Natural Ways to Build a Strong Immune System


Whether you’re a frontline worker or working from home while trying to homeschool three kids, it is more important than ever to stay healthy and operating on all cylinders. Botton line: your life needs you healthy. While there is no magic pill to ward off illness, there are a few tried-and-true ways to keep your immune system humming:

Eat More Fruits & Veggies

Your mother has been telling you to eat more fruits and veggies since you were too short to ride rollercoasters. As it turns out, there might have been some science behind all of mom’s nagging.

Whole foods like fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and beans are nutrient-dense and rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants help decrease inflammation which has been linked to a myriad of chronic health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and obesity.5

Only 1 out of every 10 adults meet the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables.6  But when you have a busy life and a tight schedule, how do you manage to get healthier food on your plate?

  1. Make a plan.  Keep track of how many fruits and veggies you currently eat in a day. Then make a plan to slowly increase that amount. Swap that afternoon chips & dip for celery and hummus. Or maybe instead of fries on the side, you opt for a side salad. Small changes add up over time. Most adults should aim for 2-3 cups of vegetables8 and 1-2 cups of fruit per day.7
  2. Start with Breakfast: If you’re aiming to pack more nutrients into your day, it's worth starting the day off right. Try adding diced apples to your morning oatmeal or include mushrooms or tomatoes to your morning omelet for a savory breakfast.
  3. Buy prepared: If all the chopping, peeling, and dicing is a bit too overwhelming, pick up some pre-cut or pre-washed options at your local grocery store. Bagged salads and pre-cut fruits are a much better option than takeout.
  4. Spice it up: Most grocery stores have an entire aisle dedicated to adding more flavor to food. Every tried truffle salt? How about sesame butter? Don’t be afraid to experiment.
  5. Top it off: Make your veggies pop with flavored oils, toasted nuts, or a sprinkle of cheese.
  6. Soups & Smoothies: Soups and smoothies are a great way to sneak in extra nutrient-rich foods. Add a handful of spinach to a fruit smoothie for an energy boost, or sneak in puréed cauliflower to a soup to make it extra creamy. You won’t taste the difference, but your body will thank you!

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep and the immune system are closely connected. Consistent and quality sleep strengthens the immune system. The opposite is also true. Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get sick if they are exposed to a virus, like the flu or common cold.1

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A Natural Approach to Spring Allergies


Spring is finally here!

While we all enjoy the warmth, sunshine, and blossoming trees and flowers, springtime also means allergy season is upon us. Especially in the wake of COVID-19, we may be extra cautious about symptoms of immune reactivity, as seen in allergic responses to environmental pollens. Thankfully, there are multiple ways to decrease inflammation at the root cause of bothersome seasonal allergies. Using simple, natural strategies can have a positive impact on your immune response overall for greater protection against viruses and other pathogenic infections, and for reducing allergies so many of us suffer from this time of year.

Immune System Health relies on Gut Health

All health begins in the gut — even that relating to allergies. Supporting proper GI function is essential to all inflammatory conditions, for boosting immune function, and decreasing reactive symptoms such as seasonal allergies. In fact, more than 70% of our immune system lies in our digestive tract.

How can we support our GI health?

Eliminating inflammatory and reactive foods, determining individual food sensitivities, allergies, and intolerances, including healing anti-inflammatory foods, supporting proper digestion and absorption, reducing environmental toxins from water, food, personal and home products, chemicals, etc., identifying hidden infections and pathogens, rebalancing a dysbiotic (unbalanced) microbiome, repairing the integrity, healing, and regeneration of the gut lining, and cultivating a healthy mindset and nervous system rebalancing to support our rest and digest function will all work synergistically to improve our gut health — and overall health, including resilience against things such as environmental pollens and other allergy-related factors.

If you are one of many people that suffer from seasonal allergies, you may be surprised to know that there are simple, natural ways to reduce the impact of your spring sneezes and sniffles without prescription medications. Basic strategies to support gut and immune function, along with sleep, exercise, healing foods, stress reduction, and targeted supplementation can help to relieve health problems such as allergies that were once thought of as a life-long issue.

