Mucosa, host defense, and the role of stress
In our quest to combat disease, modern medicine has developed an array of tools: from antibiotics and other antimicrobials, pharmaceuticals can provide a strong push-back against infection when necessary. Conversely, in cases where the immune system turns its fire against our own bodies (conditions collectively known as “autoimmunity”, for example rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or certain inflammatory bowel diseases), we see the use of steroids, anti-inflammatories, and immunosuppressants. And while in either case these modern interventions can be life-saving, both circumvent our immune systems: antimicrobials purport to take over the job of fighting pathogens, while steroids and immunosuppressive drugs just turn the immune system off.
But our immunity is a sophisticated, subtle learning system that works best when it is fully engaged. In fact, we’re starting to discover that some of the dysregulation in immune function (hypersensitivities, asthma and allergies, for example) might be linked to an overly sheltered, microbe-free environment:
without exposure, without challenge, the immune system fails to learn the language needed to operate effectively in a world full of both microbes and allergens.
To herbalists, the use of drugs that fight infection or suppress the immune response as a first-line intervention seems akin to a parenting philosophy that either does a child’s work for her, or tells the child to be quiet and go to her room. Neither, in the long run, produces healthy, well-adjusted adults.
We strive instead to support our immune system’s own functional processes, much […]
Golden Milk, or Turmeric Milk is a traditional Indian and Ayurvedic beverage that is typically drunk before bed and has recently gained popularity in the wellness world due to its healing and rich nutritional qualities. While we enjoy the ritual of drinking warm beverages as we wind down in the evenings, this recipe is great during the day as well, as it is rich in warming, circulatory, and immune system tonics which are important in the long cold winter months.
We have taken the traditional recipe of Golden Milk and added in a few of our favorite immune supporting herbs like ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, and astragalus, making this drink a powerful immune tonic.
Turmeric is a rhizome of the Curcuma longa plant and has a shockingly bright golden orange color. Turmeric is what gives the color to curry powder, and has been a traditional medicine and food of native Indian cultures for thousands of years. Its flavor is the perfect combination of earthy bitterness and spicy sweetness and combines well with a sweetener like honey. It is high in essential vitamins and minerals that our body needs to stay in optimal health. Most of its compounds are fat soluble, so combining some fat into the mixture will help the body easily absorb those vital nutrients.
Astragalus is one of our best adaptogens, meaning it helps support the body during times of physical, mental, or emotional stress. It is also an excellent tonic for supporting our vital, resilient immune system. In China and among herbalists throughout the world, this plant is utilized as one of the best […]
It’s the time of year, where more often than not we are turning to our medicine cupboard to support our bodies and our families. An abundance of tea herbs, honey and lemon, fresh herbs like ginger, turmeric, cayenne and garlic are all great to have on hand throughout the winter. A few herbal tinctures also play useful roles and are key ingredients in the medicine cabinet.
Elderberry | Elderberry is an excellent superfood-like ally safe to take in large quantities. With elderberry and plenty of rest, our body’s natural response kicks in–that’s why elderberry syrups and tea have long been used to help support optimal immune function. All these amazing herbs come in handy when our resources are low: elderberry helps our body maintain its normal immune response. Because it’s so much like food, it’s incredibly safe for kids, and happens to taste divine when combined with honey–hence the elderberry syrup! This one is a must have for the kitchen herb cabinet as it’s family-safe.
The flowers of Elder are also quite useful and are used for supporting sinuses and a healthy inflammatory response. While lovely in tea because of its sweet aromatic quality, Elderflower also is great in tincture form and used in combination with other herbs. You can find Elderflower in most of our First Aid formulas because this plant is safe, and supports so many different functions of our body.
Elecampane | Herbalists rely on Elecampane when it comes to