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Immune Support Soup with Astragalus Root

As soon as the weather turns cold or whenever I am feeling a little sick, this soup recipe is the first thing I create. It is modified from Dr. Bill Mitchell’s Immune Support Soup with herbs in the mix to further strengthen the immune system. All components of this recipe support the many functions we need to have a strong defense. Consider preparing a large batch of the broth and freeze to have on hand all winter long. 

Health benefits:

  • Gut healing & soothing 
    • With bone broth as the base, this glycine rich liquid strengthens immune cells and has been shown to reduce inflammation in the gut and lungs. 
  • Immune strengthening
    • Medicinal mushrooms like shiitake and the addition of astragalus root contains polysaccharides that modulate the immune response by activating immune cells to reduce the likelihood of infection. 
  • Antimicrobial 
    • Onion and garlic have been shown to be highly antimicrobial against a wide variety of organisms, viral and bacterial, and also increase the efficacy of antibiotics and are effective against antibiotic resistant bacteria.
  • Warming
    • Warm liquids, especially with the addition of ginger root, increase our warmth and circulation in the body. The cooked ingredients are easy to digest which supports our body when we are fatigued by immune stressors.
  • Vitamin & mineral rich
    • Shiitake is rich in vitamin D and B-vitamins. Bone broth provides a host of amino acids and proteins. Parsley is high in vitamin C, K, and A. Carrots are high in B-vitamins, vitamin A & K, and potassium. All working together to bolster your immune system!

Immune Support Soup with Astragalus Root

  • 4 C organic chicken bone broth
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 1-2 carrots, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 handful shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger thumb, grated
  • 1 fresh lemon, juiced
  • ¼ C fresh italian parsley, chopped
  • ¼ C astragalus root
  • 2 T grass-fed butter *optional*

Start by melting the butter in a large pot and adding the ginger, garlic, and onions. Then add in carrots and mushrooms before topping off with the broth. If you have astragalus root slices you may add them in now and remove them at the end, or if you have chopped astragalus root, place in a tea ball or bag to remove later. Bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer for 30 minutes with the lid on. Remove from heat and then add the juice from the lemon and chopped parsley. Allow to steep for 5 minutes before serving. 

**We cook this soup for a minimum of 30 minutes because that is the minimum amount of time mushrooms and herbal roots need to fully extract their medicinal compounds. Don’t rush to the finish line!

**If you don’t already make your own bone broth, you may purchase it at the grocery store. Buyer beware that many commercial brands are watering down their broths. Look for brands that have 10 g of protein per cup and are more gelatinous than liquid. I can attest to Trader Joe’s organic grass-fed bone broth being the real deal!


Citations:

Abiy, Ephrem, and Asefaw Berhe. “Anti-Bacterial Effect of Garlic (Allium Sativum) against Clinical Isolates of Staphylococcus Aureus and Escherichia Coli from Patients Attending Hawassa Referral Hospital, Ethiopia.” Journal of Infectious Diseases and Treatment, vol. 02, no. 02, 14 Nov. 2016, doi:10.21767/2472-1093.100023.

  • Anonymous, A. “FoodData Central Search Results.” FoodData Central, 2019, fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169242/nutrients.
    Froh, Matthias, et al. “Molecular Evidence for a Glycine-Gated Chloride Channel in Macrophages and Leukocytes.” American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, vol. 283, no. 4, 2002, doi:10.1152/ajpgi.00503.2001.

    Fu, Juan, et al. “Review of the Botanical Characteristics, Phytochemistry, and Pharmacology OfAstragalus Membranaceus(Huangqi).” Phytotherapy Research, vol. 28, no. 9, 2014, pp. 1275–1283., doi:10.1002/ptr.5188.

    Holick, Michael F, and Tai C Chen. “Vitamin D Deficiency: a Worldwide Problem with Health Consequences.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 87, no. 4, 2008, doi:10.1093/ajcn/87.4.1080s.

