Natural Medicine for Immune Enhancements and Stress Management
by Nick Martinuik, DNM, DIHom, RMT
The importance of a healthy immune system has gained significant recognition during this global pandemic, and it is easy to understand how the human body is under a constant test in the areas of physical and mental health. Although ongoing research continues to discover new medications and treatments, everyone has developed a new appreciation for a healthy immune system and our natural defences. Natural medicine has the potential to activate, balance, and support a healthy immune system, and includes many substances that are recognized as powerful adaptogens, which increase energy and the body’s resistance to stress. We must respect the research, history, and experience that natural medicines can share, their purported benefits, and how they can impact our physical and mental health.
1. Medicinal Mushrooms
Uniquely similar, humans and mushrooms both breathe oxygen and produce carbon dioxide, consume nutrients, produce vitamin D in sunlight, and share about 50 percent of similar DNA. Fungi have also developed a defence system to survive approximately 1.5 billion years, which acts much like our own immune system. Mushrooms are very complex, and with these similarities it becomes easier to understand why mushrooms have been used medically for thousands of years, and have become the source of numerous prescription medications such as penicillin, antibiotics, antifungals, immunotherapy, cholesterol, and antirejection and cancer drugs. They generate numerous medicinal compounds including polysaccharides, beta-glucans, sterols, and triterpenes, which research has demonstrated as “immune modulators” that balance the various components and processes of our immune system and its response towards protecting the body. These micro-nutrients may regulate the behaviour and recognition capabilities within the immune system by activating, enhancing, and balancing a healthy immune response. Various mushrooms contain anti-inflammatory properties that promote healing in various conditions, and many are adaptogens that assist how the body responds to physical, environmental, and mental stress. Mushrooms are also a natural source of vitamin D and B complex, and minerals such as selenium, zinc, copper, and magnesium.
a. Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), also known as the “Mushroom of Immortality” has traditionally been used for thousands of years to preserve health, support mental calmness, and to treat many various conditions. Reishi may help balance the immune system, lower stress, improve sleep, combat fatigue, and promote cardiovascular health.
- Immune system modulator
- Adaptogen for stress and anxiety
- Promotes healthy moods, memory, and concentration
- Longevity and antiaging properties
b. Coriolus (Trametes versicolor), also known as “Turkey Tail,” has traditionally been used as a powerful immune modulator with significant antimicrobial and antiviral activity. Coriolus is the source of the anti-tumour medicine Polysaccharide Krestin (PSK), with clinical research performed since 1970 that has focused on its immunotherapeutic efficacy in numerous forms of cancer. In Japan, it has been approved as a pharmaceutical-grade medicine for cancer treatment and has been integrated as an adjuvant for more than 30 years with consistent clinical results.
- Immune system modulator
- Antioxidant and prevents infections
- Protects and supports the liver, lungs, and respiratory health
- Source of PSK
c. Cordyceps (Ophiocordyceps sinensis), also known as the “Caterpillar fungus,” is one of the most valuable natural medicines. Traditionally as an immune modulator, it has been used for kidney disorders and to increase energy, stamina, and libido. Historically, it has been used for centuries to increase oxygen capacity at higher elevations, respiratory support, and for coughs as an expectorant. As an adaptogen, cordyceps supports the adrenal glands, hormonal balance, and vitality.
- Increases energy and physical stamina
- Increases cellular energy—ATP production
- Lung and respiratory support
- Kidney and adrenal gland support
2. Siberian Ginseng
Siberian ginseng, also known as Eleuthero, is a thorny shrub native to Eastern Russia, Northern China, and Japan. Siberian ginseng has been used by Chinese practitioners for over 2,000 years to treat bronchitis, respiratory infections, viral infections such as colds and flus, and to improve concentration and memory, increase energy, and longevity. Russian researchers started to validate the claims of the ancient Chinese in the 1950s, and by the mid-1970s many Russian athletes, factory workers, soldiers, astronauts, and pilots were using this extract to improve their performance and concentration. Siberian ginseng is still popular throughout Russia, Europe, and Asia, and is regarded as a powerful adaptogen for the resistance to stress and anxiety by increasing the body’s vitality to better adapt to physical and mental stressors.
3. Bee Propolis
Propolis contains antimicrobial compounds and is essential for the defence mechanisms of the hive to stay healthy and fight off pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, fungus, and parasites. Propolis is created from the bees collecting resins, which is synthesized by trees for their natural defence, and is mixed with nectar and wax to commonly be known as “bee glue.” Propolis is a vital component to the health of the hive and is used to disinfect, prevent, and fight infections within the colony. Traditionally, propolis is used in herbal medicine to help relieve sore throats, and infections of the mouth, throat, and the respiratory tract in acute or chronic conditions. Propolis nourishes and boosts your immune system, which increases white blood cells (macrophages) and helps your natural defences to fight infections by killing pathogens such as viruses and bacteria.
As we move into cold and flu season, and with the current state of the world’s health, we should take the initiative to be proactive and provide our mind and body with some extra support. I recommend more research about these unique compounds on how they can impact your health, and to incorporate these herbs daily in a combination formula available in the new MyShrooms Immune-Pro at MyShrooms.ca.
Nick Martinuik is the founder and CEO of MySpray Therapeutics, and is a natural health practitioner, researcher, and formulator with a vision for innovative and effective natural health products. He has over 23 years of clinical practice in Canora, Saskatchewan, and blends the latest in herbal medicine, homeopathy, massage therapy, supplements, and prescription orthotics to customize therapeutic interventions for health promotion, disease prevention, and longevity. Nick is registered with the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada and the Saskatchewan Association of Doctors of Natural Medicine. He can be contacted at his clinic by phone 306-563-4123 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.