Immune Support – a Holistic Approach

We get a lot of questions about Immune Support here at the herb store, and we’re always happy to help. Oftentimes we are quick to recommend products like Elderberry & Honey Tonic or Immune Booster; and while these are excellent choices to add to your regular health regimens, we also like to encourage folks to address their lifestyle for the best defense against illness.

Having a good functioning immune system can help you avoid contracting many illnesses and common colds, or at least make them last for shorter amounts of time. Contrary to what the world tells us, good health is not found in vaccines. The best way stay healthy is to strengthen your immune system and make it work harder to protect you in your natural environment. Truly, there is a lot that goes into your immune system from your guts to your hormones to your mental health.

Here are our top 10 recommendations for keeping your immune system in optimal shape throughout the year.

1. Improve Your Gut Flora – Adding probiotics to your diet can help your natural microbiome maintain a healthy balance. The better your microbiome and digestion, the healthier you’ll be. Gut flora is important for proper digestion of all nutrients.

2. Enjoy Mushrooms and Garlic regularly – Both of these foods offer antibiotic properties that can help improve your immunity against disease. Bonus: they taste amazing while supporting your body! Try to add them to most every meal in some form. During meal prep, cook up a bunch to have ready to top on everything from toast to salads!

3. Eat More Cruciferous Veggies – Boost your liver function by eating more cruciferous vegetables, which will help cleanse your liver so that it can work better to remove toxins. The best way to eat cruciferous vegetables is to lightly steam them. Vegetables like this include cabbage, broccoli, brussels and cauliflower. What’s more? These vegetables contain compounds that are also shown to fight cancer!

4. Drink Plenty of Water – One of the first questions I ask all my clients is how much water they drink each day. Imagine what your plants look like without water – now imagine how your organs feel! Food cannot digest – and your body cannot work properly – without you being properly hydrated. Aim to drink at least half your weight in ounces of filtered water a day.

5. Support Your Adrenal Cortex – This is where I might lose from folks – but stay with me. Your adrenal cortex is responsible for producing hormones, particularly ones that help your body fight illness. Eating healthy fats (foods high in antioxidants and amino acids) improves adrenal function. This aids in helping your adrenal glands continue to provide the right hormones to your body for a healthy immune system.

6. Add a Juice a Day – Look to investing in a juicer and drink one vegetable and fruit juice serving each day. Juicing isn’t just for fancy people; it’s a great way to get all the nutrients and calories for energy without stressing your digestive system. If you’re into supporting local, skip buying the machine and find your favorite local juice cafe. Move over, Starbucks! We’re doing healthy in 2024!

7. Get Enough Sleep – I cannot stress this one enough! Most people need between eight and ten hours of sleep each night, but the world has sold us on six hours being enough; all in the name of productivity. Truly, no one gets enough sleep. I tell my clients that prioritizing rest is critical to good health. Our body does SO much healing and growing during sleep!

8. Move Your Body! – I prefer to dance (the girls here LOVE my dance moves… I think!) but even a twenty minute walk each day can boost your immunity. Moving and breathing deeply will help you not only become healthier but feel better too! Sedentary jobs do none of us any favors. If you have a job that requires sitting all day, find excuses to get up and walk around! I encourage everyone to move at least once an hour for five minutes. Take a bathroom break and do jumping jacks on your way there and back!

9. Get Fresh Air and Sunshine – Finding a way to breathe in fresh air and get plenty of sunshine each day is important. Sunshine gives you vitamin D which provides major immune system support, and fresh air helps clear your lungs and help you relax. Deep breaths are great – deep breaths outside are even better. Another tip is to open your windows as often as possible! Studies show indoor air is often MCUH more polluted than outdoors – regardless of where you live in the world! So open those windows!

10. Avoid Toxins – Listen, I’m not here to preach. I enjoy me a nice big glass of wine, and the occasional cigar for a new baby is still my favorite tradition! But keep these things to a minimum. It is no secret that smoking and heavy drinking contribute to poor health both short term and long term. Prescription medications also slow down your liver from functioning properly. Always be mindful about what you are putting in your body. The more toxins you can avoid putting into your body, the healthier you’ll become.

By following these tips every day, you’ll boost your immune system and feel better too. Living life with holistic health (mind + body + soul) in mind always provides a way for you to feel your best!

