Immune support- it’s a hot topic right now! Although we will admit the news is extra scary lately, and we find ourselves more motivated than usual to protect our health, boosting your immunity during the winter illness season is a good idea every year. We’re doing some research and creating some timely formulas, but until that’s done, here’s some things you can do now to stay well.
First, the most important precaution you can take is to wash your hands! It’s basic, it’s easy, and it may not be glamorous, but it works. Do it often and properly and you and your loved ones will be healthier for it.
Now that’s out of the way, here are a few of our favourite Spagyrics for boosting immunity, shoring up your defenses, and recovering quickly if you do catch something.
I think of immune supporting herbs in the way I described in this article– there are tonic ones you can take long-term as preventatives, and specific ones to take when a threat is imminent. The tonic approach is the best, since it’s easier to stay well than climb back out of illness, so we will start with that “ounce of prevention”.
Medicinal mushrooms are an excellent match for our immune systems, as they are subject to many of the same illnesses that we get, and their defenses have developed along parallel evolutionary courses to ours.
They tend to be more intelligent in their action than most plants (with a few exceptions), which means they can strengthen your immune response without making it overreactive. This makes them good choices for pre-emptive use at the beginning of whatever season usually brings illness to you, and for long-term use as a constant support to wellness.
Our Shroomtastic Somalixir is the most comprehensive mushroom formula we offer, with nine different medicinal mushrooms, including Reishi, Turkey Tail, Poria, Cordyceps, and more. It works in a balanced way, as I discussed in this post, and has been useful for many customers since we created it.
Another Somalixir formula, our Defense has a combination of medicinal mushrooms and herbs to strengthen immunity by boosting the wei qi, or defensive energy. Defense is a bit more, well, defensive, than Shroomtastic, with plants and fungi that have shown action against viruses and bacteria, and it has a nice mood and energy-boosting quality, as well.
For respiratory illness, as well as for ongoing respiratory health, the medicinal mushroom Cordyceps is a powerful yet balanced ally. Cordyceps is only mildly antibacterial and antiviral, but it is strongly immuno-adaptogenic, stimulating immune response in just the right way, not too much or too little. This action throughout the body helps it fight off illness, while it also focuses on the lungs and respiratory system with medicinal effect.
In the respiratory system, Cordyceps calms and deepens the breathing, increasing the efficiency of oxygen transport from the lungs through the rest of the body. It also reduces inflammation and clears phlegm and relieves coughing.
For the acute phase of infection, we use our Cordyceps Essence at a high, frequent doses, in combination with Osha and Yerba Santa to fight the infection and protect the integrity of the mucus membranes. Once you’ve moved into the recovery phase, our Spiritualized Essence of Cordyceps is an excellent ongoing tonic to protect respiratory strength in the future.
One exception to the “mushrooms are better tonics” rule is Astragalus. This root is used in Chinese medicine to both prevent and treat illness of all kinds, and the best way to think about it is the TCM description of it as a boost to the wei qi, or surface energy that surrounds us and protects us from “external pernicious influence”. That influence can be anything from the surrounding world that can invade our internal one and cause illness, from germs such as bacteria and viruses to allergens and irritants like pollen or chemical toxins.
Astragalus is also an adaptogen, useful to hold balance in stressful times, where it can lessen the immune-depleting effects of stress in the body, as well as shoring up defenses and acting specifically against pathogens. For this kind of long-term use, try our Astragalus Spiritualized Essence.
If you do feel like you’re coming down with something, or if people around you are sick and you feel it closing in, it might be time to add some more aggressive defenders to your regime.
Propolis is the resin that bees collect from various trees, which they then process into a sticky gum and use to seal holes and cracks in the hive, as well as create a sort of inner layer of anti-microbial varnish within. Propolis means “before the city”, which describes its defensive “wall” quality well, and along with Astragalus, it is the most wei qi boosting Spagyric we make. As I described in this article, just a few drops of our Green Propolis Spiritualized Essence creates a defended, “bulletproof” feeling of warmth and strength.
I mentioned Osha and Yerba Mansa above, in combination with Cordyceps; these two are our favourite first line of defense when illness looms.
Osha is full of very anti-microbial constituents, and when it is used, these chemicals are processed through the lungs, and so they travel right to where they are needed most. Osha also brings more moisture to the lungs so that congestion is thinned and can move more easily, and this effect can be felt within a few minutes with our Osha Essence.
Yerba Santa has a strengthening, stabilizing effect on the mucus membranes, with flavonoids that decrease its permeability and reactivity; these chemicals also make it a delicious aromatic medicine! If you tend to be more susceptible to new infections after you’ve recovered from old ones, or if your seasonal allergies slip into infections, our Yerba Santa Essence can help your tissues rebuild and be less sensitive so you can recover completely.
Finally, for recovery from any illness, injury, or trauma, we recommend Red Root, a Northwest native plant used as a tonic to the spleen and lymphatic function. It is not antimicrobial itself, but its action of helping your system deal with the waste buildup of illness will allow any other defense herbs to work that much better, as we discussed in this article.
For recovery from a short, limited infection or illness, our Red Root Essence is a good choice, while dealing with more long-term toxicity and recovery is well-supported by our Spiritualized Essence of Red Root.