Boost Your Immune System With This DIY Vitamin C Syrup
By Meagan - September 10, 2014
I've always known that vitamin C was one of those "popular vitamins" that people take to keep from getting sick, but I never really knew why other than it boosts the immune system... that is, until all four of my kids came down with whooping cough. After two weeks of non-stop coughing, I finally figured out what we were dealing with... right about the time my 3 month old started coughing. Now I'm not one to get all up in arms over things. I usually keep my cool which must be the ER nursing experience I have taking over, but as I started looking into natural ways to help my kids deal with whooping cough, I was starting to get a bit concerned as I realized there wasn't too much out there for such a young baby. If fact, it's downright dangerous, even deadly, at that age. Thankfully I found an answer... well several of them. One of those answers was vitamin c, and in my opinion, it was the most important one. As I dug into using it with whooping cough I fell in love with this vitamin. How did I not know how great it was beyond the fact that it "boosted the immune system." You see, lots of things boost the immune system so I'd never really given a simple vitamin a lot of thought during sicknesses. In fact, I probably thought about it a lot like most people think about it. I knew our bodies needed a small amount of it to prevent some diseases, but other than that, when I'm sick, there were many other things on my mind... like what herbs to start using. I'm not going to go into our whole whooping cough story here. I'll be sharing that over at Growing Up Herbal soon, but I will say there's a huge benefit to using vitamin c for all sorts of viral and bacterial infections. Today I wanna tell you a bit about how great vitamin c is so that if you are like I was and you don't know much about this vitamin, that will come to an end today. I also want to talk about getting a good bit of vitamin c via herbs, about vitamins c and heat, and I'll be sharing my own personal recipe for an herbal vitamin c syrup that makes its appearance in my house every fall.
The Basics of Vitamin CVitamin c is a water soluble vitamin that humans don't make on their own. It has to be replaced on a daily basis either via foods like fresh fruits, fresh veggies, and herbs or with supplements. Unfortunately, vitamin c is one nutrient that has been found most wanting in the American diet which is probably due to the fact that there aren't sufficient amounts of vitamin c in packaged, processed foods. Thankfully, most people who eat a healthy real food diet get enough vitamin c each day. If you are curious about the daily recommended amount of vitamin c based on age as well as the different foods that contain vitamin c and their amounts, this article will help you out. Vitamin c is nontoxic and there aren't many side-effects from its use. If the body gets too much vitamin c at once it's excreted either in the urine or by causing diarrhea. I did find that if large, mega-doses of vitamin c are taken by a healthy individual it can increase their risk for kidney stones; however, if a person is sick, this isn't the case because the body is using up the vitamin c at a rapid pace, decreasing the risk of getting too much. Vitamin c is an antioxidant which is helpful in protecting the bodies cells from damage. It's also a universal antitoxin which helps protect the body from poisonous and harmful substances, specifically the toxins that viruses and bacteria excrete in the body. Lastly, it also plays a role in the formation of collagen and it helps the body absorb iron, another much needed mineral.
Vitamin C From HerbsSo the big question is this... at least in my mind. Can a person get enough vitamin c from herbs? Well, I addressed this "vitamins from herbs" question in my last post, and I've come to this conclusion. Sure we can get a good amount of vitamins from foods and plants to help us not get sick... that is, to maintain health, but when it comes to being sick and needing much larger doses of those vitamins, I'm not so sure if we can get all we need from from them. I definitely think that a sick person should eat healthy, nutrient dense foods and use herbs during that time, but from what I found when my kids had whooping cough was that they needed MEGA-DOSES of vitamin c which meant herbs and foods would not be enough on their own. What I decided for us was to use as much natural occurring vitamin c as we could during that time as well as to supplement with a specific vitamin c supplement recommended for mega-dose therapy. In the end, this was the thing that worked for us best... vitamin c that is.
Heat and Vitamin CI want to address the issue of heat killing vitamin c. It is true that heat can decrease the amount of vitamin c in foods and herbal preparations (not "kill" it), but from what I've found, it's not as big of a deal for herbs as it is for foods. You see, when you cook foods in water, the vitamin c (which is water soluble) is released into the water. When you eat the food, it has less vitamins in it and more in the water. Most people do not consume the water they cooked their foods in which means they're consuming less vitamin content in their foods. This is one reason waterless cookware is so popular among health-conscious people. It's thought that the vitamin c content in foods is decreased by 15-55% during cooking depending upon the food, the cooking method, the degree of heat, and the length of cooking time. When it comes to herbal preparations like teas, infusions, tinctures, syrups, etc. you have a few things going for you.
- You do consume the water that the herbs are prepared in therefore you are getting the vitamins that were infused into the water.
- Herbal preparations are made using low heat.
- Most preparations are not heated for long periods of time... at least the kind where you're worried about vitamin loss.
Staying Healthy With Vitamin CSo far we've talked about what vitamin c is and how it helps the body. We've also talked about the fact that we humans can get sufficient amounts of vitamin c from foods and herbs in order to stay healthy and prevent disease. And we've talked about how heat affects the amount of vitamin c available for absorption. Below I want to share my recipe with you for an herbal vitamin c syrup that I use with my family anytime something is going around. My goal is to use this herbal remedy to get extra vitamin c into our bodies, beyond what food provides, so that we can not only boost our immune systems when illness is going around, but so we can fight it off faster if we do end up coming down with something.
Herbal Vitamin C Syrup*Dosage: adults - 1 TBSP. 3xday --- children - 1 tsp. 3xday Ingredients:
- 4 c. pure water
- 1/4 c. bilberry fruit
- 1/4 c. elderberry fruit
- 1/4 c. rosehips
- 1/4 c. hibiscus flowers
- 1 c. raw honey (maple syrup for babies under 1 year)
- Bring 4 cups of pure water to boil in a saucepan. Immediately turn down heat until the water is simmering (steaming, but not boiling).
- Measure and add herbs to water. Stir to mix. Let herbs simmer in water over low heat until water is reduced by half (2 cups).
- Strain herbs and compost. Pour herbal infused water into a 1 quart mason jar.
- Let cool until slightly warm. Add raw honey or maple syrup to water. Stir well. Refrigerate. Use daily when trying to prevent sickness.