Feeling run down in the colder winter months can be a drag so I’ve created this list of the seven best supplements to boost the immune system. With these natural herbs and remedies, you can quickly and easily stay healthy and strong.
When searching for how to boost your immune system, look to these 8 herbs, supplements and essential oils.
Many of echinacea’s chemical constituents are powerful immune system stimulants that can provide significant therapeutic value. Research shows that one of the most significant echinacea benefits is its effects when used on recurring infections. A 2012 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that echinacea showed maximal effects on recurrent infections, and preventive effects increased when participants used echinacea to prevent the common cold.
A 2003 study conducted at the University of Wisconsin Medical School found that echinacea demonstrates significant immunomodulatory activities. After reviewing several dozen human experiments, including a number of blind randomized trials, researchers indicate that echinacea has several benefits, including immunostimulation, especially in the treatment of acute upper respiratory infection.
The berries and flowers of the elder plant have been used as medicine for thousands of years. Even Hippocrates, the “father of medicine,” understood that this plant was key for how to boost your immune system. He used elderberry because of its wide array of health benefits, including its ability to fight colds, the flu, allergies and inflammation. Several studies indicate that elderberry has the power to boost the immune system, especially because it has proven to help treat the symptoms of the common cold and flu.
A study published in the Journal of International Medical Research found that when elderberry was used within the first 48 hours of onset of symptoms, the extract reduced the duration of the flu, with symptoms being relieved on an average of four days earlier. Plus, the use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo.
Because leaky gut is a major cause of food sensitivities, autoimmune disease and immune imbalance or a weakened immune system, it’s important to consume probiotic foods and supplements. Probiotics are good bacteria that help you digest nutrients that boost the detoxification of your colon and support your immune system.
Research published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutritionsuggests that probiotic organisms may induce different cytokine responses. Supplementation of probiotics in infancy could help prevent immune-mediated diseases in childhood by improving the gut mucosal immune system and increasing the number of immunoglobulin cells and cytokine-producing cells in the intestines.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is probably one of the most common suggestions you hear to boost your immune system because it is very supportive to immune health. But unfortunately, many people just resort to downing a bunch of orange juice. This is probably the worst idea if your body is trying to fight off a cold.
Orange juice is mostly concentrated sugar…even if there is no added sugar to the juice it still contains a large amount of sugar which suppresses the immune system. Plus the amount of vitamin C you get from it isn’t enough to justify the huge influx of sugar. One glass of orange juice contains roughly 100mg of vitamin C, but most experts recommend taking 500-1000mg of vitamin C a few times a day for intense short-term immune support.
Of course, getting vitamins from healthy food is great (I generally don’t see juice as a healthy whole food– veggies like broccoli, peppers and cauliflower are better sources of vitamin C), but when you are trying to boost your immune system on the short term I find it’s better to take vitamin C capsules to really help your body fight off whatever is going around.
Zinc is a powerful mineral that is found in every cell of the body and is required for many functions of the body including detoxification. It is a top choice for supporting the immune system and keeping the body healthy.
Studies have found that it’s best to take zinc at the first signs of symptoms which can help reduce the severity of symptoms. It’s best to avoid taking zinc sulfate which is not absorbed well by the body. Zinc picolinate, chelate or citrate are better because they are more readily absorbed.
If you take a calcium supplement take it at a different time than the zinc because calcium may interfere with zinc absorption. For strong temporary immune support take 50-100mg per day total in divided smaller doses.
6. Vitamin D
Vitamin D can modulate the innate and adaptive immune responses and a vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection. Research shows that vitamin D works to maintain tolerance and promote protective immunity. There have been multiple cross-sectional studies that associate lower levels of vitamin D with increased infection.
One study conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital included 19,000 participants, and it showed that individuals with lower vitamin D levels were more likely to report a recent upper respiratory tract infection than those with sufficient levels, even after adjusting for variables such as season, age, gender, body mass and race. Sometimes addressing a nutritional deficiency is how to boost your immune system.
Ayurvedic medicine has relied on ginger’s ability for how to boost your immune system before recorded history. It’s believed that ginger helps to break down the accumulation of toxins in our organs due to its warming effects. It’s also known to cleanse the lymphatic system, our network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials.
Ginger root and ginger essential oil can treat a wide range of diseases with its immunonutrition and anti-inflammatory responses. Research shows that ginger has antimicrobial potential, which helps in treating infectious diseases. It’s also known for its ability to treat inflammatory disorders that are caused by infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria and parasites, as well as physical and chemical agents like heat, acid and cigarette smoke.
The ginseng plant, belonging to the Panax genus, can help you to boost your immune system and fight infections. The roots, stems and leaves of ginseng have been used for maintaining immune homeostasis and enhancing resistance to illness or infection. Ginseng improves the performance of your immune system by regulating each type of immune cell, including macrophages, natural killer cells, dendritic cells, T cells and B cells. It also has antimicrobial compounds that work as a defense mechanism against bacterial and viral infections.
A study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine found that ginseng extract successfully induced antigenspecific antibody responses when it was administered orally. Antibodies bind to antigens, such as toxins or viruses, and keep them from contacting and harming normal cells of the body. Because of ginseng’s ability to play a role in antibody production, it helps the body to fight invading microorganisms or pathogenic antigens.
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