by Jerry Angelini, MS
As we move into spring, the increasing daylight, warming weather, and blossoming plants bring a smile to almost everyone’s face. One thing that slips under our conscious thinking during the transition to spring, however, is awareness of immune health. During winter, people are more proactive about staying healthy, when in reality, spring brings its own challenges to immune health and balance.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, pathogens we are concerned about in winter are just as active in March, even May. Every time a pathogen enters the body, the immune system is responsible for determining both the severity of the health challenge and the duration to restoring balance. The immune system is a crucial defense needed to stay healthy and active at any time of the year.
Another springtime immune health consideration is how the immune system reacts to pollen and other environmental triggers. An oversensitivity to environmental elements or foods is an indication the immune system is out of balance.
The key then, for immune health year-round, is modulation, or balance. Certain natural substances can provide nutrition and cellular support to the immune system, so it is better able to respond to attacks it might experience, no matter the time of year.
Mushrooms have long been used in cultures around the world, both as food sources and as support for health and wellness.* Various mushroom species such as Reishi, Chaga, and Cordyceps have all been recognized as supporting a balanced immune response in the body.
Reishi is the mushroom most often linked to modulating the immune system. Reishi can help the immune system respond strongly while at the same time making sure it doesn’t overreact to substances or triggers. Further, Reishi bolsters adrenal functioning to help combat fatigue.* Reishi also supports cardiovascular and liver health, making it a multi-system support for immune strength and whole body wellness.
Chaga has been used cross culturally as a support for a strong, yet balanced immune response. Chaga’s point of interest is that it supports epithelial tissues in the body. Epithelial cells line the upper respiratory system and lungs, the digestive tract, the skin and the arteries. The balancing impact Chaga can have on these organs makes it a wonderful addition to the seasonal support category. It is important to support our lungs and intestinal tract so that they can respond appropriately to whatever they encounter.
Cordyceps is a well-known mushroom in the sports world. Cordyceps is recognized as being energizing and supporting athletic performance. Like many other beneficial mushrooms, Cordyceps also supports modulation of the immune system. Similar to Reishi, Cordyceps can help the upper respiratory system and lungs function strongly without overreacting to environmental triggers that can challenge breathing.
Remembering that the immune system functions 24 hours a day, seven days a week ,can be an important change in thinking. Feeding our bodies good food, providing ourselves with adequate rest and basic hygiene such as hand washing, are all important parts of maintaining health. Yet in today’s world we often need to do a bit more. Reishi, Chaga and Cordyceps – either separately or combined in a formula – can help ensure a strong immune system that doesn’t overreact to the environment. These three mushrooms help us during the change of seasons and throughout the year.
Jerry Angelini, MS, is the Education Director for Host Defense. He has been teaching and speaking on anatomy and physiology, herb-drug interactions, and psychology for over two decades and holds numerous certifications and post-graduate credentials.