Supplements to support allergy symptoms include:

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2021 Lyme Disease Prevention Part 1: How to Avoid Getting Bit

 What can you do to keep you and your family safe this spring without having to worry about quarantining inside the house as well?

Protecting Your Yard From Ticks

Some basic tips start with protecting your yard with sprays such as permethrin, pyrethrum, and cedar oil, as well as landscaping strategies to reduce tick colonies in dark, wet areas. Keeping leaves clear, grass and tree branches trimmed to allow full sun exposure, using cedar mulch, planting chrysanthemums, removing bird feeders, being mindful of stone walls, and using other resources like "tick tubes", bait boxes, and having free-range chickens or guinea hens can all help to reduce the tick population at home. Additionally, for those with pets, using collars, Spectra Shield, and natural sprays such as Wondercide can help keep ticks from adhering to dogs and cats and entering the home.

"Tick Checks" & Basic Prevention Steps

There are also some basic recommendations to keep all members of your family safe from ticks embedding themselves on the body. First and foremost, it is essential to make "tick checks" a routine practice when a family member enters the home from any outdoor activity, especially when children come in from playing in the yard or on a playground.

Phyisical Barriers Are Effective Against Ticks

Implementing physical barriers is very effective as well to prevent ticks from attaching to the body. Wearing light-colored clothing, tucking pants into socks, shirts into pants, putting gloves over long-sleeved shirts, pulling hair back, and using hats with bug netting are all useful first-line-defense strategies. Spraying products containing non-toxic cedar oil on oneself and clothing can add another layer of safety. Specially treated clothing items with Insect Shield lasts up to 70 washes, and using DEET/permethrin may be helpful, but is recommended to be used on the soles of shoes only due to its level of toxicity.

Above all, the most proactive and protective measure against the effects of Lyme Disease is to minimize systemic inflammation and boost your immune system on an ongoing basis.

Proper nutrition is essential, for both adults and children.

Eliminating refined sugar, processed foods, artificial ingredients, and pro-inflammatory, reactive foods (such as gluten and dairy) are key. Consuming ample phytonutrients and polyphenols found in organic fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, clean proteins, legumes, nuts and seeds, and naturally gluten-free grains and starches offer a good diversity of nutrients. Supplementing with EPA/DHA, vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, and probiotics for a healthy microbiome are also essential. Drinking ample filtered water, limiting toxic factors in the home and personal care products, managing stress and engaging in daily stress-reduction practices, and getting adequate exercise, sleep, rest, and play are also necessary. Additionally, a variety of immune-enhancing herbs such as Andrographis, Astragalus, Cat's Claw, and Lyme Nosode can all be effective if there has been increased tick exposure. Like any other pathogenic threat, whether it be viral or bacterial (as in the Borrelia Burgdorferi bacteria that causes Lyme), cultivating a foundation of health will decrease the severity of the infection and subsequent disease progression.

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Medical Research Studies Say Essential Vitamin D May Reduce Your Risk of COVID-19

covid and vitamin D

Most people don't think about sunshine or gut health when they are considering how to stay safe from contracting viral threats. As a lot continues to change in the health world, it’s also time to adapt our ways of thinking about how to optimize immune resilience.

 Surprisingly enough, our body internally manufactures one of the main nutrients to bolster our immune system -- Vitamin D.

With a new wave of Coronavirus cases and increased concerns for our safety as winter approaches, new research is indicating that supplementing with vitamin D may be a key factor in keeping us resilient and healthy.


Vitamin D Works To Target Infection By Reducing The Cytokine Storm

Medical experts state that having sufficient vitamin D levels can positively affect the risk of contracting coronavirus and lessen complications in a severe infection.  Vitamin D works to target infection by reducing the cytokine storm in response to viral and bacterial infections and enhances cellular innate immunity by inducing antimicrobial peptides.  

