Immune Health, Recovery and Inflammation | Top 5 Spices that Restore Immunity
The body is a complex machine that uses many different systems, tissues, cells and compounds to defend itself against disease and infection. All of these defensive abilities are arranged into two systems.
One is the equipment and machinery that we’re born with. These include barriers, organs and all of the specialized white blood cells which identify and destroy foreign invaders.
The other system continuously evolves based on pathogen exposure. For greater efficiency, the body enhances its immunity by making antibodies specific to exposed infection.
Low response or hyper-activity are signs of malfunctioning immune system. And, we have the perfect wellness in a cup, that includes powerful tea leaves, an exotic herb, along with 5 potent spices. Fortify blend is loaded with phytonutrients destined to decrease inflammation, reduce stress and elevate immune response. Furthermore, the selected ingredients shown through traditional practices and scientific studies to reduce pain, improve mood, balance hormones and raise gut microbiome.
Sniffles, cough, congestion, followed by a heavy head and body aches are just some of the symptoms we feel when we are sick. The problems arise when the cold weather, seasonal flu or allergies appear more frequently and linger longer each time. These nuisances not only interrupt our daily routines but may be a sign of a struggling immunity.
Numerous interconnected systems make up our immunity that defends us from toxins and infections. This defensive response can be negatively impacted by environmental factors, stress, poor sleep and digestion. At times such things delay (or decrease) our immune system leaving us vulnerable to pathogenic viruses and serious infection, or it can become hyperactive leading to inflammation and potential autoimmune diseases. 
To avoid getting sick, we employ a series of protective maneuvers. We get flu shots in the fall, take anti-histamines in the spring, frequently wash our hands, track sleeping hours and avoid anyone with a cough or a runny nose. There are also habitual changes shown to enhance immune response. These include minimizing stress, avoiding alcohol, getting regular physical exercise and a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
The modern lifestyle is “beyond 9-to-5” and in need of convenient strategies to strengthen our immunity and health. In this article, we’ll discuss benefits of specific spices and herbs, and how such ingredients boost our systems, improve sleep and protect us from microscopic disease causing invaders.
Immune System – rivers of blood and lymph
The immune system is made up of different organs, cells, proteins and even bacteria (part of body’s microbiome) that work to protect the body from infection and disease. It includes any defensive response to any foreign intruding compound. Specialized cells (white blood cells) continuously patrol the body checking between “self” and “non-self” cells. Recognition is done through surface proteins (like antennas) which are attached to cells. Proteins (called antigens) on our cells differ from “stranger” cells, which are identified and destroyed.
Ever wonder what happens when our own cells get infected by the virus?
Well, they send a “distress” signal which modifies their surface antenna as “non-self” to the immune patrolling cells, which are then destroyed. 
Immunity is a two system process, the one that we are born with called innate or non-specific immune system, and the other one we develop called acquired immune system. 
Innate system comes with all the genetic code and tools (lymphatic system) distinguishing between own and foreign cells/organisms. This is the stuff we were born with. It includes physical barriers like skin, eye’s cornea and mucus membranes of respiratory and GI tracts, along with all proteins, specialized cells and pathways of the inflammation response. Fighting common cold, or scabbing over a paper cut is the innate system at work. 
Acquired system uses what we got (innate) to learn about what’s out there—evolving its defences by making antibodies to encountered pathogens. This is the idea behind the immunization shots. If we are to come across the same (or slightly varied) flu virus a year from now; our acquired system jumps into action and unloads a dose of antibodies specific to that virus. Hence, fast tracking the whole response with less effort. 
Lymphatic System – the mighty protector
The lymphatic system is part of our circulatory system (bloodstream) and is a network of specialized cells, tissues and vessels that retreat lost fluids back to the blood stream and filter the blood against invading micro-bugs.
