After posting the article on natural flu protection, I received many requests regarding the particular immune system strategy that I practice. The three plants I discussed previously (dandelion, black currant, and ginseng) all contain compounds that support a healthy immune system, and while I do incorporate them into my herbal program on occasion, there are a few other powerful organisms that I ingest on a daily basis.
Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus)
Chaga is a fungus that grows on birch trees in the cooler circumpolar areas of the Northern Hemisphere. Traditionally it has been used as an herbal adaptogen in Siberian and Asian medicine, and has recently gained popularity in North America. A few key compounds found in chaga include melanin, polysaccharides, triterpenoids, and polyphenols, all of which have been researched for their antioxidant, anti-tumor, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory effects (1,2).
Living in the northern part of the United States, I am fortunate to have access to wild chaga. I ingest it in two forms as a staple of my herbal program: dual-extracted tincture and hot water decoction (tea). Hardly a day goes by where I do not consume chaga mushroom, for I know the value that this tonic medicine possesses.
Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma tsugae or Ganoderma lucidum)
Like chaga, reishi mushroom has a long and rich history as a medicine, backed currently by a large amount of scientific research. Two notable compounds in reishi include polysaccharides and triterpenoids, both of which have been studied for their anti-tumor, antioxidant, anti-cancer, antiviral, and liver-protecting effects (3,4).
Both Ganoderma tsugae and Ganoderma lucidum grow wildly in my area, although I tend to consume more of the former. Like chaga, I ingest the dual-extracted tincture and hot water decoction on a routine basis (almost daily).
I understand that these medicinal mushrooms do not inhabit every ecosystem, and you may reside in an area that lacks their presence. If this is the case, do not fret, for you have a few options. Chaga and reishi can be purchased from a high-quality supplier in many forms (dried, capsules, tinctures). If you’d like to save money, you can harvest other immuno-supportive plants within your ecosystem.
I am a believer in the theory that all the food and medicine we need grow within our local ecosystem. Wild-crafted chaga and reishi mushrooms are fundamental to my immune system strategy for two reasons: they have been used traditionally by various cultures and they are very well researched. Although my personal program is simple, it is extremely effective in keeping my body healthy. I do not wait until I feel ill before I begin treating myself. Rather, I consume herbal tonics on a daily basis to keep my immune system finely-tuned and vigilant at all times.
This seems to fly in the face of conventional wisdom. The mainstream media, through advertisements and commercials, consistently promote synthetic drugs as treatment for illness. Rarely, if at all, do we hear about all the preventative ways we can keep ourselves well. Instead of food, medicine, movement, and exercise, we are pummeled with vaccines and drugs as promises for improved health. A wiser approach, however, would focus less on treatment, and more on natural prevention.
Understand the importance of an immune system strategy, and view it as an insurance policy against sickness and disease. Familiarize yourself with the natural medicines that grow all around you. Work with them to strengthen your body, develop resilience against stressors, and enhance your natural immunity.
What strategies do you plan to implement this season?
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