Using Herbal Adaptogens Before the Winter Season

Pre-season prepping for winter: Enhancing immunity for prevention and stimulating immunity for infection.

This is a time in the late summer, turning to fall, the weather gets colder and wetter, and we brace for the effects of cold outdoor temperatures upon our bodies (if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere or other cold-extreme place on the planet)

So, we at WhiteSageNaturals suggest it could be now time to consider taking an Herbal Adaptogenic Immune Formula. An adaptogen is any herb that helps one to increase resistance to stress, be it physical, mental, emotional, or sometimes spiritual.

Adaptogens enhance not only immunity, but also the endocrine, or glandular system, which are; the adrenals, female and male reproductive glands, pancreas, pineal, pituitary, thymus and thyroid. Adaptogens typically improve mental and physical performance, enhance libido and increase oxygenation to the entire body. Generally one can take adaptogens throughout the entire fall and winter seasons.

Here are some good herbs to consider for strengthening on many levels.

There are a handful of Ginsengs:

Siberian (Eleutherococcus senticosus, or Eleuthero for short), North American (Panax quinquefolius), Brazilian (Suma), Panax ginseng (Panax ginseng), which is usually called Chinese ginseng, or if it has gone through a steaming process, where the root changes colour, it is called Korean Red Ginseng, but it is the same species as Chinese. The steam process make the root more stimulating, heating, yang and invigorating, so Korean is not typically a type of Ginseng one taking as long term as the others because of its stimulating nature.

Other adaptogens include Rhodiola, Schizandra, Codonopsis, Maca and Ashwagandha.

Mushrooms could also be considered, as immune-modulating adaptogens. These can include but are not limited to Chaga, Reishi, Cordyceps, and Maitake.

For example Aloha Medicinals has Chaga Gold, a high quality Resihi blend called Gano Ultra, and more concentrated blend called Immune Assist Crtitical Care for more serious immune support. Dosing can range from1-2 caps a day (preferably empty stomach 15-20 mintues before meals) up to 4-6 caps a day, dependgin on body weight and debility.

Tinctures are also a good way of taking herbs in general and adaptogens specifically, as tinctures, which are a combination of water and alcohol. This process enables excellent extraction of the herbal constituents and high therapeutic benefit of the herbal constituents.

Generally for adults, 4-5 droppersful, (that is 80-100 drops) or 3.2ml to 4 ml in a tablespoon of water, 15-20 minutes before meals, 3 x/day. This dose could go lower based on a person with lower body weight or a higher dose weighing more than 150lbs.

Results will be heightened immune strength and improved resistance to stress, which may translate into any number of positive improvements including better energy, elevated mood and improved sleep patterns.

Along with Adaptogens, one can also consider ensuring a high quality diet, preferably organic. Some supplements may be considered as well, which should include at least Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Zinc. Vitamin C is vital for us all. Knowing your own personal levels of Vitamin D may depend on a blood test, but taking (for an adult) 1,000-3,000 IU on a daily basis would not be a bad idea for those in more northern climate zones.

Getting enough sleep, fresh air, adequate water intake, and exercise will also boost over-all vitality, and will help support and balance the immune system.

In summary, using herbal adaptogens will help you stay well during the fall and winter seasons, and give you more vigour to enjoy yourself as well. So enjoy the outdoors!

 

 

 

 

Herbal Support for Airborne Allergies

Herbal Support for Airborne Allergies

With the summer season now here we want to be able to enjoy the outdoors without the aggravation of allergy symptoms. These can include sneezing, itchy watery eyes, runny nose, sinus and lower respiratory congestion, headaches and fatigue. They can range from a relatively minor nuisance to more seriously debilitating symptoms making sleep difficult to impossible and daily life a continual misery. Outdoor allergens can include various moulds (especially from decaying leaves), grass, flowering plant and tree pollens, and airborne dust particles. The complex brew of chemicals in smog can also aggravate allergies and respiratory weakness.

Preparing before Allergy Season

Certain herbs should be used 1-3 months before allergy season to reduce or eliminate the allergic response. Start taking the herbs at the end of winter/beginning of spring before early plant pollens arrive or take during the summer for late summer/fall pollen from Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisifolia) takes to the air. (Be aware, those roadside yellow flowered plants blooming in the fall, which is Goldenrod herb (Solidago Canadensis) is often confused with allergenic Ragweed. Goldenrod is an anti-allergy herb used to treat those very allergies that Ragweed can be partly responsible for. Ragweed has green flowers, and is typically not seen alongside the yellow flowered Goldenrod.) So the deep immune tonics deeply activate (but not over-stimulate) the immune system, to make one less reactive to common airborne particles. These include Astragalus root, Reishi mushroom, Siberian and North American Ginseng. These herbs can be used individually or in combination, best used in tincture form, and taken consistently 3 times a day 20-30 minutes before meals. These adaptogenic herbs will help the immunity and the whole glandular system become resistant to stress and increase the body’s non-specific immune strength. The key is to take these herbs consistently over several months for the best results.

Herbs for Allergy Symptoms

If taking herb tonics before the allergy season onset were not enough to completely eliminate symptoms, then certain herbs are very effective in helping to reduce the severity of allergies when they hit. Goldenrod, Elder flower and Goldenseal are herbs that benefit the upper respiratory system, and will help to reduce the congestion and irritation of the mucous membranes. Goldenrod and Elder flower have the bioflavonoid quercetin, and is effective for reducing inflammation and congestion of the sinuses and nasal passageways. Goldenseal’s alkaloids (berberine, hydrastine) and essential oils will reduce inflammation and help decongest the sinuses and reduce the mucous production of the mucous membranes. Goldenseal on its own can be very drying, so you may want to combine it with an herb with soothing benefits, like Coltsfoot, Mullein or Plantain all supporting lung health. Other primary herbs that can be used alone or in combination include; Yarrow  (decongesting, reduces inflammation, tones mucous membranes) Calendula (immune stimulant, decongestant) Echinacea (immune stimulant, anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory), Chamomile (anti-allergenic, relaxant, decongestant) Ginkgo (anti-allergenic, anti-asthmatic, respiratory anti-spasmodic, bronchodilator). Other nutrients are worth adding to support the herbs including Quercetin, Vitamin C (whole food – Acerola or Camu berry for example), Bioflavonoids, Zinc and specific homeopathics to reduce histamine reactions. It would also be advisable to consult a practitioner if there are multiple or complicating health issues involved.

Natural Remedies for Diabetes and Sugar Metabolism

Natural Remedies for Diabetes and Sugar Metabolism

One of the most prevalent diseases in developed countries is diabetes. Stats Canada reports 5% of the population diagnosed and rising, with 10-15% aged 45 to 55 and nearly 18% in the 65+ age group.

Diabetes can be regarded is a glucose dysregulation disease, where there can be a lack of insulin production (Type I) or cellular insulin resistance (Type II). Contributing factors include genetic predisposition, poor diet, overweight, lack of physical activity and excess cellular toxicity. Recent U.S. findings show populations with elevated levels of BPA (Bisphenol A) had 26 times higher risk for diabetes than those associated with obesity! Hence, small amounts of hormone disrupting toxins have a huge effect on the body’s metabolism, indicating the importance of a regular detox regime, ideally 2-4 times a year. Complications can include kidney disease, atherosclerosis, blindness, neuropathy and increased risk of infections.

Diabetes needs a lifestyle management approach where diet, activity and nutrients are all taken into account to help maintain healthy glucose levels, reset the cell sensitivity to insulin, and reduce oxidation and glycation.

Several small meals and 2 small snacks help to maintain blood glucose levels more effectively than 2-3 larger meals, or skipping meals. Avoid or reduce high Glycemic Index (GI) foods (refined grains; bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, bananas, mangoes) and increase (root) vegetables and protein sources, and eat only medium GI fruit such as berries, apples, pears and cherries. Reducing the Glycemic Load (GL) means to not ‘load up’ on too much food at one meal. 

Key Blood Sugar Balancing Nutrients:

The mineral Chromium can be taken, from 100-300 mcg, with each meal to a maximum of 1,000mcg/day. Lipoic acid will help increase insulin sensitivity. The best kind is the R+SR (Sustained Release) version, one at breakfast and dinner. Chlorella and Spirulina taken between meals also have a favourable effect. Chicory root powder taken with or between meals can slowly release sugar into the blood over a 4-6 hour period. Cinnamon extract is also useful for regulating blood glucose levels and can be taken as before each meal. Gymnema Sylvestre, an Ayurvedic herb, also known as ‘Destroyer of Sugars’ can lower blood sugar in both types of diabetes, increasing insulin levels while also improving peripheral insulin receptivity. Both North American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Chinese ginseng (Panax ginseng) are both known to have an influence on glucose metabolism. Ginkgo Biloba can increase oxygenation and protection of the vascular and nervous system against oxidative stress related to diabetes and hence will mitigate symptoms and risk of neuropathy and reduced circulation.

Other herbs such as bitters (andrographis, burdock, gentian, goldenseal) and carminatives (Calamus, fennel, ginger, lemon balm, mint, lavender) may be included in liquid extract form (before meals in a little water) to improve overall digestion of protein, fats and carbohydrates.

While dietary changes and exercise can go a long way to help improve blood sugar metabolism, in more advanced cases of diabetes it would be helpful to consult a qualified natural health practitioner for specialized guidance.

Gord Cooper R.H. is a Registered Herbalist and Professional Member of the Ontario Herbalists Association. He has a clinical herbal and Iridology practice and can be reached for consultation at: gordcooper@bellnet.ca, 905-895-6691.

Herbs for Immune Support

How to Use Herbs for Immune Support

There are two basic ways of using herbal remedies for the immune system. First is to use herbs as a preventive, so you reduce your chances of getting sick. Second is to use herbs therapeutically if you do get sick. There are also some basic nutrients to take on a daily basis to enhance your chances to prevent illness frequency and severity.

Don’t Have Time to Get Sick?

The first, easiest and most important way of using herbs is in the prevention of illness. It is the most important way if you’re interested in never getting sick at all. The herbs used in this case are called adaptogens, which are almost always immune tonics. These herbs can be used throughout the cold and flu season, four to twelve weeks at a time, to strengthen the non-specific immune response – meaning, the immune system is in a heightened state of function but is not in the emergency ‘fight a specific infection’ mode. These herbs include ‘Eleuthero’ (aka Siberian Ginseng), North American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum), and Astragalus root (Astragalus membranaceus). These immune tonics can be taken on their own or in combination with one another. As an option for those with specific chronic issues, other specific herbs can be added to address system weaknesses, like Licorice (contra-indicated in high blood pressure) for adrenal exhaustion and a dry, non-productive cough, or Gingko Biloba, for adrenal and (poor) circulation support and also to act as a bronchodilator. Other respiratory herbs such as Mullein, Horehound, or Thyme could give the respiratory system ongoing support in helping to keep the lungs clear of congestion, and to make the mucous elimination process more effective. The dose for these herbs largely depends on age and body weight. An average adult may take 3-5 droppersful of the tincture three times a day, or one to two capsules three times a day. Variations for dosing or herbs would also depend on individual conditions, inherent weaknesses, stress levels and drug history. (Consult a practitioner who can recommend herbs specific for your personal health profile)

Other preventive supplements include but are not limited to whole food Vitamin C, Vitamin D (World Health Organization states 10,000 IU as a safe upper limit for adults), Zinc, Probiotics, and Cod Liver Oil. You could also look at websites such www.drtenpenny.com if you ever think about whether to vaccinate or not.

