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February 4, 2022
The answer might surprise you! While all the normal self-care tips you’ve already heard of certainly do apply (sleep, healthy diet, & daily exercise), you may not be aware of the herbs that can give your immune system a considerable boost, particularly in times of stress on your body and mind. Stress (especially chronic) can significantly affect how well you can defend yourself against infections. Research has shown a direct correlation between one’s state of mind and one’s state of health.[i] This is why in times of increased stress – be it physical, nutritional, psychological, emotional, or environmental – it is critical to adhere to an optimal self-care routine, which includes integrating immune supportive supplements, for a better health outcome.
Astragalus is one of my top plants to always have on hand, and the first one that I go to when I’m starting to feel run down or am pushing myself too hard. It not only protects against the cold and flu and other infections, but also counteracts immunosuppression induced by physical exercise, which is great if you’re someone who also works out.[ii]
As an adaptogen, astragalus helps the body better handle stress and supports the immune system in a number of ways. Astragalus is a known Th1 activator, meaning that it is able to activate white blood cells to fight against viral and bacterial pathogens. It also has the ability to modulate the immune system – like a tuning fork, it keeps the immune system working in harmony.[iii] Check with your practitioner before taking astragalus, if you’re managing an autoimmune condition.
Astragalus can be taken any time of the day and is available in a range of forms in the Botanica line including Concentrated Liquid Capsules, Liquid Herb Tincture, as well as in the NEW Botanica Perfect Protein Elevated (PPE) Immune Supporter blend. This blend provides a full dose of organic plant protein, along with 4 immune support supplements including whole food vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and astragalus. PPE Immune Supporter can easily be incorporated into your morning smoothie, post-exercise protein shake, or yummy snack-time smoothie bowl. You might want to choose your astragalus supplement based on what form suits you best.
Reishi is a mushroom that you want to take daily for building resilience. It is a superstar, used traditionally in Eastern Medicine for thousands of years as an immune and longevity tonic. Reishi has an incredible nutritional profile, offering over 400 beneficial compounds, which have been shown to help the immune system to both attack and adapt against pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and other invaders.[iv]
Similar to astragalus, it is a stress balancing adaptogen and I love reishi for it’s anti-inflammatory properties to boot. Research shows that it may reduce chronic inflammation and allergies which are a nuisance to many of us year-round.[v]
Botanica has many Reishi offerings, including; Seven Medicinal Mushrooms liquid blend, or Immune Strength liquid herb tincture, which can be used as needed when sick, or more long term to help prevent infections and relieve stress and anxiety. Our Perfect Protein Elevated (PPE) Adrenal Support formula is an ideal, nutritious, and low-calorie way to start your day, while giving your immune system and adrenals a much needed helping hand.
And what if I told you that Reishi was the mushroom that can help you kick your caffeine habit?! Botanica’s Reishi Hot Chocolate is the best option to replace your morning java, while you destress, support immunity, and downregulate inflammation.
Echinacea is ideal when you feel the first signs of a cold or flu, sniffle, or tickly throat. It is a well-known herb for the immune system with powerful antioxidant and antiviral properties. Echinacea strengthens the immune system, to combat infections and viruses, mitigate the intensity of infections, as well as help the body recover faster. Made from fresh Echinacea Angustifolia Root, Echinacea Purpurea Root and Flower, as well as Echinacea Pallida Root, Botanica’s Super Echinacea Liquid Herb provides full-spectrum immune support throughout the cold and flu season. It is ideal for acute viral and bacterial infections such as colds, flu, bronchitis, tonsillitis, laryngitis, and sinus infections. It’s also perfect when taken internally, for the treatment of inner ear infections in adults and children.
For those looking for complex blends, Botanica also offers an Echinacea Goldenseal Liquid Herb which is ideal for sinus infection, ear infection, postnasal drip, and seasonal allergies; as well as a Sore Throat Spray, which is anti-viral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory to help quickly soothe throat pain.
Olive leaf is a great option if you’ve been around someone who is sick, and/or if you tend to develop cold sores when you’re run down. Olive leaf is rich in powerful antiviral, antibacterial, antiparasitic, antifungal, and antioxidant properties.[vi] It improves immunity, enhances antioxidant protection, and supports overall health and well-being. Olive leaf is rich in antioxidants like oleuropein, that works against viruses which cause cold sores, influenza, mono, diarrhea and even HIV.
