Posted on: November 28, 2018

Herbs are at the center of what we do, and we work with hundreds of plant species, from Albizia (Albizia julibrissin) to Yucca (Yucca schidigera). Learning about herbs is a journey for each one of us, and there is always more to understand and discover. Once you develop the habit of pausing, listening and observing nature, you’ll never stop learning.

Today we’re sharing some facts and insights about 14 herbs for immune support.* Some of them, like Echinacea and Black Elderberry, might be herbs you know and love. Others, like Schisandra and Umckaloabo, might be new to you. Read on to test your knowledge of these plants, just in time for immune season.

 

Andrographis: This plant, native to South Asia, is known as the “King of Bitters” — and for good reason. Andrographis has an intensely bitter taste. Also known as Kalmegh, it is an immune support active responder.*

Botanical name: Andrographis paniculata

Native habitat: South Asia

Parts used: herb

Use(s): supports healthy function of the immune system.*

Flavor profile: slightly aromatic and intensely bitter

Astragalus:  Astragalus root is harvested in autumn and carefully shade-dried to maintain its full aroma and color. It supports vital energy and reinforces the body’s natural defenses, including healthy lung function.* Native to Asia, this plant is known as Huang Qi in traditional Chinese herbalism.

Botanical name: Astragalus mongholicus

Native habitat: Asia, including Mongolia, China and the Korean peninsula

Parts used: roots

Use(s): take over time for deep immune support.*

Flavor profile: earthy, bitter and slightly sweet

Black Elderberry: We extract only fully ripened Black Elderberries, which assures optimal extraction of the plant’s bioactive compounds. Black Elderberry provides deep support for an active immune response.* These plump little blueish-black berries start out as lacy white flowers known as — you guessed it — Elder flower. Elder trees commonly grow along the edge of wooded areas, and they are named as such due to the respect they have earned. In Europe, they are commonly grown in hedgerows.

Botanical name: Sambucus nigra

Native habitat: Europe and North America

Parts used: fruit

Use(s): supports the immune system*

Flavor profile: tart, fruity

Cat’s Claw: Take one look at this plant, and you’ll know exactly why it got its name. The thorns on Cat’s Claw look exactly like, well, a cat’s claw! We extract the inner bark of vines that are responsibly wildcrafted in the Peruvian Amazon. Cat’s Claw, which supports the immune system, is a perennial vine that climbs using its “claws.”*

Botanical name: Uncaria tomentosa

Native habitat: Central and South America

Parts used: inner bark

Use(s): supports the immune system*

Flavor profile: sour, bitter and very astringent

Echinacea: Echinacea purpurea is among the herbs we grow on our farm as part of our United Plant Savers certified Botanical Sanctuary. Almost every part of this plant is used — we harvest and extract the root, seed and flower with leaf separately. You likely have seen Echinacea’s bright pinkish-purple flowers — commonly known as Coneflower — growing in fields or alongside roads in the eastern or central US. We also grow it on our Certified Organic farm in southern Oregon. A member of the daisy family, Echinacea provides complex, deep support of the immune system over both the short and long term.* It is great for all-season immune system support.*

Botanical name: Echinacea purpurea

Native habitat: Eastern and central US

Parts used: roots, leaves, flowers and seeds

Use(s): supports healthy function of the immune system*

Flavor profile: deep, earthy taste followed by a tingling mouthfeel due to naturally occurring alkylamides

Goldenseal: This woodland plant with a yellow root is native to the eastern and central US, with a long history of use by Native Americans. Goldenseal is on the United Plant Savers At-Risk list, so we take sourcing of this plant seriously and grow it in our Botanical Sanctuary. To preserve wild-growing populations of this threatened plant, we only use cultivated, Certified Organic Goldenseal. Our Goldenseal is dug by hand in the late summer or autumn, then carefully cleaned and dried in the shade before it is thoroughly extracted. Goldenseal provides traditional support for the respiratory and digestive systems.*

Botanical name: Hydrastis canadensis

Native habitat: Eastern US

Parts used: rhizome and rootlets

Use(s): traditional support for the respiratory system*

Flavor profile: profoundly and quintessentially bitter taste

Lomatium: Native to the Western US, Lomatium is in the same family as carrots and celery. It was commonly used by Native Americans. This hardy root has eluded attempts to grow it commercially, so Lomatium is a reminder of nature’s power. Our extract is prepared from fresh roots that are responsibly wildcrafted exclusively for us in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains. Lomatium is traditionally used to support the immune system.*

