Resource Partner Blog: Sun Horse Energy
Written by Mater herbalist Dan Moriarty is the founder of Sun Horse Energy Adaptogenic Elixirs. He is a third generation herbalist specializing in a class of botanical known as adaptogens.
If you’re new to the world of adaptogens, here’s how these medicinal herbs, in a nutshell, support the immune system…
Adaptogens counteract the effects of stress in the body. Stressors of all kinds harm several systems in the body, including the immune systems. Adaptogens can prevent or even reverse those harmful effects.
While counteracting the physical effects of stress is a great thing, how else can adaptogens support the immune system? How do they actually strengthen the immune response?
Before answering these questions, let’s take a step back and talk about the basics of the immune system.
What Is The Immune System?
The immune system contains specialized immune cells, tissues and organs that protect the body from disease-causing pathogens, including:
The lymph nodes, lymphatic vessels, bone marrow, spleen and thymus gland are the major tissues and organs involved in the immune system. As for specialized immune cells, here are the key players:
- Lymphocytes: These are white blood cells, of which there are two kinds, B and T cells. The former are produced in bone marrow, while T cells grow in the thymus gland. Lymphocytes react to the substances called antigens, which are released by pathogens. B cells release antibody proteins that neutralize the antigens.
- Macrophages: A type of white blood cell that locates and devours the debris of dead bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.
- Natural killer cells: A lymphocyte that kills virus-infected cells.
- Cytokines: Proteins produced by white blood cells.that act as chemical messengers in between cells. They stimulate or prevent the growth and activity of immune cells.
- Interleukins: A type of cytokine; these chemicals fight infections.
- Interferon: Another type of cytokine; produced by cells in response to viral or bacterial attacks.
How Does Stress Weaken The Immune System?
Furthermore, chronic stress decreases levels of natural killer cells. In fact, severe stress can reduce natural killer cell activity by up to 50%. And when a virus or other pathogen invades the body, the inflammation response kicks in. Consequently, white blood cells are sent to kill the pathogens. When your body is functioning in a state of homeostasis (ideal balance), your immune system can protect you from numerous pathogens.
But the immune system doesn’t work in isolation; it works hand in hand with the neuroendocrine system. These two systems communicate through neurotransmitters. You can think of neurotransmitters as telephone landline switchboard operators from decades ago. Neurotransmitters relay signals between nerve cells and circulating hormones. Chronic stress can interfere with neurotransmitter communication.
So one of the most important things to keep your immune system working properly is to ensure you remain in homeostasis. And that’s where adaptogens come in to play…
How Do Adaptogens Support The Immune System?
In addition to counteracting the negative effects of stress in the body, thereby maintaining homeostasis, here’s how else adaptogens support a healthy immune system:
- They counteract chronic immune cell depletion.
- They increase the production of immune cells, including natural killer cells, and T and B cells.
- They signal neurotransmitters to release more cortisol when an infection is present.
- They directly affect the nervous system, which improves communication between the brain and the rest of the body.
- They have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- They can reverse immunosuppression caused by pharmaceutical or illicit drugs.
Historical Use of Adaptogens
Knowledge about adaptogens dates back thousands of years to ancient India and China. Ayurveda, the ancient healing tradition of India, has used adaptogens to normal numerous physiologic functions, improve vitality, and enhance the body’s ability to adapt to stress and heal itself. Chinese herbal medicine has been used for thousands of years to establish and maintain homeostasis, increase inner vitality and energy and promote disease resistance.
However, it was not until the late 1940s following research done on eleuthero root by Russian scientist Dr. Nikolai Lazarev that the term “adaptogens” was first used. In 1968, Israel I. Brekhman, PhD and Dr. I. V. Dardymov formally defined adaptogens as plants with three characteristics:
- Adaptogens are nontoxic, which means they can be safely taken for extended periods of time.
- An adaptogen produces a nonspecific biological response that improves the body’s ability to resist multiple forms of stress, including physical, chemical and biological stressors.
- Adaptogens have a normalizing influence, meaning that whatever direction the stressors are throwing the body out of balance, adaptogens help to bring the system back into balance.
Some Examples of Adaptogens For Immune Support
May be beneficial for people who are run-down. If used long-term, it may strengthen the immune system and improve resistance to colds and flu. Research studies show astragalus boosts the activity levels of Natural Killer and T-cells, and interferon.
Asian licorice root (Glycyrrhiza uralensis)
Licorice appears to enhance immunity by boosting levels of interferon, a key immune system chemical that fights off attacking viruses. The triterpenoid content has been confirmed as an antiviral, making licorice root a potentially strong parterfor the immune system.
Reishi mushrooms have been shown to have a positive impact on the immune system. They contain triterpenes, making it a natural antiviral, antibacterial as well as antifungal. Research also shows reishi mushrooms affect the genes in white blood cells — the cells that protect the immune system from infection.
Rhodiola Rosea has been shown to significantly increase levels of immune system products that inhibit viral reproduction and regulate the activity of white blood cells. In this way Rhodiola is able to strengthen immune response to infection thus making the immune system more effective..
It would take far too long to list every adaptogen in Sun Horse Energy formulas and how they can help strengthen the immune system, or at the very least, keep it healthy and in homeostasis.
But suffice it to say, all adaptogens have been shown in numerous research studies to potentiate the immune system. By keeping the endocrine system (glands that regulate and release hormones) in balance, adaptogenic herbs help prime the immune system. In addition, they help cells uptake oxygen more efficiently. This, in turn, increases cellular respiration. When your cells can breathe better, you can breathe better.
Out of all the functions that adaptogens help perform in regards to immune system regulation, perhaps the most impressive is how they stimulate macrophages, those white cells that love to feast on the pathogenic remains of viruses (as well as bacteria and yeast).
However, taking adaptogenic herbal formulas should not be considered a surrogate for eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise and sleep. However, when used in combination with a healthy lifestyle, adaptogens may help protect you from viral attacks and other immune assaults. Adaptogenic herbs work even better in promoting homeostasis when working in combination.
How Can Customers Order Sun Horse Adaptogenic Elixirs?
All of our adaptogenic formulas are available at CBDGarage.com. We have a full line of adaptogenic elixirs for daily use. Each of our formulas have a base of 12-13 adaptogenic herbs with specific herbs added to each of the specialty formulas.