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Monograph Library

Deep Immune®

What is Deep Immune®?

With its qi tonic herbs, Deep Immune® represents a unique marriage of the Western approach to preparing herbs and the traditional Chinese Materia Medica. Qi tonics are valuable to anyone who wants greater energy, a stronger immune system, and increased resistance to flu, colds, and other infections.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the use of qi tonic herbs is of benefit for treating immune system disorders. TCM oncologists in China who combine chemo and radiation therapy with herbs, for example, do so to augment qi, thus optimizing immune function. This approach is termed “fuzheng” therapy, which means to support the body’s natural order.[1]

Deep Immune—An Adaptogenic Powerhouse

Nearly all the herbs in Deep Immune are adaptogens, restoring normal adrenal function, improving stamina, overcoming fatigue, and helping the body cope with stress, overwork, and chronic illness. In fact, adaptogens bring the body into a state of homeostasis and stabilize its physiological processes and systems—including the heart, circulation, metabolism, immune function, digestion, the brain, and the reproductive organs. The upshot is that adaptogens tend to be preventers of disease and have even been called “medicine for healthy people.”[2]

Woman sitting on sandy beach at sunset with waves lapping up on the sand

Deep Immune – The Consummate Immune Balancer

Adaptogens that double as immune herbs are better termed immunomodulators rather than immunostimulants. They do not necessarily stimulate immune function, but rather act to correct underlying mechanisms by which immune function goes awry. Compromised immunity lies at the root of a wide range of health problems and is best described as an imbalance rather than a simple excess or deficiency in cell type or function. Autoimmunity (AI), for example, can be understood as an imbalance between various subsets of T-cells, specifically underactive Treg cells, which normally keep “self-reactive” T cells in check. Treg cells also act to suppress excessive immune reactions to the environment, i.e. allergies.[3] This corrective property includes the normalization of T-cell balance, as well as optimizing the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis. (We know, for example, that chronic stress causes the adrenals to hypertrophy, thus increasing circulating serum cortisol levels, while immune organs like the thymus atrophy; in other words, these are proposed mechanisms by which T cells become dysregulated.[4]) 

Eric Yarnell proffers a list of herbs that he terms “immunomodulators,” with “adaptogens” as a subheading. His list includes astragalus, codonopsis, eleuthero, reishi, and schisandra, all of which are components of our Deep Immune® formula.[5] Taking his cue from fellow herbalist Christopher Hobbs, David Hoffmann lists several herbs that he calls “deep immune activators,” namely, astragalus, codonopsis, reishi, shiitake mushroom, ligustrum, and schisandra.[6]

The Individual Ingredients and Immune Function

Naturopathic doctors Anthony Godfrey and Paul Richard Saunders class ligustrum as an immunomodulator and adaptogen.[7] They place much stock, moreover, in the role of astragalus as an adaptogenic immune system modulator[8], while pharmacological and animal studies show that it has significant immune enhancing properties.[9] Clinical trials have proven that eleuthero, for its part, enhances immune function, especially natural killer and T-helper cells.[10] As for reishi, two of its principal active constituents are its polysaccharides and its triterpenoids.[11] Polysaccharides, in particular, have been found, among other things, to enhance the immune system.[12],[13]

Deep Immune and Cancer

In TCM, cancer is understood to result from both a weakness of qi and from pathological qi. From this perspective, cancer treatment in TCM focuses on tonifying qias well as detoxifying pathological qi. As mentioned above, the TCM approach to cancer is termed “fuzheng” therapy, which means to support the body’s natural order.[14] Both the legacy of TCM and modern experimental work indicate that qi tonics enhance white blood cell and immune function, thus optimizing the chances of recovery from cancer.

Dr. Neil McKinney has written an influential textbook on naturopathic oncology.[15] He explains that typically chemotherapy cannot in fact destroy every cancer cell to effect a cure. The downside is that at the same time these drugs and medicines wreak havoc on the immune system. Which is where astragalus-based formulas become exceedingly important. Numerous double-blind, controlled studies have shown with a high degree of scientific rigour that such formulas mitigate the harm done by chemotherapy. From his own experience, founded on long years of clinical practice, McKinney provides a resounding confirmation of the effectiveness and utility of an astragalus-based formula. In fact, he asserts that, “It can double the chance of a good response, while reducing side-effects by one-third to one-half.  My current favorite formula is Astragalus Combination from St. Francis Herb Farmalso called Deep Immune formula”[16]

In correspondence with St. Francis Herb Farm, McKinney notes that for years he has recommended Deep Immune not only for chemo, but for anyone suffering from a poor immune system. He remarks that Deep Immune is “absolutely remarkable” for the help it provides to those who are prone to catching colds and flu and for its ability to deal with infections that are difficult to shake, as well as wounds that are hard to heal. As he says, “It is my favourite immune support and has been since the folks at SFHF created it.”