Lymphatic system is divided into: 
primary organs (bone marrow and thymus),
secondary organs (capillaries, vessels, nodes), and
lymph (the fluid itself)
Blood moves via circulatory system and is released into tissues to bring nourishment to cells and take away waste byproducts. 20 liters (L) of blood is filtered through capillaries of the veins and arteries moving blood plasma into the tissue surrounding fluids (called interstituial fluid) while leaving red blood cells behind. About 17 litres of plasma is reabsorbed back into blood vessels, while the other 3 litres remain in the interstitial fluid.  This is where lymphatic system plays number of important roles including: 
It drains the excess fluid (lymph) from body tissues and returns it to the circulatory system;
It filters lymph (in lymph nodes) from pathogenic microbes and malfunctioning (cancer) cells;
It helps with absorption of fatty acids from intestines to circulatory system;
It produces immune cells (like lymphocytes—B, T, NK and Plasma cells—and monocytes—macrophages).
Primary lymphatic organs create and mature immune cells. Bone marrow is where most of the such cells are made including macrophages, B and T cells. B cells develop in the bone marrow while T cells relocate into thymus for maturation. Afterwards all cells float through circulatory system to secondary lymphoid organs scouting for micro-intruders.
Lymph is the fluid that comes inside lymphatic vessels and is pushed into lymph nodes on the way back into blood stream. Lymph is mostly water containing solubles like proteins, fatty acids, hormones, as well as cellular debris and waste. Lymph can also carry bacteria, lymphocytes (white blood cells) and even tumor cells (in cancer patients). [3,4]
Secondary lymphatic organs house immune cells to do their jobs. These include lymph nodes, spleen, tonsils, mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) and bronchus-associated lymphoid tissue (BALT).  The body has about 500-600 lymph nodes set up in clusters and size. Each one acts as a filter of lymph as it passes along to larger lymph vessels (on the way to circulatory system).  Inside lymph nodes, immune cells (lymphocytes and monocytes) scan the lymph’s contents for “not-self” cells, destroying them and producing antibodies. 
Stress, Immunity and Inflammation
Inflammation is one of the main responses of the immune system to infection. Extra blood flows to damaged area containing all types of immune cells (lymphocytes and phagocytes), hormones and proteins that identify, repair and/or eliminate the problems at hand. However, life factors like stress can negatively impact immunity leaving us more susceptible to infection. 
Our evolutionary genes respond to short-term stress by shifting energy to greater physical counter (through fight-or-flight hormones) while decreasing the immune response. This includes psychological stress experienced in traumatic events where high levels of stress hormone (cortisol) reduce concentrations of certain defence cells like NK and T lymphocytes in blood.  But, after the stress is gone metabolism readjusts bringing the immune systems backup into balance.
Chronic stress is a different story, generating long-term inflammation which taxes the immune system. Often seen in elders or long-term illness patients, the immune cells (lymphocytes) become less responsive to their messengers (neurotransmitters and hormones).  This spiralling problem weakens immunity and increases risk for serious disease. [7,8] Chronic stress increases free radical levels in our systems which damage or oxidize healthy tissue and increase inflammation. [8-10] The body balances free radicals with antioxidants (or anti-oxidation) in order to maintain the balance. To decrease oxidative stress and inflammation, more antioxidants are needed inside body systems for greater protection against free radical damage.
Sleep and Immune System
We all know that sleep is important and feel tired, groggy and less productive when receive less of it.
But, how does sleep affect our ability to fight off disease or handle stress?
There are mountains of literature on this topic, many linking poor sleep to various immune problems along with high risk for disease. [1-2,11] It appears that many of same inflammatory cytokines we discussed participate in complex messaging pathways that regulate both sleep states—non-rapid eye, and rapid eye movement. [11-12]
During sleep, the body lowers inflammation and shifts the energy demands to rebuilding stocks of depleted components. This message is communicated through shift change in blood serum hormones (melatonin—sleep hormone) triggering relaxation while decreasing wakefulness. Sleep period is also a time for the immune system to increase its defensive weapons by developing T-cells and antibodies (made by B cells). [13-15]
Polyphenols enhance Rest and Immunity
A sign of struggling immune system is when the body has difficulty shaking off the infection or takes longer to recover from an injury. Other times, foreign substances like allergens trigger a large immune avalanche. In some people these harmless “not-self” antigens cause a hyper response—a furious release of histamines, antibodies and alike. One of such antibodies is called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). IgE plays a big role in allergic reactions, asthma, sinusitis and linked to number of autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. 
