Herbs To Boost Your Immune System

Herbs To Boost Your Immune System

GARLIC

The use of allicin, the primary active agent generated by garlic, for general well-being is on the increase and its role as an antioxidant has been widely investigated.

Garlic is rich in antibiotic powers and strengthens the immune system. Garlic is also active against herpes simplex, influenza B, HIV and many other serious illnesses. Note that it is active against the food-borne pathogens so often found in commercial foods, Shigella, E. coli, and Salmonella. Garlic kills bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract immediately on contact. To treat an active intestinal bacterial infection, consume lots of raw or cooked garlic, or take garlic capsules. You can rely on the regular use of this spice to keep your body toned and functioning optimally. It will help keep the heart toned; help keep blood pressure down, as well as help lower cholesterol. Repeated studies have shown that garlic has a beneficial effect on the heart and circulatory system. Chop some into your salad; throw it, simmered in olive oil, over noodles and sprinkle with parsley.

Garlic in the diet has also been shown to have a beneficial effect on those dealing with cancer, stress, and fatigue. Garlic stimulates the isles of langerhans, increases insulin production, and lowers blood sugar levels, thus aids diabetics in the control of this debilitating disease.

Garlic also helps increase the senovial fluids, and so is an ally for those dealing with arthritis. The sulfur in garlic helps break up the crystallization of uric acid in the joints, and so aids in the relief of gout. Garlic stimulates the brain and has a positive effect on brain functioning, helping to keep us alert and energized. Scientists have found that garlic’s anti-aging properties not only slowed the destruction of brain cells, but also caused new brain neurons to branch out.

Cooked garlic retains its antibacterial powers, so long as you eat enough of it. During plague times, healers in some areas wore a “bird’s beak:” a stiff cone was made of paper or bark, stuffed with garlic and spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg), and tied on over the nose to help prevent contagion.

SAGE

Sage is loaded with antioxidants, so is anti-aging, and also offers lots of calcium, magnesium, the essential oil, thujone, flavonoids and phytosterols. It is sedating and soothing, and has a tonic effect on the nerves.

Expectorant and diaphoretic, sage is especially effective against sore throat and upper respiratory illness, and infections where there is an excess of mucous. Sage dries up secretions. Sage is also traditionally used, and effective against, dysentery. Its astringent tannins make it an ally for healing mouth sores, canker sores, bleeding gums, and gingivitis, when used as a mouth rinse. A study done in Germany showed that drinking sage infusion on an empty stomach reduced the blood sugar levels in diabetic patients.

GOLDENSEAL

The Aborigine healers in Australia first discovered goldenseal, which was once used to treat syphilis and gonorrhea. It will not only help prevent an infection if you are feeling low, but can reduce the inflammation of mucous membranes once you have a cough or cold.

It tastes vile and will stain your fingers bright yellow, but Goldenseal is highly effective. Take in liquid or capsule form. Do not self-dose with this herb if you are pregnant or have high blood pressure.

CAT’S CLAW

This herb originated in Peru where the vine grows up to one hundred feet long in Peru’s high land rain forests. Several closely related species are called una de gato (cats claw) by the Spanish speaking people of South America. In the short amount of time that cat’s claw has been researched, scientists have found alkaloids that enhance the immune system. The active constituents are the oxyindole alkaloids which stimulate immune function. It also has both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties making it useful for wound healing.

To make a therapeutic tea, boil 1g of cat’s claw root bark with 250ml (1 cup) of water for 15 minutes. Cool, strain and drink three cups a day. Alternatively, take 1-2ml of tincture twice a day pr 20-60mg of standardized extract daily. Large quantities of cat’s claw can cause low blood pressure in some people. Hence, it should be used with caution if a person is already using medications for high blood pressure, as cat’s claw may potentiate the effect of the medication. Cat’s claw is contraindicated in pregnancy and in nursing mothers. It may also be unsafe for young children.

ALOE VERA

Aloe vera products, particularly aloe vera juice which is taken as a health drink, have become very popular in Japan and Germany, two of world’s most scientific countries. The aloe vera juice has become very popular as a healing agent for ulcer, heart ailments, cholesterol and general well-being. Recent scientific findings support this.

One is a study conducted in 1996 by Odus M Hennessee, a known herbalist who wrote, “In 1983, I began to investigate an interesting puzzle – why Aloe vera works! Today, if a friend, neighbor, or even a physician asks me why it works, I tell them it works because the Aloe vera plant produces at least six antiseptic agents: Lupeol, salicylic acid, ura nitrogen, cinnamonic acid, phenols, and sulphur. All of these substances are recognized as antiseptics because they kill or control mold, bacteria, fungus, and viruses, explaining why the plant has the ability to eliminate many internal and external infections.”

This is a storehouse of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes and numerous other ingredients, aloe vera acts as both an immune-enhancer and a natural antiseptic. Recommended for serious immune deficiency conditions, including chronic fatigue syndrome, drink a quarter of a glass each morning and increase the dosage by drinking the same amount again at the end of the day if you feel a cold or other infection threatening. Find a product that is high in the mucopolysaccharides, which bolster the body’s natural defenses.

HYSSOP

Hyssop is a blood nourisher, an immune system strengthener, and possesses potent antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial activity. Cornell/NCI researchers think that hyssop may be useful in the treatment of patients with AIDS.

