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Build Immunity: Suppressing SARS

Build immunity by eating a healthy diet, exercise but don't overdo it, think positive, take vitamins and herbs known for their immunity benefits to kick the Sars coronavirus to the curb.

| September/October 2003

  • A previously unrecognized coronavirus causes SARS.
    By Brian Orr

Can building immunity slap SARS silly? Maybe, according to James Duke, Ph.D., a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and one of the world’s foremost authorities on herbal medicine. Herbs haven’t been shown to kill the bug responsible for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, but using herbs regularly may well give our own bodies the oomph they need to fend off this and many other diseases, Duke says.

“Our public health people recommend seeing your physician or health-care professional if you suspect you might have SARS,” he says. “But they confess there isn’t much they can do but provide supportive treatment. They all say contagious diseases are more likely to gain a foothold in, infect and even kill those with compromised immune systems.

“It simply stands to reason that the corollary is that a strong immune system renders the acquisition of most contagious diseases — among them anthrax, SARS, smallpox and West Nile virus — less likely. Strengthening the immune system can be preventive.”

Duke suggests lifestyle changes to boost the immune system, including:

• A good diet featuring lots of fresh fruits and vegetables (nine servings a day)
• A daily multivitamin
• Relax and reduce stress
• Think positive
• Exercise, but don’t overdo it. Take in some fresh air every day — walk in the garden, stroll around your neighborhood, sit on a park bench — just make sure you breathe deeply.
• Take herbs reported to boost immunity when contagious diseases are going around.

Garlic leads the list of herbs Duke recommends, because it contains at least 15 immune-boosting chemicals, 10 antiviral agents and at least 24 antibacterial compounds. It has been proven synergistic with many of the pharmaceutical antibiotics, which are losing their punch due to multiple drug resistance.

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