XO
Ashley

Delta 8 – What You Need to Know

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This original article was written in April 2021. It has been updated with the latest information and laws relating to alternate cannabinoids like Delta 8.

Cannabis, sweet sweet Cannabis, has done it again!

You may have heard recently about a ‘new’ Cannabis product going around called Delta 8. If a friend hasn’t mentioned it to you as an alternative to your sleep aid, or evening wine or nightcap, then you’ve probably seen signs outside of CBD stores promoting the latest hype in the Hemp community.

There’s certainly a reason for all the hype. In these strange times of 21st century federal prohibition, Delta 8 is a completely legal form of marijuana. Its effects are nearly identical to Delta 9 THC (which you know as Weed), and it’s being sold at every CBD store, headshop, and even gas stations in your town.

What is it, exactly? What does it do? And most importantly: is it really legal?

What is Delta 8 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)?

Many of us are aware of THC, the naturally occurring cannabinoid found in Cannabis plants. This compound is responsible for the psychoactive effects you experience when using weed, but what many don’t know is that Delta 9 THC – the single and particular compound responsible for those effects – isn’t the only hero in the Cannabis family.

Introducing Delta 8 Tetrahydrocannabinol: Delta 9’s younger, cooler brother. I use the term “introducing” very lightly, as Delta 8 has been around just as long as all the other cannabinoids, but is just now gaining popularity in the last year, and for obvious reason.

What is a cannabinoid?

Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds found in the plant matter of Cannabis. Scientists have identified just over 100 of them; the most well-known to us laymen being THC and CBD. Most of us identify each respectively by the one that gets you high, and the one that doesn’t. Simple enough!

THC is only legal in 19 states for recreational use, and approved for medicinal purposes in several dozen. It’s worth noting that more and more states join the bandwagon each year, legalizing or at least decriminalizing THC, and we’ve certainly come a long way since total prohibition!

Unlike THC, CBD products (as defined by the 2018 Farm Bill) face no federal prohibition at all. Not only is CBD legal in all 50 states, but is also recognized as an approved seizure medication. Epidiolex, a CBD extract, got the stamp of approval from the FDA in 2018.

So now we celebrate Cannabis’s new hero in the spotlight: Delta 8 THC, another psychoactive cannabinoid that is conveniently squeezing right into a comfortable legal loophole across the nation.

What does Delta 8 do, and why do people love it so much?

There are very few studies associated with this particular compound. Existing information points to Delta 8’s most notable effects being helpful for nausea, anxiety, pain, and even neuroprotective effects.

One small study in the 90s showed a group of children battling cancer who were given Delta 8 alongside chemotherapy treatments. When dosed with the Delta 8 THC two hours prior to starting the antineoplastic drugs, and continued every 6 hours for 24 hours, vomiting was completely prevented in all patients. Incredible!

Furthermore, studies within the last decade have shown Delta 8 to increase appetite and alleviate pain and inflammation in mice and rats.

I absolutely love the feeling I get when I take Delta 8. My mood becomes elevated, my thoughts become deeper and more intricate. It is without a doubt a very similar feeling to what you experience when you consume Delta 9, but it’s about 25% less potent. I have been taking Delta 8 for about a year now, and I like to recommend it to people who often experience paranoia or anxiety when they use Delta 9, or traditional marijuana. With the cooler little brother compound (Delta 8), you get all the desired effects minus the unwelcome dread often associated with too much THC. It truly is something special.

Our visitors rely on Delta 8 for a number of reasons including mood support, sleep support, and relief from anxiety. All of this is strictly anecdotal evidence and in no way supported by the FDA. Delta 8 is an unregulated product by the Federal Drug Administration.

At the perfect dose, psychoactive effects are minimal, but one can get very high if they over do it, so it’s important to work closely with a Cannabis expert before trying Delta 8 for the first time.

Why is Delta 8 legal if it gets you high?

Let’s take a close look at two things, to help you understand this better. First: the chemical make up of Delta 8 and how it differs from Delta 9, and second: the 2018 Farm Bill.

Delta 9 and Delta 8 are the same in that they both bind to CB1 receptors within the brain to cause psychoactive effects (learn more about our Endocannabinoid system here). Their major difference however, is in the way they each bind to those CB1 receptors. Due to its structural make up, D8 has a much less potent effect on the brain. While it does cause a head change, it’s of a lower intensity than D9.

It’s that key difference in the two – their different structural make up – that makes the ‘gray’ area of legality, not so gray.

