Having a fighting-fit immune system is crucial, especially at the moment, when you’re getting sneezed and coughed on by your fellow commuters, and we’re all about boosting our bodies the natural way! You wouldn’t expect anything less from us, would you? Here are 10 superherbs you need to stock up to boost immunity.
Elderberries have been found to act as a natural immune stimulant and immune modulator, helping to balance the immune system’s response. The berries have strong anti- inflammatory and antiviral properties, and are known to be able to halt a virus in its tracks by actually deactivating the enzyme within a virus, stopping it from proliferating within the body. Impressively, they are known to be able to do this with ten strains of flu virus.
The catechins in green tea (another type of polyphenol) help enhance the immune system, together with vitamins A, C and E, zinc, selenium and B vitamins, which all protect the body from viral and bacterial infections.
After an illness, look to hawthorn to help the whole body recuperate and convalesce, stimulating and nourishing the whole body system – a perfect adaptogen tonic. In traditional Chinese medicine hawthorn stimulates the spleen, increasing the body’s immunity and its ability to purify the blood.
Holy basil’s primary active constituents, eugenol, sesquiterpenes, monoterpenes, vitamins A and C, carotene, calcium, iron, selenium and zinc, balance and nourish the body and its immune system and stimulate anti- inflammatory actions in the body.
The polysaccharide constituents in liquorice have an immune balancing and regulating effect, stimulating where the immune response is lacking and reducing the immune response where there is an auto-immune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or allergic reactions.
Nettle Leaves and Seeds
Phytonutrients (also known as phytochemicals) within nettle provide us with antioxidants along with flavonoids, helping to enhance our immune response, strengthening our natural resistance.
Rich in polysaccharides, flavonoids, triterpenes and sterols, reishi is a remarkably beneficial herb for those who are completely exhausted by life – those who have too many stresses to deal with, causing their vital energy to spiral to an all-time low. This can provoke a general feeling of no energy, depletion and a lack of inspiration. Reishi helps prevent the body getting to this point by enhancing the immune system and lifting the whole body system.
Rhodiola in traditional Chinese medicine dates back centuries, and is known as hong jing tian. It is used to replenish qi or chi energy, supporting heart and spleen function, boosting mental focus, clearing the lungs, calming the nervous system and strengthening the immune system.
The Rosa species has been found to have the ability to boost the immune system while calming and strengthening the nervous system, balancing the whole body.
Its nourishing tonic effects enhance the immune system, protecting the body from infection when you’re feeling depleted. It also shortens the duration of illness if you do fall sick. Reach for this herb if you’re suffering from a debilitating chronic or stress-related illness such as chronic fatigue syndrome, Crohn’s disease or hypertension.
Extracts from Superherbs by Rachel Landon (Piatkus, £12.99)