    Ikejima, K., et al. “Kupffer Cells Contain a Glycine-Gated Chloride Channel.” American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, vol. 272, no. 6, 1997, doi:10.1152/ajpgi.1997.272.6.g1581.

    Mahomoodally, Fawzi, et al. “Onion and Garlic Extracts Potentiate the Efficacy of Conventional Antibiotics against Standard and Clinical Bacterial Isolates.” Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry, vol. 18, no. 9, 2018, pp. 787–796., doi:10.2174/1568026618666180604083313.

    Mitchell, Bill. “Dr. Bill Mitchell’s Immune Support Soup.” Bastyr University, 0AD, health.bastyr.edu/recipes/dr-bill-mitchells-immune-support-soup.

    Wheeler, Michael D., et al. “Dietary Glycine Blunts Lung Inflammatory Cell Influx Following Acute Endotoxin.” American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology, vol. 279, no. 2, 2000, doi:10.1152/ajplung.2000.279.2.l390.

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Holistic Approaches to Winter Respiratory & Immune Health- Wild Cherry Bark Syrup and more!

The season of cold, dry air is upon us and with this change we are seeing a lot of coughs and colds arising. If you are struggling with this weather transition, consider the following tips. 

  • Eat seasonally and locally. Foods that are growing this time of year are rich in nutrients and phyto-chemicals that support our bodies through fall and winter. When they are local they come with a bit of any dirt or microbes that are in our environment which help to strengthen our microbiome. Also, plants growing in your environment are exposed to the same conditions as you thus creating chemicals to endure this climate that are in turn utilized by your body to strengthen your own internal environment (medicinal compounds in plants are sometimes referred to as the ‘immune system’ of a plant, as these compounds are created when a plant is under stress, like wind or drought or cold). 
  • Consume fermented foods that are rich in probiotics like sour kraut, yogurt, kefir, and our current favorite- ginger carrots. Probiotics strengthen the immune system and the more diversity you can get from a variety of sources, the better. 
  • Eat cooked, warm food. Keep that digestive fire alive by eating pre-digested (cooked) foods! Cooking our food makes it easier on our digestive system and releases more available nutrients. Drinking warm beverages and cooked foods maintains a healthy digestive system, especially during these cold winter months. 
  • Utilize root and bark herbal medicines that are abundant this time of year! Roots and barks will contain compounds that strengthen our immune system and are typically plants that support the conditions we deal with in the winter.
    • A few great examples are: astragalus root, ginger root, wild cherry bark, cinnamon bark, echinacea root, marshmallow root, elecampane root, dandelion and burdock root.


Below you’ll find a fabulous herbal remedy to use all winter long! This syrup will support your respiratory system and strengthen the immune system. Use this as a cough syrup as needed or as a daily tonic to keep illnesses at bay or to recover from a respiratory infection. 

Root & Bark Winter Syrup

1 oz Wild Cherry bark

0.5 oz Astragalus root

1 t Cinnamon

1 inch fresh thumb of Ginger root

1.5 C raw local honey

3 C water

Start by placing 3 cups of cold water into a medium sized pot on the stove. Mix in all of the herbs and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a low rolling simmer and allow to cook until the water is reduced by ½ (you can measure this by marking a spoon or chopstick and checking the water level every so often). Allow to cool before straining through a mesh strainer. Then mix in your honey and stir with a spoon to fully incorporate. Don’t add the honey until it has cooled off quite a bit, as heating raw honey above 110 degrees will destroy vital healing components the honey contains. Store in a glass jar in the fridge. 

** If your family is prone to dry coughs, add 1/2 oz of marshmallow root to your mix.

As a daily tonic, consume 1-2 tablespoons 1-2x/day. Children, take 1-2 teaspoons 1-2x/day.

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Thyme Syrup for Respiratory Health

Supporting our families’ health through the winter is easy with herbal medicine. If your kids are getting tired of elderberry syrup or you’re ready to experiment with something new- give this recipe a try!

