The Back-to-School Season has started and with it comes the dreaded exposure to germs, and the resulting potential for a "case of the crud." Luckily, our plant allies are here for us! They can be of great help in getting our immune system pre-prepared.
If you are anything like me, you've probably spent many a cold-and-flu season simply treating symptoms and hoping the season takes it easy on you. However, you don't have to simply treat symptoms: you can prepare your body and immune system by taking the right kinds of herbs.
The two kinds of herbs that are important when it comes to building and modulating the immune system are alterative herbs and deep immune activators. It's possible you'll hear alterative herbs described as "blood cleansers." While these herbs don't actually help cleanse the blood, it is possible they got that nickname due to their balancing and supportive nature in all areas of the body, including blood health.
Alterative herbs help support the body's detoxification pathways, including the liver, kidneys, lymph, and skin. Some alterative herbs stimulate digestion, others are immunomodulators, and some others work by promoting the function of the liver and kidneys1.
Alterative herbs are important in supporting a healthy immune system because they help to keep the body working and functioning optimally. If the body's natural detoxification pathways are functioning well then the body can react to, clean up, and move away pathogens more efficiently. Essentially, alterative herbs help your body do what your body does — but more effectively! A few of my favorite alterative herbs include cleavers, nettles, red clover, calendula, and burdock.
Deep immune activators are the second must-have when building up and preparing the immune system for the back-to-school season. These herbs don't necessarily stimulate the immune system but are, rather, deeply supportive and modulating to the immune system, thereby supporting optimal function. They reach deep within the immune system to promote its effectiveness and support a healthy response. Two of my favorite deep immune activators are astragalus and reishi. Many medicinal mushrooms are deep immune activators — including shiitake! It's important to note that deep immune-activating herbs are not always appropriate in an acute situation — they are best as tonic herbs used over time.
Start now with some deep immune activators and alterative herbs that can help prepare the body as we enter back-to-school season. Think of these herbs as your herbal offense!
Hoffmann D. Medical herbalism: the science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press; 2003.
Jade Sullivan started her journey in natural healing as a child. She faced multiple illnesses, which gave her the unique opportunity to gain an understanding of holistic healing through first-hand experience. Jade's love of plants runs in her blood; her mother comes from a family with a long history of farming. Throughout her life, Jade's mother passed that knowledge on and helped her cultivate a deep connection with nature. In the spring of 2016 Jade started pursuing her certification in Herbalism. Since finishing school, she has continued to enroll in different programs to grow in holistic wellness. With her Herbalism Certification she gained employment at WishGarden Herbs in the Customer Service department. And in the fall of 2018 she began schooling for her Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition — to obtain her Registered Dietician Nutritionist licensure. With horticulture, aromatherapy, herbalism, and emotional/spiritual healing, she hopes to spread a positive impact on the world around her.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or sell any product.