Whether you are dealing with catarrh and cough or merely making sure that you remain in optimal health, it’s vital to keep your immune system strong. The immune system is responsible for averting and battling infections that enter the body. Thus, your body can effectively fight off sickness when you have a robust and fully functional immune system.
It’s essential to state that you shouldn’t rely solely on herbs for a strong immune system. A healthy immune system comes from several factors, including essential vitamins, adequate sleep, a healthy diet, and regular exercise. And sure, you also need to religiously observe strict personal hygiene like frequently washing your hands and avoiding contact with sick people.
To top off all these healthy practices, you can incorporate some herbal remedies to fortify your immune system. Before looking at five of such herbs, let’s understand why they increase immunity.
Understanding The Role of Herbs in Immunity
Broadly, herbs that aid the immune system exist in two categories. These are immunostimulating herbs and immunomodulators. Herbal immunostimulants can be useful to tackle acute infection on short notice. They work by stimulating the white blood cells to defend the body at the onset of an infectious illness.
On the other hand, Immunomodulators are herbs that help balance the immune system with amphoteric effects. They are more suited for people dealing with autoimmune conditions. Such herb can be ingested daily to help bolster the immune system in the fall and winter.
Here are five herbs for the immune system:
This herb has become popular due to its healing properties and reputation. In a study conducted on ginseng, researchers observed that it affects the HPA axis. The HPA axis consists of the pituitary, hypothalamic, and adrenal axis. These are responsible for dictating how the immune system responds to stress. The strength of your immune system changes depending on factors such as excessive and chronic stress.
Therefore a robust HPA axis is necessary for managing how the stress of daily life influences your immune system. With a strengthened HPA axis, your immunity also becomes stronger. Ginseng is a potent herb, and evidence in animal studies shows that it may treat Influenza A, but one should take it with care.
Reishi, also called Lingzhi, is a mushroom. These types of mushrooms are rich in beta-glucan. Some experts believe beta-glucan triggers different cell types of the immune system, such as dendritic cells, monocytes, and natural killer cells. By interacting with these immune cells, Reishi enhances their ability to locate and ward off infections.
Research from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center shows that this natural immune stimulator has anti-tumor effects. Thus, it’s capable of inhibiting the advance of cancer cells in some cases. Reishi is available for purchase either as capsules or powder. You can also forage these mushrooms if you can identify them. Moreover, some varieties of mushrooms like Psilocybin can help manage cancer-related physiological conditions. You can use magic mushrooms and take them only under the guidance of an expert.
Garlic is famous in the kitchen but also a potent herb with antimicrobial properties. It is specifically suitable for your gut. Apart from this, it has other superpowers such as antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal effects. All of these means that garlic doesn’t only help prepare tasty steaks but also fight disease-causing pathogens.
It can help prevent chest and respiratory infections. This natural remedy contains allicin, the compound thought to be responsible for the antibacterial properties of garlic. According to a scientific review circulated in the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine in 2014, allicin makes garlic powerful against bacteria like E.coli and Salmonella.
Astragalus is a herb known to play a prominent role in ancient traditional Chinese medicine. It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Reports from research indicate that the root of this herb increases the body’s resistance to infections.
Animal studies also show that astragalus roots can modulate the immune response of the body. It is used mostly by traditional Chinese herbalists to treat respiratory illnesses and symptoms of a cold in their patients.
Echinacea is an immunostimulant with a lot of therapeutic benefits. According to herbal literature published by Mount Sinai Hospital, this herb possesses properties capable of reducing and relieving inflammation. Also, it has antioxidant and antiviral properties.
These properties make the Echinacea herb perfect for boosting the immune system. In a systematic review carried out in 2006, researchers found that using echinacea after you notice symptoms of cold such as congested or runny nose can significantly cut down the duration and severity of symptoms.
Before you begin the daily intake of any of the herbs listed above, it’s recommended that you discuss it with your doctor to ensure they won’t affect any of your medications. Also, you shouldn’t substitute any of these for a medical diagnosis and treatment. Herbal remedies are beneficial in most cases for general wellbeing.
However, they should not replace conventional medical attention entirely. Those who would prefer to try an alternative of a medical doctor can consult a traditional medicine practitioner or a qualified herbalist. Remember, some plants and mushrooms are deadly. Therefore, you shouldn’t treat the need for proper identification lightly when foraging for your herbs.