– Guest Contributor, Betty Wells Runkle, ND, CNHP, CECRP is the owner of The Health Fix Center for Natural and Alternative Health Solutions
The fact of the matter is ..The human body is a MAGNIFICENT, VIRUS FIGHTING, PATHOGENIC BACTERIA ENGULFING MACHINE by Grand Design. The problems occur when we as the conductors of this body, don’t put the proper fuel into it on a regular basis to keep it functioning full steam ahead. You know, stuff like processed foods, non-nutritive, junk, and as my teenagers say…eating crap! We all do it…don’t kid yourself. However, there is hope in learning new ways to change your lifestyle for the better, by learning to eat healthy and make better choices.
For now, let’s concentrate on the immune building properties of ADAPTOGENIC herbs.
Let’s start by covering the word adaptogen, as a term used in herbalism to reflect the ability of a plant to work as a biological response modifier. For a plant to be adaptogenic it must meet three criteria, as defined by the Russian doctor I.I. Brekman:
- It should cause no harm and place no additional stress on the body.
- It should help the body adapt to many and varied environmental and psychological stresses.
- It must have a nonspecific action on the body, supporting all the major systems, such as the nervous system, hormonal system, and immune system, as well as regulating functions (such as the blood sugar); if they are too high, an adaptogen will lower it and vice verse.
Let me tell you about some of these ADAPTOGENIC HERBAL ALLIES. The most commonly researched herbs like astragalus, Ashwaganda, Nettle, and reishi mushrooms are also some of the heaviest hitters in the herbal adoptogenic world.
You can research til the cows come home all the numerous scientific studies about the pharmacological actions of adaptogens…but I warn you it can get really complex. In the nutshell, here are a few of the abilities noted in those studies regarding ADAPTOGENIC HERBS.
- Increase Endurance
- Reduce Fatigue
- Build Resistance to non-specific stresses (chemicals in environment, overwork, poor diet and emotional stressors)
- Immune Stimulants – boost resistance to pathogenic bacteria and viruses
Let me tell you a little bit about just one adaptogen, astragalus. Astragalus is an immune building powerhouse. In fact, U.S. institutions all over have conducted medical studies supporting the increase of white blood cells, strengthening the activity of macrophages and that it actually promotes immunity of the cells. Here, in Texas where I live, the University of Texas at MD Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute did a study on T-cell function in cancer patients which were being lowered by the use of chemotherapy and radiation. When the extracts from astragalus were administered, immune functions improved dramatically. Even the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. has done their fair share of research concerning Astragalus and the increase total number of white blood cells and strengthening of macrophages. This activity significantly promotes the healthy immune function on the cellular level. In addition, studies at the University of Texas MD Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute found that the t cell function in cancer patients was lowered by the use of chemotherapy and radiation, so to combat that effect astragalus extracts were administered. Researchers found that immune functions improved dramatically. Currently astragalus is also being researched in HIV and aids related syndromes.