basics:

                  - Avoid/Stop Smoking 

                  If you’re a smoker, you should probably stop. That easy, right?

                  Coronavirus affects our upper respiratory system, and stopping smoking will put you (and those around you) at a major advantage, not just with COVID-19 but with prevention of cancer as well as increasing life expectancy and helping the planet.
                  Besides all that, smoking has been proven to not just lower our immune system responses but also increase risk of infection. (Arcavi and Benowitz, 2004)


                  -Don’t Touch Your Face

                  Yes, we know, this one is everywhere. But for the love of all vegetables, don’t touch your face. The person most likely to infect you with COVID-19 is yourself, because coronavirus infiltrates the body via the respiratory tract.


                  -Don’t Shake Hands
                  Don’t fist bump, don’t even high five. Try to keep your greetings to “no contact”. Alternatively, we can all follow President Cyril Ramaphosa’s advice and practise the “elbow greeting”.

                  -Sanitize Items You Touch Regularly

                  Regularly wipe down frequently used tech devices and other items including:

                  -Mobile phones: We touch our phones more than we touch anything else, they are often laid down on other surfaces, and we put them against our faces. Be sure to wipe your phone down with alcohol REGULARLY.


                  -Computer: Wipe down your keyboard, trackpad and mouse, and if you use a laptop, we suggest wiping down the whole thing (inside and out)


                  -Remote controls

                  -Keys: This is a big one, because we all use keys daily. Give them a wipe at least once a day.


                  **For parents 

                  -Anything your baba can put in their mouth: This includes toys, pens, seatbelt clips etc.

                  -Up  Your Hygiene Game

                  If there’s one thing our parents always told us it’s WASH. YOUR. HANDS. But now we need to become germophobes. Having a strong handwashing game is great, but it shouldn’t stop there. 

                  - Carry hand sanitiser and use it as often as possible, especially after opening doors, before eating, and before and after using your laptop.

                  -Hydrate! Drink lots of water and other liquids to help flush toxins out of your system effectively and efficiently.

                  If plain water isn’t your vibe, here are some things you can do:

                  -Infuse Your Water 

                  Adding citrus to your water not only tastes great but can help alkalise your system and boost vitamin C. If citrus isn’t for you, try adding cucumber to your water and let it sit overnight. This helps fortify the water with electrolytes which can help you stay hydrated (as well as eliminate bad breath!).

                  -Drink More Tea

                  Tea is a fantastic way to get in more liquids, and the heat helps with scratchy throats and opens our respiratory pathways. Infused medicinal herbs also provide us with beneficial tannins, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

                  Great local teas to look at are:

                  - Rooibos. Is there anything a cup of rooibos can’t cure? Seriously, our indigenous tea has a myriad health benefits. Besides being high in antioxidants, rich in calcium and magnesium, rooibos is also great for our respiratory system because it is a bronchodilator (helps open the lungs) (Khan and Gilani, 2006)

                  - Buchu, This indigenous root can be consumed in tea form and has great anti-inflammatory properties and is high in vitamins A, E, C and B.

                  10. Slow down, raise your vibration, look after your mental health.

                  Studies have shown that people who suffer from anxiety are more prone to falling ill, as their bodies often spend too much time in “flight or fight” mode. Anyone who gets stressed, or regresses into panic, will be operating in fight or flight mode, This disables the digestive system, releases an excess of stress hormones and prevents our homeostatic systems from functioning optimally. An extended time of high stress can lead to burnout, fatigue, brain fog and a weakened immune system.

                  So remember to slow down and take a breath. If you are prone to stress and anxiety, take more time out and be kinder to yourself.  Read, meditate, practise yoga, journal and make time to do absolutely nothing.

                  Here’s a link with some extra tips for how to handle “Covid-19 specific anxiety”:

                  11. ShinrinYoku /Forest Bathing

                  The Japanese act ofshinrinyoku (or forest bathing) is the act of mindfully submerging yourself in nature, opening all your senses to the moment.

                  According toQing Li, Japanese medical doctor, researcher and founder of The Japanese Forest Society Of Medicine, forest bathing has been proven to have amazing immune-boosting benefits, enhances mood, reduces blood pressure and helps our brains regulate cortisol production and hormone levels. 

                  One of the most important benefits of forest bathing is the effect it has on human NK cell production, NK cells, also known as “natural killer cells”, are an integral part of our immune system and help with fighting viral infections. According to studies, a single trip of forest bathing has been proven to increase our production levels of NK cells for up to seven days.(Li, 2009)

                  Qing Li suggests that when choosing to forest-bathe, one doesn't even need to specifically go to a forest, although pine forests have the most immune-boosting benefits due to the phytogens released by the trees.

                  To experience the effects of forest bathing all you need to do is go out in nature, specifically somewhere very green, and practise being fully present. This can be done in an urban park, a forest, or even on the mountain. And in the worst-case lockdown scenarios, just spending time in your garden is likely to make a difference.

                  Li also suggests doing an activity whilst forest bathing, like meditating, yoga, writing poetry or even having a picnic.


                  If the above precautions are not enough for you, we will soon release an immune-boosting, lung detox programme to help you stay calm, healthy and nourished.

                  A few things to expect are:

                  • High vitamin C contents.
                  • Reishi (mushroom) broths 
                  • Potent herbal infusions.


                  So stay tuned,

                  Stay safe, stay calm, and as always, stay Nourish’d xxxx

                  • West, H., 2020. How Garlic Fights Colds And The Flu. [online] Healthline. Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/garlic-fights-colds-and-flu> [Accessed 17 March 2020].

                  • Chang, J., Wang, K., Yeh, C., Shieh, D. and Chiang, L., 2013. Fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) has anti-viral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, [online] 145(1), pp.146-151. Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23123794> [Accessed 17 March 2020].

                  • Arcavi, L. and Benowitz, N., 2004. Cigarette Smoking and Infection. Archives of Internal Medicine, [online] 164(20), p.2206. Available at: <http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15534156> [Accessed 17 March 2020].

                  • Khan, A. and Gilani, A., 2006. Selective bronchodilatory effect of Rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis) and its flavonoid, chrysoeriol. European Journal of Nutrition, [online] 45(8), pp.463-469. Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17080260> [Accessed 17 March 2020].