Whatever the provenance of the latest “Flying Pig Flu” scare, whether factory farm, careless vaccine maker, or Ft. Detrick, let’s have a pro-active chat: What life force-building foods and remedies strengthen immunity? Any still in use after centuries?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: Not served at McDonald’s. Not nuked (microwaved.) Not present in BigPharma anti-virals. Not delivered in hastily confabulated flu vaccines.
Can-do recipes follow a little backgrounder on probiotics. Which are what? Think acidophilus milk, yoghurt. Also probiotic capsules from the pharmacy or health food store on recommendation of your physician, after a course of antibiotics.
There’s way more, and do-able in your own kitchen, the down home equivalent of multi-vitamins. Useful info if store shelves come up empty.
Probiotics are a big deal, hard on the heels of antibiotics for every sniffle, and antibiotic residues in non-organic meat, eggs and dairy products. Doctors initially prescribed antibiotics with good result for formerly catastrophic infections.
Patients demanded them for everything. Doctors also prescribed them with a flourish.
A pandemic of a quiet sort soon followed—both women and men bloated up with a yeast infection, called Candida.
Unbeknownst to the medical profession, antibiotics destroyed everything in the gut, pathogenic bacteria and also the good guys, lactobacilli like acidophilus.
Once that slash and burn clean sweep was accomplished, lactobacilli were no longer present to make vim and vigah B-vitamins gratis (hence post-antibiotic fatigue); nor ensure good digestion and elimination; nor suppress cancer.
In Europe, the unfavorable result of using antibiotics is called dysbiosis, a dys-functioning of body systems, the whole body getting out of whack.
Meanwhile, Candida has gone systemic in peoples worldwide. The yeast spreads in the body wherever it’s damp and moist—lungs, sinuses, whole digestive tract, urinary tract, reproductive organs.
The resulting inflammation and infections may be treated with dose after dose of antibiotics, which are useless to combat yeast, and in fact encourage more yeast, and the growth of antibiotic-resistant pathogens.
Candida has rampaged in that no-man’s land called “iatrogenic” or doctor-induced, so no one has much to say about it. Now it’s understood in medicine that probiotics should be taken to restore health.
Candida, Dieting, and Fashion:
Candida causes out-of-control cravings for yeast-feeding foods, like sugar, pasta, pastries, chips, sodas, booze. Panic over post-antibiotic Candida bloom, the cravings and puffy weight gain, has unleashed generations of fad diets.
Candida has even changed fashions for both men and women. Candida-bloat means unpredictable waist size, so fashions have become waist-less. Women wear over-blouses; men wear leisure clothes.
One of my clients pitched a fit about having to wear elastic-backed “fat pants” whenever he went on a junk food tear. Predictably but maddeningly, his belly swelled up like a toad!
And there’s good news?
Yes. The good news concerns probiotics, rich in vitamins, minerals and enzymes, living foods, which gradually displace Candida and its miseries.. The old nutrition regimen of impossible anti-Candida diet with revolting anti-yeast remedies really was not sustainable, not user-friendly.
Probiotics will eliminate Candida and bloat, reduce and eliminate cravings, restore vitality, and mental clarity. Gradually and sustainably, being the operative words.
Quick-fix mentality wants it yesterday of course; understood. Probiotics actually deep-heal a body in chaos. Just as crummy health usually took awhile to establish, give yourself a break, and embark on a healing adventure, with life force-rich foods.
A fermented milk beverage, similar to yoghurt, with even greater health benefit, and way easier to make! A no-brainer; can even be made with organic raw milk, which you cannot successfully do with yoghurt. This great kefir culture from Germany http://www.kefir.net/ comes with the news that it can be used seven times.
Psst: If glass jars, lids and spoon are steam sterilized each time, the culture can last for months before renewing with a packet of the dry starter. Superior benefits explained: http://www.naturalnews.com/024477.html
Update, Oct. 2013: The easiest, oldest and best way of making fab kefir is with "kefir grains" which are more like globules. They are strained out and added to the next batch. The kefir is thick, nourishing and a good protector of intestinal and immune health.