In terms of positive benefits for supporting the immunity of those individuals with cancer, there is a large body of corroborative research not only on astragalus[17],[18], but on several of the other herbs in this formula.[19],[20],[21],[22],[23],[24],[25],[26],[27],[28],[29]

Scientific Validation of Deep Immune as a Formula

St. Francis Herb Farm has teamed up with researchers at the University of British Columbia and elsewhere to conduct a preliminary study into the immunological benefits of Deep Immune. The results of this undertaking are now being prepared for publication and are a gratifying validation of everything our customers have been saying for over a quarter of a century.

In the study, it was found that male mice with prostate cancer (“TRAMP” mice) that were given Deep Immune over a period of time had “significantly suppressed” cancer progression. The researchers attributed this benefit to an increase in immune function, specifically in terms of splenocytes. In addition, higher numbers of immune cells were noted. Specifically, in this regard there was an increase in the number of T cells, macrophages, and dendritic cells. These results are exciting and demonstrate the therapeutic potential of Deep Immune.

A Classic Fusion of Science and Tradition

Deep Immune remains one of St. Francis Herb Farm’s signature formulas. Solidly rooted in a growing body of corroborative scientific research, it is probably a perfect illustration of the way in which our co-founder, Jeremy Rivett-Carnac, coupled his inventive genius with a deep and instinctive practical understanding of the wisdom inherent in two of the great world traditions of natural medicine.




(amount of powder extract per 340 mg vegicap)


(per 1 ml)

Astragalus membranaceus, root

68 mg 5:1 (QCE 340 mg)

0.2 ml (QCE 50 mg)

Codonopsis pilosula, root

51 mg 5:1 (QCE 255 mg)

0.15 ml (QCE 37.5 mg)

Eleutherococcus senticosus, root

51 mg 5:1 (QCE 255 mg)

0.15 ml (QCE 37.5 mg)

Ganoderma lucidum, fruiting body

51 mg 5:1 (QCE 255 mg)

0.15 ml (QCE 37.5 mg)

Ligustrum lucidum, fruit

34 mg 5:1 (QCE 255 mg)

0.1 ml (QCE 25 mg)

Schisandra chinensis, fruit

34 mg 5:1 (QCE 255 mg)

0.1 ml (QCE 25 mg)

Atractylodes macrocephala, rhizome

34 mg 5:1 (QCE 255 mg)

0.1 ml (QCE 25 mg)

Glycyrrhiza glabra, root and stolon

17 mg 5:1 (QCE 255 mg)

0.05 ml (QCE 12.5 mg)

Non-Medicinal Ingredients (capsules): Hypromellose (vegicap), Magnesium stearate, Organic maltodextrin

Non-Medicinal Ingredients (tincture): Distilled water, Alcohol

Contains no: Dairy, egg, wheat, soy, artificial preservatives, artificial colours, artificial sweeteners

Dose (capsules)

Adults: Take 2 capsules 3 times daily on an empty stomach.

Dose (tincture)

Adults: Take 2.5-3 ml (75-90 drops) 2 times daily in a little water on an empty stomach.

Duration of Use (capsules and tincture)

Consult a health care practitioner for use beyond 4 weeks. 

Health Canada Approved Use Claims (capsules)

Used in Herbal Medicine: (1) to help maintain a healthy immune system; (2) as a tonic to relieve general debility

Health Canada Approved Use Claims (tincture)

Used in Herbal Medicine as an adaptogen to help maintain a healthy immune system and to help increase resistance to stress (e.g. in case of mental and physical fatigue related to stress)

Cautions and Warnings (capsules)

Consult a health care practitioner before use: if you are pregnant or breastfeeding;ifyou have a liver disorder, an acute infection, or an autoimmune disorder.Consult a health care practitioner if symptoms worsen or persist. 

Cautions and Warnings (tincture)

Consult a health care practitioner before use: ifyou are pregnant or breastfeeding; ifyou have any type of acute infection.

Contraindications (capsules)

Do not use: if you are an organ transplant recipient; if you have hypokalemia, high blood pressure, or a kidney or cardiovascular disorder; if you are taking thiazide diuretics, cardiac glycosides, corticosteroids, stimulant laxatives or other medications that may aggravate electrolyte imbalance. 

Contraindications (tincture)

Do not use if you have high blood pressure.

Known Adverse Reactions (tincture)

Hypersensitivity (e.g. allergy) has been known to occur, in which case discontinue use.

Quality Summary

Our products are all third party tested to ensure the absence of pesticides, microbes, and heavy metals and to confirm purity and stability.

For more information on deep immune check out our monograph how deep immune can be a immune help for cancer. 

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Who is it for

  • Those who want to fortify and balance their immune system for general good health
  • Anyone desiring an increased resistance to flu, colds, and other infections
  • People in need of a supportive therapy for cancer treatment

How it helps

  • An adaptogenic powerhouse and immune system balancer
  • A classic combination of herbs to prevent and mitigate disease 
  • Restores normal adrenal function, improves stamina, overcomes fatigue, and helps body cope with stress, overwork, and chronic illness


[1] - Q Zhang and HY Hsu, AIDS and Chinese Medicine, New Canaan, CT: Oriental Healing Arts Institute, 1995

[2] - Frank Lesser (18 September 1980), “Letters: Eleutherococcus,” New Scientist87 (1219): 885

[3] - K Wing & S Sakaguchi, “Regulatory T cells exert checks and balances on self tolerance and autoimmunity.” Nat Immunol 2010; 11: 7–13.