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Effective Ways to Support Health and Optimize Immune Your System in Colder Weather

Heading into a change in season means implementing ways to support immune function in an effort to prevent viral threats from compromising our wellbeing. Now is the time to focus even more on the essentials -- good sleep, proper nutrition, supplementing with immune-boosting nutrients, managing stress, and extra self-care measures including integrative therapies.
For your convenience and peace of mind, TAO Vitality continuse to see patients virtually through our telehealth platforms for naturopathic doctor appointments, mental health services, and nutrition consultations. Supplements can also be ordered online and resources are available to guide you in the ongoing effort to include the latest integrative healing therapies into your lifestyle practices.
TAO offers a variety of cutting-edge therapies such as HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy), Infrared Sauna, HRV assessment and BrainTap Technology, Acupuncture, and Massage Therapy. These integrative healing therapies target sources of inflammation and mental, emotional, and physiological stress that collectively contribute to the emergence of and worsening symptoms of infections while boosting the immune system and improving overall health.
Contact our office to schedule appointments or call us at 860-228-1287 for more information.
This article is for educational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of TAO Vitality or Lymecore Botanicals.



Viruses, bacteria, bugs, oh my…. pathogens that wreak havoc on our lives seems to be the topic on everyone’s mind these days. While we’re so busy dealing with COVID, it’s easy to forget about a major silent pandemic – tick-borne illnesses – that are having an increasing impact on our health.

Lyme disease, the most recognized and common tick-related infection caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, is acknowledged in the mainstream health conversation as a pervasive threat with nearly 30,000 reported cases annually and an incidence higher than breast cancer (5). Unfortunately, new findings indicated that not only do we have to worry about Lyme, we have to consider the other multiple co-infections can be transmitted alone or in addition to borrelia, which are also on the rise. Especially as people spend more time outdoors amidst months of quarantine, Lyme and various tick-related diseases have increased as well, also complicating coronavirus pandemic detection issues in some areas such as NY state and Michigan (5).

Is it COVID…or Lyme?

Lyme disease is a multisystem illness referred to as “the great imitator”, many times with a classic bullseye rash, flu-like symptoms, and myriad symptoms replicating conditions associated with numerous other diseases and health-impaired states, ranging from cardiac to neurological to rheumatic illnesses (5).  As if we don’t have enough to worry about with COVID, more less-known tick-associated diseases are not only confusing proper diagnoses related to vector-borne illnesses, they are actually mimicking COVID symptoms in many areas. Residents in various parts of the country (such as Michigan) are seeing a growing number of anaplasmosis infection cases increase, with flu-like symptoms that easily cause COVID concern.

According to the CDC (3), anaplasmosis, caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum and transmitted from the black-legged and the western black-legged tick, is one of the main Lyme and COVID mimickers. Symptoms are typically seen 1-5 days after being bit and can include typical symptoms such as(1).

  • Skin rash
  • Fatigue
  • Fever, chills
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite

Early detection and prompt treatment are necessary to avoid severe illness that can lead to long-term debilitating damage to joints, the heart, and the nervous system, as well as death.

Like with COVID (or any other illness), having underlying health conditions, an already-compromised immune system, and being older can all increase the risk of illness severity (3).

Anaplasmosis cases have been slowly rising since the year 2000, with peak months in the summer and later fall, including October and November. Geographically, the northeast and upper midwestern regions of the US suffer from the most anaplasmosis cases, but it has also been documented in newer regions such as Michigan, New York, and Virginia, and throughout the country where the black-legged tick has spread (3).

Additionally, the other various ticks and insects that carry the Borrelia bacteria causing Lyme Disease and co-infections are important to be aware of as we look for ways to protect ourselves and our families from biological threats. 

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Stress is simply part of being human. We all know what stress feels like -- but do we really understand what it does to our body? Or what to do about it?

Chances are, most of us are in denial, internalizing the cultural mantra to “just deal with it” or “push through”. While this does a lot to help our to-do list, it also does a lot to hurt our health. Statistics show that up to 80% of all doctor visits and 50% of all illnesses are stress-related.