Hyssop contains a number of camphor-like constituents that help to loosen phlegm. Another constituent, marrubium, is a powerful expectorant. Hyssop has traditionally been used as a remedy against colds, flu, coughs, bronchial congestion, pulmonary distress, asthma, sinus congestion, and sore throats. A syrup made from the flowering tops of hyssop is especially soothing. Wise ones the world over, knowledgeable in the use of medicine plants, including American Indians, used hyssop in these ways.

Hyssop is well known as a digestive tonic, stomach soother, and an aid to alleviate gas. It also has a long history of use as a nervous system nourisher, possesses mild sedative properties, and can be taken regularly as a nerve-strengthening tonic. Use hyssop to calm and steady your nerves and help balance the emotional swings so common during the mid-life transition.

All above ground parts of hyssop offer an essential oil that has a clearing effect on the mind, helps rid you of confusion, and imparts a feeling of alertness and focus. Keep some fresh, or dried, in a chest pocket where you can smell it the next time you have to give a presentation or take a test.

According to some texts, long-term use of hyssop is associated with reports of toxicity, while according to others there is no toxicity whatsoever. There is also no association of toxicity with hyssop in the empirical evidence passed down through the ages. This discrepancy may be a result of the way in which the herb is prepared. Some think that the compound responsible for any toxicity resides in lipid molecules in the leaves of hyssop. So, using hyssop as a strong tea, or preferably an infusion, or as a syrup, honey, tincture, or vinegar, should all be fine. But to be on the safe side, don’t extract it into a fat base like oil, or butter. It may be possible that the combination of herbs in the Jamaican recipe moderated any possible toxic effects of the herb.

GINSENG

Siberian ginseng is considered the single most effective immune tonic and adaptogen in the herbal realm. Safe and inexpensive, it helps the immune system respond quickly to infection and mitigates the effects of stress. Astragalus root is also an excellent ally for building powerful immunity. Both, or either, may be taken daily for extended periods with no ill effects.

Ginseng root is another ally for the immune system, especially when there is physical or emotional stress. In any form (tincture, tea, extract) it nourishes production of interferon, phagocytes, antibodies, and killer T-cells. So long as you need ginseng, there’s no overdose; if you take it when you don’t need it however, it may produce a jittery sensation.

ASTRAGALUS

Astragalus is a tonic and restorative food and a potent medicine plant. The Chinese have been using this plant to strengthen immunity for centuries. They say it “strengthens the exterior”, or protects against illness.

Astragalus invigorates vital energy, is restorative, strengthens resistance, restores damaged immunity, promotes tissue regeneration, is cancer inhibiting, antiviral, adaptogenic, protects and strengthens the heart and the liver, is tonic to the lungs and enhances digestion.

Many scientific studies have verified its immune enhancing action. Astragalus is a powerful “non-specific” immune system stimulant. Instead of activating our defense system against a specific disease organism, astragalus nourishes immunity by increasing the numbers and activity of roving white blood cells, the macrophages.

In a study conducted by the University of Texas Medical Center, in Houston, researchers compared damaged immune cells from cancer patients to healthy cells. Astragalus extracts were found to completely restore the function of the cancer patients’ damaged immune cells, in some cases surpassing the health and activity of the cells from healthy individuals.

Astragalus protects adrenal cortical function while undergoing chemotherapy or radiation, and helps modify the gastrointestinal toxicity in patients receiving these therapies. Chinese doctors use astragalus against chronic hepatitis, and many studies have demonstrated that astragalus protects the liver against liver-toxic drugs and anti-cancer compounds commonly used in chemotherapy, such as stilbenemide. When used as an adjunct to conventional cancer treatments, astragalus appears to increase survival rates, to increase endurance, and to be strongly liver protective.

Astragalus helps lower blood pressure, due to its ability to dilate blood vessels, and protects the heart. Scientists in the Soviet Union have shown that astragalus protects the heart muscle from damage caused by oxygen deprivation and heart attack.

Integrating astragalus roots into your winter-time diet, as the Asians have been doing for years, turns out to be a very good idea. Scientists have demonstrated that astragalus will not only prevent colds, but cut their duration in half. Astragalus possesses strong antiviral properties, and in one study regenerated the bronchial cells of virus-infected mice.

Astragalus has been safely used throughout Asia for thousands of years. The Chinese typically slice astragalus roots and add them, along with other vegetables, to chicken broth to create a nourishing and tonic soup. Discard the root after cooking, and consume the broth. No toxicity from the use of astragalus has ever been shown in the millenia of its use in China.

ECHINACEA

Echinacea or purple coneflower was introduced into medical practice in 1887. Modern research into how it supports the immune system began in the 1930s in Germany where, by the mid-1990s it was being prescribed by doctors and pharmacists 2.5 million times to fight colds and flu. It is said to work by increasing the numbers and the activity of white blood cells, it also increases the production of interferon, a chemical that is critical to the immune system response.

Echinacea triggers production of white blood cells, interferon, leukocytes, T-cells, and B-lymphocytes, as well as directly inhibiting the growth of most bacteria and viruses. Capsules and pills of echinacea, if used for lengthy periods, may be counterproductive. A dose of the tincture is one drop for every pound of body weight.

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