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Health: Your Immune System and You

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“People across the world use herbs for treating ailments including headaches, the common cold, and digestive problems. Plus they use herbs and spices in teas, tisanes, and soups to boost their immunity and avoid getting sick”–Paul Ebeling

Our immune system plays a Key role in helping us be and stay healthy as well as reduce the risk of infections, diseases, and illnesses. It consists of different organs, cells, and proteins working together to protect your body from bacteria, viruses, fungi, toxins, and other harmful invaders. The main cells are the T-cells, B-cells and NK cells, neutrophils, monocytes, and macrophages.

When the body is under attack, the immune cells produce inflammation and antibodies to fight off infections or remove toxins. But this only happens if you have good immunity to start with. Those with reduced or compromised immunity due to poor diet, health conditions, or diseases, such as HIV and cancer, have a greater risk of contracting certain infections.

Common opportunistic infections or illnesses include the following:

  • Colds and flu
  • Pneumonia
  • Candidiasis
  • Lymphoma
  • Tuberculosis
  • Herpes

Sometimes the immune system becomes hypersensitive and attacks itself, leading to overproduction of inflammation, allergies, and autoimmune diseases. Many herbs, including the 1s mentioned here, may enhance immune functions and prevent or reduce the chance of developing opportunistic infections.

Astragalus for immune system

Astragalus has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. The perennial plant has over 3000 species. Astragalus membranaceus and Astragalus mongholicus are the two most studied species as it relates to dietary supplements. The Chinese used astragalus as a healing herb for liver, kidney, and digestive problems, the common cold, allergies, and fatigue.

Most of the active compounds are found in the plant’s root. The main compounds include flavonoids (polyphenols), polysaccharides, saponins, and amino acids.

Astragalus has strong anti-inflammatory effects and has also been promoted as an immune stimulant. According to researchers, it encourages B-cell growth, antibody production, and enhances immune cells ability to kill target cells. The herb also acts as an antioxidant, helping to remove toxins from the body and regulating inflammation.

The root of the plant is used to make liquid extracts, powders, capsules, and teas. Astragalus tea to boost immune system offers a mild, earthy flavor with a hint of sweetness.

Ginseng for immune system

Ginseng is the root of plants belonging to the genus Panax and another one of the immunity boosting herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine. Many people think of ginseng as an invigorating tonic, and rightly so. The plant has traditionally been used for stimulating sexual desire in men, increasing athletic performance, and preventing and treating illnesses related to the immune system.

The most popular types are American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng). Both contain the active biochemical ingredients ginsenosides and gintonin. Panax ginseng, in particular, is known for its immunomodulatory activity.

Ginseng can help your immune system by regulating T cells and other immune cells that help your body fend off threats from bacteria and viruses. Ginseng extract shows antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and may even boost resistance to infections in healthy people.

Note that many studies assessing ginseng’s effects on the immune system focused on how they may improve immunity in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment or surgery.2

Ginseng root can be consumed raw. You can also slice or grate and steep it in hot water to make ginseng tea to boost immune system function. But be warned that ginseng may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Although herbal tea drinkers describe the beverage as tasty and energizing, others can’t help but notice the bitter taste hidden in warm earthy flavors.

The Takeaway

Both healthy and sick people can consume immune boosting herbs. These 2 herbs for immune support are generally considered safe for human consumption. On top of that, the risk of side effects is low compared to taking pharmaceutical drugs. However, limited studies have been carried out and scientists do not yet fully understand their safety and efficacy. There’s also a chance that dietary herbs may interact with medications you are taking or worsen certain health conditions.

You can find them at your local whole food or herbal stores or online as loose leaves, tea bags, powders, liquid extracts, capsules, and dietary supplements. Besides their healing potential, you’ll probably enjoy their aroma and celestial flavors.

Lastly, do not rely on immunity boosting herbs exclusively to fight sickness. Your doctor may advise you to continue taking your medication, consume nutritious foods, exercise, get enough sleep, and avoid habits that suppress the immune system.

Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively

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Paul A. Ebeling, a polymath, excels, in diverse fields of knowledge Including Pattern Recognition Analysis in Equities, Commodities and Foreign Exchange, and he is the author of "The Red Roadmaster's Technical Report on the US Major Market Indices, a highly regarded, weekly financial market commentary. He is a philosopher, issuing insights on a wide range of subjects to over a million cohorts. An international audience of opinion makers, business leaders, and global organizations recognize Ebeling as an expert.