In regard to health concerns amidst a pandemic, reducing stress and managing our perception of stress are powerful factors in immune resilience and influence how our body handles a viral threat. Hormones released during stress increase inflammation and suppress the immune system, leaving us more vulnerable to pathogens.

The bottom line: reducing stress is one of the most critical things we can do to support the body’s natural ability to heal, strengthen immune function, and increase health and life span.

If chronic stress goes unresolved, it will break the body down, create symptoms, and can lead to the development of numerous diseases and conditions – all of which are preventable.

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Parents are used to juggling it all -- personal commitments, work schedules, their kid’s school, and social schedules, helping with homework and preparing meals that hopefully support their children’s learning.

Although it’s a different world now with hybrid learning, limited social engagements to manage, parents are feeling a different kind of stress in having to navigate safety precautions and manage their child’s education in a new way (especially if they have to go back to work this fall).  

Even more, safety concerns are prevalent for many parents who worry about their child being exposed to viral threats or potentially acting as a carrier, possibly threatening those at home with dampened immune systems that are more at risk.

While managing stress and finding healthy coping mechanisms is a very important part of supporting a strong immune system (and making life less difficult), there are numerous nutritional strategies that can make a big difference.

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We all envision living a long and healthy life, symptom and disease-free. Yet the reality is that most of us suffer from some pervasive health issues or chronic illnesses. There is a solution, however. If you are like many people who are not seeing results using conventional medicine alone, consider naturopathic medicine.

How Are Naturopathic Doctors Different From Traditional Doctors?

Naturopaths are trained in all of the basic medical sciences that standard medical doctors are trained in. However, naturopathic physicians artfully blend modern, cutting-edge diagnostic, and therapeutic procedures with ancient methods.  They design individualized treatment plans integrating both traditional health care wisdom and the latest evidence-based research in order to restore, maintain, and optimize health naturally using a whole-person approach.

How Do Naturopaths Support Healing?

A naturopath designs a tailored treatment plan based on the understanding that health is determined mostly by food, environmental, and lifestyle factors – “epigenetics” that directly impact how our unique genetic predispositions towards certain diseases are expressed. This approach goes against conventional wisdom, underscoring the truth that we are not “doomed” according to family history.  Instead, the patient is empowered to take control of his or her health as a lifelong practice. Fostering education and sustainable changes in the person’s lifestyle habits are seen as essential to the process of healing and cultivating wellbeing.

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1200w-Tao-Vitality---Naturopathic-Medicine_315959115 natural medicine

When Traditional Doctors Can't Find A Solution

It’s an all-too-common scenario. You’ve been suffering from a cocktail of vague and seemingly unrelated symptoms for months, even years now…fatigue, brain fog, aches and pains, memory loss, poor sleep, low libido, weight gain, food cravings, mood issues like anxiety or depression, skin rashes, hormone imbalances, headaches, or digestive problems. You finally make an appointment with your doctor to get some answers (that Dr. Google can’t provide), only to be given a mere 15 minutes to rattle off your laundry list of complaints, desperate for some validation. You’re given a prescription or two and sent home with the discomforting assessment that what you’re experiencing is “just a part of normal life” due to genetics or aging. You leave feeling defeated, hopeless, and frustrated. Perhaps you then go from doctor to doctor, only to be told that you’re fine, there’s nothing wrong, and even worse…it’s all in your head.

Or, perhaps you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, IBS, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes, a reproductive issue, or an autoimmune disease. You are told the unsettling news that you can’t reverse the condition -- you simply have to take medication to manage it for the rest of your life and hope it doesn’t get worse.

NOW WHAT? What to do if you feel like you are out of options

While these kinds of predicaments are common, they don’t have to be “normal”. The good news is that while suffering from health issues seems isolating, you’re not alone. The better news is that there are solutions to identify and address the reasons why you’re suffering – because there are actual reasons.

