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5 Powerful Herbs To Boost Immunity

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Your immune system is on a noble mission your whole life to keep away germs, defending your body from invading microorganisms. 

We ought not to let our immune system stand in this fight alone. There is much we can do to strengthen and improve the function of our immune system

The immune system demands stability, harmony, and balance to function properly. When you put your body in an irregular state of poor sleep, bad diet, and intoxicating environment, your immune system ceases to perform adequately.  

Aging can also limit the regular capacity of the immune system, making us more vulnerable to diseases as we progress in age. The elderly have a less responsive immune system and are more likely to develop an infectious disease.


5 Powerful Herbs To Boost Immunity

Harvard medical school recommends the following lifestyle changes to boost your immune system [1]:

  • Eating more fruits and vegetables. 
  • Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight. 
  • Quitting smoking. 
  • Improving sleep quality. 
  • Avoiding stress and anxiety. 
  • Adapting high hygiene routines.

Nutrition plays a vital role in improving immunity in the elderly. Older people tend to eat fewer portions and add less variety to their diet. Using herbs to boost immunity is a practical method proposed by research. Ginger, garlic, Echinacea, Elderberry and Ashwagandha are some powerful options to consider adding to your diet.

1. Ginger

Ginger is used to treating various diseases due to its immunonutrition and anti-inflammatory responses. 

Research shows the effect of ginger in reducing muscle pain, preventing cancer prevention, treating cardiovascular disorders and diabetes [2]. 

Extracts of ginger lead to enhanced antibody response and immunity against infections.

ginger: one of 5 powerful herbs to boost immunity

In a study performed on a mixed group of smokers and non-smokers, extracts of ginger rhizome were administered daily over a 21-days trial. The participants' blood test results showed improved thyroid gland performance in both groups, suggesting benefits of ginger consumption for the immune system and for smokers with anaemia [3].

Another study evaluated the immunomodulatory effects of ginger oil. It showed that ginger can influence cells' immune response, suggesting the oil extracts for the therapy of clinical conditions such as inflammation and autoimmune diseases [4].

2. Garlic

Alliin is the constituent of fresh garlic responsible for the famous aroma. It is converted to allicin, a potent antibacterial agent that gives garlic its antibacterial effects. It is also associated with lower high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. 

Although sufficient research doesn't support these claims, garlic is suggested to treat cancer and resists viral infections. This effect is explained by its immunomodulatory effects [5]. 

garlic: one of 5 powerful herbs to boost immunity

It is used traditionally to treat nose mucus, recurrent colds, sore throat, flu, and yeast infections. 

Studies suggest that compounds of garlic can induce immunomodulatory activities and have the potential in treating inflammatory diseases.  

Experiments in animals models provided sufficient evidence on the benefits of garlic for the immune system. Yet, more human clinical studies are required to confirm these findings [6]. 

3. Ashwagandha

Stress induces vulnerability of the immune system while fighting infections. Ashwagandha is a powerful herb for boosting the immune system due to its stress-relieving effects and proven immune-enhancing properties. 

Ashwagandha is known in Indian traditional medicine for its mood-enhancing effect. It is commonly used to improve sleep quality and anxiety due to its positive impact on the body's resilience to stress.

It enhances cell-mediated immunity and works as an immunomodulator, thus improving the immune system's overall state.

Cancer patients usually have lower immunity states. Ashwagandha intakes were efficient in enhancing immunity and extend their life span under treatment. It can also protect the body from avoidable cellular damage caused by free radicals due to its antioxidant properties [7].

When mixed with maitake extract, Ashwagandha has potent benefits on immune health. Results from the study of this combination suggested stress-inhibiting and immune-boosting properties of the herb [8]. 

Another study evaluated the usage of Ashwagandha with cows' milk. Results suggested immunity-boosting effects shown in increased white blood cell activations, enabling better response to flu, mumps, or tumors [9]. 
To know more about this powerful adaptogen. Read more about when is the best time to take Ashwagandha.

4. Echinacea

Echinacea, also known as coneflower, is a medicinal herb growing only in eastern and central North America. 

Its products are commonly used to naturally treat the common cold, flu, and respiratory diseases. 

Recent researches suggest that echinacea might reduce the risks of catching a cold. The effect of echinacea on the immune system may depend on the bacterial type and concentration in the plant [10]. 

Clinical studies propose that echinacea extracts can be used as early therapy for cold to shorten the duration and severity of the infection [11]. 

Echinacea extracts could be used to inhibit the long-term risk of recurrent respiratory infections, especially among patients with the weaker immune system. 

These results were found in studies that have included a total of 24,558 people. It provided evidence that echinacea can, in parallel to blocking infections, prevent complications such as pneumonia, otitis, tonsillitis, or the need for antibiotics among patients [12]. 

5. Elderberry

Elderberries, or Elder, have been used as dried berries or juice in traditional medicine to treat common cold and influenza. 

Recently it appears as an OTC sirup supplement to naturally heal mild cold cases.

The berries have antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties that explain their effects on the immune system.  

elderberry: one of 5 powerful herbs to boost immunity

A placebo-controlled study evaluated the safety and efficacy of elderberries in treating influenza A and B infections during the 1999-2000 seasons in Norway. Taking the elderberry extract helped patients alleviate the influenza symptoms within 4 days on average earlier than in placebo. The results propose that elderberry is a cost-effective and efficient herb that can boost the immune system during influenza treatment [13].


5 Powerful Herbs To Boost Immunity: Summing Up

Herbs can complement your diet to compensate for nutrients necessary for the immune system function. The supplement market offers numerous herbs to boost immunity, yet few have scientific support for their health claims. 

The anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties are common in ginger and garlic, suggesting them as potent herbs to defend your body against infections. 

Ashwagandha's benefits in controlling stress promote it as a powerful herb recommended for lower immune responses. 

Elderberry and American echinacea were used for ages in traditional medicine to treat the common cold and influenza. Recent research has confirmed these claims in clinical trials.

References:

[1] https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665023/
[3] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352385918300598
[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16338110/
[5] https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=19&contentid=Garlic#
[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4417560/
[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252722/
[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3336880/
[9] https://nunm.edu/2008/08/clinical-research-supports-effectiveness-of-ashwagandha-to-boost-bodys-immunity/
[10] https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/echinacea
[11] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15035888/
[12] https://www.avogel.it/pubblicazioni/Doc/Schapowal-Adv-Ther-2015.pdf
[13] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15080016/

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