When it comes to preventing and combating viral and bacterial infections, strengthening and supporting the body's immune system is vital.
The best way to promote a healthy immune system is by eliminating unhealthy habits, getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy nervous system, and increasing high-quality nutrient intake.
In addition to these vital steps, I will share some of my favorite immune-boosting medicinal herbs that are my first line of defense when our bodies may need a little extra support during cold and flu season.
Stress, sleep deprivation, dehydration, environmental toxins, overuse of alcohol, smoking, obesity, chronic illness, and malnutrition are all contributing factors to a weakened immune system.
It is important to take good care of ourselves emotionally, mentally, and physically. Doing so helps to support our body's ability to heal and protect itself from harm.
Natural Immune Boosters
*Sleep well (6-9 hours is ideal for most adults)
*Drink plenty of clean water
*Use moderation when indulging in food/drink
*Eat healthy nutrient-dense foods
Nature provides a variety of potent immune-boosting vitamins, minerals, herbs, and more that supercharge our body's defenses and immune health.
In addition, many of these natural agents have antiviral, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. Because of this, these herbal supplements have been used medicinally for centuries.
The list below outlines a few of my personal favorites:
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient. In other words, we need it daily for various bodily functions. Unquestionably, vitamin C promotes immune function.
Simultaneously, it plays an important role in the production of collagen, helps heal wounds, repairs tissue, and fights free radicals while supporting the body's ability to recover from illness.
Many fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C including citrus fruits, berries, bell peppers, broccoli, mango, cherries, and green leafy vegetables. Camu Camu, a fruit from the Amazon rainforest, is a popular and potent source of vitamin C, as well as many other supportive flavonoids and antioxidants.
Various Forms of C
Camu Camu commonly comes in powder form and can be found in the supplements section of any health food store. A high-quality and trustworthy brand I love is Whole World Botanicals Royal Camu because of its superior quality and high concentration of nutrients.
Combine vitamin c with stinging nettle, bromelain, and quercetin for anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine help during allergy season!
Vitamin C is an extensively researched nutrient. It is highly utilized in orthomolecular medicine with fascinating results. Many take vitamin C in supplemental forms, such as pure ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, and liposomal vitamin C.
I recommend taking liposomal vitamin C or camu camu.
Try this turmeric lemon tonic!
Please consult a healthcare professional to discuss whether any dietary supplement is right for you.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that is actually a hormone precursor rather than a vitamin. Its role is crucial to many bodily functions including calcium absorption, regulating insulin levels, respiratory health, and of course supporting and boosting the immune system's natural functioning.
Vitamin D deficiency is surprisingly common, prompting many doctors to test for it and even prescribe it in supplement form in certain cases. Fatigue, muscle weakness, pain, weight gain, depression, and impaired immune function are all potential symptoms of deficiency.
This vitamin is most readily absorbed through the skin from healthy sunlight exposure. It can also be consumed through certain foods like salmon, tuna, and cod liver oil.
Cod liver oil is an excellent source of vitamins A and D and is commonly used by people who want to boost their immune system and improve overall health. There are several supplements on the market ranging from low to high doses. Below are a few of my favorite cod liver oil brands.
Always discuss with your health provider what would work best for you.
Zinc is an essential trace mineral. The body needs it for hundreds of vital enzymatic interactions, but only in small amounts. Zinc is necessary for cellular function, growth, and development, wound healing, and immune function.
According to WebMD, multiple studies continue to analyze the effectiveness of zinc within treatments for everything from shortening the common cold to HIV, macular degeneration, and Crohn's disease.
Many products with zinc as an active ingredient include nasal sprays, throat lozenges, syrups, and capsules. Zinc in these forms boosts the immune system and helps to shorten the duration of illness when taken at the first signs of a cold.
Organic minimally processed meat, shellfish, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains can be a good source of zinc in a healthy diet.
If you think you may not be consuming enough zinc in your diet, consult your doctor about the possibility of supplementation.
Elderberries are the fruit that comes from the Sambucus nigra tree. The berries are used to make syrups and tinctures. These potent berries contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant compounds that boost the immune system, fight free radicals, shorten colds, and even fight viral infections like the flu.
There are many elderberry syrup and tincture options on the market. It is important to note the ingredients in the products you choose.
Some products contain proprietary blends with other herbs intended to work synergistically with elderberry. Echinacea Angustifolia and Astragalus root are common herbs prepared with elderberry for best results.
Many include added sugars and sweeteners. Take these things into consideration for your individual healthcare needs when choosing the right product for you. Below are a few brands of elderberry that I trust.
A 2010 study has shown that elderberry may have antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory effects.