The 2018 Farm Bill resulted in a change for hemp laws, and adjusted the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. The Farm Bill specifically states that hemp products need be excluded from the definition of Marijuana, “provided they contain no more than a .3% concentration of delta-9-tetrahyrdocannabinol (D9 THC) – marijuana’s primary psychoactive chemical.”

So, in other words, there are no specific references to Delta 8 THC, but one could fairly infer that everything except products containing more than .3% of Delta 9, are federally legal. This explains why Delta 8 has taken over the country, with folks looking forward to a psychoactive effect without breaking any laws.

States have begun to ban alternate cannabinoids

Delta 8 is consistently being outlawed in several US states. Reasons vary, but one common denominator among many of them is that marijuana is already legal in the state, so they don’t take too kindly to unregulated competition popping up in unqualified bodegas. Some states simply banned the sale of the compound due to its psychoactive effects, and Delta 8 can only be sold by a licensed medical dispensary.

As of January 2022, 14 states have completely banned Delta 8 (and other alternate cannabinoids). The CSRA is still in the clear and holding onto its legal status. You can be certain we’ll be the first to let you know when that changes for South Carolina and Georgia.

One more important note: Delta 8 will indeed cause you to fail a urine test, since panels do not typically differentiate between different types of THC. If you are subjected to drug tests for work or civil liberties, it’s best you sit this one out. There’s a better herb for you on our shelves, and we’re happy to help you find it.

Be well,

Ashley

Healing Highlight: Eyebright

Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) is an annual herb that grows wild across Europe and Asia, with some Northern states in the US lucky enough to have it growing naturally as well. It’s often found in dry fields, but it can be found in other types of habitats. It’s pretty particular about how and where it grows, so it’s always a nice surprise to come across it in the wild.

This plant is super easy to identify; those purple streaks and bright yellow single spots are dead giveaway! Flowers are usually white but can be red or yellow. There is also a dark black/purple spot deep in the flower, which almost causes it to look like an eye.

Euphrasia is an herb used for thousands of years primarily in the treatment of eye ailments – infections, swelling eyes, even sensitivities to light or cataracts. Eyebright is one of the most popular herbs in the doctrine of signatures, which is a collection of plants whose appearance often indicates its best uses. A lot of the document is planted in folklore, but some plants’ properties just cannot be denied.

A small but very telling study on Euphrasia’s volatile oils showed impressive results, including antimicrobial activity on multiple different organisms associated with eye infections.

It’s not just antimicrobial activity that makes Eyebright the perfect natural remedy for eye infections, though. When someone is sick with conjunctivitis, they often have thick discharge coming out from the eye. Euphrasia is an anti-catarrhal herb, which means it helps loosen mucus and encourages the body to expel the excess gunk.

Eyebright is also an astringent herb, so it produces a tightening or constrictive effect on the body. Its constrictive action inhibits secretions by the mucous membranes, which is helpful during times of colds or seasonal allergies.

Interestingly, the plant also contains a glycoside called Aucubin, which is a defense compound that has liver-protective effects on the human body. Some herbalists believe that it’s this action on the liver that essentially cleanses the blood supply to the eyes, resulting in increased anti-inflammatory actions.

You can use Eyebright in a manner of ways. Undoubtedly the most practical and traditional use is as a compress for the infected eye (although it always behooves one to treat both eyes during an active infection). Make a strong infusion of the plant (or drop a tincture in some water!) and soak a wash cloth in the warm solution. Place this over the eye(s) until cooled. Do this multiple times daily.

Taken internally during an active eye infection, I would recommend taking a teaspoon of extract or 3 to 5 capsules, three times daily.

For general support for the liver and eyes, take half the recommended dose 3 to 5 days a week.

There are no known contraindications for Euphrasia and it is generally considered safe for pregnant and nursing mama bears (the human kind).

Covid-19 Protocol

Since early 2020, we’ve been answering questions and helping to guide our community through the global pandemic while offering resources and education on herbs and supplements that can help support you and your loved ones who may be sick with the virus.

In light of the recent new variant(s), we’ve decided to compile our most popular recommendations here in once place. We will discuss herbs and supplements, the role they play in the body, and how they can help during times of illness.

Please remember we are not doctorsWe are not medical professionals. Information contained in our literature is not to be construed as medical advice and is for entertainment purposes only. Please discuss all herbal regimens with your healthcare team.

