Anti-infective and immunomodulator
USED IN: Immmune Dragon Super Brew
most likely in what is Russia today, Isatis has naturalized all the way
from Japan to Scotland, and is now considered an invasive weed in the
western United States. Everywhere it has grown (except for in the
United States, that is), it has been used and appreciated. That
doesn’t mean everyone used it the same way, however.
In China, Isatis was called Ban Lan Gen
, and respected
for its ability to treat sore throat, fever, liver disease,
life-threatening diarrhea, and just about every other pathogenic
ailment known to mankind. It may not have been one of the great,
revered tonics for energy, vitality, and decades of long life.
But it was certainly a crucial part of the Materia Medica for surviving
what might kill you today.
Europe, on the other hand, it
was called Dyer’s Woad, and its use was pretty much limited to dying
things a pretty blue color. You know -- clothing, faces,
etc. You ever
see those movies where the Celtic warriors go into battle all
painted-up blue and swirly in tribal patterns, usually led by Mel
Gibson? That was Dyer’s Woad.
For the time being, then, let's focus on the Asian traditions.
Like almost every herb out of the Asian traditions, Isatis was rarely
used on its own. But it shows up in a sort of who’s-who of classic,
wellness formulas, including Jade
and Yin Chiao (the
400-year-old basis for many modern cold'n'flu products, including
"developed by a schoolteacher" Airborne™).
Regardless of the formula where it's found, Isatis is one of the most
important immune herbs we
have. It’s considered to have an especial affinity for infections of
the throat. The leaf and root are somewhat interchangeable,
although I tend to
prefer the leaf for acute conditions, and the root for chronic ones.
The leaf is a stronger direct antiviral. The root works more to
modulate the immune response, increasing immune function, but dampening
the excess inflammation that a robust immune response can create.
Since Isatis is a Brassica-family
plant, the root is technically a radish, so it’s not surprising
that it also stimulates and supports liver function, like other
Research with Isatis is kind of funny. The plant is so accepted, so
well established in China as a medicine, that the research has moved
right over testing if it actually works, to examining how
it works, and trying to discover strange and surprising new ways in
which it might work.
So we’ve got test tubes studies showing how different
fractions inhibit herpes viruses replication and block
adhesion, a well-designed study using Isatis eye drops for bacterial
conjunctivitis, another where an Isatis cream reduces psoriasis, and at
least three where it’s injected into
chickens as an adjunct to standard vaccines to provoke a more robust
response. There are about a dozen on how the plant's growth conditions
effect the levels of active constituents, and over 50 trying to find
out exactly what those constituents are. Apparently, one of them is
called 1-O-beta-D-glucopyranosyl- (2S,3R)-3-hydroxymethyl-N-
– try and say that five times fast!
Unfortunately, nobody ever did the research showing that
Isatis works in the first place. That, it seems, is just a given.
SAFETY: Both Isatis leaf
and root appear quite safe. As always, however, use common sense, i.e.
don’t take an immunomodulator while you’re on immunosuppressive drugs,
and don’t take the whole bottle all at once.
DOSING: For acute
cold’n’flu use, 2-4 grams a day or 2-4 droppersful of the tincture, in
MISCELLANY: A few
Isatis plants rode as passengers on the first Chinese space ship.
One giant leap for herbal medicine...