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is broad-spectrum antimicrobial plant with notable research showing effectiveness against candida, antibiotic resistant bacteria, drug-resistant viruses, and molds [1,3,4,5]. Thyme is also a powerful antispasmodic effective for soothing coughs like those associated with bronchitis and whooping cough. As a warm and drying plant it is helpful in reducing congestion. It’s numerous effects on respiratory health make it a perfect winter-time remedy.

The research has focused on the volatile oil content of the plant. These constituents evaporate when heated and dried, so in order to capture this medicine effectively we need to take a few extra steps in preparation. Since the volatile oil content is highest when the plant is fresh it is best to purchase fresh thyme from your local grocery store rather than the dried bulk herb. However, if that is all you have access to, use it!

**Please note that while the research is examining effectiveness of the volatile oil against microbes, it is not evaluating safety of use in humans, and therefore does not equate to safe use. As herbalists, we value your healthy & safety, and respect the intelligent design of using whole plant medicines.

Thyme Syrup

**Important Notes-

  1. Sugar is used for babies under the age of 2 as honey may contain botulism spores that could infect the child with a developing immune system.
  2. Add honey after the tea has cooled to preserve the vital enzymes within.
  3. Use a weaker preserving ratio of sweetener if you will be storing in the fridge or using immediately. Use a stronger ratio if you’d like to extend shelf life or not refrigerate.

Ingredients:

4 packets of fresh thyme (3 oz)

2 cups cold water

1-2 cups sugar or raw local honey

Instructions: Place cold water in a medium pot on the stove. Chop fresh thyme loosely and add to pot with the lid only slightly cracked open (to preserve any volatile oil loss). Mark a toothpick, chopstick, or spoon for the level of water. Heat on medium-high until it is boiling, then reduce to a low rolling simmer. Allow to cook, checking the water level against your tool, until the water has been reduced by half. Turn off heat and allow any condensation on the lid to drip back into the water before straining through a fine mesh strainer into a glass measuring cup. Pour the liquid back into the emptied pot. At this point you may add sugar to dissolve into the warm tea or allow to cool a bit with the lid on before adding honey. Stir until well incorporated, bottle, and store appropriately!

Dosage for adults: 1-2 tablespoons every hour to every other hour during sickness, if you feel a cold coming on, or are coughing.

Dosage for kids: divide the kids weight by 150 and multiply by the adult dose, taken 2-4x/day. For example, a 50 lb child would take 1-2 teaspoons at a time (50 lbs / 150 = 0.33 .. 0.33 x 1 = 1/3 of tablespoon or 1 teaspoon).

Citations:

  1. Sienkiewicz, Monika, et al. “The Antimicrobial Activity of Thyme Essential Oil Against Multidrug Resistant Clinical Bacterial Strains.” Microbial Drug Resistance, vol. 18, no. 2, 21 Nov. 2012, pp. 137–148., doi:10.1089/mdr.2011.0080.
  2. Eisenhut, Michael, and Jonathan Cohen. “The Toxicity of Essential Oils.” International Journal of Infectious Diseases, vol. 11, no. 4, July 2017, p. 365., doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijid.2006.07.004.
  3. Swamy, Mallappa Kumara, et al. “Antimicrobial Properties of Plant Essential Oils against Human Pathogens and Their Mode of Action: An Updated Review.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2016, 20 Dec. 2016, pp. 1–21., doi:10.1155/2016/3012462.
  4. Wińska, Katarzyna et al. “Essential Oils as Antimicrobial Agents-Myth or Real Alternative?.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 24,11 2130. 5 Jun. 2019, doi:10.3390/molecules24112130
  5. Rajkowska, Katarzyna, et al. “The Effect of Thyme and Tea Tree Oils on Morphology and Metabolism of Candida Albicans.” Acta Biochimica Polonica, vol. 61, no. 2, 2014, doi:10.18388/abp.2014_1900.
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Herbal Remedies for Proper Digestive Support

(carminative herbs in tea)

We all have experienced some level of digestive distress over our lifetimes. Everything we are ingesting (or not) is producing a chemical reaction and imparting an influence upon all of the systems throughout. The GI tract is the origin for gaining sustenance and nourishment so that the entire body can produce energy. With a holistic approach to disease, we must recognize these functions as vital and ensure there is proper nourishment, assimilation, and eliminate any irritating factors to improve health. 

