For Your Health: Herbs that Boost Immunity

Studies probe the use of herbs to prevent and treat a wide range of ailments

| January/February 2001

  • Very preliminary studies suggest that cat’s claw may help immune function.
    Steven Foster

Have you noticed the outbreak of news coverage on infectious diseases lately? It’s easy to think we live in a sea of vicious bugs, ever ready to attack.

The human immune system might be our most important defense for living in the modern world. In recent decades, scientists have become increasingly interested in immunity as a hot topic for research. As the body of studies grows, more of the benefits of traditional immune-enhancing herbs are confirmed.

During this year’s cold and flu season, you may begin to see a few newcomers on health-food store shelves. You may also hear about new research confirming healing properties of your old favorites.

Berberine has been a hot research topic lately. More than sixty scientific studies were published on this chemical in 1999 and the first half of 2000 alone. 

A newcomer to the immune scene

Long revered in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), andrographis (Andrographis paniculata) is just beginning to get attention in the United States. Also known as chuan xin lian, the herb grows as a wild, annual shrub in Asia. It has been used historically to treat colds, fevers, bronchitis, diarrhea, worms, and liver disorders.

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