Mother Earth Living

Immune-Boosting Herbs

By Staff
Bright red ginseng fruit in hand.

By Laurel Vukovic

• American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). Recent research shows that American ginseng root–revered for centuries as a health and vitality tonic–helps prevent upper respiratory infections when taken for several months. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, tonic herbs, such as ginseng, are taken to strengthen immunity, but are discontinued during an acute illness (such as a cold). Because products vary in potency, follow manufacturers’ dosage recommendations.

• Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata). Sometimes called “Indian echinacea,” andrographis reduces the duration and severity of cold symptoms, and it also might help prevent upper respiratory infections, studies show. Compounds in andrographis appear to stimulate immune function and halt viral growth. A typical dosage of andrographis is 400 mg three times a day.

• Echinacea (Echinacea spp.). Despite a few studies that question its efficacy, hundreds of studies support echinacea as an effective aid for preventing and treating colds, flu and other infections. Echinacea stimulates infection-fighting immune cells and increases the production of other immune compounds, such as interferon. Echinacea works best when taken frequently at the first sign of infection: 30 to 60 drops of liquid extract or 1 to 2 capsules (300 to 400 mg each) every two hours for the first 24 to 48 hours, followed by the same dosage four times daily for three days after symptoms disappear.

• Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus). Well-known as an adaptogenic herb (it helps the body more easily adapt to stressors), eleuthero root improves immune function in clinical studies. For best results, take eleuthero for at least three months to strengthen immune response. Because products vary in potency, follow manufacturers’ dosage recommendations.

• Elderberry (Sambucus nigra). Dark blue-black elderberries are rich in compounds that disarm viruses and prevent them from taking over healthy cells. Studies show that elderberry offers significant protection against respiratory viral infections. For prevention, take 1/2 teaspoon of liquid extract or 1 teaspoon of elderberry syrup twice daily. To hasten recovery from a cold or flu, take 1 teaspoon of extract or 2 teaspoons of syrup four times a day.

• Green tea (Camellia sinensis). Cultivating the habit of drinking green tea regularly can help strengthen immunity. Green tea contains potent antioxidant compounds that neutralize free radicals and prevent damage to the immune system. In addition, green tea stimulates the liver to secrete interferon, an immune compound that helps fight infection. To bolster immune function, drink 3 or more cups of green tea daily.

  • Published on Feb 27, 2015
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