Good diet of nutrient rich foods has been the staple method of combating free radicals and chronic inflammation. The phytonutrients within such foods happen to be polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants. Over 8,000 polyphenols have been identified thus far demonstrating various health benefits by reducing inflammation, improving cellular function, helping the good microbes while combating the bad strains, boosting immunity through white blood cells, and reducing cancerous tumors. [17-19] Polyphenols can enhance immune response in several ways. They selectively prevent IgE’s production without harming B cells  and activate maturation genes of defence cells and pro-inflammation factors.  Existing IgEs can also be disabled by preventing them from binding to allergens and completing the allergic response . So, by simply eating polyphenol rich foods (like fruits and vegetables) we also reduce food allergies. 
Some polyphenols also shown to calm the body and improve sleep quality. During sleep, polyphenols relax the muscles and blood vessels elevating nutrient circulation and removal of waste from body tissues.  Improved recovery during sleep creates a stronger mind, body and spirit.
Foods high in polyphenols which are also high in antioxidants are referred to as superfoods. Data from these products have been placed in charts (ORAC value) and provided for the public. If we look at the ORAC values for most potent antioxidant foods, majority happen to be spices and herbs.  These numbers confirm what our ancestors knew about spices thousands of years ago and used them as healing agents. At DUPIsCHAI we combine ancient knowledge with modern science to create blends using the most powerful superfoods on earth—spices
Top 5 Spices that Restore Immunity
The immune response uses numerous specialized organs, cells and compounds to protect us from disease, stress, hostile microbes and at times ourselves (autoimmune disease). [1,2] The spices discussed in this article strengthen the immune system, fight oxidative stress and shield us from biochemical harm, both foreign and/or domestic. Let’s take a closer look.
Green tea originates from Camellia Sinesis plant discovered in ancient China some 5,000 years ago. Back then, ethnic populations quickly learned that steeped tea leaves possess various health benefits. Green tea contains multitude of polyphenols particularly in a subgroup called catechins.  These compounds are powerful antioxidants that reduce inflammation, metabolic diseases and cancer growth while protecting vital tissues including the brain.  Green tea is also great for weight loss by improving digestion and aiding gut bacteria to make short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), compounds shown to decrease body fat and weight-gain. 
Catechins in green tea are strong anti-microbial and immune boosting polyphenols. The main three epicatechin-3-gallate (ECG), epigallocatechin (EGC) and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) stop bacteria by damaging their cell walls, thus preventing them from infecting host cells.  EGCG especially disrupts bacterial and yeast growth by affecting their internal energy production. [28,29] EGCG also stops many nasty viruses in early infection stages including Herpes Simplex (HSV), Hep C (HCV), Zika (ZIKV), West Nile (WNV), Influenza A (IAV), and Human Immunodeficiency Virus-1 (HIV-1). 
In addition green tea is able to directly influence immune response. As previously mentioned, high IgE levels produce hyper-reactivity and trigger severe allergic reactions in suffering individuals. EGCG inhibits IgE production by B cells while influencing immune DNA to raise T cell levels. 
L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea which has been shown to enhance attention, focus, and memory. But, L-theanine can have a calming effect as well, reducing stress and anxiety—anxiolytic. L-theanine increases brain neurotransmitters (like GABA, serotonin and dopamine) which regulate our emotions, mood, focus, alertness, appetite and sleep.  Through these relaxation pathways L-theanine helps us fall asleep more easily while improving overall quality of rest. 
This aromatic herb of the basil family originated from India. In Ayurveda holistic medicine, tulsi is known by several names including “The Queen of Herbs” and is revered as an “elixir of life” for both medicinal and spiritual practices.  Tulsi is loaded with polyphenol diversity possessing strong antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, immune and neuro-protective properties. 
Tulsi contains many well researched phyto-compounds including eugenol, ursolic acid, B-caryophyllene, linalool, and 1,8-cineole.  To fight infection and disease tulsi improves our internal antioxidant enzymes and neutralizes floating free radicals, toxins, pesticides and pollutants.  This includes cancer treatments where tulsi’s polyphenols protect patient’s DNA and tissues (including stem cells inside bone marrow) against dangerous radiation therapy. 
Tulsi tea is a well known de-stressor. Polyphenols within shown to decrease physical pain, headaches as well as lower anxiety type symptoms.  Tulsi improves immune response by raising levels of NK and T-helper cells while reducing chronic inflammation.  Additionally, this holy basil helps the body fight several types of bad bacteria and fungi. [32,35]
It seems that turmeric is mentioned in almost every health related post and for a good reason.A cousin of ginger, turmeric or curcuma longa dates back some 4,500 years and has been part of every ancient and traditional medicine. This rhizome species contain more than 235 bioactive compounds but, its most famous group are curcuminoids, with curcumin as the leading warrior. 
Why all this “health buzz” about curcumin you might ask?
Well, it’s because curcumin is the grandest antioxidant and anti-inflammatory polyphenol discovered so far. The immune system uses inflammation as one of the main defensive tactics. There are many roads and pathways of initiating inflammatory response and they all lead through the main transcription factor called Nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kB).  From a paper cut to CVD, stomach ulcers to dementia and cancerous tumors—NF-kB behaves the main switch that activates multiple “domino effect” pathways triggering inflammation. Many polyphenols reduce NF-kB activity, but no-one does it better than curcumin (at least for now). 
Curcumin improves immune response by not only inhibiting NF-kB but also disrupting its messaging pathways, reducing numerous inflammatory causing cytokines like TNF-alpha, many ILs (interleukin) and others.  While fighting inflammation, turmeric’s polyphenols activate various immune cells such as T cells, B cells, NK cells, macrophages, neutrophils and dendritic cells.  Curcumin can also influence about 700 genes, many of them code for inflammatory compounds and immune proteins. This is why turmeric and curcumin studies shown great progress against every inflammation based disease. 
Turmeric has been studied for every possible human condition, including sleep. Curcumin shown to calm the body which improves sleep, reduces stress along with anxiety symptoms.  Turmeric is also a strong anti-microbial spice and shown to stop reproduction of over 29 different strains. 
Ginger’s 5,000 year old history makes it one of the most widely used spices in the world. This rhizome is loaded with polyphenols (100+ identified thus far) many belonging to gingerol and shogaol sub-groups. These compounds aid immunity through powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities.  Polyphenols like 6-gingerol seek out free radicals, decrease oxidative stress and improve symptoms in numerous chronic diseases such as respiratory illness, indigestion, diabetes, cancers, arthritis and dementia. 
Over-reactive immune response and chronic inflammation are the signs of malfunctioning immune system. Ginger targets and suppresses several key inflammatory regulators (like TNF-alpha and NF-kB) that reduce inflammation by disrupting their messaging pathways. [43,44] In asthma, 6-gingerol decreases allergic reaction and lowers allergy causing antibodies (IgEs) without activating white blood cell response. [44,45]
Cinnamon’s roots track back to ancient Egypt as this inner tree bark embodies DUPIsCHAI “power of spice” slogan. Its great taste and aroma comes from numerous powerful polyphenols like eugenol, quercetin, epicatechin, cinnamtannin B1, and cinnamaldehyde; earning it the #3 spot on the ORAC (267,536) chart.  These compounds possess superb antioxidant and anti-inflammatory traits that combat oxidative stress, metabolic disorders, gastrointestinal syndromes, cancers, pathogenic microbes and neuro-degeneration. 
Traditional medicines used cinnamon to treat multiple infections and diseases. This is because of immune-boosting polyphenols that defend the body from various invaders. Cinnamaldehyde is cinnamon’s mightiest anti-inflammatory sword and a hot topic of cancer research, that can commandingly suppress key controllers including NF-kB. 
In an allergic reaction, body’s good intentions of fighting “not-self” allergens turn against us. This hyper-reactivity involves inflammation and loads of histamines and heparins, causing sneezing, teary eyes, itchy skin and swollen airways. Histamines and heparins are transported in reservoirs called mast cells. These cells act like caravans wandering the body systems and move towards allergens. IgE (immunoglobulin E) is one of the keys that binds to mast cells, triggering the release of their chemical stocks. 
Cinnamaldehyde improves seasonal allergies by lowering histamine response and overall inflammation. The exact mechanism is still being studied but believed that cinnamaldehyde interrupts the attachment between IgEs and mast cells, thus preventing histamine release.  Cinnamaldehyde also slows down growth of several problem causing bacteria and fungi inside the digestive tract.  The anti-inflammatory abilities of cinnamon show promise in developing anti-viral treatments against deadly threats such as human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1). 
This perennial was called marathron by the ancient Greeks some 2,500 years ago for its abilities to lose weight and maintain stamina during extreme long-distance runs. Subtle liquorice flavour of this spice comes from potent antioxidants like kaempferol, quercetin, anethole, limonene, myrcene and cineole that boost immunity and fight inflammation, microbes, cancers as well as all types of metabolic, digestive and neural disorders.
Ayurvedic medicine extensively uses fennel tea to treat common cold and flu symptoms. Powerful anti-inflammatory fighters like quercetin disrupt IgE-antigen connectivity and decrease histamine release resulting in relief from sinuses and asthma symptoms.  Anethole is another impressive polyphenol. Structurally similar to dopamine (important neurotransmitter), anethole can mimic its effects including relaxation of soft tissues, which improves blood circulation and soothes throat and airways.  Current research shows fennel as inflammation mediator that able to decrease all types of allergic conditions and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and atherosclerosis.  Fennel does that by boosting immune proteins (TGF-beta1), reducing various inflammatory pathways, proteins and factors (IL’s, MMPs and p38) while protecting tissues against damaging factors (UV radiation). 
The same fennel’s fragrant antioxidant phenols that scavenge free radicals and battle cancers also possess strong antimicrobial properties reducing the spread of various infections.  Studies show fennel extracts fight bacterial strains like Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis),Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Samonellosis (Samonellla) that cause coughs, chills, fever, digestive discomfort, cramps, diarrhea and fatigue. This includes harmful molds and yeast cultures such as Candida albicans (C. albicans) responsible for human infections. 
This small peppercorn fruit comes from a vine tree originated 4,000 years ago in South India. Known as the “King of Spices” black pepper gained mainstream popularity throughout the world for elevating flavours and immense healing abilities. Black pepper is filled with polyphenols, vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients ranking #24 in top 100 highest antioxidant values among superfoods. 
Piperine and piperonal are black pepper’s mighty polyphenol duo shown to slash inflammation, improve immune system, and inhibit cancers and pathogens.  Black pepper does these and many other health mending measures through two ways:
using its mighty polyphenols to scavenge and destroy free radicals, reduce oxidative stress and protect body tissues; and
helping the body to absorb many other powerful ingredients (other polyphenols, vitamins and minerals) which go on to produce even greater benefits.  For example, piperine shown to increase curcumin’s absorption by whooping 2000%.  And yes, it’s a human study.
