During the past year, immunity has come into sharper focus for many people. But still, this incredible framework is often misunderstood ad underestimated – and few people really know how best to support their immune system as it offers them daily protection.
At The EastWest® Way, our mission is to integrate the time-honoured wisdom of Eastern medicine to compliment modern lifestyles, using gentle ancient techniques and a scientific approach to help people bring about positive change in their day-to-day health. Our work centers around the ancient medical practice of Ayurveda, which works on preventive principles design to keep the body in a state of balance and harmony with internal and external influences. Within the principles of Ayurveda, there are a number of key ways we can support our immune system to keep it functioning as efficiently as possible.
Today we share four key tools to pay attention to when considering boosting immunity or better supporting your immune health. These methodologies are time-honored and tested, and all can easily be implemented into your current lifestyle.
The importance of herbs for immune protection
Herbs, plant ingredients, and extracts have been used in many cultures worldwide for thousands of years. Science is now catching up with time-honored remedies, validating the healing properties medicine men and women have known and recognized for millennia.
You may have heard people say that if you feel unwell, you should drink orange juice or eat an orange to help you feel better. What that shows is that remedies tried and tested through the years do have a scientific basis that underpins their anecdotal usage. Of course, we know now that it’s the vitamin C content of the fruit that does the work – and that there are other sources of abundant Vitamin C. It’s true that many anecdotal or cultural ‘remedies’ actually do work and have their healing powers rooted firmly in science (something we explore further later on in this article).
Some of the herbs and plants we work with in Ayurveda are also widely used across other cultures – further cementing the validity of their properties.
We created our immune-boosting Defender blend to offer optimum protection and support for the immune system using three key ingredients. These should form the basis for any immune-boosting regimen, offering a firm foundation for the body’s natural healing processes.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a powerhouse when it comes to immune protection. It offers diverse and numerous types of support for the immune system, as it interacts with it in many different ways. Vitamin C helps the body to produce white blood cells, fights inflammation, reduces oxidative stress, and strengthens skin barriers. Potent and powerful, with few to no side effects – vitamin C is something everyone can use to boost their immune health.
Zinc: As an essential mineral, Zinc helps the body to produce white blood cells, regulate genes, and supports healthy reproduction and regeneration of cells. In studies, Zinc taken 24 hours after the onset of a cold reduced symptoms and dramatically shortened the illness’s overall duration. Zinc is also an essential ingredient in the wound healing process.
Astragulus: As a potent antioxidant and antiviral, Astragalus is used to protect and support the immune system, with anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. It protects cells against damage and, in studies, has shown positive effects in people with weakened immune systems. Astragalus is also an adaptogen – so it helps the body deal with physical and emotional stresses.
These are the herbs you can find within our Defender blend – which has been specifically designed using carefully sourced, premium organic herbal extracts for maximum potency.
The magic of mushrooms
In Chinese medicine, various species of fungi and mushrooms are used to treat specific ailments as preventive protectants and to support people living with long-term and chronic illnesses. Recently mushrooms have become a trend in the wellness industry – but TCM practitioners have been using them for thousands of years as treatments and preventive tinctures.
In studies, medicinal mushrooms have demonstrated immunomodulating effects – meaning they help keep the immune system in balance. This is especially important as it ensures that the immune system can be stimulated when needed but can also be downregulated when overactive, as is the case in many chronic illnesses (also known as autoimmune conditions).
The group of mushrooms, known as ‘medicinal mushrooms,’ features a core group of established and well-known species, which is growing all the time due to new discoveries and research. They contain powerful polysaccharides called beta-glucans, which have been found to help fight inflammation and balance the immune system. Beta-glucans attach themselves to the receptor sites on the immune cells and activate them, allowing them to recognize cancer cells as ‘foreign’ and create a higher level of response.
The most common medicinal mushrooms (and most potent for immune enhancement) include Cordyceps, Reishi, Lion’s Mane, and Chaga.
Medicinal mushrooms can easily be added to your daily regimen to help support enhanced immune health. Always be sure to source them from reputable brands where quality and sustainability are high priorities.
Building barriers with bone broth
There’s a reason why chicken soup has been considered in many Western cultures as a classic remedy for sickness – especially colds and flu. The secret behind its success is the broth it is made with – specifically chicken stock made in the traditional way using the chicken carcass to enhance flavor.
In Ayurveda, bone broth is widely used as it is warming and nourishing and thought to be beneficial for joints and bones in particular.
Bone broth entered the spotlight in the West several years ago when it was cited as a method to heal ‘leaky gut’ – the syndrome thought to be behind gastric disorders and chronic illnesses such as IBS and fibromyalgia. The immune-supporting powers of bone broth have been pinpointed to its high levels of beneficial nutrients and electrolytes, including amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, which help the body function optimally.
For vegans and vegetarians wanting to boost immunity, much of this healing power can be harnessed just as readily, as the nutrients and electrolytes found in traditional bone broth can also be found in plant-based sources. Vegan ‘bone broths’ contain seaweed, leafy greens such as spinach and mushrooms, as well as plant aminos for added clout.
There are several ready-made broths on the market (both chicken/beef and vegan/vegetarian) – but of course, it’s often best freshly made at home.
Acupuncture for immune protection
Acupuncture may seem an unlikely candidate for immune-boosting properties – but in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) it is commonly used to rebalance the body, with immune protection tagging along as a welcome side effect. If it seems there’s nothing acupuncture can’t do – you’d be right. There are many ways in which acupuncture can support the body, boost fertility, improve emotional health and even reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
An increasing number of studies conducted worldwide suggest that acupuncture helps in stimulating a specific immune pathway response in the body. In a group of studies, 72% of participants found an increase in immune response after acupuncture. These studies results are not fully conclusive just yet (enough to be cited as an official treatment or therapy for immunosuppression), but so far, the research suggests that acupuncture does have a positive effect on the body’s immune response.
Most studies and research revolve around one specific acupuncture point, known as ST36 or Zusanli. A team at the University of Chinese Medicine in Hubei conducted a controlled laboratory experiment to determine the exact physiological effects of acupuncture and stimulation at various points of the body. They found that stimulation at point ST36 “enhanced the level of immune cytokines and splenic CD4+ T cells through TRPV channels.” This may not mean much to anyone who isn’t a microbiologist – but in layman’s terms, CD4+ T cells are known as ‘helper cells,’ which are active in the immune system’s defense against microbes, including viruses. They have the ability to differentiate into different types of cell subsets and are critical components in the activation of the body’s immunoregulation and cytotoxic defense mechanisms. What this means is acupuncture, specifically stimulation of acupuncture point ST36 = more CD4+ T cells in your system, increasing your body’s ability to protect you against harmful bacteria and viruses.
In other words, if you’re feeling run down or simply want to boost your immune system naturally, acupuncture can be a relaxing and efficient way to do so.
There are several key ways to naturally support our body’s immune system and ensure it is functioning at optimal capacity.
Our Defender immunity blend features powerful herbal extracts and vitamins carefully selected to help support your immune system and keep it perfectly in balance for improved health and wellbeing. Find out more about our Defender blend or shop the range here.
Our Defender immunity blend was recently featured in InStyle Magazine: read the article here.