Origin: Caucasus Mountains and a veritable treasure. The high dollar health food store kefirs are made with potent probiotic kefir grains.
When I originally wrote this article, I had not located a good US source of the kefir grains. I found one. The kefir grains are cultured on goats' milk. I shifted over to cows' milk which worked fine. I can now recommend:
My favorite anecdote about this ancient beverage, a tea/sugar lactic ferment, comes from the Soviet Union—Siberia was not only gulag-central, but also a festering expanse of industry run amok, a big Super Fund site where people continue to live. Epidemiologists were dispatched to a particularly dismaying area of degenerative disease and high cancer rates.
Something didn’t make sense.
How could there be pockets of health in the midst of that man-induced wasteland? Researchers began doing studies. All the villages ate food grown on the same contaminated soil, drank contaminated water, and breathed the same contaminated air. What was different about the healthy families?
While visiting one, a frustrated researcher was offered a beverage, which turned out to be kombucha. The families who still made it were somehow able to detox from the appalling surround.
To Make Kombucha,You’ll Need:
1 or 2 gal wide-mouth glass jar (Anchor-Hocking cookie jar is good.)
2-4 c. Kombucha brew and “mushroom” from a friend. (Check health food stores and food co-op's; also available on line. Look for kombucha made organically, and in glass. Plastic leaches toxins, including food grade.)
1 oz organic tea* (see below.)
3/4-1 c Sucanat, high in B-vites and minerals, or other organic sugar
4 Qt non-chlorinated/non-fluoridated water
An ounce scale
Dairy thermometer useful, not absolutely necessary
Rubber band to secure paper towels or clean dish towel over jar
Space out of direct light for kombucha fermentation jar: in cabinet or covered w/ towel
I suggest organic green and/or white tea (silver needle or white peony) for highest antioxidant content. Silver needle tea has excited interest among holistic oncologists, as it seems to assist the body’s immune prowess at dissolving cancers. It's also pricey.
Some folks use black tea bags and white sugar and make good kombucha. The only anecdotal caveats about kombucha have involved black tea, however.
Bulk tea is less expensive, and tea bags use the lowest grade tea, hidden in pricey packaging; caveat emptor!
¼ oz organic herbs, can be added to ¾ oz of organic green/white tea. Potential vitamin/mineral-rich organic herbs include: Nettles, calendula flower, honey bush, a tsp. of rosehips powder, acerola, or acai powder, hawthorn berry, papaya leaf.
Papaya leaf, or paw paw leaf as it’s called in Australia, is an Aboriginal remedy for cancer.
Thanks to the notice of Harald Tietze, papaya leaves are being added to kombucha with reported good result. Tietze also has added hawthorn berries to kombucha brew as a heart strengthener. A Bavarian-born immigrant to Oz, medical herbalist, dowser, and Renaissance man, Tietze introduced kombucha to the Antipodes.
May 2012 Kombucha Update:
While I was working on an organic farm in New Zealand, wwoofing, I was handed a goblet of something. “Doubt you know what this is!” I slurped down kombucha with a big grin. I thought I’d go my 6 month’s jaunt without tasting any!
Kombucha is now an international treat and available in health food stores. My friends in New Zealand had flavored my goblet with black currant syrup--just short of divine.
Starting the Brew:
Green and white teas are steeped at 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit (84-94 degrees Celsius); they are more delicate than, say, Lipton’s. Bring 4 Qts water to temperature in non-toxic pot, i.e., enamel, graniteware, glass, etc. (not metal, not Teflon.) You may add a handful of dried elderberries and/or a few slices of ginger root before simmering.
Quickly stir in tea, and cover to contain bouquet. Steep 25-30 min. Strain hot tea over Sucanat or organic sugar in 2nd pot. Stir to dissolve with wooden spoon. Cool pot of liquid to ~70-80 degrees Fahrenheit (~25 Celsius) in sink of cold water with a couple of blue freezer thingies. Set timer for 15 min. Pour into the clean wide-mouth glass jar when cooled. Add Kombucha tea starter and “mushroom.”