Recommendations for products for support during active infection with Covid-19

Fire Cider
Between having a heat punch that will wake you right up in the morning and get your blood circulating, a sweet taste that will have you craving more right away, and a powerhouse of herbs and spices that stimulate your immune system, Fire Cider is undoubtedly our number-one seller of all of our tonics, teas, and extracts.

While it plays a large role in overall gut health and cholesterol management, the actions it takes on your immune system are unparalleled.

A major player in this tonic is Capsaicum, which is found in the jalapenos, cayenne, and habaneros. Capsaicum is rich in vitamin C and can strengthen your immune system by reducing oxidative stress, a major factor behind a weak immune system.

The circulation benefits contribute greatly as well to getting up and moving your body, which is imperative during active illness. We’ll touch more on that down below.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C has long been used in natural medicine to flush the body of pathogens and assist in immune response. Over the last couple of years, multiple studies have been done to determine the effectiveness of intravenous Vitamin C alongside conventional treatment for Covid-19.

Results are abundant and clear that ascorbic acid (Vitamin C in raw form) affects development and maturation of t-lymphocytes, which are a critical part of our immune system and help protect the body from infection. Vitamin C also contributes to the inhibition of free radicals production, which further assisted in lower mortality rates in patients hospitalized with sepsis as a result of Covid-19.

While intravenous use of Vitamin C is not recommended at home, consuming ascorbic acid by mouth is an easy way to get it in your body. Each person’s right dose will be different, but in my home, we always follow the Vitamin C protocol by Suzanne Humphries, MD. While she originally developed this to treat Pertussis (Whooping Cough), we have had much success using it for all viruses that enter our home. There is a simple mathematical equation to use to determine your ideal dose.

Weight / 2.2 X 375 = mg daily

For a person who weighs 150 lbs, this would equate to 25,568 mg of Vitamin C daily. That is 25 grams, and it is to be taken in multiple small doses throughout the day.

ABĒCA Naturals carries Sodium Ascorbate and Ascorbic Acid; they’re both effective, but Sodium Ascorbate has a milder taste while Ascorbic Acid is quite tart. Each dissolves easily in a drink of your choice.

Activated Quercetin

Quercetin is a bioflavonoid in capsule form that studies have shown to be effective in preventing excess inflammation in the lungs. And while it’s a hero in its own right, it actually pairs super well with Vitamin C.

As is the case with many types of stacked treatments, Vitamin C and Quercetin act synergistically to increase the individual efficacy of each supplement. The two have strong “overlapping antiviral properties,” and doctors who were in charge of this study actually propose this experimental multi-drug approach for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

Together, Vitamin C and Quercetin provide a great preventative measure to protect and manage the lungs’ integrity during an active infection.

CBD

Last Summer, doctors here in Augusta began testing CBD (Canabidoil) as a treatment for ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome), which is a common complication in Covid-19 patients who have excessive inflammation in the lungs. Researchers mimicked the affects of ARDS in mice, and used CBD to treat them – resulting in “very encouraging data” after the mice had increased oxygen flow.

Nearly a year later, the news is boasting even more studies and more promising results.

We have multiple small studies that have shown the same effects in human patients with ARDS. Data gathered so far shows that CBD improves lung structure and presents powerful anti-inflammatory effects through its assistance in regulating a peptide called Apelin. Doctors noted that patients sick with Covid-19 have low levels of the protective peptide, and CBD “quickly helps normalize those levels along with lung function.” (Source)

Bonus – CBD is often highly praised by consumers who report decreased anxiety and depression with regular use. Since a big part of being sick is the worry surrounding the outcome, CBD is a great two-for-one.

ABĒCA Naturals carries both CBD Isolate (containing no THC) and full-spectrum CBD. When using CBD for support during the virus, I suggest doubling the recommended dose.

Herbal Steams (Volatile Oils)

We all know the benefits of sitting in a hot steamy bathroom with the shower going; the steam helps break up mucus, loosen our airways and really gives us a chance at a deep breath with less congestion in the way!

I like to take the general practice one step further and use fresh Thyme in a boiling pot of water for a good herbal steam. This is effective especially early on when you believe you’ve been exposed to a virus, since the volatile oils from Thyme are anti-viral and if you catch those pathogens early enough as they infiltrate your mucous membranes, an herbal steam is quite efficient at helping to fight the virus early on!

