Immune Boosting Herbs

 

Minor adjustments to our diet can go a long way to help prevent and overcome viral infections. Here we look at six immune boosting herbs which are used in traditional healing and also show promise in recent research. I will also share some personal ideas on being better prepared for the coming flu seasons and waves and so on.

 

Herbs

 

The first three herbs, elderberry, olive leaf extract and echinacea can power up your immune system however are less common in diets and cuisine. That is why we included them in our Immune Support formula which also includes Zinc and Magnesium. All herbs in this formula are organic and non-GMO.

 

Elderberry

 

Elderberry extract has been used for centuries to fight infections and boost immunity. Sambucus Nigra, the black elderberry is a small, antioxidant rich fruit, whose benefits can be attributed to the anthocyanin compound. Anthocyanin works by clearing the body of free radicals that cause damage to cells at the DNA level. [1]

 

Elderberry has potent direct antiviral effects against the flu virus as it inhibits the early stages of an infection by limiting the virus’ ability to attach and enter into host cells. [2] Researcher noted that elderberries are even more effective at inhibiting viral propagation at later stages which makes it useful to help prevent the spread of viruses.

 

Elderberry is a versatile herbal remedy for a long list of ailments including Upper Respiratory Infections. [3]

 

Olive Leaf Extract

 

Olive Leaf Extract has been long used in holistic medicine for inflammation and viral infections including respiratory infections like the common cold and influenza. Olive Leaf Extract contains the bio-active compound oleuropein and other flavonoids and polyphenolic compounds which have antioxidant, antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and immune-stimulating properties.

 

Echinacea

 

Echinacea has been used to prevent or treat the common cold for centuries. These plants contain a whole mix of active substances. Some compounds have antimicrobial and antiviral properties, while others support the immune system. Studies have shown the plant may help the immune system combat infections and viruses, speed up in recovery from illness and reduce inflammation. [4, 5]

 

A review of 14 studies found that taking echinacea lowered the risk of developing colds by 58% and shortened the duration of colds by a day and a half. [6]

 

In Germany, Echinacea Purpurea plants are approved as natural remedy for upper respiratory tract infections and colds. 

 

The next three herbs, garlic, ginger and oregano are more common in cuisine and easily incorporated into our diet. They are also great for boosting the immune system.

 

Garlic

 

Garlic has been used to promote general health for ages. It is a source of Allicin which contains sulfur. Allicin quickly converts to other sulphur-containing compounds thought to give garlic its medicinal properties. The sulfur in garlic also helps your body absorb zinc, which is also an immunity booster including in our Immune Support formula. Active compounds in garlic have recently been presented as promising candidates for maintaining the homeostasis of the immune system. [7]

 

These compounds have been shown to boost the disease-fighting response of some types of white blood cells in the body when they encounter viruses, such as the viruses that cause the common cold or flu. [8] Garlic enhances the functioning of the immune system by stimulating specific cell types including macrophages, lymphocytes and natural killer cells. 

 

Garlic reduces the risk of becoming sick as well as how long you stay sick. It can also reduce the severity of symptoms. [9, 10]

 

Ginger

 

Ginger has been used for thousands of years as a natural treatment for colds and flu throughout Asia. When consumed fresh it can prevent human respiratory syncytial virus from attaching to and infecting upper respiratory tract cells. Ginger can also stimulate the activity of immune cells, including T-Cells, and biological molecules involved in the immune response. It contains the compounds shogaol and gingerol which, in addition to giving a spicy kick, it stimulates blood circulation and opens the sinuses. Improved circulation means more oxygen is getting to your tissues to help clear out viruses and toxins. According to the Journal of Nutrition & Intermediary Metabolism, ginger extract has been shown to enhance thyroid gland function in males, enhance red blood cell counts and hemoglobin levels, and immunoglobulin levels. Drinking ginger tea, especially if made with fresh ginger, will also provide the benefits.

