A healthy immune system works like body armor. It protects us from infections caused by bacteria, viruses and different microorganisms.
The strength and efficiency of your immune system is determined by multiple factors: diet, stress, socioeconomic status, environment, gut health and more.
Things like getting more sleep, eating as much fresh fruit and vegetables as you can, and exercising more all help strengthen the immune system.
But there are other things you can do too, and that’s where natural immune-boosting herbs come in.
10 Herbs To Strengthen The Immune System
These 10 herbs to strengthen the immune system will ensure that all those nasty colds and flus going around don’t end up in your body.
Chaga mushrooms contain immune system supportive secondary metabolites (melanin, betulinic acid, phenolic compounds and lanostane-type triterpenoids) which contain high levels of antioxidants. Records from as early as the 16th century have shown that the chaga mushroom has helped those suffering from ulcers, cancer, tuberculosis and gastritis! The immune system is also balanced by certain polysaccharides found within this mushroom, helping to combat inflammation and to fight against infections and germs.
This herb helps to protect and support the immune system by preventing colds and upper respiratory tract infections, reducing blood pressure, treating diabetes and protecting the liver. Astragalus supplements have been found to improve immune function in individuals recovering from chemotherapy or radiation (who have compromised immune systems), and helps these individuals recover faster and live longer. Astragalus is an antioxidant, so it helps with individuals suffering from heart disease, chronic inflammation, high cholesterol levels and cancer.
This incredible mushroom has been shown to limit as well as reverse tumour cell growth, and boost the functioning of our immune system. These mushrooms contain a polysaccharide called beta glucan which stimulates the immune system and activates proteins and cells which target and attack cancer. These include macrophages, T-cells, natural killer cells, and interleukin-1 and -2. Researchers have also shown that maitake can regulate blood pressure, glucose, insulin as well as serum and liver lipids (cholesterol, triglycerides and phospholipids), and can help individuals wishing to lose weight.
This bark-like substance which can be made into teas is an anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal. It stimulates the immune system and is well-known as a “natural antibiotic.” This bark contains naphtoquinones which inhibit free radicals and inflammatory leukotrienes as well as suppress tumour formation and reduce tumour viability. It fights against infections, colds, flus, respiratory problems, gastrointestinal issues, inflammatory conditions like arthritis and gout and acts as a mild diuretic.
Most people are aware of the amazing effects of echinacea and the immune system. Studies have suggested that this flower stimulates our white blood cells and spleen cells whose primary function is to fight off infections in the body. It may also stimulate the release of interferons which are some of the body’s most potent infection-fighting soldiers. Interferons interrupt the genetic code of germs which prevents them from replicating and reproducing. Echinacea also stimulates the body to produce more macrophages which phagocytose (eat) bacterial cells, keeping our body infection-free!
This amazing root is a wonderful anti-viral and anti-bacterial! It has been found to inhibit viruses from attaching to and infecting different cells of the body via stimulation and secretion of anti-viral proteins called interferon-beta. Ginger also inhibits mucous formation and clears up congestion. Ginger and garlic combined make a particularly potent combo which offer antibacterial benefits against drug-resistant bacteria!
This herb has been used for decades to help combat urinary tract infections, diarrhea, eye infections, canker sores and vaginitis. Goldenseal contains a compound called berberine which kills many different bacteria types and stimulates the production of white blood cells, making them more effective at fighting infections and strengthening the immune system. It is considered a natural antibiotic and can also help with individuals suffering from digestive issues.
Korean Red Ginseng
This “king of herbs” is one of the most well-known oriental medicinal herbs. It has been used as an herbal remedy for a variety of disorders (e.g., cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, insulin resistance, and hypertension) due to it’s incredible immune supportive effects. Red ginseng has been reported to enhance the human body’s resistance to illness or microbial attacks by maintaining a homeostasis of the immune system. Ginseng stimulates the production of a variety of immune system cells such as macrophages, natural killer cells, dendritic cells, T cells, and B cells, all of which help our body fight off disease and illness at a much faster rate.
This potent adaptogenic herb has cortisone-like effects on the immune system, which makes it a powerful “natural antibiotic.” It is also a wonderful source of antioxidants which assist in improving mental clarity and increases your body’s level of the detoxifying antioxidant called glutathione. It not only helps power the immune system, but it combats issues related to stress such as adrenal fatigue, dizziness, headaches, heart palpitations, insomnia and profuse sweating.
Cat’s claw has been used for hundreds of years to treat multiple health issues. The extracts of this herb contain powerful antioxidants which scavenge free radicals and help prevent inflammation, improve immune function, support DNA repair and promote normal cell division. When rats were fed an 8-week diet supplemented with cat’s claw, research found that white blood cell count dramatically increased, suggesting that this herb helps to improve the body’s ability to fight off infectious bacteria and viruses. Likewise, adult men who supplemented with cat’s claw for six months also experienced this increase in white blood cell count, and thus enhanced immune function.