I’m sure you have all noticed that at this time of year everyone is talking about colds, flu's and getting sick. The common cold is the most prevalent viral infection in the world with over 200 variations of the virus. While getting sick very occasionally does give your immune system a good work out, it is best to have a strong immune system in order for your body to ward off viral and bacterial infections which should minimise the symptoms and duration of winter illnesses.
Luckily for all of us nature has provided us with some amazing and effective herbs which assist in boosting our immune systems. These herbs are particularly useful at this time of year when people are generally more susceptible to those nasty colds and flus floating around.
So without further ado I would like to introduce you to a few of the many herbs that are available which assists us in strengthening our immune system. These herbs are the more common and most widely used:
Astragalus has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years. This herb is used to protect and support the immune system, and has success in preventing colds and upper respiratory infections. It is also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, and studies have shown that it has antiviral properties which is why it may prevent colds and viral infections. Research (particularly in the US) has shown that Astragalus has the ability to help people recover faster from illnesses and live longer.
Echinacea is indigenous to North America and as such the Native Americans used it extensively to treat colds, flu and other infections. Research shows that Echinacea may work as a natural antibiotic which can suppress virus activity and promote immune stimulating effects. Studies also report that while Echinacea does not cure disease, it does help the body resist and fight illness, reduce severity and duration of an illness and boosts the immune system. It is particularly useful in colds, respiratory conditions, bronchitis, and ear and throat infections.
Garlic while pungent is a strong immune booster, and can be taken in supplement form for those sensitive to the strong taste and smell. Research has shown those who take a garlic supplement on a daily basis reduce one’s risk of contracting colds by 50%! At the first sign of a cold/flu taking garlic can also significantly reduce the severity and duration. However, like they say “Prevention is better than Cure” and for that garlic is the way to go.
Goldenseal is an extremely popular herb and is known as an immune system enhancer and herbal antibiotic. Goldenseal also has anti-inflammatory and astringent properties and aids in soothing the mucous membrane of the ears, nose, throat and eyes. Taken at the first sign of colds or flus, Goldenseal can help to prevent further symptoms developing. Goldenseal is also said to assist in reducing fevers. This herb has many nutrients which is why it has such strong antibacterial and anti-infective properties – perfect for enhancing one’s immune system.
Shiitake Mushrooms are indigenous to China and have been used for thousands of years both medicinally and for culinary purposes. It has been used as a symbol of longevity in Asia due to its health promoting properties. Shiitake Mushroom contains a compound called lentinan which enables our immune systems to fight diseases and infections more efficiently. It is believed that this amazing mushroom is more effective than prescription drugs and can help fight against a variety of conditions from common colds to more serious infections.
If you want to enhance your immune system this winter or more effectively fight off a current cold, consider incorporating these herbs into your life. These herbs are by no means the only herbs used for the immune system, but they are a start. Always remember to consult your healthcare professional should you have any queries.
Tea is a perfect way to take these herbs and is especially warming on these cold winter days. So here’s a toast to good health for all!