You can take Olive leaf daily over the long term as a tonic, or as needed for acute care. Botanica offers a full olive leaf extract with Botanica’s Olive Leaf Liquid Complex, which supplies 24 mg of oleuropein per dose to help strengthen your immune system. Olive leaf extract liquid can also be conveniently added to a warm herbal tea and adds a little zing to your beverage. Botanica also offers Olive Leaf in Concentrated Liquid Capsules for convenience. For those dealing with scratchy throats, Botanica’s Olive Leaf Throat Spray may be just what the Naturopathic Doctor ordered to provide immune system support and calm sore throats and coughs.
Oregano oil comes in when you need an extra layer to fight off your infection, because it is not resolving quickly or it’s getting worse. It is another powerful herb for the immune system that has been shown to be effective at preventing and treating a wide range of infections.[vii] Indeed, oregano contains a range of bioactive compounds – notably carvacrol and thymol – which possess strong antibacterial and antifungal properties. Carvacrol, in fact, has been the focus of over 800 studies on its use as an alternative to antibiotics,[viii] as well as in the treatment of bacterial infections, fungal infections, parasites, viruses, inflammation, allergies, and others.[ix]
Botanica offers two potent Oregano Oil Liquid Extracts, blended with organic olive oil, to provide just the right strength for your body’s needs. It’s a great go-to for a range of infections including cold and flus, traveler’s diarrhea, yeast infections, and even UTIs. You can choose from Regular Strength 1:3 ratio or in Extra Strength 1:1 ratio depending on how hard you’d like to hit the infection and how sensitive you are to herbs in general. For those who prefer the convenience of capsules without the strong flavour, Botanica also offers concentrated Oregano Oil in Liquid Caps.
Fitting herbs into your daily routine looks different for different people. For example, capsules are convenient and have no aftertaste, tinctures allow you to adjust the dose really easily. Powders can easily become part of your daily smoothie routine, without needing to swallow a pill. The choice is yours. What is most important is to work with a therapeutic dose that is meaningful enough to have an impact on your body. Botanica provides Health Canada approved doses in all products, so that you can achieve the results that you’re looking for, no matter which form you take. It is always best practice to check with your practitioner if you’re concerned that your infection is getting worse or lasting longer than expected.
[i] Dragoş, D., & Tănăsescu, M. D. (2010). The effect of stress on the defense systems. Journal of medicine and life, 3(1), 10–18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3019042/
[ii] Latour, E., Arlet, J., Latour, E.E. et al. Standardized astragalus extract for attenuation of the immunosuppression induced by strenuous physical exercise: randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 18, 57 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-021-00425-5
[iii] Li X, Qu L, Dong Y, et al. A review of recent research progress on the astragalus genus. Molecules. 2014;19(11):18850-18880. Published 2014 Nov 17. doi:10.3390/molecules191118850, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6270929/
[iv] Wachtel-Galor, S., Yuen, J., Buswell, J.A., and Benzie, I.F.F. “Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi)”. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects, 2nd Ed. 2011. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92757/
[v] Recent Pat Inflamm Allergy Drug Discov 2014;8(2):104-17. doi: 10.2174/1872213×08666140619110657.
Suppression of inflammatory and allergic responses by pharmacologically potent fungus Ganoderma lucidum https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24948193/
[vi] Sun, W., Frost, B., & Liu, J. (2017). Oleuropein, unexpected benefits!. Oncotarget, 8(11), 17409. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.15538. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5392257/
[viii] Lu, M., Dai, T., Murray, C. K., & Wu, M. X. (2018). Bactericidal Property of Oregano Oil Against Multidrug-Resistant Clinical Isolates. Frontiers in microbiology, 9, 2329. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2018.02329.
[ix] Pilau, M. R., Alves, S. H., Weiblen, R., Arenhart, S., Cueto, A. P., & Lovato, L. T. (2011). Antiviral activity of the Lippia graveolens (Mexican oregano) essential oil and its main compound carvacrol against human and animal viruses. Brazilian journal of microbiology : [publication of the Brazilian Society for Microbiology], 42(4), 1616–1624. https://doi.org/10.1590/S1517-838220110004000049