To understand how your body works to fight off disease, compare the disease to a fire. “Think of the parts of your immune system as a team of firefighters: they work to put out the fire and prepare for next time,” explains Dr. Jeremy Hayman, a naturopathic doctor in London, Ont., and medical advisor for St. Francis Herb Farm. “If there aren’t enough firefighters, or they’re overcome by a massive fire, it takes longer to put the fire out.” He compares autoimmune disease to a situation where the firefighters aren’t working well together, or they’re using too many resources to put out a small fire. In other words, he says, your body has many different immune components with many different functions, and they have to work together in synch to be effective.
To give your firefighters the tools they need to work well, your body needs good food, restful sleep, exercise and stress-busters like meditation and laughter with loved ones. You can also support your immune system with medicinal herbs. Some tinctures for your immune system tool kit include:
Eleuthero Also known as Siberian ginseng, eleuthero is used in herbal medicine to stimulate the immune system and enhance resistance to environmental stress.
Reishi This tincture is derived from reishi mushrooms and used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as a tonic to address fatigue.
Astragalus This herb is traditionally used to increase the production of white blood cells. It is also has antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, helping to treat colds and upper respiratory infections.
Schisandra Used to generally support the immune system, this herb helps to increase resistance to disease and stress, as well as boost energy and endurance.
Sure, we all get sick sometimes, but with a little assistance from your immune tool kit, you can better fight off disease and stay well.
An all-in-one immune system tonic may contain these individual herbs, known as “adaptogens” for helping to bring the body into balance and increase its resistance to harmful environmental elements like pollution and infection, as well as other complementary herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. These include licorice, considered “the great harmonizer,” codonopsis, used in general tonics, and white atracylodes to improve the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients.