The plant world is bursting with an abundance of protective compounds that have been used for millennia to help people stay healthy.
Modern science is exploring these compounds and revealing their multidimensional properties in addressing the health of the whole person by combining immune support, digestive health and overall wellness benefits.
It’s no surprise that these plants are so helpful: Their compounds have evolved to protect them from extremes of weather and attacks by fungi, bacteria, viruses and natural predators. We can harness the value of these compounds to support our own health and better harmonize us with the rhythms of nature.
Foods As Medicine
Let’s start with the foundation of health: your diet. The phytonutrients found in many brightly colored fruits and vegetables can offer powerful protective effects. For example, a study by researchers at Tufts University isolated dendritic cells, known to activate infection-fighting T-cells. The cells were treated with wolfberry (also known as goji berry) concentrate and incubated for one week. During that time, researchers observed that the maturity and inflammatory activity of the dendritic cells had increased, suggesting an improved immune response. They also took a group of older mice with weak immune systems and administered flu vaccines along with feeding them wolfberries.
The wolfberry-fed mice had a higher antibody response and better protection against the flu. Since the flu vaccine is only about 40 percent effective in protecting older adults compared to younger people, this simple addition to the diet is good news. Berries in general are full of protective phytonutrients and are actually low in sugar, making them ideal for immune and anti-inflammatory support.
A number of herbs used in traditional medical systems such as traditional Chinese, Japanese and Ayurveda have been found to have specific antiviral activity as well as immune enhancement properties:
- Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra): Stimulates immune cells called macrophages, stops viral replication of influenza and inactivates the virus. Use it in the form of deglycerized licorice if you have any blood pressure issues.
- Tulsi or Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum): Has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral activity and stimulates the immune system.
- Garlic (Allium sativum): Has shown antiviral activity against influenza and common cold viruses.
- Coconut (Cocos nucifera): Contains medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) with potent antiviral activity.
- Indian gooseberry, aka amla (Phyllanthus emblica): Has immune-strengthening and antiviral activity.
- Green tea leaf (Camellia sinensis): Has potent antiviral properties as well as immune enhancement activities.
- Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea): Activates infection-fighting capacity for faster recovery and reduction of symptoms when taken at the first sign of cold or flu.
Many of these herbs are common spices that you can incorporate into your daily meals and beverages.
Using coconut products is another easy and delicious way to add an antiviral and overall health boost to your daily faire. Many coconut products are now available including coconut oil, coconut butter (similar to peanut or almond butter), shredded coconut and coconut milk — a wonderful substitute for dairy.
Mushrooms: Vital Immune Support
Mushrooms have a long and revered history because of their multiple beneficial properties, including immune-enhancing and antiviral benefits. Varieties like reishi, cordyceps and phellinus help to balance the immune response and support overall health. They contain minerals essential to proper immune function, including zinc and selenium. They also possess 1,3 beta glucans, a type of carbohydrate shown in studies to help modulate immunity. *
MycoPhyto Complex is a unique mushroom formula, grown on a blend of immune-enhancing herbs that further support the mushrooms’ benefits. This formula combines six carefully selected mushrooms which work synergistically to support overall health: coriolus, reishi, agaricus, cordyceps, umbellatus and maitake, together with extra beta 1,3 glucans for a powerful immune-supportive regimen.*
In addition to a nourishing diet, targeted supplements and herbal extracts — including an herbal-based multivitamin/mineral — provide extra support during the winter season, and all year long. By harnessing the power of nature, we can bathe our cells in protective phytonutrients, minerals and vitamins that have powerful beneficial properties. Add in a bit of extra common sense, like frequent hand washing, and you just might find yourself sailing through the season without even a sneeze.*