Herbal medicine boasts a wide variety of plants for the GI tract. There is an herb to support anything you are experiencing, from mild tummy upsets from a night of indulgences to more severe situations like Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. With such a vast system, it is easy to get lost in the fascinating world of herbal medicine. By breaking it down into classes and actions of herbs, you may select the proper remedy for your situation. 

Bitters- These are herbs that are bitter in flavor and impart a stimulating ‘wake up call’ to the functions of the entire system. They increase saliva, stomach acid, bile flow, pancreatic enzyme release, and encourage movement of the intestines. With our busy American lifestyles, we don’t often get into that rest & digest mode of our nervous system that naturally encourages these. So if you have any digestive struggles, bitters are always apart of the recommendation as they strengthen the vagus nerve actions upon the digestive system.

Examples of bitter herbs: gentian, yarrow, chamomile, dandelion root, burdock root 

Astringents- Tonifying in nature, these are imperative pieces to repair any weakened tissue especially in cases like leaky gut, where the lining of the intestine is permeable. It allows the tissue to heal together smoothly, creating a protective layer, so other layers of the mucosa may heal. They are often used to stop bleeding, internally or externally.

Examples of astringent herbs: white oak bark, agrimony, raspberry leaf, yarrow, rose, green/black tea

Demulcents- Bringing a moistening and protective quality, demulcents will coat and soothe the mucosal linings of the body. For example, this protects the stomach lining and esophagus from eroding due to stomach acid. It is also imperative in constipation and inflammatory conditions in general. 

Examples of demulcent herbs: marshmallow root, slippery elm bark, licorice root

Carminatives- Carminatives are aromatic herbs, aka the ones that contain all the delicious smelling volatile oils. These penetrate the tissues to open and relax, settling any cramping, food stagnation, upset tummies, or griping pains. Generally warming, they rekindle digestive fire needed to digest food. They will also relax the nervous system, assisting proper gut-brain axis functioning via the vagus nerve.

Examples of carminative herbs: ginger, cardamom, anise, fennel, chamomile, peppermint, lemonbalm

Stimulants/bowel tonics- This is a wide category of herbs that stimulate bowel movements due to the intensity of action. They range from mild to stimulating laxatives and cathartics. A widely misused category of herbs that can cause harm if used improperly, so it is important to know what level of intensity you need and taken at a properly guided dosage. I often find that the stronger stimulants are not indicated until other recommendations have failed to improve the condition. 

Examples of bowel tonic & stimulant herbs: yellow dock root, burdock root, senna leaf, turkery rhubarb root, cascara sagrada 

Many of these herbs will cross over into other classes as all herbs are complex and have a wide variety of medicinal compounds. This is of great advantage to us despite the overwhelming nature at first glance. You may find that you have indigestion, generally run cold, and have some mild cramping pains around meals- and ginger may take care of all of that for you. However, sometimes our situations require a formula to take care of all that is going on. Situations like constipation may require both a stimulating laxative, bulking laxative, and carminative to help with the cramping pains that come with the bowel movements once they are provoked. 

Generally, the herbs listed above are very safe, but please do your research and ensure there are no contraindications with medications and that it is the right herb for you. And if in doubt, talk to your local herbalist. At Lionhearted Herbals, we frequently see cases centered around digestive disorders, and highly urge those with complex or chronic conditions to request an appointment for proper recommendations to be made.

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Blend #1

Get Energized with Blend #1

Ingredients:

Herbs and things

 

 

Purpose:

Spark the mind and body.

 

Request your blend

Example: 4 oz dried lemonbalm leaf OR 4 oz lemobalm tincture
OR 2 oz dried nettle leaf, 2 oz dried oat straw, and 2 oz rose petals mixed as a tea