Botanical name: Lomatium dissectum

Native habitat: Western US

Parts used: roots

Use(s): supports the immune system*

Flavor profile: very resinous and slightly bitter

Myrrh: Perhaps best known as one of the Three Wisemen’s gifts, Myrrh is a hard, glossy tree resin. Ours is made from the responsibly wildcrafted resin of trees in the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula and East Africa. Myrrh offers traditional support for the immune system.*

Botanical name: Commiphora myrrha

Native habitat:Middle East and eastern Africa; ours is from Somalia

Parts used: oleo-gum-resin

Use(s): traditional support for the immune system*

Olive Leaf: The Olive branch may be the iconic symbol of peace or victory, but the leaves also have a storied history, with uses that date back centuries. The mature leaves of the Olive tree promote a vigorous immune system response and provide general cardiovascular support.* The leaves we use are grown domestically in a 100-year-old heirloom Olive orchard.

Botanical name: Olea europaea

Native habitat: the Mediterranean region

Parts used: leaves

Use(s): supports the immune system*

Flavor profile: deeply bitter and slightly aromatic

Oregano: A member of the Mint family, Oregano is found in cultures from Spain and Portugal to Iran and India. Our Oregano Spirits blends the plant extract with the essential oil of Origanum vulgare plants. The extract is prepared from the leaf and flower of Certified Organic plants, while the essential oil is made from Certified Organic plants and/or plants responsibly wildcrafted from their native habitats.

Botanical name: Origanum vulgare

Native habitat: Eurasia and the Mediterranean region

Parts used: leaves and flowers, essential oil

Use(s): supports the immune system*

Flavor profile: intensely fiery and pungent, spicy and highly aromatic (be sure to dilute as directed on the label).

 

Propolis: Propolis is not a plant, but a by-product of trees created by bees. Honeybees harvest the crude resin from wild-growing trees, process it and store it in their hives. Propolis, which helps sharpen immune system's response to challenges,* is then carefully collected from the honeybee hives and thoroughly extracted. At higher temperatures, it is sticky and becomes brittle when cool, and bees use it to provide structural stability and to fill in small gaps within their hives.

Botanical name: Resina propoli

Native habitat: same as the habitat of the honeybee, origin uncertain

Parts used: resin

Use(s): supports the immune system*

Flavor profile: sharp, intensely resinous and aromatic

Reishi mushroom: Reishi mushrooms grow on deciduous trees and have a long history of use to support the immune system.* Our Reishi extract is prepared from dried whole fruiting body (not mycelium) of Certified Organic Ganoderma lingzhi mushrooms. Our Reishi is grown on wood logs and/or chips (never on grains like rice).

Botanical name: Ganoderma lingzhi 

Native habitat: Asia

Parts used: fruiting body

Use(s): supports the immune system*

Flavor profile: bitter and earthy

Schisandra: Highly valued in Traditional Chinese Herbalism, Schisandra is called the “five-flavored spice” because it in fact contains sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami flavors.
The small red clusters of berries are native to Asia. We prepare our adaptogenic Schisandra extract from only ripe berries of Certified Organic Schisandra chinensis vines. We first soak Schisandra berries in menstruum, and then thoroughly extract them, which protects the oils and preserves flavor. Schisandra promotes optimal well-being.*

Botanical name: Schisandra chinensis

Native habitat: China

Parts used: berries

Use(s): optimal well-being* and supports liver health*

Flavor profile: extremely sour, a little bitter and salty

Umckaloabo: Native to South Africa, Umckaloabo is also known as African Geranium. The plant has eye-catching dark red to purple flowers and rosette-like leaves, but it is the roots that are used in herbalism. We prepare our Umckaloabo extract from the root of Certified Organic Pelargonium sidoides plants, responsibly harvested from its native South Africa. Umckaloabo supports healthy sinus, nasal & bronchial function.*

Botanical name: Pelargonium sidoides

Native habitat: South Africa

Parts used: roots

Use(s): supports healthy sinus, nasal & bronchial function*

Flavor profile: earthy, slightly aromatic, sour and very astringent