Immune Harmony Herbal Extract

An overactive or underactive immune system creates problems within the body. An overactive immune system can present with allergies, acne, eczema and even arthritis. An underactive immune system can cause illnesses and infections; chronic and acute.

The goal of any herbal warrior is to find balance. Using adaptogens and immunomodulators and immunostimulants, we can hope to achieve harmony and balance.

According to the Naturopathic Herbalist:

“Adaptogen: Herbs in this group work through some hormonal modulation of the immune response. The field of Psychoneuroimmunology describes the numerous endocrine functions that can be effected by stress, our mental/emotional health, and it is largely at this levels the herbs demonstrate their actions. For example, adaptogens exert their effects through saponins (steroidal & triperpendoi) via the adrenal glands which is foundational component of healthy immune status. Herbal examples include:

Immunomodulator: Immune modulation denotes any effect a herb will have on immune system responsiveness. For example, these herbs may stimulate T-supressor cells (thereby reduce immune resistance), and stimulate macrophages and natural killer cells. Others will enhance the production of antibodies within acting as antigens themselves. Immunomodulators have potential contributions to the treatment of malignancies as they play a central role in supporting those cells involved in our immunological defenses.

Immunostimulant: Immune stimulants lead to a non-specific stimulation of our immunological defences. They generally do not effect our immune memory cells, and because their pharmacological effects fade relatively quickly, they must be administered at regular intervals or continuously. These herbs are more akin to conventional drug therapies for infections, and are valuable options when wanting to boost the body’s innate immune mechanisms in immunocompromised patients and in autoimmune disease.”

Immune Harmony Herbal Extract

  • 1 part Eleuthero root (dried or fresh) (80% alcohol)
  • 1 part Astragalus root (dried or fresh) (80% alcohol)
  • 1 part Licorice root (dried or fresh) (80% alcohol)
  • 1 part Ashwagandha root (dried or fresh) (80% alcohol)
  • Alcohol (at least 42% for leaves, flowers and stems, brandy, vodka; 80% for roots and barks, Everclear)
  • Sterilised jar and lid

Grind or chop the plant material as finely as possible. I use my juicer to grind the dried plant material and my grain mill to grind the dried roots.

Add the plant material to the jar: Dried- fill 1/2 of jar

                                                            Fresh- fill the entire jar

Add the alcohol. Fill to the brim. Keep an eye on it for the next several minutes and keep adding alcohol until all the plant material is covered.

Seal well and label with the plant name, date, percent and type of alcohol and the date 6 weeks out.

Shake the jar daily and store in a cool, dark place.

After 6 weeks, strain out plant material and decant the tincture into sterilised bottles for use.

Label bottles with the tincture name.

Adult dose: 3ml 3x day as a preventative, or 5 ml 3-5x day during the onset of a cold or flu.

Medicinal actions:

Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus): adaptogen, antioxidant, immunostimulant, anti-inflammatory, rejuvenative

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceous): immune enhancing, adaptogen, tonic, adrenal tonic, hypotensive, cardiotonic, antiviral, antibacterial.

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra): adaptogen, tonic, adrenal tonic, antiallergenic

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): adaptogen, tonic, immunomodulator

 

Adaptogens:

  • Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng)
  • Panax ginseng (Chinese/Korean Ginseng)
  • Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice)

Immunomodulators:

  • Astragalus membranaceus (Astragalus)
  • Codonopsis tangshen (Codonopsis)
  • Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi mushroom)
  • Lentinus edodes (Shitake mushroom)
  • Trametes versicolor (Turkey tail)
  • Ligustrum lucidum (Privet)
  • Schisandra chinensis (Schizandra)

Immunostimulants:

  • Allium sativum (Garlic)
  • Baptisia tinctoria (Wild Indigo)
  • Echinacea sp. (Echinacea)
  • Thuja occidentalis (Thuja)
  • Usnea sp. (Old Man’s Beard)

 

Herbal Energetics: Damp

If we can agree that a cucumber is moist and cooling while a chili pepper is hot and drying then we can see that we each have a unique combination of Hot, Dry, Cold and Damp, plants and humans alike.

 

Imagine a sponge. When dry, it is stiff and not easily bent. Passively, as it takes in water, it becomes pliable, resilient, able to be coerced into a different position. It can withstand a good, solid wringing because it has the support of the moisture within it, strengthening its fibers.

One cannot make a sand castle from mere sand. Moisture is required to hold its form, to keep it in place. Herbal remedies with a moistening quality help to increase flexibility and mobility of the body. They are often used when there is stiffness, tension, tightness or constriction due to a lack of fluids thus allowing there to be pliancy.

