While raising our six children, I experimented with every type of immune-boosting concoction you could imagine. From pretending to be a daddy bird squirting castor oil into their mouths with an eyedropper the way a momma bird feeds their young (BTW, I think my kids would publicly deny ever being tricked into begging like a baby bird for another squirt of castor oil), to lining them all up on the bed and squirting warm oil into their ears to ward off cold and flu season.

I have to admit, these strategies worked to keep our kids healthy, but the compliance and long-term willingness to let me keep experimenting wore thin over time. So, after two decades of raising kids, I have a pretty simple, user-friendly plan to keep both kids and adults healthy, and since I have recently received many emails asking for immune-boosting strategies, I’d like to share what works in our home and what I have been recommending with great success to patients for years.

The Plan

Starting every morning in the fall, this is the plan I recommend:

  • Turmeric – 1-2 capsules per day
  • Ashwagandha – 1-2 capsules per day
  • Vitamin D3 – 4-5000IU
  • Chyawanprash – 1 spoonful or more if you have a sense you are getting rundown. Many kids and adults enjoy it stirred into a cup of warm milk.

Tips for Kids

It’s helpful if they can swallow pills, but it isn’t necessary, as these herbs can be poured out of their capsules and mixed with a tiny bit of honey and/or water to facilitate ingestion.

While I have used all kinds of bribery to get my kids to swallow pills, my eldest son developed a trick that worked great for him, so a few years back I wrote a blog on it: http://lifespa.com/trouble-swallowing-pills-try-this-simple-technique/. Check it out if your children have any trouble swallowing pills – this is great for adults too!

If your children are too young to swallow pills, I have used some herbal pastes and chewables with great success as well. I have written about this in much greater detail in my book, Perfect Health for Kids, but these three tips are a great place to start:

  1. Turmeric and raw honey mixed into a paste – 1/2 teaspoon every 2 hours (only for children over 2 years old)
  2. Chyawanprash – 1 teaspoon 4-6x/day
  3. Chewable Colostrum – 2 tablets every 2 hours

The Science

Studies show that turmeric plays an important role in various aspects of strengthening the immune system. Therefore, I always include it in an effective immune-boosting plan. (1)

Ashwagandha is a powerful immune-supporting adaptogen that helps you reboot from stress while also supporting a healthy immune response. (2) Ashwagandha is perhaps my favorite herb for kids. It’s easy for kids to get run down from sleepovers, sports, tests, recitals and social stress without them even realizing it, and it all keeps coming at them 24/7.

Vitamin D3 plays a critical role in supporting immunity. In the winter, vitamin D levels plummet, and the immune system along with it. Vitamin D3 plays a critical role in the killer T cell response, and is therefore a major regulator of a healthy immune response. (3)

Chyawanprash is an immune-supporting, vitamin C-rich, antioxidant herbal paste that I use to give kids the boost they need when they seem run down. If there is a bad bug going around school, I will give them a spoonful with breakfast along with a squirt of liquid vitamin D3. Studies show that chyawanprash increases the macrophage activity and its number, indicating the enhancement of a non-specific immune response and a reduction in the chance of infection. (4) If my kids start getting sick, I up the dose and give them 1-5 teaspoons 2-3 times that day to boost their immunity – for a couple of days, if needed, but I rarely need to for more than a day.

Reproduced with permission from Dr. John Douillard, DC © November 4, 2014. Original Document, Dr. John’s Winter Immune Boosting Plan.
Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com.