Simply bring a sauce pan to a boil on the stove. Once it’s boiling, remove it from the heat and toss in about a cup or so of fresh Thyme. Immediately lean over the steaming pot and put a towel or blanket over your head. Be careful not to burn yourself, but breathe deeply and intentionally making sure to inhale deep into your lungs.

Wellness Formula
Source Naturals make this product that has been a staple in my home for the last ten years. This absolute rockstar blend of herbs, minerals, and vitamins has a solid dose of Zinc which is also indicated for Covid.
My favorite thing about these tablets is that they include adaptogenic herbs, so in addition to fighting the illness, they really help to calm the anxiety/stress caused by being sick as well.

Respiratory Support
This is a blend of Mullein and Marshmallow (with a small part of Caraway seeds for good measure). This blend is perfect for soothing the respiratory tract since Covid dries you out, and the Mullein really acts as a strengthening agent for your lungs. Protecting your lungs and entire respiratory system is critical during any type of respiratory illness. You can find Respiratory Support here.

Elderberry Syrup
Elder is one of the most tried, trusted, and true antiviral herbs known to man. Hippocrates referred to it as the ultimate medicine chest, due to its ability to fight infection, bring down fevers, reduce inflammation, and more.

Multiple studies show the effectiveness and safety of the Elder plant in preventing the introduction of the virus and stopping thereplication of viral proteins inside the body.

Elderberry is perfect for fighting the virus itself and stopping it from replicating so violently within your body. If someone is sick, has been sick, and is at the tail end however, Elderberry will be the least helpful of this list. Skip it if someone’s already in the thick of it, and prioritize the other recommendations above.

Our Elderberry Syrup is available here.

Extra tips

If at all possible, avoid fever reducers like Tylonel or Motrin. Unless someone is absolutely miserable with pain and discomfort, skip the pain relievers/fever reducers. They are not helping. They are inhibiting the body from doing its job to fight this virus. The fever is good, and helpful, and necessary.

Stay hydrated, even if it makes you feel worse. Aim to get down a half gallon of water each day. When we feel like garbage, we have no desire or motivation to do anything, but our bodies need water like the air we breathe. During sickness, more than ever, keep yourself hydrated.

Full-spectrum Sun is fundamental to good health and especially healing during times of sickness. Studies show that exposure to sunlight appears to activate T cells (critical white blood cells that play an important role in immune response) so that they move more rapidly throughout the body. Even if you feel like garbage, it behooves you to go feel like garbage outside for a while.

Move your body! We preach this a lot here at ABN! Remember that one of the jobs of our lymphatic system is to take out the trash – literally! As that fluid moves throughout our body, it takes metabolic waste and delivers it to the right organs to be filtered and passed out of our body. However, our lymph system has no involuntary pump action. We have to keep it moving! Every time we stretch, every time we jump, run, dance, or do jazz hands, we move that lymph a little bit more through our system and encourage it to do its job. So if you are able to at all during your illness, get up and dance! Even if just to one song a few times a day. Alternatively, just get up and walk. Any movement will be better than none.

Restless Leg Syndrome

For the many who are plagued with Restless Leg Syndrome, restful nights are a thing of the past. RLS is described as an uncontrollable urge to move your legs due to discomfort or – you guessed it, restlessness. While the syndrome is not fully understood and there’s no specific treatment or cure, there are some things that can help manage your condition. Here are a few tips to ease symptoms. With enough mindful application of these lifestyle changes and supplements, you might just find a good night’s rest is right around the corner 🙂

Caffeine intake – watch caffeine consumption, especially nearing the hours that you plan to go to sleep. Ideally cut off caffeine three hours prior to sleep, and do not consume more than 400mg of caffeine daily. Stay aware of sources of caffeine, which is not just found in coffee or energy drinks but also teas, chocolate, and certain over-the-counter medications.

Minerals deficiency – most people are deficient in minerals, notably magnesium, and for some people this deficiency can contribute to RLS. Magnesium is a vital mineral that is one of our best-selling supplements for a reason. Aside from RLS, magnesium deficiency can contribute to fatigue, migraines, and insomnia. A good magnesium supplement can really make a difference for various ailments in your life. For purposes of restless legs, I would recommend using a topical supplement.

