Upgrading your nutrition can sometimes be so cheap, simple, and easy that you miss it!
Check out today’s herbal immune hero that grows wild across North America: Yarrow.
Many people seem to think that, to use herbs in daily healthcare, you need to be an herbalist or have some sort of expertise in plant knowledge. This simply isn’t true. There are so many plants growing wild in your back yard (can you say, dandelion and plantain?) that are easy and wonderful sources of nutrients. Because it’s September and the first day of fall is just around the bend on September 22, let’s get comfy with an herb found growing widely in northern California and, in fact, is a native plant across North America: Yarrow.
Yarrow a very “old” herb and has been used medicinally and nutritionally for eons. Its Latin name is Achillea Millefolium and legend has it that Achilles used it to heal his soldiers on the plains before Troy in the tale of the Iliad. It was used in older times to ward off evil, hence another of its names, Devil’s Nettle. Scientific research abounds on this plant! I’ll review just one article I found, but if this peaks your interest, type in PubMed a search for Yarrow and you’ll find all sorts of nutritional gems and medicinal uses.
Elmann et al wrote an article in 2011 entitled “Anti-neuroinflammatory effects of the extract of Achillea fragrantissima” that gives a glimpse into how powerfully Yarrow can aid your immune system. This article focused on immune cells in your brain, called microglia. With any sort of body inflammation, your brain inevitably suffers from inflammation as well. The study examined the effects of a Yarrow tincture (Yarrow extracted in alcohol) on neuroinflammation. Incredibly, Yarrow lowered certain inflammatory substances by 70%! But its benefits didn’t stop there, Yarrow also reduced production of harmful substances such as: Interleukin-1b (IL-1b), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFa), matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), COX-2, and inducible nitric oxide synthetase (iNOS).
Don’t worry too much about the particulars of these substances, unless you’re an autodidact and want to research them for yourself. Suffice it to say, Yarrow extract significantly decreased brain inflammation and the substances that are produced when the brain is inflamed. But the good news doesn’t stop there. These substances are not specific to the brain. IL-1b, TNFa, MMP-9, COX-2, and iNOS are all produced in the rest of the body when you are inflamed. And an inflamed immune system is one that is impaired in its ability to keep you well, to fight of seasonal bugs such as the flu, and to recover once seasonal bugs pass. IL-1b and TNFa in particular are self-perpetuating chemicals. This means that, once cells begin to produce them, they amplify production of…more of themselves, creating an inflammatory swamp that can get further and further bogged down.
But what do you do with this herb?
It's incredibly easy to use.