Again, my 5th and 6th graders were learning last term about solutions. In order to make a solution, you need a solute (some solid substance) and a solvent (some liquid) in which to dissolve the solute. These combine to make a solution. Water (or another solvents) is required to dissolve and assimilate the solvent. Applying this to our bodies, if we start out in a dehydrated or dry tissue state, our tissues do not have the moisture required to absorb nutrients. This dehydration of the tissues also stymies the natural flow of toxins out of the body as well. Dry tissues leads to stagnation. This stagnation can be a result of a lack of water or oils.  Oils are of particular importance for the endocrine system as many of our hormones are soluble in fat or oils and thus, require them for transportation through the body.

 

To quote Matthew Wood again:

“[Damp in the first degree] causes substances to move through internal passages. Second degree moistens and lubricates surfaces. Third degree reduces hardness. Fourth degree nourishes the flesh.”

According to Materia Medica Monthly:

“We can see here that agents which are moistening help to lubricate and moisten the passageways of the body so nutrients and toxins can be moved through more effectively. We also see that from an excess of dryness there can be a hardening of the tissues which is softened by a moist remedy (this is the true definition of an emollient remedy- softening hardness). When dryness gets to a critical state, tissues can become malnourished and atrophic, thus they can help to directly nourish the flesh and rebuild a weakened and deficient tissue, organ or system. Moistening remedies are contraindicated anytime there are signs of dampness accumulated within the system. This could be nausea, edema, swellings, damp cough, damp/lax urinary tract infections, or other general damp signs like a swollen damp coated tongue.

Most plants with moistening qualities are demulcents, an action which moistens dryness. Other herbs with a moistening quality move fluid through tissues and out, thus moistening tissues as they expel fluid from the body. Not all moistening herbs are slimy, but most have a recognisable sweetness or meatiness and often are oily.

Partial list of herbs with moistening qualities and their primary organ affinities:

Herb                                                                                       Primary Organ System
Aloe (Aloe vera)                                                                          digestive
American Ginseng (Panax quinqefolius)                              systemic
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceous)                             respiratory
Burdock (Arctium lappa)                                                         lymphatics, skin (oils)
Chickweed (Stellaria media)                                                   systemic
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.)                                             digestive
Cleavers (Gallium aparine)                                                     urinary tract
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)                                           mucosal membranes
Dragonroot (Smilacina racemosa)                                         joints
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)                            digestive
Goji berries (Lycium barbarum)                                            systemic
Irish Moss (Chondrus crispus)                                                respiratory
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)                                                  respiratory
Marshmallow (Althea officinalis)                                           mucosal membranes
Milky Oats seed (Avena sativa)                                               nerves
Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)                                                 respiratory, joints
Plantain (Plantago major)                                                        mucosal membranes
Pleurisy root (Asclepias tuberosa)                                          respiratory, joints
Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)                                             respiratory, lymphatics
Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus)                                          mucosal membranes, systemic
Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)                                                    mucosal membranes
Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum spp.)                                       joints
Sweet Cicely (Osmorrhiza occidentalis)                               respiratory

When to use Moistening Herbs:

1. Joint pain; stiffness

2. Tension, stress

3. Muscle pain

4. Gastrointestinal disorders; constipation

5. Mental illness, anxiety, depression

6. Dry skin, hair

7. Lethargy; tiredness; lack of motivation

8. Anemia

Of course, your natural energetic state as well as your acute energetic state should be taken into consideration when choosing herbs of a moistening nature. Adding damp to a person exhibiting accumulated dampness would exacerbate the problem.

During cold and flu season, your respiratory tissue state will help you to identify the right herb to use as a remedy.

 

Herbal Energetics: Cold

If we can agree that a cucumber is moist and cooling while a chili pepper is hot and drying then we can see that we each have a unique combination of Hot, Dry, Cold and Damp, plants and humans alike.

 

Remember back to primary school and learning about molecules and the states of matter? We learnt that with heat comes energy and invigorated molecules separating from each other. The addition of cold rendered molecules in stasis, effectively changing a liquid into a solid.

Cold brings slowness, closure, a withdrawing and coming to a stop. Imagine a hot summer day, the insects flying around, sweaty people fanning themselves, the noise of children playing and laughing and the sound of airplanes coming from a clear blue sky. Contrast that with a deep dark winter’s day; not a soul to be seen; the snow-covered world insulated from sound; closed up houses, seemingly in permanent stasis; peace and tranquility.

When we are cold, we hold ourselves more tightly, we wrap ourselves up, we cuddle in close to a loved one. We wear socks. We curl up on the couch. When molecules are contained and submitted to cold, that is exactly what they do; they couple more tightly together and become less active.

Herbs that are cold in nature are used to decrease excessive activity in our tissues, to slow down degenerative processes in our body, thicken up fluids in the body, close up pores and slow down bodily processes, in general.