Take a hot bath before bed – one of the possible causes of RLS is circulatory issues, which can be helped with a hot bath. Even better, while in the bath, stretch the legs to their max slowly and intentionally while soaking in the water. Add magnesium flakes to your bath for best results.

Stretching + calf bounces – each day, stretch the legs for at least 5 minutes and perform calf bounces for another five. Calf bounces are the act of bouncing up and down on the balls of your feet. Do this barefoot, ideally in the grass or dirt. Adding Fire Cider to your regimen can help tremendously with circulation, and it gives a great boost of energy that’s perfect prior to a workout or a set of calf bounces.

Wear socks to bed – even though this makes a lot of people cringe, there’s often a link between RLS and cold feet (again, we surmise circulatory issues may be to blame here), so wearing socks to bed can help. Keep those legs and feet warm!

There is also a homeopathic medicine which is primarily recommended for overexertion and relief from DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness from athletics or strength training), but some people do find this to be helpful for Restless Leg Syndrome.

Most people with RLS are able to manage the problem without the use of pharmaceuticals, but it’s also important to work closely with your doctor and rule out other uncommon causes of RLS. These include low blood sugar, low iron, and other deficiencies in the body. Make sure you’re getting a good amount of nutrients in your daily diet, and supplementing for certain minerals like potassium and magnesium.

Each person’s physiology is different, so just like the cause of any problem, a solution that works for one may not work for all. We wish you health and wellness, through self-experimentation to figure out what works best for you!

A Culture Reborn

We are announcing a rebrand and culture change here at ABĒCA Naturals, operating moving forward as a Christian-based herbal medicine business.

Beginning July 1, 2022 the following will be made effective:

  1. We will be closed on Sundays
  2. Certain products will be discontinued
  3. We will no longer hold yoga or meditation classes
  4. All life coaching will be Christian-based
  5. All custom blends will begin with prayer, as God is the ultimate healer

On June 5, 2022, I found Jesus Christ. I have never felt more alive, I have never felt a love so deep, and I am certain my life’s purpose is to glorify His name in all that I do. You have trusted us with the health and wellness of your families for three years now, and we as a team are more equipped than ever to work with you all as we look to the ultimate healer for guidance. God is so good!

Many of you know I have practiced new age spirituality for many years, often speaking publicly about my pantheistic views and love vs. ego, self-actualization, and enlightenment.

II have been on a constant journey in this life to find the truth and seek enlightenment; I found enlightenment in the Word of God and have received Jesus Christ as my savior.

Please know that no one is unwelcome at ABĒCA Naturals. While we are changing certain structures and how we approach herbal medicine, please know you are welcome here. Wherever your journey stands in seeking the truth, we love you, and we are praying for you, and we are always here to help.

We appreciate your continued support of our small business. I pray all of you have found the love that I have found in Jesus, and if you haven’t, please know He is just one cry away from filling your soul with joy.

God bless you all, and God keep you.

Ashley Murphy
Owner/Operator
ABĒCA Naturals

Healing Highlight: Rhodiola

Let’s talk about Rhodiola! Rhodiola rosea. An adaptogen and my favorite herb! (Do I say that about all of them?)

The first documented use of Rhodiola comes from the Greek physician Dioscorides in 77 BC, and traditional uses of it included treating tuberculosis, preventing simple illnesses, and even increasing fertility.

Rhodiola is a relatively “new” herb in Western practices because 1) it is not native to us and 2) all of the studies written in other languages were not translated to English until the 1980s!

It is highly regarded as an adaptogen, nervous system tonic, and antidepressant in the Russian pharmacopeia, and it is used regularly to help with alertness and memory, as well as fighting fatigue and depression. I work with it often in young women overwhelmed with the chaos of young children, and in older men who are fighting fatigue from working hard to provide for their families. As always, herbs do not discriminate! Rhodiola is a wonderful herbal ally for all types of people.

Studies show Rhodiola is able to prevent stress-induced heart damage, so it’s good to work with in folks whose family sees history of heart disease. For fatigue, it’s one of the best adaptogens you can depend on. One study showed that fatigue symptoms decreased significantly in those who took 400mg a day for eight weeks.

Rhodiola pairs well nootropics like Gingko, Gotu Kola and Rosemary for added cognitive support.

Other well-researched adaptogens include Ashwagandha, the Ginsengs, and Schisandra berries. For a general overview on adaptogens, visit this blog page from Ashley’s Corner: Why Adaptogens?

