Herbal Education At The Academy: The Immune System | Growing Up Herbal | Interested in going to herbal school? Here's a sneak peek at the Herbal Academy's Intermediate herbal course!

Some have compared the body’s immune system to the military… a complex system that is made up of multiple components all acting in sync with each other to protect and defend the body from foreign invaders. Having a strong immune system is vital for good health, but how much control do we have over our immune system health? A lot actually.

If you go back to the second post in this series on Food As Medicine and then follow up with the third post in the series on The Digestive System, you’ll see how these two topics are great starting points when it comes to building a strong immune system.

You see, having a healthy digestive system must come first so that you can absorb nutrients from the healthy foods you eat. Both of these things will help to give the body a strong immune system so it can do its job.

Of course, there are other things to consider when it comes to immune system health as well. Today, I want to talk to you more about what you’ll learn in the fourth unit of The Online Intermediate Herbal Course from The Herbal Academy… it’s all about the immune system if you haven’t guessed it yet. I’ll be sharing 3 key take-aways from this unit as well as an immune boosting recipe that you can use to help your own immune system get in tip-top shape.

The Immune System

What I Studied

The fourth unit in The Online Intermediate Herbal Course is all about the body’s immune system covers some of the following topics.

  • an overview of how the immune system functions
  • a holistic perspective on the immune system
  • different parts of the immune system
  • how the body stimulates an immune response
  • how to build a healthy terrain: exercise, stress management, nutrition, herbs, detoxing/cleansing, adaptogens
  • herbal antibacterials, herbal antivirals, herbal antifungals
  • infections and wounds
  • respiratory infections and allergies
  • immune system disorders

For me, reviewing how the immune system worked really helped me learn how to applying the use of herbs to certain situations. My goal is to assist my body’s immune system and help it to work better rather than override it with meds or even the wrong use of herbs.

Interesting Things I Learned

Below you’ll find 3 things that really stood out to me most about this unit of study in HA’s Intermediate Herbal Course.

  1. The first thing that jumped out at me was the “terrain theory”. It’s a holistic perspective on human health that I’d never heard of before. It’s based on the theory that people with healthy terrains (bodies) get sick less often. Here’s a bit on how it works. When the body is in a state of balance, it protects itself from outside invaders so we don’t get sick in the first place, but when it gets out of balance (lack of exercise, sleep, nutrition, too much stress, etc.), then it’s susceptible to these outside invaders and our chances of getting sick are increased.
  2. Another big “wow” came from the section on herbal antibiotics. I’d never really understood the difference in herbs that were “antimicrobial” and herbs that were “antibacterial”. I’d always thought they were the same thing, but they aren’t. You see, herbs that are antimicrobial tend to act systemically. This means that if you have an infection from a wound you could take an antimicrobial herb internally, and it could help the body fight the infection in the wound. Echinacea is a good example of an antimicrobial herb. On the other hand, if you tried to take goldenseal internally for an infected wound it wouldn’t do you much good since goldenseal is antibacterial and acts locally instead of systemically. It would need to be used directly on the infection to help it.
  3. For the longest time I thought there was just one category of herbs called “immune stimulants” (as far as the immune system is concerned). These were the herbs you took to keep you from getting sick and to help you get better faster when you were sick. I had no clue that there was a group of herbs that were immune stimulating herbs and a separate group called immunomodulators, and I certainly didn’t know that the herbs in these groups were used differently! Now that I know the difference I’ll know which ones to use to prevent sickness and which to use to help my body fight sickness off if it comes around.

A Recipe To Share

The following recipe is for a warm drink you’d take at the first signs of a cold or other virus. I first heard about it from my friend John Gallager from Learning Herbs and Herb Mentor because this is what he does first thing when he’s coming down with a cold… yes, even before he pulls out the elderberry syrup. This recipe is a bit different from how he makes his, but none-the-less, it’s a great first step to fighting a cold off faster!

Fresh Ginger Juice Tea
Shared with permission from The Herbal Academy

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c. freshly squeezed ginger juice
  • 12 oz. hot water
  • 1 TBSP. of manuka honey
  • juice of 1/4 lime and its rind
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Juice ginger and lime. (I use this juicer to make it quick!)
  2. Combine juices with hot water, honey, and cayenne. Mix well and refrigerate.
  3. Drink 4-6 cups (warmed) daily to prevent colds. Drink 6 cups daily when you have a cold.

So there you go! This is what I’ve learned in the fourth unit of The Online Intermediate Herbal Course from the Herbal Academy. Feel free to click through to see if their school is a good fit for you. 

Do you have any questions about the immune system that I can answer for you? Feel free to share in the comments below!