A complex network of cells, glands, tissues and organs - this immune system support works to shield the body from disease. One quarter to one half of all body cells are committed to strengthen the immune system with important organs being the thymus and the spleen.
Certain white blood cells are important to boost your immune system and some herbs and spices work to stimulate these cells and occasionally boost the amount of white blood cells present in an infected body. Many of these herbs and spices have been used for centuries in traditional Chinese and Native American medicine.
Astragalus – This is a perennial plant native to China, Korea and Mongolia which is harvested for its root and dried for medicinal purposes. Astragalus is labeled an adaptogen which is a medicine thought to help shield the body from physical, mental or emotional stress.
Many studies have found that astragalus can boost specific and non-specific immunity. It has been linked to increased white blood cells, and it works with prescribed drugs to enhance effectiveness of treatment for cancer and diabetes. As it contains powerful antioxidants, astragalus may also be helpful in the prevention of colds and upper respiratory infections.
Garlic – This plant contains several antioxidants that fortify the immune system and some think of it as the “herbal antibiotic.” Garlic has been used to combat intestinal parasites, as an external antiseptic and it is said to strengthen the immune system. It is also said to be an effective agent against H. pylori, a bacteria that has been linked to ulcers and stomach cancer. To maximize the medicinal properties of garlic in meal preparation, peel and chop the cloves, and let sit for 15 minutes before cooking.
Ginger – This is a warming herb that helps the body sweat out a fever. Ginger also soothes an upset stomach and is said to boost immunity. A cup of hot water, honey, lemon and steeped, fresh ginger root is a recommended folk remedy for the onset of a cold.
Goldenseal - This is a bitter root that contains a powerful compound called berberine which has been found to destroy many types of bacteria in test tubes. It can also destroy germs responsible for candida (yeast) infections, and it combats various parasites in the body. Berberine may also stimulate white blood cells, which leads to a stronger immune system.
Herbs and spices are generally a safe way to strengthen the immune system. You should always discuss any type of alternative medicine with your health care provider, however to check for contraindications. Medicinal herbs and spices come in many forms - capsules, powders, teas and tinctures – which can commonly be found at your local whole foods store or through natural supplement websites.