An Herbalist Walks onto a Cruise Ship…

No funny punch line here 😅 Just a look into the bag of an herbalist on a cruise!

I recently returned from a week away aboard the Wonder of the Seas (a most fantastic Royal Caribbean experience!) and thought I’d share with you the items I do not travel without! From our signature Immune Booster extract to a small sprayer of Colloidal Silver, I made sure our medicine bag (for a family of five) was stocked! Let’s look at our travel staples!

Elderberry Gummies by Roots and Leaves: a shelf-stable and portable easy dose of the powerful antiviral berry! While the youngins really only need one each day while we travel, my kiddos absolutely love them, so we sometimes give them two. My husband and I take two, and the added Vitamin C and Zinc in these gummies covers more than just exposure to viruses. Zinc and Vitamin C play a role in nutrition as well!

Probiotics: You may have heard before that immune support begins in the gut, and I’m not here to disagree! That’s why we are serious about our probiotic intake at the Murphy house; we take Probonix regularly, about three times a week. While we carry various kinds at the shop (women, adult, children), don’t get too caught up in the labels. We don’t have multiple bottles at home; we all take the same one (sometimes kids, sometimes adults), and it keeps us all regular and healthy!

Immune Booster: If I had to choose between this and a single adaptogen, I’d probably go with an adaptogen – if it were just me and my husband. Since we were traveling with our kids, I opted instead to bring Immune Booster. It’s not quite adaptogenic, but it does contain Oatstraw, a calming nervine which helps with mood support and irritability. Traveling with kids isn’t easy – so mood support is important during a family cruise (I spent a LOT of time with Jesus on board, as well!). This blend also contains nutritive herbs like rose hips and nettles, as well as echinacea, so it covers quite a few bases to contribute to a happy and healthy body during travel overseas.

Colloidal Silver: We weren’t sure if we’d get away with taking a full bottle of this on board, so we opted instead to just bring a small nasal sprayer of it. This was enough for us to use up the nose to combat any bacteria or viruses we may have been exposed to, and it was also just enough to pour onto any wounds or blisters that occured – and with 3 kids, wounds and blisters are a sure thing! My daughter needed silver within just the first day from a scrape she got on the boat’s splash pad.

Bruise Butter: Yep, you guessed it – more wound products. I have yet to count all the bruises across my kids’ legs from their time spent on the sky climber, but there’s a bunch for sure. So we stayed lathering Bruise Butter all over them – and since I’m mother of the year, I forgot sunscreen – so Bruise Butter was my go-to for my kids’ burns after the first day. I was shocked at how wonderful it worked! (But I still recommend First Aid Salve for sunburn and rashes).

I’m a very light packer, and I try and be mindful of how much stuff I’m bringing on board when a “reasonable amount of carry-on luggage” is outlined on our itinerary, so this was the small list I chose for our 7 day cruise, and it was perfect!

And in case you were wondering – we had the absolute best time! We all came back healthy and sun-kissed, already anticipating our next big family vacation!

Benefits of Respiratory Support

Respiratory Support is one of our best-selling signature products, originally formulated for a small child with bronchial asthma. At the time, I was still early in my clinical practice working with clients, so each and every opportunity was an exciting new adventure! This one was no different. By the time I finished formulating, I knew it was something special. Now, years later, Respiratory Support continues to be a staple in the cabinet for those who have COPD, longterm Covid, asthma, or even just an acute sporadic cough.

Here’s a rundown of each ingredient and how it plays a role in the blend.

Our main ingredient in this blend is Mullein leaf (Verbascum thapsus). Mullein has long traditional use and it continues to be validated with increasing clinical western research. First, Mullein helps to break up phlegm deep down in the lungs, which makes those with weakness experience a much more productive cough. It also is shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria involved in respiratory infections, so it’s a great herbal ally to help prevent bacterial pneumonia. Mullein is enjoyed often in hot tea, but capsules and liquid extracts are also beneficial for a quick dose without much preparation.

Next, we work with Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalisto provide a soothing and moistening component. Studies show Marshmallow is effective by itself in treating dry coughs, but works well with other herbs to “improve all kinds of coughs,” which is reassuring on more than one account! First, it shows how versatile herbs can be, and it also reiterates what herbalists like to talk about while formulating: herbs work better together! Synergy is the term we use to describe forces that when combined, are more effective than the sum of their individual parts. And together, Mullein and Marshmallow really make a difference!