 

Oregano

 

Traditional healers have long relied upon oregano oil as a natural remedy to treat respiratory issues such as coughs, colds, flu, sore throats and bronchitis. This powerful Mediterranean herb has been sought out during the global pandemic as it can boost the immune system by increasing the levels of interferon in the blood. Interferon causes nearby cells to heighten their antiviral defenses. Oregano contains the compounds carvacrol and thymol and both appear to have antiviral properties. Thymol is usually the main ingredient in disinfectant products recommended by The Environmental Protection Agency to counter the spread of the coronavirus. 

 

 

Small Changes Can Go A Long Way

 

Using the Immune Support Supplement and incorporating the other herbs in your diet will put you in a stronger position to resist and overcome viral infections. In addition to the above, I use Eucalyptus Oil as aromatherapy, as an air spray and a disinfectant for cleaning. I like the smell of eucalyptus and given its versatility the choice was easy. To support respiratory health, I nebulize with sea salt and iodine usually alternating between the two. 

 

 

Ever upward and onward.

 

 

References

 

 

 

[1] Duymuş HG, Göger F, Başer KH. In vitro antioxidant properties and anthocyanin compositions of elderberry extracts. Food Chemistry. 2014 Jul 15;155:112-9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2014.01.028 

 

[2] Golnoosh Torabian, Peter Valtchev, Qayyum Adil, Fariba Dehghani. Anti-influenza activity of elderberry (Sambucus nigra). Journal of Functional Foods, 2019; 54: 353. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2019.01.031

 

[3] Hawkins J, Baker C, Cherry L, Dunne E. Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) supplementation effectively treats upper respiratory symptoms: A meta-analysis of randomized, controlled clinical trials. Complement Ther Med. 2019;42:361–365. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2018.12.004

 

[4] Kim, H. R., Oh, S. K., Lim, W., Lee, H. K., Moon, B. I., & Seoh, J. Y. (2014). Immune enhancing effects of Echinacea purpurea root extract by reducing regulatory T cell number and function. Natural product communications, 9(4), 511–514.

 

[5] Vimalanathan, S., Schoop, R., Suter, A., & Hudson, J. (2017). Prevention of influenza virus induced bacterial superinfection by standardized Echinacea purpurea, via regulation of surface receptor expression in human bronchial epithelial cells. Virus research, 233, 51–59. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.virusres.2017.03.006 

 

[6] Shah, S. A., Sander, S., White, C. M., Rinaldi, M., & Coleman, C. I. (2007). Evaluation of echinacea for the prevention and treatment of the common cold: a meta-analysis. The Lancet. Infectious diseases, 7(7), 473–480. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(07)70160-3 

 

[7] Arreola, R., Quintero-Fabián, S., López-Roa, R. I., Flores-Gutiérrez, E. O., Reyes-Grajeda, J. P., Carrera-Quintanar, L., & Ortuño-Sahagún, D. (2015). Immunomodulation and anti-inflammatory effects of garlic compounds. Journal of immunology research, 2015, 401630. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/401630 

 

[8] Nantz, M. P., Rowe, C. A., Muller, C. E., Creasy, R. A., Stanilka, J. M., & Percival, S. S. (2012). Supplementation with aged garlic extract improves both NK and γδ-T cell function and reduces the severity of cold and flu symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled nutrition intervention. Clinical nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland), 31(3), 337–344. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2011.11.019 

 

[9] Nantz, M. P., Rowe, C. A., Muller, C. E., Creasy, R. A., Stanilka, J. M., & Percival, S. S. (2012). Supplementation with aged garlic extract improves both NK and γδ-T cell function and reduces the severity of cold and flu symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled nutrition intervention. Clinical nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland), 31(3), 337–344. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2011.11.019 

 

[10] Josling P. (2001). Preventing the common cold with a garlic supplement: a double-blind, placebo-controlled survey. Advances in therapy, 18(4), 189–193. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02850113 

 

     

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