The fact is, while conventional Western medicine is necessary for acute conditions, the methods used don’t address the myriad of chronic conditions plaguing so many individuals on a day-to-day basis. Thankfully, Naturopathic medicine is designed to do just this. The methods used not only prevent chronic conditions from developing in the first place, they effectively identify the root causes of symptoms and dis-ease, rebalance the body at the foundational level, and promote healing and resolution, even reversal of health conditions – many of which are thought to be untreatable through the lens of conventional medicine, regardless of what your genetic predispositions may be.

How does Naturopathic Medicine Compare to Conventional Medicine?

Many people are familiar with the terms “Naturopathic Doctor” or “Naturopath” but may not fully grasp the breadth of their practice or what distinguishes them from conventional medical physicians. According to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) and the Institute for Natural Medicine (INM), naturopathic medicine originated in the 1890s.

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Lyme Disease Prevention Part 2: What To Do If You Get Bit


Preventing Lyme Disease and Other Tick-Born Illnesses

As we transition into the summer months and increase our outdoor activities, it is easy to forget about the need to protect ourselves and our families from a common but serious health threat: Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

Thankfully, as discussed in the previous article Lyme Disease Prevention Part 1: How to Avoid Getting Bit” (as outlined by Dr. Myriah Hinchey, Lyme Literate Naturopathic Doctor, Founder/Medical Director of Tao Vitality LLC, and co-founder of LymeCore Botanicals) there are practical and simple ways to reduce the chances of getting bit and subsequently contracting Lyme disease and other co-infections that can have damaging long-term effects. And if you do get bit, taking proactive measures to quickly address a potential or active infection can be done using proven natural methods, often in conjunction with more conventional approaches.  

When Prevention Fails: How to Remove a Tick

With Covid-19 concerns still lingering for an undetermined amount of time, optimizing health is on everyone’s mind. Time outside getting adequate sunshine/vitamin D, fresh air, and exercise are vital to immune function and overall well-being, but what do we do if preventative measures for Lyme fail and we suddenly find a tick embedded in our skin?

There is a much better chance of avoiding acute and chronic Lyme disease if the tick is removed properly, if the pathogenic status of the tick is determined through testing, and if preventative measures are taken and symptoms are identified effectively within a critical time period after getting bit.

This approach can help to prevent an active infection and determine a treatment protocol should the tick contain the Lyme disease-causing bacterial spirochete, borrelia burgdorferi, and/or other co-infections.  Important recommendations to follow if you get a tick bite include:

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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) and Its Many Uses: How Can You Benefit?

If you haven't yet heard of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, or HBOT, don't worry, you're not alone.  This cutting-edge technology isn't widely understood or made accessible in our conventional health care system, so most people aren't aware of its profound applications and endless benefits. Not just yet, that is. Imagine being able to address numer...
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Art Therapy and Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) Therapy: The Art and Science of Integrative Mental Health Modalities

All human beings seek relief from suffering caused by past wounds, whether they be physical, mental, or emotional in nature. From a mind-body perspective and an integrative health approach, all types of trauma equally impact wellbeing, longevity, and quality of life. Integrative mental health services are becoming more widely practiced for deeper l...
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Will Elderberry Induce a Cytokine Storm?

"Elderberry is one of the most used, and most trusted immune support botanicals in the integrative medicine repertoire. But there has been a lot of discussion within online clinician forums on whether elderberry could or would induce a cytokine storm if used during an infection where that is the risk. I'd like to share my perspective based on the r...
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A Message From Dr. Myriah Hinchey, Founder and Medical Director of Tao

 We're Here For You As the owner and Medical Director of TAO, I just wanted to reassure you that we are here for you in whatever capacity you need us. From keeping up to date with the latest information regarding COVID-19 to providing you with simple at-home techniques to reduce stress and boost your immune system, to general vitamin/herbal su...
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COVID-19 Assay Test

*Please note: at this time, a blood draw must be scheduled with the phlebotomist at TAO and this test is for patients of TAO only. If you would like to become a patient of TAO, please call 860.228.1287 or learn more online. The COVID-19 Assay test detects IgM and IgG antibodies to COVID-19. This test is distinct from the PCR culture (nasal swab) te...
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COVID-19 continues to impact our local and global economy, health, and way of life as we know it. While it is easy to respond from fear, there is an opportunity to be proactive towards better health. There are measures we can take for increased resilience against coronavirus, not only in the interim but for long-term wellbeing. According to the WHO...
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At-Home COVID-19 Fingerprick test now available

