Part 2: Five Balancing Botanicals (And One Mushroom) For Daily
In Part 1 of this two-part immune myth-busting blog series, we stated that instead of boosting, there’s a wiser way to support a balanced immune response that is cool, calm, and collected all year round (not just during “immune season”).
Here we’ll talk about some favorites from the plant and mushroom kingdoms that can help balance and strengthen—not boost—your immune system. First up is an ancient plant that almost no one in the U.S. is taking or talking about, which nevertheless has been treasured for thousands of years as a daily infusion.
Cistus Incanus: A Survivor and Thriver
Imagine you are hiking up a dusty, stony hill under the hot Mediterranean sun. The land is parched after recent wildfire. But just around the bend, a twinkle of pinkish purple catches your eye. As you clamber forward, the path spills into a thick stand of plants, filled with flowering shrubs with crinkly, pink-to-purple-hued blossoms and resinous leaves. Meet cistus (Cistus incanus), an evergreen in the rockrose family.
As you may have guessed, Cistus is a survivor, able to adapt to and even thrive in harsh conditions, including by germinating seeds after wildfires.
More than likely, long-ago Mediterranean cultures noted Cistus’s unique resilience and intuited that its strength and adaptability could be transmitted to humans as a tonic medicine.
As is often the case with traditional herbs, our forebearers were right. While they may not have known exactly what was behind the plant’s power, through the technology of modern science, what we know now is that it probably has a lot to do with polymeric polyphenols. Cistus is rich in this unique class of polyphenols, used for protection in the often-harsh growing conditions of its native lands.
As our ancestors learned thousands of years ago, Cistus’s magic can also take care of you, infusing your system with its rare, signature array of protective polyphenols that can help you face immune challenges and threats with resilience and balance.
To use a metaphor, a Cistus-fueled immune system can “see and hear” better as it works to differentiate friend from foe. If your immune system could speak, it might say ahhhhh as some of the “static noise” is silenced and cleared away by the polyphenols and other innumerable balancing phytoactives in Cistus.
Fun Fact: There is speculation by some scientists that red blood cells, which were recently shown for the first time to be critical immune sensors, may coat themselves in polyphenols which protect them from oxidative stress. While there is certainly much more to discover, the power of polyphenols may reach farther than we can currently imagine!
Cistus And Friends: A Symphony of Synergy
While Cistus is undoubtedly special on its own, through the science of herbal synergy, other plants help Cistus work more deeply and with greater power.
For example, the full spectrum vitamin C in rose hip, cherished as food and medicine the world over for generations, increases the activity of Cistus’s bioflavonoids. (Not all commercial rose hips contain adequate or even any vitamin C, which is why we test and verify ours.) The sumac berry, held dear in the Middle East as both a cooking spice and medicine, also brings vitamin C to the table, and both rose hip and sumac berry are rich in their own unique arrays of protective polyphenols.
Another vitamin C-rich helpmate for Cistus is black currant leaf, which boasts a rich history among European folk traditions for both acute and chronic challenges, including immune threats. Modern science corroborates traditional use, with evidence that a small concentration of black currant leaf extract can help the body overcome immune challenges.
Ginger root’s medicine is well-regarded among traditions dating back thousands of years, including in the ancient medicines of India, Iran, and China. In many traditional herbal formulations, ginger’s zippy energy is relied upon to catalyze other herbs, helping them activate their power. Now a beloved herb around the world, ginger is rich in the immunomodulating polyphenol gingerol, which can help reinstate balance throughout the immune system and body. A well-known digestive-soother, ginger has also been shown to amplify gut microbiome diversity.
Looking now to the fungi kingdom, we find a woody, lumpy-looking outgrowth that clings to northern birch trees and can survive remarkably cold temperatures. This unassuming mass is in fact the conk of a mushroom called chaga and is another old friend to humans, prized as a medicinal for thousands of years. Chaga, when growing wild on birch, produces betulin and betulinic acid, known to balance immune responses.
How fitting, that Cistus seeds can survive heat and fire, and chaga can survive extreme cold, each one finding ways to thrive in seemingly impossible challenges. Indeed, all the above-mentioned plants possess extraordinary abilities. What happens when we take that kind of power into our bodies? Along with their immunomodulating properties, perhaps they infuse us with another sort of medicine that science has not yet discovered, but that our ancestors sensed the truth of long ago.
Take Care Of Your Immune System Daily (And Leave The Boosting Myth Behind)
If you are looking for a synergized, daily immune solution, we invite you to check out our Immune Therapy Cistus+ Infusion, which combines precise, clinical measurements of Cistus, rosehips, black currant leaf, sumac berry, ginger root, and birch-grown chaga. Pre-clinical and clinical results show that within 1-2 hours, immune cells were activated to have a strengthened response to threats.
While Immune Therapy is powerful all by itself, our entire three-part Immune Therapy Collection reveres the complexity and connectedness of the human body, from the microbiome to the nervous system, and prepares your system to take on any challenge with wisdom.
 Ferrandis, P., Herranz, J. M., & Martínez-Sánchez, J. J. (1999). Effect of fire on hard-coated Cistaceae seed banks and its influence on techniques for quantifying seed banks. Plant Ecology 144, 103–114.
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 Koren, E., Kohen, R., & Ginsburg, I. (2010). Polyphenols enhance total oxidant-scavenging capacities of human blood by binding to red blood cells. Experimental biology and medicine (Maywood, N.J.), 235(6), 689–699.
 Wang, X., Zhang, D., Jiang, H., Zhang, S., Pang, X., Gao, S., Zhang, H., Zhang, S., Xiao, Q., Chen, L., Wang, S., Qi, D., & Li, Y. (2021). Gut Microbiota Variation With Short-Term Intake of Ginger Juice on Human Health. Frontiers in microbiology, 11, 576061.