Our immune system is a complex interaction between organs, glands, body systems, cells and chemicals in the body. This symphonic concert of processes require proper nourishment in order to function optimally. In today’s world, we require the best possible immunity from the multitude of disease causing micro-organisms.
Herbs are used around the world and can safely be relied on to strengthen the immune system, which in turn assist in fighting off illness and maintaining good health.
Let me introduce you to some common herbs that have immune-boosting properties:
Ginger increases immunity and stimulates the digestive, respiratory and nervous system. It helps revitalise sluggish circulation and removes dullness and inertia. It can be used both externally and internally or applied on the forehead as a paste for cold-related headaches and on the chest for relief from colds and coughs. Ginger is heat producing and should be taken sparingly during summer months.
Garlic is a natural antibiotic, and immune system stimulator. It increases the effectiveness of the white blood cells [WBCs] and T cells – the infection fighting cells within the body. It also blocks the production of toxins by germs.
A new research on Alzheimer’s suggests that turmeric may preserve memory by boosting immunity.
It is also recommended for treatment of indigestion, poor circulation, cough, chest congestion, skin disorders, diabetes, and anaemia and for healing of wounds and bruises.
Aloe vera [Gwarpattha]
Aloe vera is a powerful immune modulator [stimulator]. It has the effect of enhancing the immune system function through improved digestion. Aloe vera acts as a potent anti-inflammatory agent, stopping the damage and leakage of the intestinal wall, thereby taking the stress off the immune system. It increases the number and intensity of all immune cells in the body.
Castor oil [Erandal oil]
Studies indicate that when castor oil is absorbed by the skin it leads to extraordinary improvement in all body activities thus boosting the immune system functioning. It is also has anti-inflammatory properties, helps treat eczema, psoriasis, chapped skin and burns. It moisturises skin and assists pain relief. It also acts as an anti-bacterial agent and aids conditions such as sciatica, rheumatism and shingles [herpes zoster].
Tea contains antigens, which are found also in some bacteria. It builds up immune defence and prepares us for bacterial invasion. Green tea is a rich source of a type of anti-oxidant called catechin, and research has found that a specific catechin – epigallocatechin gallate [egcg] – may give it antigen-fighting abilities.
Amla has the richest concentration of vitamin C. It has been used as a powerful anti-oxidant agent that boosts immunity. Amla restores vitality and rejuvenates all bodily systems.
Amla helps in good iron absorption from the dietary sources and increases the protein synthesis that strengthens the body muscles. It also helps in better food absorption making the digestive system strong and balances the stomach acid. It strengthens the liver and helps in the easy removal of toxins and morbid matter from the body.
Winter Cherry [Ashwagandha]
Ashwagandha has anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour, anti-stress, anti-oxidant, rejuvenating, aphrodisiac and immune-enhancing properties. It is considered as an adaptogen that stimulates the immune system and improves memory. It increases the count of white blood cells and prepares the body to produce antigens against various infections and allergies. It is also a tonic for the heart and lungs as its regular intake controls the blood pressure and regulates heartbeat. It is a true immune booster used in prolonging life, improving overall health, enhancing mental function, increasing fertility and libido, augmenting physical energy, and preventing infections.
Jasmine flowers cool the blood and have a strong anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-tumour action. They halt bleeding and are also excellent for fevers and problems caused in the body due to heat like sunstroke.
Basil is one of the most sacred plants in India because of its healing and life-giving properties. It has been scientifically proved that basil absorbs positive ions, energises negative ions and liberates ozone from the sun’s rays. It keeps palate, throat, teeth, gums, bronchus and lungs free of infection. According to Hindu tradition, the plant is believed to permeate invisible oil into the atmosphere, thus keeping it clean and free of germs. A germ-free environment also has a pivotal role in immunity.
Licorice enhances immunity by boosting levels of interferon, a key immune system chemical that fights off attacking viruses. Licorice also helps the body to adapt to stress by increasing the metabolism of the hormone, cortisol. Due to this, licorice helps the body to deal with chronic fatigue, allergies, asthma, blood sugar imbalances, and recurrent infections.
The extract of myrrh has shown to improve the bacteria killing effect of white blood cells and is effective in fighting all kinds of infections, whether bacterial, viral or fungal. It is also has an anti-microbial action.
Echinacea is one of the best known herbs for enhancing the immune system and it is effective against a wide range of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It is mosteffective when taken at the onset of a cold or flu.
Ginseng is an herb that affects the immune control centres of the nervous system, both directly and indirectly through the adrenocortical hormones. It tones, increases output, and restores equilibrium.
Lapacho is a great stimulant for the immune system. This herb helps inactivate viruses as well as to actively inhibit, kill or stunt the growth of many viruses and bacteria.
So use these herbs to bolster your immune system.