How you can get out in front of this!
Many of us are looking for ways to boost health and build a resilient immune system - but with so much confusing information out there, it's hard to know where to start!
Help is here! With a simple and effective strategy that helps protect you and your family.
First, understanding how your immune system works will help it all make sense:
Our Innate immunity is our body’s first line of immune defense that we are born with.
- This immune reaction is fast, responding immediately to foreign substances.
- Known as general or “non-specific” immune responses as the response does not adapt to individual invaders.
- You can take a proactive approach to ensuring your innate immune system is its strongest by working to bring it into balance.
Adaptive or Selective immunity is a specific response that develops throughout life.
- This more complex response creates antibodies that are reactive to specific invaders.
- It can be a secondary reaction (to innate immunity) and involves specialized immune cells (B and T cells).
- This immune response forms “memories” from previous exposures to substances (acquired immunity) – so future reactions are more efficient.
- You can help the body build specific responses to reduce the impact of illness.
To support these immune responses, it pays to be prepared – by boosting your body’s innate ability to naturally fight off illness (proactive) and boosting its specific immune response when sickness strikes (reactive)! Our Immunity Herbal Medicine Cabinet guide lays out the powerful plant medicines we recommend you have on hand to boost your immune system and defend against illness.
When you’re in harmony with your world – body, mind and spirit – this helps to support “homeostasis” – or, balance. This is where all bodily systems can function optimally, and the immune system has the resources it needs to ward off disease and do its part in maintaining health.
The “S.E.E.D. approach” supports balanced, whole-body health that strengthens your immunity through conscious everyday lifestyle choices, supplements, and powerful plant medicine.
Sleep & Stress Management
- Restorative sleep is essential to a strong immune system as it is the body’s opportunity to rest, recover and carry out essential functions in all systems.
- Practicing healthy sleep habits allows the body to achieve the deep sleep it needs to function optimally.
- Get herbal support from ValeriCalm liquid tincture – an all-natural formula to help calm and relax you, easing you into a peaceful, restorative sleep.
- Repeated episodes of high stress, or frequent stress can throw the body out of balance and increase cortisol (a stress hormone) that can suppress the immune response.
- Stress is not just perceived stress (like “feeling tense”) it is the body’s reaction to any change that requires your body to respond or adjust.
- Practicing yoga, meditation, deep breathing, exercise, journaling and exposure to nature and green spaces all have positive effects on managing stress.
- Herbal Support from adaptogens – Strest® adrenal tonic tincture nurtures your nervous system and reduces anxiety and mental and physical fatigue. As does the ever popular Ashwagandha, while helping to renew your energy.
Eat Well & Supplement
- For immunity-specific nutrients “eating the rainbow” is a good rule of thumb to get vitamin C, zinc, and protective antioxidants from brightly coloured plant foods.
- Nourishing the body is foundational to health and eating a wide variety of fresh, whole foods is the ideal way to nourish the body with proteins, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
- Canada’s Food Guide outlines healthy eating plans and guidelines for incorporating a balanced variety of foods.
- Avoid foods that compromise immunity – sugar, processed foods, and alcohol offer little to no nutritional benefits, and can suppress immune functioning. Cook with herbs that provide antibacterial and/or anti-viral benefits such as garlic, ginger, and oregano.
You can find great recipe inspiration here from Joyous Health and .
- A high-quality multivitamin supplement can help cover nutritional bases.
- Vitamin D should be considered for supplementations. It has been shown to help activate immune defenses (T-cells). Low levels have been linked to higher rates of respiratory infections.
- Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that humans can obtain from some foods in the diet but is mostly generated in the skin with sun exposure.
- Certain foods (milk and cereals) are fortified with Vitamin D but aren’t consumed as regularly now, and Canada’s northern climate limits sun exposure making us vulnerable to deficiency.
- Your choice of a Vitamin D supplement matters: Vitamin D3 is considered the best form. Choose a naturally sourced liquid format for efficient absorption, preferably in a protective glass bottle, that contains only natural preservatives.
- If you’ve been “eating the rainbow” you should be achieving sufficient amounts of Zinc and Vitamin C – but if you start to feels symptoms of a throat infection you could consider supplementing with Zinc & Vitamin C as they support the immune response. Zinc should be taken with food to avoid stomach upset.
- Supplements that support and stimulate digestion can help your body get the most out of your healthy food choices.
- Probiotics – or “good” bacteria – can come from fermented foods, such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and traditionally fermented vegetables. Supplements provide a concentrated dose that can help with digestive issues such as bloating, gassiness and poor nutrient absorption. Probiotics can help keep harmful bacteria growth in check and support the intestinal lining, where vital immune tissue is housed.
- Digestive Bitters are formulas of specific bitter herbs that stimulate stomach acid production to help break down food efficiently for smooth digestion and absorption. Bitters can specifically help with gas, bloating, stomach upset, and absorption. Learn more about the benefits of Canadian Bitters here.