It is an aerobic fermentation, i.e., it needs oxygen, so jar is covered with 2 thickness of paper towel or a clean dish towel. Store in cabinet, or cover with towel on counter. Do not jostle jar, as this makes many thin layers of new mushroom, instead of the solid gelatinous hockey puck!
Some kombucha makers use a continuous fermentation, adding tea/sugar solution to a pot with spigot at the bottom. Am not sure about that, as the culture can get weird. I have replaced the mushrooms of a couple friends who’ve tried this. Seems best, to wash the fermentation jar between batches. Also kombucha is a live food, and can be killed by fumes of smokers, mothballs, or a gas leak. Doesn’t like toxic fumes.
I have seen some kombucha sources recommending fermentation in food grade plastic, which gives me the quivers. No plastic is inert; it leaches. Kombucha helps draw toxins out of the body. What does it do with plastic? Starter mushroom and liquid, usually a meager amount, may also be supplied from some mail sources in a plastic-ziplock. Gag me with a spoon. Use glass.
Start gradually, say, ¼ c kombucha mixed in juice, to avoid throwing yourself into detox. Eventually a larger amount is comfortable.
The “mushroom” (actually a complex of beneficial organisms) makes “babies” above the old one. These can be shared with friends, and backup ones stored in glass jar in freezer. Fermentation usually takes 8-14 days in colder climates. In hot climates, it can take as little as 3-4 days.
The brew becomes sparkly and tangy. If left too long, pH drops further, and you’ll have made kombucha vinegar. This can be used on salads, etc. Start a new batch for drinkable kombucha.
(I once tried to maintain kombucha while spending weeks in a tent. After spilling a 1/2gal jar across the bedding, I tried sealing the jar with a lid, which sealed out air, and eventually made vinegar! I of course had no way to refrigerate and slow the fermentation.)
Kombucha can be mixed 1:1 with organic apple juice, a squeeze of lemon; yum. Pretty good for a one day fast, after you’re well accustomed to kombucha. Stirring in a small spoon of tamarind concentrate could help with detoxing fluoride. See:
Some pet owners put a spoonful of Kombucha in pet’s drinking water. Kombucha is fed to race horses to increase stamina and help heal injuries. A horse breeder in Australia is quoted in Tietze’s book. He brews 15 liters of kombucha a DAY for his horses; says it cuts seconds off their race times.
I brought kombucha to a stressed-out miniature pony, trucked, shaved, from hot Midwest to chilly New England. The little girl owner was in a lather about her half-dead looking prize critter. I was explaining about adding the kombucha to the drinking water, and we never got that far. Some of the kombucha had dribbled down the sides of the jar. Pony lips were all over it! The family started making kombucha.
Links re medicinal properties and uses of Kombucha:
When commercial baking yeast was first introduced, physicians of the time warned that the quick rise yeast would create a less-digestible product than sourdough with poor health effects. Sourdough is a lactic ferment, which takes a day or more, and makes bread which keeps well and has marvelous texture.
Starter can be nurtured at home, and just gets better. Immigrants to America brought generations-old sourdough starter with them as family treasure. San Francisco still has bakeries using starter dating from Gold Rush days. Sourdough starter how-to:
Most fun as a team effort. (Translation: messy; takes time.)