To quote Matthew Wood again on the 4 degrees of cold:

“[Cold in the first degree] lessens
heat from exposure to the sun. Salad greens are considered cold in the first degree. Second degree thickens fluids and reduces internal heat. Third degree restrains the outward flow of fluids and matters. Fourth degree prevents “vapors” from rising upwards. Vapors are analogous to “rebellious qi” in traditional Chinese medicine. They are energy that is rising upward against the flow of nature. They include excessive coughing, vomiting, and menstrual cramps. Dizziness, fainting, swooning, hysteria, and PMS can be caused by vapors. Agents cold in the fourth degree stupefy the senses to ease violent pain and reduce mania, nervousness, restlessness, and insomnia.”

Plants that are cold in the 4th degree depress and shut down systems in a dramatic, maybe life-threatening way. I am imagining Opium.

Whereas a heating remedy can be thought of as a stimulant, a cooling remedy is a depressant. Taken to remedy heat or over-stimulation: often marked by redness, inflammation, tenderness or pain, cooling herbs serve to depress or suppress functionality in one or more vital systems of the body.

Plants that are cooling are marked by distinct tastes and sensations. Cooling bitters are easy to identify as they are taken to reduce gastrointestinal heat, cause a cooling sensation throughout the body (often accompanied by a shiver) and cause bowel elimination.

Partial list of herbs with cooling qualities:

Blue Flag (Iris versicolor)
Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata)
Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Cleavers (Galium aparine)
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea)
Gentian (Gentiana lutea)
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)
Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium)
Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
Red Raspberry (Rubus ideaeus)
Red Root (Ceanothus americanus)
Rose (Rosa spp.)
Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)
Wild Cherry (Prunus serotina)
Wild Lettuce (Lactuca virosa)
Willow (Salix alba)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Hops (Humulus lupulus)

When to use Cooling Herbs:

1. Digestive issues; heartburn; IBS

2. Fevers/infection

3. High blood pressure

4. Inflammation/pain

5. Mood swings/anxiety

6. Urinary dysfunction/infection

7. Stressful situations

Of course, your natural energetic state as well as your acute energetic state should be taken into consideration when choosing herbs of a cooling nature. Adding cold to an chilled person would exacerbate the problem.

During cold and flu season, your respiratory tissue state will help you to identify the right herb to use as a remedy.

 

Cold First Aid Herbal Extract

During cold and flu season, it’s important to be prepared. This season, my whole family got the flu. It has been years since we have had the flu, and all of us at the same time, that has never happened. Thanks to preparedness and our Herbal First Aid Kit, we didn’t have to go to the doctor or even the pharmacy.

At the first sign of cold or flu, we take Elderberry SyrupFever Doctor Tea and this Cold First Aid tincture. This tincture boosts the immune system while relieving symptoms of a cold or flu. It also tastes pretty good, an added bonus!

Cold First Aid Herbal Extract

  • 2 parts Elderberries (dried or fresh) (42% alcohol)
  • 2 parts Elderflower (dried or fresh) (42% alcohol)
  • 1 part Oregano (dried or fresh) (42% alcohol)
  • 2 parts Echinacea root (dried or fresh) (80% alcohol)
  • 1 part Licorice root (dried or fresh) (80% alcohol)
  • Alcohol (at least 42% for leaves, flowers and stems, brandy, vodka; 80% for roots and barks, Everclear)
  • Sterilised jar and lid

Grind or chop the plant material as finely as possible. I use my juicer to grind the dried plant material and my grain mill to grind the dried roots.

Add the plant material to the jar: Dried- fill 1/2 of jar

                                                            Fresh- fill the entire jar

Add the alcohol. Fill to the brim. Keep an eye on it for the next several minutes and keep adding alcohol until all the plant material is covered.

Seal well and label with the plant name, date, percent and type of alcohol and the date 6 weeks out.

Shake the jar daily and store in a cool, dark place.

After 6 weeks, strain out plant material and decant the tincture into sterilised bottles for use.

Label bottles with the tincture name.

Adult dose: 3ml 3x day as a preventative, or 5 ml 3-5x day during the onset of a cold or flu.

Medicinal actions:

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra): adaptogen, immunostimulant, decongestant, antiviral, antioxidant

Elderflower (Sambucus nigra): antiviral, antifungal, antimicrobial, decongestant, relaxant

Oregano (Origanum marjoram): tonic, diaphoretic, antiviral, antioxidant, expectorant.

Echinacea (Echinacea): anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, immunostimulant, diaphoretic, antiviral, antioxidant, vulnerary.

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra): demulcent, expectorant, anti-inflammatory, adaptogen, antitussive, antiviral.

Saying Hello to Old Friends

I’m not my best self in winter. The gray days here last from October through March. The garden is covered in snow and ice, is brown and gray and mushy. Blech.

No one lives in our neighbourhood in winter. Ok, they live in their houses, but they don’t come out…ever.