The last two herbs we work with – in small parts – in this blend are Caraway seeds (Carum caru) and Lungwort leaf (Pulmonaria officinalis). Each acts as a secondary/supporting herb to Marshmallow and Mullein, respectively. Caraway seeds are shown to increase airflow to the lungs, and one study even showed it helped treat coughs better than codeine! Lungwort contains antioxidants which are great for many reasons, but it’s believed that its antioxidant content is what gives it its greatest effect on the lungs. Studies are few and far between on Lungwort, so we work with it sparingly – certainly not at the expense of fantastic results.

Together, these four herbs make up our Respiratory Support. We sell this only as a glycerite, which means it’s alcohol-free and safe for the whole family! This is a great product to keep on hand for any respiratory illness that comes up. Please see labeling for dosing instructions, or speak to an herbalist for best practice.

Why Adaptogens?

In a world where health supplement suggestions are as common as fashion advice (albeit much more unsolicited), there’s no doubt that you’ve heard of over a dozen herbs by now that might hold the magic fix-all to your stubborn belly fat, unhinged anxiety, or even that chronic IBS issue that doctors swore you’d never overcome. It seems as herbal medicine becomes more popular in mainstream culture, we are at a constant point of fact-checking and using our best judgement to decide which herb might be right for us on our health journey.

A lot of people don’t know where to start when they find interest in herbal medicine; so as an herbalist, my first job is to educate. My second job is to help you decide which herb (or signature blend) might be best for you and your unique health situation.

My first piece of advice will always be “Start with an adaptogen.”

There are about two dozen solid classifications of types of herbs: alteratives, bitters, carminatives, etc., and adaptogens can be considered as the Holy Grail of these categories.

Adaptogens provide benefit for the entire body, from your bone marrow to your blood pressure. They have a nonspecific state of resistance to stress, which means adaptogens help your whole body manage stress better and more effectively, and their major effects aren’t limited to a single organ or system. Stress here doesn’t have to mean mental stress – but physical stress as well. Any physiological stress on your body is going to be better tolerated with the help of an adaptogen.

Adaptogens are the herb you’re looking at for overall health and vitality, so that’s why I always start every newcomer on one immediately. I generally work with a single adaptogen, but I also like to pair them up sometimes. Additionally, I’ll add a nervine for added nervous system support – but let’s not jump too far ahead.

How is an adaptogen defined or classified?

There are three pieces of criteria that an herb must meet to be called an adaptogen, per the scientist who originally coined the term in the 1940s. These days, the word adaptogen is used by the FDA to describe particular supplements, and adaptogens are also recognized in the US National Library of Medicine. (Side note: as an herbalist, it is such a treat to see herbal medicine slowly but surely become more ‘popular’ in western culture and governmental agencies!)

When an herb meets the following three pieces of criteria, it is set apart from other herbs in its ability to affect the entire body in a normalizing fashion. The three things scientists look for to classify an herb as an adaptogen are:

  1. The herb must be nontoxic to the recipient in normal therapeutic doses
  2. It must produce a nonspecific state of resistance to stress
  3. It has a normalizing influence on physiology, irrespective of the direction of change needed.

Well researched adaptogens include the Ginsengs, Ashwagandha, and Schisandra berries. (Also on this list is Rhodiola, which we detailed in another blog.) While all adaptogens meet the same criteria for qualifying as such, each adaptogen is different in how it works in the body.

Ashwagandha is my go-to for dealing with people with hormone imbalances, since studies show it’s a good herb for increasing testosterone in men and decreasing menopause symptoms in women.
Rhodiola is one of my favorites for fighting fatigue and seasonal depression, and I see a lot of success with using Asian Ginseng in the elderly to help with cognitive support as they grow older.

An adaptogen is a great place to start if you’re new to herbal medicine. As you grow in your holistic health journey, you will begin to recognize areas of your life – mind body and soul – that need attention, and that is when incorporating more herbs and lifestyle changes makes sense in addition to a staple adaptogen. It is also worth noting that I like to change up which adaptogens I work with in clients, as they progress on their healing journey. There is always ‘an herb for that,’ and that herb changes as we change too!

Whether you are brand new to holistic health or if you are seeking the right adaptogen for your current season of life, we are here to help. And that help starts with a good adaptogen – alongside some really good news…. 😎 ✝️