When we talk about immune boosting during this time of year, it can be really difficult for those who are struggling with autoimmune illnesses to know which suggestions they can and can’t use for themselves. If this is you and you have been feeling left out of the herbal conversation, then this post has been written for you!
Autoimmunity is a hard road to walk, and wondering if taking this or that herb is going to cause a flare can make things even more stressful when you are trying to stay naturally healthy. Today I’m going to share with you three herbs that can help to boost your immune system without creating a flare response. The key is choosing herbs that are immunomodulating, not just immune stimulating. This big word just means that they strengthen and regulate the immune system by boosting it when it is low and also by lowering an overactive response. Another great aspect of these herbs is that they are often anti-inflammatory, and inflammation is considered to be one of the underlying factors of many autoimmune conditions.
*The information shared in this post is for educational purposes only. If you have an autoimmune condition then you should be working with a knowledgeable doctor and qualified herbalist to create a protocol. As always, start slowly when implementing herbs into your supplement routine and stay in tune with your body to notice any changes either good or bad.
Astragalus: This herb has been commonly listed as an immune-stimulating herb, but recent studies have indicated that Astragalus actually has immunomodulating properties! It is a traditional herb in Chinese Medicine and it has been used as an adaptogen to strengthen many body systems including the immune system. According to Chinese Medicine, Astragalus is best used to strengthen the body on a regular basis and for chronic conditions, but is not well suited to being used during an acute illness or flare, especially when there is fever present.
Astragalus is a slightly sweet herb and is useful for helping to warm the body, so it is often used in teas or cooked into broths and taken 1-3 times daily in this form.
Reishi: Reishi is a mushroom that contains adaptogenic and immonumodulant properties making it perfect for those who are looking for whole body balancing. As a mushroom, Reishi also contains a polysaccharide called glucans. Although glucans are harmless, the body recognizes them as invaders and mounts an immune response. This helps to modulate the immune system by programming it to attack pathogens instead of itself.
Since polysaccharides are the most important element in Reishi for immune function and are best extracted in water, a great preparation for this herb would be a strong decoction or to be tossed into a stock pot along with some chicken or beef bones and simmered for several hours to create a tasty, immune strengthening broth!
*Reishi should be used with caution by those with hemophilia and those who are taking anti-coagulant and anti-platelet medication
Echinacea: Echinacea has also been listed as an immune stimulating herb in many places, but recent research is showing that it has a modulating rather than a strictly stimulating effect on the immune system. Echinacea is also an excellent herb for the lymph system and can improve the flow of lymph fluid which is key for immune health.
The dosage for this herb in tincture form is 1-5ml 3x/day, and you can find more uses for it in this post from last week.
If this post has given you some exciting possibilities and you would like to learn how to make your own remedies and customize them for your family, then I would love to see you in my Fall Natural Remedies Workshop that is coming up in a few weeks. We will be making remedies together, virtually, and going deep into how to make them, how to take them, and why and how they work!