Herbs to boost your immune system now.
What are weird time we are in. With Covid-19, there is a lot of negatives, but, there are so many good things that can come out of this too. Most of us are getting more rest, more fresh air (thanks to less traffic, less airplanes, less busses, less pollution in general) and many people are taking their health at home seriously. God Bless our hospitals, first responders and grocery store attendants.
What day are we in where we can't see our doctor in person? It's so wild but also an incredible opportunity to get in our kitchen and boost our immunity from whole raw fruits, vegetables and herbs.
Here are a few of my favorite herbs. Some of these you likely already have and others are great to pick up to keep and have on hand.
Long used for therapeutic benefits, garlic is known for its ability to help balance the good and bad microbes in the microbiome. Garlic also helps enhance the immune system by stimulating certain immune cells and regulating secretion of cytokines — natural chemicals produced by immune cells that help the immune system communicate and function.
You can’t go wrong adding garlic to food, especially in its raw form (try it in salads and salad dressings). Remember adding in at least 3 garlic cloves a day for the added benefit is important. When preparing, it is important to note Crushing or chopping garlic releases an enzyme, alliinase, that catalyzes the formation of allicin, which then breaks down to form a variety of healthful organosulfur compounds
While technically not an “herb,” this fungus is popular in TCM for treating fatigue, sickness, and more. It naturally grows on the backs of a certain species of caterpillar that lives in the mountains of Tibet, and historically, it was saved for the likes of emperors and royalty.
“Cordyceps offers properties of immunomodulation and resistance to any type of stress,” explains Dr. Rawls. More specifically, it works by stimulating natural killer cells and macrophage activity, and also by enhancing cellular immunity, he explains.
Provides deep-level immune support while assisting the body in adapting to daily stress.*
Astragalus (Astragalus spp.) is an herb that has been considered foundational in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Astragalus promotes healthy resistance from the occasional physical and emotional stressors, and it also supports healthy immune functions.* Astragalus also has been used to support the liver and deep immune system (at the cellular level).* This herb is considered an adaptogen, helping support the body's adrenals by allowing the body to naturally adapt to daily stress.*
4. Olive Leaf
Supports immune function while also offering antioxidant support.*
While much attention is given to the heart-supporting aspects and antioxidant support of olives and olive oil, Olive leaf (Olea europaea) also helps maintain immune function with antioxidant support.* Olive leaf's active constituent, called oleurpein, also supports cardiovascular health.*
5. Osha Root
Osha root is a gnarled, dark-brown root that comes with a strong earthy, medicinal scent. Fresh osha root was traditionally used in tobacco blends, as well as to soothe the throat and lungs, and to loosen phlegm in the chest. Osha root is commonly used to treat sore throat, flu, bronchitis, pneumonia, the common cold, and other conditions. You can take osha root in a capsule, or use it cured in a tincture.
Once prepared, osha has a strong and spicy flavor that, when brewed into a tea, warms and soothes the throat as it goes down. One study has found evidence that osha root may strengthen immunity while also protecting against oxidative damage to cells.
Try boiling chopped and washed osha root into a soothing tea.
Not just for your pizza! Did you know that oregano is also a powerhouse immune booster?
Oregano contains potent essential oils, which are known for their antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. One study found that oregano oil is effective in fighting clinical strains of E. coliand P. aeruginosa bacteria, supporting the use of oregano oil in treating bacterial infections.
The essential oil of oregano is most safely taken in a capsule, as the flavor is intense. When taken straight, one drop (even in water) may burn the back of your throat as the oil goes down. As with any essential oil, do not ingest directly. Try using one to two drops in a large pot of soup or stew for delicious flavor and an immunity strengthener. Alternatively, take oregano essential oil as a capsule or diffuse in an aromatherapy diffuser.