By Anna Marie Beauchemin / Clinical Herbalist + Holistic Nutritionist
People generally think of supporting the immune system on an as-needed basis, but what if we shifted our perspective? While the concept of nourishing immunity can involve giving this vital system an extra boost when needed, a focus on consistent support rather than bolstering it up when needed, is a more holistic approach. When we switch our attention to nourishing rather than boosting, we unlock a whole new level of caring for this vital system in a comprehensive way.
While immune boosting herbals can be useful when we feel a bug coming on, the concept of deep immune nourishment is my preferred course of action for taking care of the immune system. By incorporating adaptogenic herbs that are also immune nourishing into our daily regimens, we have the opportunity to support this system from the ground up. Immune-supportive foods and a diet rich in a diversity of food-based vitamins and minerals are other great ways to support this system, but today, we’ll focus on two of my favorite herbals.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)
Reishi, a well-known medicinal mushroom prized for its use not only as an immune-supportive herbal but as an adaptogen as well, has the dualistic nature of simultaneously supporting both our nervous and immune systems. My favorite ways to take Reishi are as a powder in warm drinks, or as a decoction, using the dried slices to infuse into broths and teas.
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)
A popular herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine, astragalus is a mighty root with a big affinity for the immune system. While I can’t speak to the traditional use of this herb from the TCM perspective (though it is very much worth looking into), I can speak to its use as a deep immune nourisher, adaptogen, and supporter for the respiratory system. I strongly encourage using astragalus during the nourishing phase, however, and not when sick (which traditional medicine would also almost always support). My favorite way to use this botanical is as a powder or decoction during the fall or winter months, leading up to the depths of winter.
Springtime Immunity Broth
Want an easy way to fortify your life with immune nourishing botanicals? Consider making your own broth and adding them in! Reishi (the medicinal mushroom mentioned above) makes an excellent addition to a homemade bone or veggie broth, which can be used to infuse your soups with immune-nourishing botanicals throughout the spring and beyond. Interested in learning how to make your own broth? See this fun recipe here.
Note: The information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please make sure to consult with a licensed physician before adding herbal or dietary supplements into your life, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or on medication.