[4] - H Selye, Stress without Distress, New York, NY: New American Library, 1974

[5] - Eric Yarnell, “Compendium of Pharmacological Actions of Medicinal Plants and Their Constituents,” 2012. Accessed online November 22, 2016 from:

[6] - David Hoffmann, Medical Herbalism, Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2003, p. 443.

[7] - Anthony Godfrey and Paul Richard Saunders, “Ligustrum lucidum,” Principles and Practices of Botanical Medicine, Volume I: Botanical Medicine Monographs,Toronto: CCNM Press, 2010, pp. 427-428.

[8] - Anthony Godfrey and Paul Richard Saunders, “Astragalus membranaceus,” Principles and Practices of Botanical Medicine, Volume I: Botanical Medicine Monographs,Toronto: CCNM Press, 2010, pp. 416-417.

[9] - Kerry Bone and Simon Mills, “Astragalus membranaceus,” Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine, Second Edition, Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2013, pp. 381-392.

[10] - Kerry Bone and Simon Mills, “Siberian ginseng,”Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine, Second Edition, Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone; 2013. Pp. 818-825.

[11] - Eric Yarnell et al, Clinical Botanical Medicine, Larchmont, NY: Mary Ann Liebert, 2003, p. 74.

[12] - William A Mitchell, Plant Medicine in Practice: Using the Teachings of John Bastyr, Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2003, p. 4.

[13] - S Wachtel-Galor et al, “Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi): A Medicinal Mushroom,” in Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors, Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects, 2ndedition, Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, 2011, Chapter 9.

[14] - Zhang and Hsu, op.cit.

[15] - Dr. Neil McKinney, Naturopathic Oncology: An Encyclopedic Guide for Patients and Physicians, Second Edition, Vancouver: Liaison Press, 2012.

[16] - Dr. Neil McKinney, Naturopathic Oncology: An Encyclopedic Guide for Patients and Physicians, Second Edition, Vancouver: Liaison Press, 2012.

[17] - Xinyin Wu et al, “Chinese Herbal Medicine for Improving Quality of Life Among Nonsmall Cell Lung Cancer Patients,” MedicineJanuary 2016; 95(1): 1-12.

[18] - KK Auyeung et al, “Astragalus membranaceus: A Review of its Protection Against Inflammation and Gastrointestinal Cancers,” American Journal of Chinese Medicine 2016 February; 44(1): 1-22.

[19] - GS Wu et al, “Anti-cancer properties of triterpenoids isolated from Ganoderma lucidum – a review,” Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs2013 August; 22(8): 981-92.

[20] - FF Radwan et al, “Apoptotic and Immune Restoration Effects of Ganoderic Acids Define a New Prospective for Complementary Treatment of Cancer,” Journal of Clinical and Cellular Immunology2011 December; S3:4

[21] - J Loganathan et al, “The mushroom Ganoderma lucidum suppresses breast-to-lung cancer metastasis through the inhibition of pro-invasive genes,” International Journal of Oncology2014 June; 44(6): 2009-15.

[22] - N Komosh et al, “Effect of a combination of extract from several plants on cell-mediated and humoral immunity of patients with advanced ovarian cancer,” Phytotherapy Research2006 May; 20(5):424-5.

[23] - W Cao and AG Zhao, “Prescription rules of Chinese herbal medicines in treatment of gastric cancer,” Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Xue Bao2009; 7(1):1-8

[24] - XL Zneg et al, “Immunological and hematopoietic effect of Codonopsis pilosulaon cancer patients during radiotherapy,” Zhongguo Zhong XI Yi Jie He Za Zhi1992; 12(10): 607-608, 581.

[25] - Ikhlas A Khan and Ehab A Abourashed, Leung’s Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, Third Edition, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley, 2010; pp. 420-422.

[26] - L Gao et al, “Ligustri lucidi fructus as a traditional Chinese medicine: a review of its phytochemistry and pharmacology,”Natural Product Research2015; 29(6): 493-510.

[27] - Anthony Godfrey and Paul Richard Saunders, “Ligustrum lucidum,” Principles and Practices of Botanical Medicine, Volume I: Botanical Medicine Monographs,Toronto: CCNM Press, 2010, pp. 427-428.

[28] - YLiu, F Ye, GQ Qiu, M Zhang, R Wang, QY He, Y Cai, [Effects of lactone I from Atractylodes macrocephala Koidz on cytokines and proteolysis-inducing factors in cachectic cancer patients] Di Yi Jun Yi Da Xue Xue Bao. 2005 Oct;25(10):1308-11.

[29] - PA Ayeka et al, “Immunomodulatory and anticancer potential of Gan cao (Glycyrrhiza uralensis Fisch.) polysaccharides by CT-26 colon carcinoma cell growth inhibition and cytokine IL-7 upregulation in vitro,” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine2016 July; 16:206.

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