All life on our planet ebbs and flows like the tides of the seas. There are times of plenty, allowing plants to flower and spread their seeds through delicious fruit and vegetables. Then there are times where harsher conditions leave their fragile leaves exposed to elements, causing them to wilt and fall away.
In times of plenty, we can feel invincible and grow to new heights both physically and mentally. But when seasons change, the waves get too rough, and we are overloaded with the burdens of our modern lives. Our immune system’s ability to protect us drops.
Through time, our immune system has managed to adapt and protect us from the countless perils that we are exposed to - strains of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and predators. One example of our amazing ability to innately protect ourselves is through the discomfort of a fever, where immune cytokines create heat to elevate our body temperature safely by 1-4°C. This elevation in temperature improves survival from many pathogens that function poorly at higher temperatures, where our own immune cells thrive. Indeed, countering our body's own heat inducing mechanisms artificially reduces our survival rates by 5%.
Generations of adaptation have enabled these marvels to come to life, at the expense of many. And so, just like the leaves, our bodies transform to deal with the seasons, although it may not show so obviously on the outside. Consider yourself more like an evergreen rather than a deciduous tree, where we maintain appearances on the outside, but the reality internally is less productive when stress is applied to our environment. This is the moment that our innate and adaptive immune system kicks in, protecting us as best it can. To aid this process, humans have used their connection with nature and curious intelligence to support our inner immune system's potential through the nature that surrounds us and the mechanisms that plants and other animals use to protect themselves.
This is what inspires our Botanical Guardian tincture, the connection to Mother Nature and her recipe for survival which has been passed down since time began.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea)
Perhaps the most well-known modulator of our immune system is the echinacea plant, which was first recognised by Native Americans and used to treat insect bites, colds, coughs, and influenza.
Our immune system is a complex cascade of biological chain reactions that blooms a network of approaches to protect our cells. It simultaneously increases blood flow, kills foreign and damaged cells, begins a memory process for the antigen and encourages further inflammation to stimulate healing. Echinacea has been shown to influence our natural killer cells and their ability to destroy foreign cells, whilst modulating the immune response so that it is not destructive to our own healthy cells.
Elderberry (Sambucus nigra fructus)
Elderberry is cited in many of the world’s pharmacopoeia for medicinal plants, including the European and British Pharmacopoeia and World Health Organisation monographs. It has been used for centuries for its potent immunomodulatory effect and as an anti-viral agent. It is the unique combination of flavonoids in Elderberry that make it so powerful against viruses, especially isoquercitroside, which is recognised as one of the key constituents for its activity.
Rosehip (Rosa canina)
Rosehip’s renowned vitamin C content is attributed to much of its benefit to our immune system. It has a potent ability to scavenge free radicals too – making it an antioxidant force within the body. It has also been shown to modulate our immune response through a balanced reduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines when they become a burden for our healthy cells under stress. Beyond the immune system, rosehip has well-documented results against osteoarthritis too.
Rock Rose (Cistus incanus)
The delicate flowers of rock rose grow on soils that are often difficult to penetrate and nutrient poor. But it is their ability to overcome these challenges that makes them interesting and useful in nature’s medicine cabinet. The anti-viral powers of Rock Rose are what it is recognised for in particular. The bioactive compounds, flavonoids, terpenes, and tannins help to prevent viruses fusing with our cells and interfere with receptor binding activity. Moreover, they can prevent infected cells in our body from releasing further viral pathogens.
Propolis is produce from the resinous collections bees make from the sap of trees, and interestingly this resin is used to heal wounds in trees. Bees are nature’s marvel, and so important in all aspects of life that without them it would be near impossible to feed ourselves. Just how important they are struck us when we started our own vegetable patch at home – their activity throughout the spring, pollenating the tomato and pumpkin flowers and stimulating the creation of the succulent and nutrient dense produce in summer time was life-affirming.
The bees are nature’s network operators, the logistics behind much of life. Their connection to a diverse array of plants is what makes their nectar and the propolis such a powerful immune-supporting tool for us. Since its early use it has been recognised as valuable to our immune system, which is increasingly backed up by modern science and cited for anti-tumour and anti-inflammatory use, as well as its immuno-modulatory purposes.
Mustard flower essence (Sinapis arvensis)
The bright yellow flowers from Mustard are for those seeking to lift away the clouds that fall heavy onto our path, often during the change of the seasons. We also specifically chose mustard flower essences to aid with the resulting isolation and disconnection that can occur when we are ill, sheltering ourselves away from others, and in doing so opening ourselves to melancholy. These flowers will lift away the heaviness and produce new light allowing us to bloom again when we are ready for the world.