With more and more people getting sick from the Coronavirus, and a vaccine for Covid-19 nowhere in sight, here are a few natural herbs to boost your immune system and cut down on your sick days.
There are several species of this lovely plant and is usually the first herb we think about when needing a natural immune system boost. Its formal name is Echinacea Purpurea. Commonly shortened to just Echinacea, it is also known as the "Purple coneflower" due to its pretty purple petals and rounded head. This plant is relatively easy to cultivate in a home garden as it can survive in a decently wide range of climates.
Historically, the echinacea plant was used for more than 400 years by the Great Plains Native Americans. It was then used by western doctors to treat wounds and illnesses until the advent of antibiotics when it was relegated to a home remedy.
So what exactly can Echinacea do? Echinacea is an immune stimulant. The main actives in the plant are alkylamides – which give a characteristic tingle on the tongue while making your mouth water – a great indicator of potency! These actives have been shown to increase phagocyte activity and enhance natural killer cell production – both are part of the innate immune system, responsible for engulfing and digesting bacteria and targeting viral-infected cells, respectively (Bone & Mills, 2013).
Published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, the University of Connecticut performed a meta-analysis study that evaluated the effects of Echinacea using 14 studies.
It was determined that:
- Echinacea can reduce the chances of catching a common cold by 58 percent
- Echinacea reduces the duration of the common cold by almost one-and-a-half days
Craig Coleman, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice and lead author of the study, added that "The take-home message from our study is that echinacea does indeed have powerful cold prevention and cold treatment benefits."
One of the more delicious ways to get better, this tasty treat has a looooong history of medicinal use. From Hippocrates, the ancient Greek known as the "father of medicine," who described the plant as his "medicine chest" because of the wide array of health concerns it seemed to cure, to ancient Egyptians, who used to make medicinal syrups and left recipes in the tombs of their dead.
Formally known as Sambucus nigra both the berries and the flowers can be used medicinally. However, studies have shown that the berries have a more powerful immunostimulatory effect. One 2009 study randomized patients into two groups. One group was given four doses of 175-milligram proprietary elderberry extract daily, and the other group received a placebo for two days. The group treated with the extract showed significant improvement in most flu symptoms, while the placebo group showed no improvement in symptom severity. Researchers conclude that the extract is effective in controlling influenza symptoms. (1)
Similarly, A meta-analysis of four randomized, controlled clinical trials (with a total of 180 participants) found that supplementation with elderberry substantially reduced upper respiratory symptoms such as cough, nasal congestion, and discharge, sore throat, and fever, when compared to a placebo group. They also found that elderberry was more effective at reducing the severity and duration of upper respiratory symptoms from the influenza virus than the common cold. (2)
I think I just found my new favorite syrup topping for pancakes!
I'll be honest. I was utterly floored when I found out about this little gem. I had no idea that this common household cooking spice was such a powerful immune booster. Upon researching this article, I found that Garlic has been used medicinally, all over the world, for thousands of years. Records indicate that Garlic was in use when the Giza pyramids were built about 5,000 years ago!
Experiments have shown that Garlic (or specific chemical compounds like allicin found in the spice) is highly effective at killing countless microorganisms responsible for some of the most common and rarest infections, including the common cold. It actually might help prevent colds as well as other infections.
In one study, people took either garlic supplements or a placebo for 12 weeks during the cold season (between November and February). Those who supplemented with the spice were less likely to get a cold, and if they did get a cold, they recovered faster than the placebo group. (3)
When used as an anti-microbial agent (for gut dysbiosis, parasites, candida), it is entirely selective in its effects, which means it does not harm beneficial microflora as antibiotics and to a lesser extent, herbs do. The volatile oils are excreted through the lungs, making it especially helpful against respiratory system infections.
Keep in mind that these studies were done with raw crushed Garlic or cold-pressed garlic extract. So if you don't care for Garlic's taste, then you may want to buy it pre-encapsulated in a pill.
If you're looking for an easy way to incorporate immune-boosting herbs into your day then Check out our new Healthy You teas! These delicious tea blends are designed to keep your immune system in top form!