Our immune system can intelligently remember diseases and kill any bugs it encounters again. However, this defense system is only as dependable as the support it gets.
A sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits and increased stress can hamper your immune system and make you more prone to illnesses. Adding a few key herbs to your daily routine can build immunity and protect you from such illnesses.
Having been used in Chinese medicine for centuries, astragalus contains bioflavonoids, choline and astragalan B (polysaccharide), which are known for their immune-boosting properties. A recent study highlighted the herb’s immune restorative properties in cancer cells invitro.
How To Use It: Buy astragalus in capsule, tea or extract form here. Consult your physician before using it.
An age-old remedy for colds, echinacea is a popular herb that boosts immunity. Arabinogalactan, a polysaccharide in this herb, is effective in activating cells involved in killing invading microbes. The herb also boosts B & T lymphocytes levels, which kill cancer cells.
How To Use It: Brew an echinacea tea by boiling 1tbsp of the dried herb (leaves, flowers, root) with two cups of water. Steep for 15 minutes and drink once cool. You can add lemon and honey for flavor. Buy it here.
3. Cat’s Claw
This medicinal bark contains six oxindole alkaloids, which have potent anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties. This herb stimulates the immune system by increasing the production of Natural Killer (NK) cells. The alkaloids are also known to induce phagocytosis (engulf disease-causing bacteria), thereby improving immune response.
How To Use It: Brew a herbal tea with this bark and drink it daily. Alternatively, buy cat’s claw extract , capsules and herbal tea here.
Popularly known as reishi or lingzhi mushroom, this bitter herb builds an immune shield not only against biological pathogens, but also chemicals and pollutants. Its active components are glucan polysaccharides and triterpenes, which enhance overall immunity.
How To Use It: Boil 2tsp of dried mushroom in one cup of water. Simmer for two to three minutes and drink once cool. You can also sprinkle powdered mushroom over your soups. Buy capsules and liquid extract online.
5. Gingko Biloba
The antioxidant properties of gingko biloba can be attributed to its active components, bilobalides and ginkgolides, which can neutralize free radicals. A 2007 study confirmed the immuno-stimulatory effects of gingko biloba extract by inducing phagocytosis and activating T lymphocytes.
How To Use It: Brew a herbal tea with dried leaves and drink it daily. Buy a standardized leaf extract in various forms like capsules, tablets and liquid here. Talk to your doctor or herbalist to determine a suitable dose.
Your immune system is your only ammunition against deadly diseases. So don’t let your guard down; an active lifestyle coupled with sufficient rest and reduced stress can strengthen it.
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