It is important to note that raw elderberry and its seeds, leaves, and tree bark contain toxic substances. Proper precaution during preparation is crucial in order to heat the berries enough to eliminate the toxic compounds.
If unsure of how elderberry may affect you, always consult a healthcare professional before use.
Olive Leaf Extract
Olive leaf is one of the best herbal remedies because it contains potent polyphenols that help to boost the immune system. It also improves several important factors including balancing blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and weight gain. (Source)
The polyphenols in olive leaf extract have shown in multiple studies that it contains promising anti-inflammatory properties, as well as antibiotic, and immune-boosting properties for a variety of situations and conditions that threaten the body's health and well-being.
This makes olive leaf extract a powerful herbal medicine to keep on hand to help to boost the immune system when cold and flu season hits. It has even proven to be effective in the treatment of several viral conditions including herpes, HIV, and influenza.
Here are a few brands of olive leaf extract that we love.
Certain medications contraindicated for use with olive leaf extract. Always consult your doctor before use.
Oil of Oregano
Oregano is a popular spice in many culinary recipes. It is also used in essential oils for aromatherapy. The essential oil should not to be confused with oil of oregano, which is used as an herbal preparation. The herbal form is a potent antiviral, antifungal, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties.
Oil of oregano is often used medicinally to heal cold, flu, and other upper respiratory infections. Additionally, studies have shown improvement in healing candida and staphylococcus infections. (Source)
Oil of oregano is a staple in our family's natural medicine cabinet. It has come in handy for multiple infections including severe toothache infections.
Accordingly, we have found it effective to use daily as a natural antibiotic for 2-3 weeks at a time. Our favorite brands for oil of oregano is Garden of Life and Gaia.
While there are many benefits to the oil of oregano, there are side effects and contraindications in certain people. Always consult your healthcare professional when deciding if this remedy is the right one for you.
Colloidal silver is a liquid that contains tiny silver particles. This powerful natural remedy has been used medicinally for centuries.
Accordingly, it helps to heal and prevent multiple health conditions. Colloidal silver is antimicrobial and has helped many to combat viral, bacterial, and fungal infections.
Silver is controversial in the medical community due to the fact that very few people have taken silver in extreme amounts which led to a condition called argyria, which makes the user turn a shade of blue or grey.
Colloidal silver helps topically for wound healing or is taken orally for boosting the immune system.
Additionally, silver has been used to heal and prevent newborns from developing conjunctivitis. Also, consider nebulizing colloidal silver to help heal respiratory conditions.
Because of its many uses and benefits, we make sure to keep a bottle on hand at all times. Our family's most trusted brand is Sovereign Silver.
Always consult a medical professional before making changes to your healthcare routine.
Manuka is a unique honey that comes from bees who pollinate a special plant in New Zealand commonly called the Manuka bush. It is a potent antibacterial with anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antifungal properties.
This potent honey helps to boost the immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells needed to fight off infection.
Additionally, Manuka honey is useful for various dental disorders. Mouth ulcers, tooth decay, and gum disease have shown marked improvement with the use of Manuka. Impressively, Manuka honey has proven to be useful to combat MRSA infections caught in its early stages. (Source)
Another antibacterial honey is buckwheat honey. Check out this article comparing the properties of manuka vs buckwheat.
Finding the Right Honey
When searching for Manuka honey you may find there are many options at varying price levels. Make no mistake- It is far more expensive than conventional honey.
It is important to know what to look for in order to ensure you are getting authentic Manuka honey. Make sure the production company manufactures from New Zealand. Manuka honey should have a quality trademark UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) on the label with a number next to it.
A UMF of 16+ indicates the highest quality that will be the most beneficial in fighting the worst health offenders- including MRSA. Lower UMF ratings may be effective for different conditions or overall immune-boosting properties.
The most trustworthy brand I have found is the New Zealand Honey Company. To learn more in-depth about manuka honey and its label and ratings check out this article.
It is imperative to make sure there is a UMF quality trademark on the packaging. When in doubt, research the company or ask a health professional with experience using manuka honey medicinally.
Building a Routine
Many who strive to live a healthy lifestyle have a supply of natural remedies on hand for a variety of ailments.
These remedies can range from support for a mild cold to natural antibiotic and antiviral remedies.
Surely, creating a healthy regimen of immune-boosting foods and supplements can be crucial to giving your body a head start in warding off illness.
Undeniably, the more that you tune in and get to know your body and experiences, the better you are able to naturally heal and recover. Check out this article to learn more about how to stay healthy during the winter cold season.
As always, consult your physician before making any medical changes to your healthcare routine.
Share your experience
What have you done to boost your immune system? Have you tried any of these natural remedies? Drop a comment and share your experience below! I look forward to hearing from you.