- When eating, be present and chew mindfully. Eating in a relaxed state facilitates digestion and absorption.
- Exercising regularly promotes healthy circulation, mood, muscle tissue, lymphatic flow, and helps with the circulation of immune cells throughout the body.
- High intensity fitness programs aren’t for everyone as they can add stress and supress immunity – making you more prone to illness. Find the right exercise for you which may be recreational sports, yoga, swimming, or a regular walking routine.
- Stretching, rebounding (on a mini trampoline) and body brushing are other gentle ways to mobilize the body and encourage blood flow and lymphatic circulation.
ParticipACTION provides Canadians with information, tools, challenges, and resources on ways to keep the whole family active and healthy!
Defend with Plant Medicine
Below you will find your complete proactive and reactive plant medicine guide – to make sense of all the herbs you hear about and ultimately what you should have on-hand to be fully prepared.
Part 1: A Proactive ApproachGet out in front of it and Deepen Your Immunity!
A balanced immune system is your strongest immune system
If your immune system is overactive, there can be more inflammation and strong reactions (eg. to some allergens). If it is underactive, one is more susceptible to infections.
Daily herbal support should focus on achieving balance, and this is where adaptogenic herbs can help!
What does adaptogenic mean? These types of herbs adapt to the situation they encounter. Whether the immune system is overactive or underactive, they can help regulate the system back to a balanced, healthy state – like tracks guiding a train to its destination.
In fact, adaptogens help ensure all systems (immune, endocrine (hormonal), circulatory, reproductive, digestive, nervous) are balanced and functioning optimally, and are backed by both centuries of traditional use and modern research.
There are specific adaptogens referred to as “immune adaptogens” that have greater affinity in supporting the immune system. Some of the ones you hear more about include:
Our #1 selling Deep Immune daily formula combines these herbs plus others for a total of 8 carefully selected immune adaptogens, in just the right amounts to help balance your innate immune system so when illness tries to strike, you and your family are prepared and protected!
Learn More – Herbal Support to PROACTIVELY
What about kids' immunity?
The benefits from healthy diets, exercise, and ample sleep support children’s health just as it does for adults – but certain herbs aren’t always appropriate for them. That’s why we formulated Deep Immune for Kids that is safe and effective for children. You can learn more about kids immunity here: How Herbs Keep Kids Healthy
Part 2: A Reactive ApproachAs soon as you feel symptoms...Nip It in the Bud!
Stimulating our reactive or "selective" immune system to create specific antibodies can make a big difference in shortening the duration and severity of an illness!
Important: The herbs recommended at this stage are based on their ability to kick our selective immune system into high gear which means it’s ideal to use them for short spurts, as needed. They are generally not recommended for daily, pro-active measures as the level of stimulation they provide could be stressful to our bodies if used ongoing. Check with your healthcare provider with knowledge of botanical medicine if these herbs are right for you.
For General Symptoms
These are some of the herbs that can be taken at the first sign of illness like a tickle in the throat, fever, general malaise:
- Wild indigo – a potent antimicrobial herb that is also immune-enhancing
- Pau d’arco – a botanical treasure of the Amazonian rainforest that is antimicrobial, antiviral and immunostimulatory
For Specific Symptoms
Once you experience specific symptoms³ like cough, sore throat, chest congestion, and sinus pressure these are some of the herbs that can be taken instead¹
Targeted herbs to get to the root cause or site of infection include:
These herbs are also effective in formulas that contain echinacea, to stimulate the immune response to the specific area of infection. These types of herbs target the source of infection instead of simply suppressing symptoms and can safely be taken alongside herbs for relieving symptoms below.
³ If you suspect any of your symptoms are COVID-19 related, contact your doctor and/or refer to the online COVID-19 assessment tools.
There are also options that are often used to provide more immediate relief from discomfort you may be feeling:
Assembling your Herbal Defense
Here is a breakdown of the relevant single herbs for both Steps, and more simply, the targeted formulas we recommend you have in your herbal medicine cabinet to be fully prepared.
There seems to be a host of herbs that can help – but knowing which ones to use when and in what dosages can be hard to navigate. St Francis Herb Farm has simplified this by creating leading formulas that bring together the select herbs that provide holistic support for a certain condition – knowing that when certain herbs are used together, the benefits are even greater!
This knowledge, along with our Holistic Herb Approach means you get the most powerful plant medicine, created uniquely for specific needs.
This is a list of the more common herbs that are used for these various purposes – there are many more that have not been included. 2Herbs can have numerous benefits, what we are showing here are what they are best or often used for regarding these various health needs to help bring some clarity. Ultimately, it’s a great idea to visit a Naturopathic Doctor who specializes in botanical medicine to understand what’s right for you. We can let you know if there is one that is accessible to you – just email us at email@example.com
References available upon request.