Don’t Have Time to Stay Sick?

If after taking all the right nutrients, and herbs for immune support, you still manage to get sick, perhaps from lack of sleep or extreme stress, you will want to take herbal immune stimulants. These are the herbs that get your immune system into the fighting mood, and help the body to muster an offense against viral or bacterial pathogens.  These herbs include, but are not limited to; Garlic, Burdock root, Calendula flowers, Echinacea root, Elecampane root, Plantain herb, Elder flower/berry, Goldenrod herb, Dandelion root, and Ginger root.  These simulating herbs are generally taken in higher dose and higher frequency than tonics. This would depend on body weight and other variables. Dosing in acute conditions for mild issues (colds and flus) should not be needed past 10-14 days at the most, but more likely 2-5 days may be all that is needed if dosing starts early enough at the beginning of the acute illness.

Gord Cooper R.H. is a Registered Herbalist and Professional Member of the Ontario Herbalists Association and has a clinical herbal and Iridology practice.

Herbal Support for the Respiratory System

Herbal Help for the Respiratory System

Aside from chronic stress and poor digestion, one of the most prevalent health imbalances relate to respiratory ailments. Upper respiratory issues include sinus and tonsil inflammation, congestion, infection, and sore throat. Lower respiratory issues may include lung and bronchial mucous congestion, which can include either wet or dry coughs, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, pleurisy and tuberculosis. Being the first line of defence for airborne particulate and micro-organisms, the respiratory system is an accurate indicator of our ability to resist bacterial, viral and fungal pathogens.

Lifestyle Factors to Breathe Easier

Two things we can control are indoor air quality and diet. An air purifier that filters out particulate and kills micro-organisms would be beneficial to one’s work and home environment to reduce the burden of the lungs’ role in trapping and filtering these particles out of the body. This system would include either a collector plate with a charcoal filter and an ultraviolet light chamber that kills microbes.

Second, the diet is virtually the biggest offender for congesting the respiratory system and the entire body. This relates to mucous-forming foods, like dairy (milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt and kefir). Small amounts of fermented dairy such as yogurt and kefir support friendly bacteria growth in the intestinal tract, but these still contribute to the total mucous load of the body. Then when you add grains into the diet: wheat, barley, oats, rice and potatoes etc.., the lungs then become congested with this excess mucous that can thicken and become hard to eliminate out of the body. Dramatically increasing vegetables and slightly increasing low glycemic index fruits and reducing or eliminating (even temporarily) dairy and grains will reduce the burden of food sourced mucous and thus allow the body to get eliminating its excess mucous load, whether in the lungs or sinuses.

Elder Flower – Respiratory Herb Extraordinaire

One herbal remedy that shines in its ability to help resolve various upper and lower respiratory problems is Black Elder Flower (Sambucus nigra flos). The flowers and berries are predominantly used today, with the flowers being the most versatile.

Elder flower has a broad range of constituents which stimulate immunity as well as healing the mucous membranes of the sinuses, bronchials and lungs. The flowers are high in bioflavonoids including rutin and quercetin, essential oils, fatty acids, phenols, polysaccharides, tannins and mucilage. These constituents aid in soothing the respiratory membranes, reduce inflammation and decongest the sinuses and lungs. Elder will also be beneficial in hot tea form in dispersing internal heat (diaphoretic) due to fever.  Whole plant extracts, with many constituents, allow a balancing of body tissues versus narrow drug-like actions with ever-present side effects.

Elder flower is best in tea or tincture form. Dose is based on body weight and symptomology. With no known contra-indications, Elder flower can be considered a safe and effective remedy for colds flus and fevers, with inflammation and mucous congestion affecting the lower and upper respiratory systems.

Gord Cooper R.H. is a Registered Herbalist and Professional Member of the Ontario Herbalists Association.