Medicinal plants for immune system

How to boost your immune system

Why is immune system so important?

It is essential to strengthen the defenses in people who often have chronic infectious processes. People in good health should also not forget the state of their immune system, since maintaining a good immunity is the best way to continue enjoying favorable health.

To strengthen the defenses, we can take into account a number of different natural aspects: diet, natural remedies, restorative power of sleep, positive attitude to life, and so on.

Including a bit of each of them in our daily lives will help us to be better prepared against many diseases.

Diet to strengthen your defenses

A poor diet can weaken our defenses. A slight deficit of vitamins and minerals can cause faulty defenses and allow the emergence of many diseases.

Among the major vitamins and minerals that we must consider to have good defenses, we can point out the following:

Medicinal plants to boost your defenses

Ginseng for immunity
Ginseng can increase our defenses

By stimulating the formation of white blood cells, ginseng is able to strengthen the immune system, which prevents the occurrence of many bacterial or viral diseases. It has been found that ginseng powder and ginseng tincture have antitumor properties(10% decoction of dried plant. A glass a day) or (40 mg dry extract per day)

Besides food, proper use of herbal remedies that increase immunity helps us to strengthen our defenses and not to succumb so easily to many diseases (bacterial diseases, such as cold, pharyngitis, bronchitis, etc.. And other diseases)

Herbal infusions and other preparations to increase your defenses

The main plants suitable for strengthening the immune system are:

  • Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia L., Echinacea purpurea Moench, Echinacea pallida). The main virtue of echinacea lies in its antimicrobial properties against bacteria, fungi and viruses that constitute a real alternative to chemical antibiotics.
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhyza glabra) Applications of licorice are based on the capacity of this plant to inhibit the growth of microorganisms, both viruses and bacteria or fungi.

This plant is considered one of the best natural antibiotics. The reason for this property is due to its ability to stimulate the immune system, producing more white blood cells. It has also been proved its power to stimulate the production of interferon, a protein that the body itself produces to neutralize viruses. (See more information in the complete study of the plant)

  • Aronia (Aronia melanocarpa) Aronia anthocyanins can help booster your immune system (Take an aronia supplement)
  • Kumquat: (Fortunella spp.) Vitamin C helps fight infections and increases immunity (Take the whole fruit with skin)
    Gentian flowers
    Gentian flowers
  • Gentian (Gentiana spp) its ability to stimulate the production of white blood cells and increase the defenses are used in the prevention of numerous diseases that affect the respiratory tract, cold, flu, tonsillitis, sinusitis, pharyngitis, bronchitis. It has been established very effective in reducing symptoms of allergy.
  • Tarragon: (Artemisia dracunculus) The whole plant is rich in vitamin C, a vitamin that boosts the immune system, strengthens the defenses and helps regenerate the skin and mucous membranes. (Use it as a condiment or infusion; 5g. Dried leaves in 250ml of water. Take a couple of glasses)
  • Spirulina (Spirulina ssp.) Some studies have demonstrated the ability of this alga to boost immunity, so its use could be useful in preventing certain diseases in which the defenses are compromised. Hence, many investigations are underway to check whether spirulina is beneficial for AIDS patients (HIV), certain forms of cancer, poisoning by heavy metals, etc.
  • Mistletoe (Viscum album) Mistletoe extracts are useful to repair damage to DNA. They are primarily used to prevent the development of tumors in patients about to undergo surgery or those who have undergone surgery for cancer.

These preparation not only manage to reduce the possible growth of new cancer cells, but they can also stimulate the defenses, so they able to prevent infection.

Nevertheless, there is strong debate about their aplication, arguing that despite their efficacy, they may be also responsible for brain tumors.

  • Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) The main virtue of this plant is its ability to raise defenses. Isopteropodine is the main alkaloid responsible for this property with other oxindole alkaloids (isomitraphylline, mitraphyline, allopteropodine) and chlorogenic acid. These alkaloids can stimulate white blood cells to destroy microorganisms or foreign matter in the bloodstream. (Use standard preparations of this plant according do the patient’s leaflet: tablets, capsules or tincture)
    Shiitake strengthens the immune system by stimulating the production of white blood cells and cell renewal
  • Shiitake(Lentinus edodes) Its lentinan content gives it antitumoral and antiviral properties. Shiitake strengthens the immune system by stimulating the production of white blood cells and cell renewal. It is considered very suitable to prevent the growth of tumors and to prevent urinary tract infections.

One of the main applications of this mushroom is its ability to assist in the treatment of cancer. Japanese cancer patients are given a combination of maitake, shiitake and reishi to increase their defenses. In this way, shiitake can reduce the dose of chemicals in the treatment of chemotherapy while protecting body cells from damage caused by this treatment. It has been observed a reduction in the negative symptoms of chemotherapy such as vomiting, nausea, or decreased physical exhaustion after taking these preparations.

  • Maitake (Grifola frondosa) One of the main applications of this mushroom is its ability to assist in the treatment of cancer. (Consult your doctor or oncologist about the possibility of taking a cocktail of supplements of maitake, shiitake and reishi)
  • huáng qí (Astragalus membranaceus) It boosts defenses and renews damaged cells and, therefore, it is used as an invigorating remedy for people with low mood and lack of physical force as a result of infection processes.

It is useful during periods of convalescence from illness or as a preventative for infection in those people with weakened defense systems that are prone to infectious processes (flu, colds, bronchitis, etc) It is also very suitable for people suffering from stress, anxiety, spring fatigue or anemia. (Take preparations sold in pharmacies or natural stores, according to the leaflet)

  • Whitania / Ashwagandha / Winter cherry/ Indian ginseng (Whitania somnifera) preparations of this plant are used both as a tonic to combat fatigue, stress and low mood or to increase the defenses in people with weakened immune systems. (People with few defenses, the elderly, people with anemia, asthenic, chronically ill, etc.)

Among its main properties we can consider its ability to decrease the body’s reaction to the antigens. In this sense, it is used as a natural treatment in autoimmune diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

(Take preparations sold in pharmacies or stores natural according to the prospectus conditions)

Mood and defenses

People being happy
A good attitude to life reinforces our defenses

There is a relationship between mood and immune system. When people are down, depressed or stressed, their defenses become decreased and, consequently, they are more prone to diseases. This is why, when we feel sad or unhappy, we tend to get sick more easily.

When people feel happier, their defense system is reinforced and they are less likely to get sick. People who usually have good humor are usually healthy people. Those who enjoy life and forget the problems, looking at reality with a more positive attitude, are rarely sick.

The reason for this finding lies in the fact that negative mood states, especially stress and depression, alter levels of certain hormones that adversely affect the production of immune system cells. Managing stress, depression or anxiety is a good way to be better prepared against invading microorganisms.

Externalizing problems helps to live them less severely. A good way to express negative feelings is to communicate with others, to reveal our concerns and problems and share them with others. A good social relationship can help us face life with more optimism. Psychotherapy and relaxation are  helpful in most cases we need to change our behavior, our attitudes, our thoughts or emotions.

Sleep and defenses

Sleeping is necessary for the body to repair any cell damage. While we sleep there is a decrease in energy expenditure because the body focuses on repairing your boby cells that were damaged during the day.

The immune system also needs sleep to recover. It has been demonstrated that people who sleep well are generally in good health, while people with sleep disorders (insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, etc.) also suffer more often from a number of other diseases.

For example, obstructive sleep apnea is a fairly common disorder that can limit the life of those affected. People with this disorder, as well as being physically ill during the day (headache, chronic fatigue, etc), have very great difficulties staying awake at home, at work or on the road. So, this disorder can also be the cause of many accidents when driving.

All adults need to sleep between 6 and 8 hours to have healthy defenses.

punto rojoMore information on boosting your immune system.

This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

9 January, 2021

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