COVID-19 FINGERSTICK TEST $199 The COVID-19 fingerstick is a simple, easy, at-home test that can be done in the comfort in your own home and is a great solution for telemedicine patients. Ship overnight to the lab facility and get results within 24-48 hours of receipt. How to Order Your At-Home TestCall 860.228.1287 to set up an office or Telemedic...
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KMB Labs – Coronavirus Home Test Kit Instructions

New to TAO? Click here to fill out new patients intake form or call 860.228.1287 Please see our cancellation policy here and  our list of insurance providers here 

COVID-19 Update: Supplements to Suppress Pro-Inflammatory Cytokines BEFORE Late-Stage Severe Coronavirus Infection Sets In

NATURAL ANTI-VIRAL HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS The Same Natural Herbal Supplements With Anti Viral Properties Are Used In Chronic Lyme Disease Treatment Protocol Support For Cytokine Storm Suppression.

Patients with severe COVID-19 infection can develop fatal lung damage from a cytokine storm, a marked increase in pro-inflammatory cytokines such as Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), Interleukin-1 beta (ILB1), Interleukin-6 (IL6), Interleukin-8 (IL8) and other cytokines 

The following supplements can help to suppress the multiple pro-inflammatory cytokines that cause severe lung damage (ARDS) in patients with COVID-19 infection caused by coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2.

NOTE: Sambucus Nigra (Elderberry):

There is evidence that elderberry inhibits replication and viral attachment of Human coronavirus NL63 (HCoV-NL63), different than COVID-19, but a member of the coronavirus family. (1). Sambucus appears most effective in the prevention or early stage of coronavirus infections. Sambucus significantly increases inflammatory cytokines, including IL-B1 so it should be discontinued with symptoms of infection (or a positive test) despite its ability to decrease TNF-alpha.

*See also “Will Elderberry Induce a Cytokine Storm?”

  • IL8 inhibitors: Cordyceps, ECGC (from green tea), Isatis spp, NAC, Polygonum cuspidatum
  • IL 8 (aka CXCL8): produced by macrophages and epithelial cells, airway smooth muscle cells, and endothelial cells. Induces the migration of neutrophils.
  • IL Beta-1: produced by activated macrophages. Stimulates cell proliferation differentiation and apoptosis. Upregulates COX2 in CNS
  • IL Beta-1 Inhibitors: Cordyceps, Eupatorium perfoliatum (boneset) Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)Salvia miltiorrhiza (red sage)Scutellaria baicalensis (skullcap).
  • IL 6: crosses the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and stimulates the production of PGE2 in the hypothalamus altering the body’s temperature regulation process. Affects pituitary/adrenal/hypothalamus axis. It can cause damage to neurons in the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system. Common in Alzheimer’s, MS, depression, lupus, cognitive decline, progressive hearing loss, decreased hippocampal function, seizures, and stroke.
  • Il 6 inhibitors: Andrographis paniculata, Salvia miltiorrhiza, Scutellaria baicalensis, Isatis spp
  • TNF-alpha produced by macrophages, lymphocytes, NK cells, neutrophils, mast cells, eosinophils, and neurons. TNF-alpha tends to be elevated in Alzheimer’s, depression, inflammatory bowel disease, and cancer. It is synergistic with IL 1 and IL 6, with similar effects on the hypothalamic/pituitary/adrenal axis (HPA axis), temperature regulation, appetite, liver function, and insulin resistance. It causes heat, swelling, pain, and redness.
  • TNF-alpha Inhibitors: Andrographis, Cannabis, Cordyceps, Eupatorium, Houttuynia, Sambucus, Scutellaria, Salvia, Zingiber off. (ginger)
  • NLRP3 inflammasome Inhibitors: Melatonin


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