Black pepper is a natural thermogenic that safely raises metabolism while burning fat. It increases fat metabolism while reducing fat cell production (adipogenesis).  Black pepper also controls the hypersensitivity of allergic reactions by weakening messaging within inflammatory pathways. Piperine reduces NF-kB activity, cytokine levels (TNF-alpha, several IL’s) and their effect resulting in lower white blood cell levels.  This is a good thing in an overactive system, as piperine is able to reduce allergies like hay fevers by lowering IgE activity, inflammatory cytokines and histamine release. 
Black pepper stops the spread of infection causing microbes.  Studies showed piperine as insecticide against larva of malaria carrying mosquito , food-born escherichia coli (E. coli), staphylococcus (staff) , and peptic ulcer causing Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria. 
DUPIsCHAI – Restore Your Resilience
Immune system is an umbrella term that includes body systems, organs, compounds and even microbes which protect us against all types of infections and disease. To make things more complicated, the immune response is not a one way road where white blood cells seek out and destroy pathogens. It is a multitude of spiderweb pathways (like Ark/mTOR, JAK-STAT and MAPK/ERK) interconnected to each other, sharing many of the same biochemical compounds.
Take interleunkin-2 (IL-2) as an example. It is a cytokine (pro-inflammatory protein) and one of the inflammation markers. But, IL-2 also has specific roles when it comes to immune response. It uses above mentioned pathways to regulate white blood cells’ (several types of T-cells) activity, production and maturation.  IL-2 keeps autoimmune diseases at bay by maturing T-cells which attack foreign invaders and eliminating T-cells which turn on our own tissues. [66,67] And, IL-2 promotes compounds like NF-kB the “master switch” leading to greater inflammatory domino-effect through other messaging pathways. [41,68]
To control such cascading effect requires multi-purpose compounds which also able to regulate numerous immune dimensions. Instead of specific “cause-and-effect keys” we need to be looking for more “master key” ingredients that are able to create change and affect multiple systems, tissues, molecules and microbes using the same inflammation causing pathways. Polyphenols are such “master keys”:
Anethole (fennel), quercetin (fennel, cinnamon) and eugenol (cinnamon, tulsi) fight oxidative stress, improve metabolism and battle foreign bacteria strains.
Green tea’s EGCG shrinks inflammation and bursts bacterial cells while L-thiamine distresses the body and improves sleep.
Gingerols and shoganols (ginger) fight free radicals, promote gut health and good bacteria.
And “jack of all trades” piperine (black pepper) does all the above plus improves absorption of many powerful micronutrients, including the ever-famous curcumin (turmeric).
Curcumin and cinnamaldehyde (cinnamon) steal the disease-fighting spotlight as monster antioxidants that shrink inflammation, disease symptoms and cancer progressions.
All these phytonutrients are active research topics shown to improve immune system, strengthen all tissues and their internal machinery. At DUPIsCHAI, our blends are perfectly balanced with flavour while loaded with powerful spice containing polyphenols.
The body is a complex machine that uses many different systems, tissues, cells and compounds to defend itself against disease and infection. All of these defensive abilities are arranged into two systems. One is the equipment and machinery that we’re born with. These include barriers, organs and all of the specialized white blood cells which identify and destroy foreign invaders. The other system continuously evolves based on pathogen exposure. For greater efficiency, the body enhances its immunity by making antibodies specific to exposed infection.
Low response or hyper-activity are signs of malfunctioning immune system. From the King of Spices to the Queen of Herbs, Fortify blend is loaded with phytonutrients destined to decrease inflammation, reduce stress and elevate immune response. Furthermore, the selected ingredients shown through traditional practices and scientific studies to reduce pain, improve mood, balance hormones and raise gut microbiome.
Spices have the highest polyphenol content compared to all plants. At DUPIsCHAI, we pride ourselves on creating holistic blends which support and enhance wellbeing and performance. Fortify your Immunity and restore your systems with 100% real ingredients loaded with polyphenols. No chemicals, no sugars, no artificial or “natural” flavours—just as nature intended.