Harsch Crock*, 7.5 liter, scalded; Big non-metal pot; Wooden spoon; Kraut pounder(fun tool; see below)
5-6# green cabbage, OR red cabbage (for ruby kimchi);
3 Tbs Himalayan or “Real Salt”
1-2 c whey from yoghurt or kefir, OR 1 packet yoghurt or kefir starter & 1-2 c. water
1 Tbs each: crushed Coriander seed; Paprika; Red pepper flakes; Dulse flakes
1+ tsp rosehips powder
2 bunches spring onions, chopped, with green tops
1-2 daikon, peeled, grated
2-4 carrots, peeled, grated
1 bunch red or green kale, chopped; & 2 broccoli heads, just florets, sliced
2 apples, or 2 small turnips, peeled, grated
1-2 bulbs of garlic, peeled, desprouted, chopped
2-4 inches ginger root, grated
Weigh organic cabbage after quartering and coring; slice thinly. Stir in salt & whey with wooden spoon in enamel or glass pot. Using lidded jar filled with water, or a great tool http://www.krautpounder.com/ pound cabbage 10 min. to release juice. Mix in other ingredients.
Pack into crock. Lay clean outer cabbage leaves on top. Press down with stones. Cover; place crock in undisturbed spot; fill crock reservoir with water above two holes in lid’s edge; cover crock with dishtowel to keep out dust.
Let work 4-6 weeks at coolish room temp. It will burp bubbles and eventually kimchi smell. Keeps months in fridge in sealed glass jars -- high in probiotics, vitamins, minerals and enzymes; a live food, a good digestive.
P.S. Kimchi has a distinctive smell, some would say, stink. In Korea, it's served at every meal!
*Harsch Crock http://www.wisementrading.com/foodpreserving/harsch_crocks.htm
Recipe augmented, Nov. 2014
Here’s a final in-house, anti-microbial, medicinal herb remedy, still sold in Europe since the Black Plague of the Middle Ages, speaking of pandemics. For juicy info about the Thieves immortalized in the name, and a history of vaccines, see my article Pandemic Jitters: Thieves Vinegar.
Stock in the following --
1 Gal. glass jar4 Qt. organic apple cider vinegar
To store finished product: brown, green or cobalt glass bottles
1 oz. oregano
1 oz. rosemary
1 oz sage
1 oz. nettles
1 oz. lavender
1 oz. lemon balm
1 oz. clove powder
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 Tbs broken cinnamon stick
2 Tbs dried elderberries
1-2 bulbs organic garlic, peeled, smashed or sliced through, any green (bitter) sprout removed
Jan. 2016: I tweaked the recipe a bit to increase immune and anti-inflammatory oomph by adding:
2 Tbs chaga
slices of fresh ginger root, 3" piece, peeled
Put herbs & garlic in gallon jar; top up with vinegar (it will take ~3 1/2 Qt. ) Cover jar opening with waxed paper and lid, or hold waxed paper in place with tight rubber band. (Vinegar fumes may otherwise corrode metal lid.) Or use a plastic lid.
Let steep for 6-12 weeks, stirring once a week with a wooden spoon. Pour through strainer into large non-metal bowl or pot. Using non-metal ladle and funnel, pour into brown, green or cobalt bottles. (Well-washed olive oil bottles work well.) Store in a cool place, root cellar, or fridge.
There are several versions of Thieves Vinegar. The above recipe is pleasant to take and can be effective for symptoms of cold, fever and flu, or to have on hand in the event of scarier scenarios. The aromatic vinegar can be taken daily as a tonic and preventative, or more frequently after onset of illness.
Take 1 tsp Thieves Vinegar and 1 tsp honey in a glass of water first thing in the morning (or, use 1 tsp maple syrup, which dissolves more readily.) Children could be given 1/4 - 1/2 tsp Thieves Vinegar in a glass or baby bottle of juice.
"Thieves" helps restore and maintain healthy digestion and elimination, and can help protect travelers from the tiresome, lingering infections now so common after plane flights.
So, have at it. Have fun making down home probiotics and a medicinal vinegar, all of ancient lineage and useful today. Some professional worriers feel that this new flu strain may get nasty in northern hemisphere winter, when there is less sunlight and the protection of Vitamin D.
How about using the summer months for learning family and community can-do: Ace the making of high vitality foods which boost your innate immunity. Gain new/old skills-sets. Just for the health of it, my home to yours.
Yeoman's 2nd book!!