My heart feels covered in ice and snow and I can’t find myself. I’m buried somewhere hibernating while my other self, the shell goes through the day living my life.

Today the sun came out. It wasn’t freezing outside. And I gardened…and gardened.

I felt the sun on my skin. I took my jacket and hat off.

I said hello to neighbours (people exist!) and I talked for over an hour to my next door neighbour and friend. We told each other that we had missed each other. Our houses share a wall, but we might as well have lived on other planets for these past five months.

 

I said hello to plant friends popping up out of the ground. Welcome back, Echinacea, valerian, mint, catnip, comfrey, rhubarb, tansy, bleeding heart, blueberry and so many others.

Welcome back, Krista.

 

 

 

Antibiotic Syrup

Just days before my eldest daughter was due to fly to Japan to work and create at an artists’ colony, she developed a painful toe infection. This very same day, my husband’s flu took a turn for the worse and he was complaining of bronchitis-like symptoms. Before we went to the doctor, getting antibiotics (something we really don’t want) and minor surgery for my daughter, I decided to get out the big guns.

This syrup is powerful, useful internally to boost the immune system and kill the unwanted microbes, as well as topically as an antibiotic poultice.

Antibiotic Syrup

  • 5 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 3 T freshly grated ginger
  • 2 T turmeric powder or 2 T freshly grated turmeric
  • 1 large jar of local organic honey

Crush the garlic with the heel of your hand using the flat blade of a knife.

Leave the garlic to allow the allicin in the garlic to bloom, 15 minutes.

Chop up the onion and grate the ginger and turmeric.

Add everything to the honey in a pot.

Heat over very low heat (do not allow it to simmer, bubble or boil) for 1 hour.

Strain and pour back into the honey jar.

You can leave everything in the honey if you would like. We do this and eat the cloves, ginger and onions as well.

Dosing:

Ingested: 1T 3-5x/day during acute symptoms

1T 2x/day as preventative (during cold and flu season)

Poultice: apply the paste to the infected or inflamed area. If it burns there is too much garlic, apply it diluted. Leave on for at least 20 minutes.

 

Medicinal Actions:

Garlic: anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, antimicrobial, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal

Honey: anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant, vulnerary, antimicrobial, anti-fungal

Onion: anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-fungal, vulnerary

Turmeric: anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant, vulnerary

Ginger: anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant, anti-fungal, vulnerary

 

After only a day, my daughter’s toe looks tons better and my husband is feeling much better, his lungs aren’t hurting him.

Update: After travelling and being under great stress for over 30 hours, Rebekah’s toe again looks worse. I talked with her today and asked her to get the ingredients to make this syrup. She is making it tonight and I will let you know how it goes.

Here are pics of Rebekah making the syrup today in Sapporo, Japan. She’s going to take a dose internally tonight and as a poultice on her toe tonight. So, I hope to see some improvement even tomorrow morning for her.

Rebekah’s toe with the infected granuloma at the beginning of the Antibiotic Syrup treatment (L) and then after 4 days on the treatment (R). It doesn’t hurt now. She will continue on the treatment for another week. The brownish goo you see is a yarrow poultice that she wears at night.

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Rebekah marinating her toe in Antibiotic Syrup

Thyme Salve

Thyme is used quite often in our household. We use Thyme Cough Syrup to help with coughing, Clear Chest Salve as a chest poultice for a painful, hacking cough or if bronchitis is present, and as an antibacterial ointment for any infection. I drank copious amounts of thyme and sage tea as an internal antibacterial to stave off infection after I burnt my leg.

We apply Thyme Salve to every infection we have and it is awesome!

During cold and flu season and depending on my respiratory tissue state, we will use one of our chest salves. This Thyme Salve is excellent as a chest poultice for when you need help clearing mucous from the respiratory tract and lungs. The pulmonary uses of thyme are based on its antiseptic and anti-bacterial actions combined with the expectorant and spasmolytic actions. This is particularly helpful during acute symptoms for respiratory distress, especially bronchitis.

Thyme Salve

  • 1 cup (240 ml) Thyme-infused olive oil Infused Oil Recipe
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) beeswax
  • 20 drops: Eucalyptus essential oil

In a double boiler (or a pot nestled in a larger pot filled with a bit of water) over medium heat, add the oils and beeswax. 

Stir until the beeswax melts and is fully incorporated.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a moment.

Add the essential oils. Stir.

Pour into clean and sterilised jars.

Medicinal Actions:

Thyme: Anti-septic, anti-helmintic (anti-parasite), anti-viral, anti-bacterial, astringent, expectorant, secretolitic (decreases over-secretions), spasmolytic, anti-fungal

Eucalyptus: antibacterial, decongestant, affinity for respiratory system, anti-inflammatory