Immune Support and Prevention from our Plant and Fungal Kingdoms

Dr. Erin Crossman, ND


Cold and flu season is among us. It’s time to be the most resilient you can be to support your immune system! We will talk about one plant and group of fungi that are top immune modulators.


The first step towards a strong immune system is 100 per cent diet and lifestyle. The specific plants and fungi below can be great compliments as they are deeply nourishing to the immune system.


Life has evolved to be intricately intertwined; the complexity of substances found in nature can have potent synergistic actions that are sometimes much greater than one active compound in isolation. Needless to say, the plant and fungal kingdoms, when respected and used properly, have your back! Also, when we’re able to work from a place of prevention instead of reaction, it can actually result in less time, effort, and money spent, in additional to producing some great and unexpected benefits.


For prevention, our desired action comes within immune modulation, which is tonifying and supportive to the immune system. In contrast, is the action of immune stimulation. Immune stimulation is like turning on a light switch to activate the immune system. Over time this can fatigue the body and its resources. Immune modulators bolster a weakened immune system. Additionally, unlike immune stimulants, they might even be used within autoimmune conditions to bring balance to an overstimulated immune system. However, both types of substances should be avoided completely in organ transplant patients utilizing immunosuppressive agents.


Top immunomodulators include the plant:

Astragalus membranaceus (Astragalus) root

Along with being a deep immune modulator this traditional Chinese root has been shown to also reduce oxidative stress and be protective to the heart, lung, kidneys, liver, and nervous system. It may be additionally useful when chemicals or radiation have damaged the immune system.


Medicinal Mushroom

Below is a sample of three but there are definitely others. They are best extracted using a hot water extract or a dual hot water and alcohol extract mix to isolate the immunologically active compounds, which are the polysaccharides (in particular the β-D-glucans). Companies can standardize the amount of polysaccharides contained (and list this on the ingredients) as a way to control for desired actions.


Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi)

Reishi is one of the most widely used medicinal mushrooms as it is tonifying to many different systems. In addition to immune modulation, research has shown that it is also inflammatory modulating, liver protective, anti-allergenic, hypoglycaemic, and supportive to the cardiovascular system.


Cordyceps sinensis (Cordyceps)

This mushroom, along with supporting immune function, is well known for its use within professional athletes, as it supports lung function. This lung tonic works by increases oxygen uptake, decreases bronchial inflammation, and promoting expectoration. It is also tonifying to the kidneys.


Hericium erinacaceus (Lion’s Mane)

In addition to the immune modulation, Lion’s Mane benefits nerve repair and regeneration due to its ability to stimulate the production of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and increased myelination. It has also been shown to support cognition by reducing mild cognitive impairment.


The above can be added to soups, teas, chocolates, and more for boosting your whole foods approach to health and wellness.


~ Contact your healthcare provider for more information ~



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– Fu, J., Wang, J., et al. (2014) Review of the Botanical Characteristics, Phytochemistry, and Pharmacology of Astragalus membranaceus (Huangqi). Phytotherapy Res. 28: 1275-1283.

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Willard, Terry. (2011) Ganoderma lucidum – REISHI Family – Basidiomycetes. Western Materia Medica. Wild Rose College of Natural Healing and Terry Willard. P: 1-8.