One of the top concerns many of us have during this pandemic is how to keep our family healthy. In addition to the recommendations to wear a mask, wash your hands, and keep your physical distance, supporting your immune system is important in preventing sickness.
In a previous post, I talked about ways you can support your immune system through nutrition and lifestyle. You can read my previous post. Once these are in place, herbal remedies can help further support your immunity and improve your overall health.
I want to share with you three of my favorite immune supporting herbs to make into a tea or add to an herbal soup. Each one can be added to an herbal formula to match your particular health condition to optimize results.
The information below is for information only and does not substitute consulting with your health care practitioner before taking herbs.
The herbs below are considered “tonics” because they can support the immune system, improve functioning of the body, and improve overall health. They’re also adaptogens – meaning they increase the body’s ability to resist damage caused by life’s stressors. They can help fight fatigue, stress, and anxiety, as well as restore the body back into balance.
Huang Qi – Astragalus Root
Huang Qi, Astragalus root, is sweet and slightly warms the body. According to Chinese Medicine, Wei Qi, also called Defense Qi, is our first layer of protection against pathogens like bacteria and viruses. Huang Qi increases the Wei Qi of the body to prevent and fight off illness.
Modern research has shown that taking Huang Qi promotes immunity and increases white blood cells. White blood cells are an essential part of the immune system to fight off infections. Huang Qi is especially good for people who often get colds and who have weak immune systems. It’s often included in many formulas that support immunity.
Huang Qi is an adaptogen which helps the body combat stress and fatigue. It strongly tonifies the body to generate blood and fluids.
Ling Zhi – Ganoderma Mushroom
Ling Zhi is sweet and neutral. Reishi mushroom has long been regarded by people since ancient times for its wide ranging beneficial effects on the mind and body.
Ling Zhi supports the immune system, helps fight stress and fatigue, and restores and optimizes adrenal function. Ling Zhi is also a broad spectrum anti-allergy herb.
Reishi can be combined with other medicinal mushrooms like shiitake and maitake. You can find it in many supplements that support immunity.
Ren Shen – Ginseng Root
Ren Shen is sweet and slightly bitter. This herb is also named “spirit herb” and “earth essence” embodying its importance in herbal medicine. It’s a tonic and adaptogen that has been used therapeutically for over 5,000 years to strengthen the whole body and mind.
Ren Shen strongly tonifies the primal vital energy of the body to restore health and well-being. It enhances physical endurance, helps the body fight a cold, and supports fertility. Ren Shen strengthens the digestive system, calms the spirit and improves mental function. It is one of the best herbs to strengthen the body and rescue it from collapse.
The beauty of Chinese herbal medicine is the way it’s formulated. These herbs are often used by Chinese medicine practitioners in formulas combined with other herbs to minimize side-effects, maximize its effectiveness, and enhance its desired function.
For example, the combination of Huang Qi and Ren Shen forms the foundation of many Chinese medicine formulas. Used in combination, it enhances each herb’s function. Together, they strongly boost the body’s vital energy, supports the digestive system and strengthens the body’s defense against pathogens.
How I use these herbs:
In the clinic, I combine them with other herbs to make customized herbal formulas based on a patient’s particular condition.
At home, I brew the above herbs together to make a tea or I throw them in a bone broth soup at home. One of my favorite things to make is bone broth soup made out of either chicken or bone marrow, throwing some herbs in them. If you’d like instructions on how to make your own bone broth at home, read it here.
Below is an herbal chicken soup recipe that I make at home often. The recipe below uses astragalus and reishi but I also do a version of this soup using ginseng. Sometimes I make a vegetarian version and use vegetable soup stock instead of chicken broth with the herbs. At Little Sage you can buy bone broth herbs to add to soup or make into a tea, let us know if you want more info.
Chicken Herbal Soup
1 tablespoon coconut oil
3 pounds chicken pieces (drumsticks, thighs, etc. or chopped from half a whole chicken)
8 cups water
a pinch of salt
1 piece of fresh ginger that is an itch thick – make thin slices
1 medium onion diced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 medium carrots – cut
2 medium celery stalks, cut into slices
10 grams astragalus (huang qi)
10 grams reishi mushroom (ling zhi)
can also add: goji berries and Chinese red dates
You will need cheesecloth and a cloth tie.
- In a large soup pot, heat oil until hot.
- Add ginger, sauté for 1 minute, then add garlic and sauté for 1 minute, and then add onions until opaque.
- Add the chicken and a pinch of salt then sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add water and bring to a boil. Skim off any excess oil or fat.
- Place the loose herbs (astragalus and dried reishi mushrooms) in a piece of cheesecloth. Tie the ends of the cheesecloth. This will make it easy to remove the herbs later. Add the cheesecloth bag of herbs to the pot.
- Bring back pot to a boil. Once it boils, lower the heat and simmer, covered with the lid slightly ajar, for about 30 minutes.
- Skim off any excess oil or fat.
- Add the carrots and celery to the soup. If using, add goji berries and Chinese red dates. Cook for another 10-15 minutes.
- When the soup is done, remove the bag of herbs.
- Add a little salt and pepper to taste.
Wishing you abundant health,
P.S. If you want personalized recommendations for herbs that are good for you, book an appointment. I’m passionate about helping you achieve optimal health!