Boosting your Inner Defence Force with Herbs

This article by Kane Parsons originaly appeared in Living Now magazine. Around 400 BC Hippocrates, the father of modern and naturopathic medicine, said “let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food”. In a society where pharmaceutical approaches dominate government funded medical care it may seem inconceivable to many on the surface that food and herbals could act as a powerful medicine. In this article we will be exploring some of Mother Nature’s medical masterpieces, immune boosting herbs. These powerhouses pack a serious punch in boosting resistance to bacterial and viral assault, and their prudent use can boost the quality of your life.

Here is a selection of some readily available potent immune herbs. Astragalus Is an all-time favourite in immune boosting herbs among naturopaths as well as in traditional Chinese medicine to boost immune function, and for good reason. Astragalus has been used traditionally for hundreds of years to raise vitality, promote healing and tissue regeneration. Astragalus also possesses gentle antibiotic, pain relieving and relaxing properties. Here is a true immune tonic, having the remarkable capacity to boost all aspects of cellular immunity. Astragalus is particularly good for those with more long term viral immune issues, it stimulates the immune system and has been demonstrated to possess strong immune restorative effects. It is good for both prevention and treatment of colds and ‘flu. Olive leaf Is used in traditional Western naturopathic medicine to help prevent and relieve the symptoms of colds, including fever. From an immune point of view, olive leaf shows broad-spectrum anti-microbial activity against many viruses, bacteria, yeasts and fungi, as well as significant anti-inflammatory activity. Echinacea Another beauty, echinacea is excellent for sore throats and a snotty nose. It is fantastic as a liquid even on its own. Remember you can tell if it’s excellent quality as, when you gargle and swallow echinacea, it leaves a reassuring tingle in your mouth for 5-10 minutes afterwards! Look for echinacea that states the roots and flowering tops are used and not the whole dried plant, as cheaper, less effective echinacea formulations utilise the less effective parts of the plant. Siberian ginseng While possessing modest immune boosting properties on its own, ginseng is found in some of the best quality ‘off the shelf’ immune boosting formulae available in health food stores. Ginseng is excellent for those with busy lifestyles, as it is a potent ‘adaptogen’, that is, it helps the body adapt to the effects of physical and mental stress. Panex ginseng has also been shown to support healthy adrenal function to help prevent adrenal burnout. Panax is particularly good for those working long hard hours, who are physically and mentally exhausted. Andrographis The king of bitters. I love this herb! Andrographis is excellent to take at the first sign of a sniffle. If there were one herb I couldn’t live a winter without it would have to be andrographis. A 2004 meta-analysis of andrographis in the treatment of simple upper respiratory tract infection reported on two double-blind, randomised controlled trials that compared andrographis to a placebo and one that compared the herb to paracetamol. In the first trial, andrographis was found to be more effective than the placebo in reducing symptoms of tiredness, nasal secretion and at reducing intensity and frequency of cough, mucus production, headache and earache, along with fewer days of sick leave. Regular exercise When you exercise you increase your circulation and your blood flow throughout your body. The components of your immune system are also better circulated, which means your immune system has a better chance of finding an illness before it has a chance to spread. In a sense, exercising along with natural potent supplements helps your immune system to be more efficient in weeding out and acting upon viruses and diseases. Prevention is better than cure When our immune system initially becomes compromised there is generally an 8-12 hour window when we feel the initial tickle of a cold or ‘flu. This is the time to strike with a good dose of preventative natural medicine. Dosing up on the right herbs at the right time is in my opinion the best way to deal with colds and flu ( include here a nice HOT soak in the bath ). Time and time again I have seen this demonstrated.


Yours in Peace and Health, Kane References: Bone K. Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs. Monographs for the Western Herbal Practitioner. Warwick; Phytotherapy Press, 1996: pp13-20. Braun L and Cohen M. Herbs and Natural Supplements: An evidence-based guide. 2nd Ed. Sydney; Elsevier, 2007:pp710, 711, 715 Mills S, Bone K. The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety. St Louis, Missouri; Churchill Livingstone, 2005: pp 578-80. Mills S, Bone K. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh; Churchill Livingstone, 2000: pp534-41. Cáceres DD, Hancke JL, Burgos RA, Sandberg F, Wikman GK. Use of visual analogue scale measurements (VAS) to asses the effectiveness of standardized Andrographis paniculata extract SHA-10 in reducing the symptoms of common cold. A randomized double blind-placebo study. Phytomedicine. 1999 Oct;6(4):217-23 SHARE THIS POST