Herbs For Immunity
Why is it so important to build our immunity?
Our bodies are constantly working to balance and fight off various external pathogens they encounter. Herbal medicine is a key component in balancing the immune system. Our natural environment has given us medicinal herbs to bolster our immune system so we can stay healthy and thrive.
Huang Qi - astragalus, is a classic traditional chinese medicine tonic herb used to boost the immune system. What I love about huang qi is its versatile nature. Huang qi is easily added to a soup, it can be taken in tincture, capsule form or used in a decoction (which is a strong tea). When used in traditional chinese medicine, Huang Qi is often paired with other herbs in a formula which work synergistically. It is often paired with herbs such as, dang gui, gou qi zi and tai zi shen (American Ginseng)
Huang qi is a sweet herb in nature and goes to the lung and spleen meridian. Astragalus is known to build “spleen qi.” This would translate as treating digestive upset from spleen qi deficiency such as loss of appetite, bloating, sallow complexion or loose stools. In addition, it is a classic herb for fatigue or exhaustion.
It is known as a herb for building “wei qi”, which is known as protective qi in the body. In clinical trials we know that huang qi increases the production of white blood cells. It is also used in combination with other herbs for respiratory disorders such as wheezing, cough and shortness of breadth. Huang qi also aids in building blood in the body and carrying that blood to the extremities in the body. This is helpful in conditions of numbness and pain in the body.
Studies show the astragalus is also very effective as a complementary therapy for heart disease this maybe because it is very high in antioxidants. Huang qi also eases blood vessel constriction and is effective in lowering cholesterol.
Huang qi is an excellent tonic herb which can be used post illness to help nourish and build up the body past cold, flu or other debilitating illness when the body is weak.
Reishi - Ling Zhi -spiritual mushroom -As far back as 221 to 207 B.C. there is evidence of the use of Reishi as a medicinal. Reishi which is a reddish brown color and fan snapped grows on dead or dying trees and seems to prefer hemlocks. It was discussed in the the classic chinese herbal texts. Ling Zhi is a mushroom known for its immune boosting properties, known for longevity, cell regenerative and promoting health.
It belongs to the Gandoderma genus. It enters the lungs, heart and liver. Reishi is known for its immune enhancing properties, by increasing macrophages, monocytes a T-lymphocytes in the body. Research also shows Reishi as possessing anti-cancer qualities by producing cytokine, interleukin and tumor necrosis factor. Reishi also has anti-bacterial activities against pneumonia, streptococci, E. coli, and staphylococci.
Reishi protect the body from stress, as an adaptogen, reishi assists the body in overcoming everyday exposure to environmental toxins and immune-boosting potential.
Reishi enters the lungs and aids in stopping cough and resolving phlegm. It is working to dispel phlegm and stop wheezing, making it useful for asthma and shortness of breadth.
Reishi can be taken in tincture form, powder, tea, or added to a formula in combination with other traditional formula for synergistic effect.
American Ginseng -Tai Zhi Shen - There are a few varieties of ginseng, American, Korean, Siberian, Brazilian and Indian Ginseng. The two most widely used are American, Tai Zi Shen and Korean, Ren Shen. One of my favorite varieties is American Ginseng. American Ginseng grows throughout North America and Canada. It is known as an excellent adaptogenic herbs. Although this variety of ginseng is strong it also very nourishing and more moderating in effect.
Studies show that the ginsenosides found in tai zi shen may help to stimulate the immune system, lower blood sugar and slow growth of cancer cells. These same ginsenosides may also help to fight fatigue in the body especially due to chronic illness.
In addition, American Ginseng has antiviral properties which make it useful in fighting against viral respiratory illnesses.
Tai Zi Shen, can be used in a traditional formula in a decoction or powdered formula it can also be taken in a tincture or capsule.
Possible herbs drug interactions are with Coumadin, MAOI inhibitors, Antipsychotic medications, medications to decrease blood sugar.
Echinacea agustafolia - purple coneflower - Echinacea has been used by traditional herbalist in american folk medicine and native american medicine since the early 1800's . It is a quintessential herb for building immunity in the body. There are over 9 species of Echinacea found in throughout the United States and Canada. The most common are Echinacea augustafolia and Echinacea purpurea. Echinacea is very common throughout North America and likes to grow in rocky disturbed soil and open fields. Research shows echinacea increases production of white blood cell in the body, making it useful as an antibiotic herb and antiviral. It is going to the stomach, large Intestine and lung meridian. It treats nasal discharge accompanied by infection in the body. It is supportive in upper respiratory illnesses, it has stimulating and regulating effect in the body. In Chinese medicine we would say it is clearing heat and treating fever in the body as well.
Historically it has also been known as a blood purifier and "cleanser," with this it is excellent at treating boils, abscesses, skin lesions, swollen lymph glands, ulcerative throat and mouth inflammation.
The root is harvested in the fall. This root can be made into a tincture and then used throughout the winter to stay healthy. The dried root can also be used as tea or decoction.
We always recommend you consult an experienced practitioner of Chinese medicine who has studied eastern herbal medicine before trying a herbal remedy, as it may not be appropriate for your constitution or pattern for your condition.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease and for educational purposes only.