This month the WON Scoop is all about herbs that boost our immune system. We can use nature to our benefit only if we have the knowledge. “Until man duplicates a blade of grass, nature can laugh at his so called scientific knowledge. Remedies from chemicals will never stand in favor compared with the products of nature, the living cell of the plant, the final result of the rays of the sun, the mother of all life.” – Thomas Edison
Cat’s Claw is known for its hook-like thorns that form along the vine and resemble the claws of a cat. This little-known botanical agent exerts powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that support DNA repair, joint health, immune function, and normal cell division. Cat’s Claw has been shown to aid in DNA cellular repair and in preventing cells from mutating, in essence helping to inhibit cancer. Animal and human studies suggest that Cat’s Claw strengthens internal defenses against the multitude of toxic pathogens encountered each day in the air, water, and environment. Cat’s Claw is most commonly used for improving symptoms of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It is also used for various digestive system disorders including swelling and pain of the large intestine (diverticulitis), inflammation of the lower bowel (colitis), inflammation of the lining of the stomach (gastritis), stomach ulcers, hemorrhoids, and leaky gut syndrome. Cat’s Claw is available in bulk, capsules and as a tincture.
Astragalus works in multiple ways to promote immune health. It contains polysaccharides, which promote phagocytosis (the ability of white blood cells to engulf and remove foreign substances from the body). It contains saponins, which protect the liver and stimulate the release of cytokines (immune system messengers). It also acts as an antioxidant and reduces free radicals. Astragalus, a natural diuretic, improves urine flow and reduces the risk of developing infections in the bladder. It is an anti-clotting agent and has vaso-dialiting properties, helping prevent coronary heart disease and improving circulation. Astragalus increases energy by supporting liver function through increased detoxification. It can even increase the flow of bile and digestive fluids. Astragalus is a heart tonic that lowers blood pressure, dilates blood vessels and increases the endurance of a fatigued heart. I recently learned that Astragalus reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Excess cortisol can cause you to store fat around your belly. As you can imagine, I will be adding Astragalus to my regimen as soon as possible, since I carry a lot of my weight in my belly. Astragalus is available in a tincture, capsule and in bulk. (Because bugs love Astragalus too, we store it in the fridge.)
Echinacea is the herb I learned most about while doing research for the WON Scoop. Echinacea is used to shorten the duration of the common cold and flu, and reduce symptoms such as sore throat, cough, and fever. Many herbalists recommend Echinacea to help boost the immune system and help the body fight infections. It is important to note Echinacea is best used as either a preventative measure or immediately at the onset of symptoms. Echinacea should not be used over a long period of time without a break, that way your body gets a chance to build the immune system naturally. To get the optimal benefits of Echinacea you should purchase products containing both the root and aerial (above ground) parts. The roots have high concentrations of volatile oils that are helpful for the treatment of flu-like infections, while the above ground parts of the plant contain more polysaccharides that help treat colds, upper respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, and slow healing wounds. Echinacea is available in the bulk section, in capsules, as a tea, lozenges, and in a tincture.
We recently made some Elderberry syrup for flu and cold season at my house out of Elderberries. It was a fun project for my kids and it’s nice to have anti-viral medicine on hand for the winter. Elderberry is a potent antioxidant used to lower cholesterol, improve vision, boost the immune system, improve heart health, and to treat coughs, colds, flu, bacterial & viral infections, and tonsillitis. Bioflavonoids and other proteins in the juice destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell. The anthocyanins found in Elderberries enhance immune function by boosting the production of cytokines. These unique proteins act as messengers to help regulate the immune response and defend the body against disease. People with the flu who took Elderberry reported less severe symptoms and felt better faster than those who did not. Infusions of Elderberry help to treat nerve disorders, back pain, and have been used to reduce inflammation of the urinary tract and bladder. Elderberries are available in tincture, capsules, syrup, gummies, lozenges, tea, and in the bulk section. (To keep Elderberries fresh we store them in the fridge)
Elderflower is from the same plant that Elderberries are from and are Native to Idaho. They can be found growing wild in many of our local mountains and along roadways. In Germany and other parts of Europe, Elderflower has been used for centuries to treat respiratory infections including colds, flu, bronchitis, laryngitis and more. Elderflower works to reduce inflammation in the mucous membranes of the nose and throat to relieve congestion. It is a key ingredient in herbal blends used to treat sinusitis. The best time to use Elderflower is in the first stages of a cold or flu. Studies show Elderflower tea contains diaphoretic or sweat inducing properties to help relieve fevers and reduce the severity and duration of the flu. Elderflower can be found in our bulk section, as a tincture, in a tea, and in combination in other immunity blends.
Let’s be honest here, Horehound is a horrible name! It’s actually derived from “Horus”, the Egyptian god of sky and light. Don’t hold the name against it because Horehound is actually a pretty amazing little plant. Horehound acts as a respiratory stimulant, expectorant, and a cough suppressant. It reduces the thickness of the mucus in your lungs and your bronchial tubes, making it easier to expel built up mucus. Native American tribes use horehound to treat stomachaches, influenza, and infections. Horehound can be applied externally to treat damaged skin, ulcers, and wounds. Horehound is available in the bulk section and as a tincture.
Olive Leaf is a traditional medicinal herb whose therapeutic treatments date back centuries. Olive Leaf interferes with the production of certain amino acids essential for viruses to thrive. Olive leaf has the ability to directly penetrate infected cells and stop the virus from replicating. It stimulates phagocytosis, an immune system response in which cells engulf harmful microorganisms and foreign matter. Studies show Olive Leaf effectively fights over 50 common disease causing organisms including viruses, bacteria, and fungal infections. Olive leaf can be found in our bulk section, in a capsule, and as a tincture.
If you are new to mushrooms, Reishi is a good place to start. Known as the “Mushroom of Immortality”
Reishi is used for boosting the immune system, fighting cancer, lowering cholesterol levels, calming your nerves and relieving both allergies and inflammation. As an immune-stimulant, it is helpful for people with AIDS, leaky gut syndrome, Epstein-Barr, chronic bronchitis and other infectious diseases. Studies have shown Reishi extracts support a faster regeneration of healthy liver cells. This causes a release of free radicals that have built up in liver cells. The liver is now able to work more efficiently to detox the body and prevent disease and illness. If you’re ready to do some “shrooms” we have them available in the bulk section, in capsules and as a tincture.