5 Natural Herbs To Boost Immunity For Better Overall Health

Fight off illness with these herbs to stay healthy and keep your fitness moving forward.

The winter months can be especially brutal for those who exercise at a high level on a regular basis as pathogens begin to appear, for example the cold or flu. While over-the-counter medications may provide some relief, the cons can often times outweigh the pros, leaving you stuck with fighting off these unwanted pathogens. Natural herbs are a great supplemental way to fight off viruses and also improve your overall health for they support immune function and keep your body running at full capacity. Whatever time of year, it is important that your body is in top shape to not only fight unwanted visitors, but also aid in recovery and your overall health and wellness for optimal immune health and diet to keep your from disease.

Moving into these colder months, and dealing with cold and flu season, it is important to look for ways to stay well to avoid any unwanted illness that could leave you from the gym and these herbs can do just that. While some skepticism around traditional medicines, such as traditional Chinese medicine, is fair to be had, there is something to said about herbs and the power and they hold in our bodies. Taking a good multivitamin or omega-3 supplement is a great way to get herbal nutrients into our bodies often missed by foods, but these natural herbs can also aid in our bodily functions that are important for us to operate. Our immune systems are strong but can also be fragile so knowing what to take and how to improve them is a big bonus when it comes to us staying well overall and aiding in immune health as we try to keep things like our respiratory systems clear with help from these herbs.

Herbs For Immunity

The Immune System & How It Works

Your immune system is your body’s defense to protect against disease and other unwanted pathogens that may see your body as a worthwhile host. The challenge your immune system faces is the ability to identify pathogens versus your own healthy tissue. Split between two subsystems, your immune system works tirelessly to leave you well and safe. The innate immune system is the first line of defense and the most dominant system to fight these pathogens. It will recognize pathogens via receptors but cannot specifically target said pathogen. The adaptive immune system comes to its aid as the second line of defense to ensure a more specific approach to targeting the pathogen allowing your body the opportunity to take control and eliminate it.

There are plenty of ways to boost your immune system. Getting plenty of sleep, preferably eight hours a night, is an easy way to start and can be moved around an already busy schedule. Being outside and obtaining vitamin D is great for your physical and mental health while also doing regular meditation and yoga, as well as other activities that can calm the mind and work to your physical benefit. Maintaining a good weight and getting plenty of movement is important, as well as having a well balanced and healthy diet full of whole food meals, like fresh fruits and vegetables, which are great for immune health and helps their anti inflammatory effects for common goals to eliminate the risk of making you sick especially during activity and from viruses.

Taking herbal remedies can be useful for immediate relief of a cold or something like sinus problems, as well as anti inflammatory building, but can also ensure that you stay on top of your game to receive the above benefits. Supplements can really aid in your overall health and should not be overlooked. With the ability to progress your training to optimize performance goals, as well as running at full capacity, herbs can aid in your overall health and wellness and leave you feeling great and your immune health high for optimal effects.

Natural Remedies Versus Over-The-Counter Medication

When it comes to treating the body, everyone has a difference in opinions. Some prefer grandma’s chicken noodle soup while others would rather run to the pharmacy for the quick fix. One argument for the over-the-counter route is that you know the dose and the effect, making it nearly a sure bet it will work. Using an herbal remedy can often times take trial and error and those nasty colds linger on and on and all you want is relief. But natural remedies have proven better for the body and the mind and can be cheap and effective alternatives to those medications. While some supplements aren’t regulated by the government, natural herbs are a safe and sure bet to provide health benefits in a cost effective way in order to fight those nasty colds and flus to have your immune health high.

The benefit to herbal medicines, like those used in traditional Chinese medicine, is also that you can take multiple natural remedies at once, eliminating any harmful effects that taking many over the counter medications can cause. While it is important to know exactly which medications to take, it is important to know which herbs to take as well. With scientific backing on many these herbs, that skepticism comes from a lack of studies on a fair amount of them. Through word of mouth and trial and error, you can absolutely find the right ones for you. It may just take a little time for the best results.

These 5 herbs are sure to boost immunity during those gloomy winter days when the common cold decides to strike.

Turmeric

Turmeric

Turmeric is among the top-selling herbal supplements in the U.S. and when it comes to exercise, it’s hard to compete with turmeric. Most people recognize turmeric as an anti-inflammatory supplement and its effect on muscle soreness is powerful. It is also popular for its immune properties as it has powerful effects on gut bacteria, and with the gut wall holding nearly 70% of the cells within your immune system, turmeric proves to be a great supplement in boosting immunity for flu season. Since turmeric comes in a powder form, it is easy to ingest with tea or in a range of dishes from eggs, to beans, to soups. An easy way to prepare a homemade pill is to mix turmeric with honey, roll into pill sized balls, and let them solidify in a freezer.

Turmeric is best to put in smoothies or food to easily obtain this natural herb. Fresh vegetable juice is a great way to feel the benefits while also having it taste great. Something like a latte, tonic, or kombucha also works well to get this in a mighty beverage, while mixed with tea can work for any part of your day. Mixing it with food will also work great for those who do not want to drink it but instead eat it to get medicinal benefits.

Boswellia

Boswellia Serrata

Boswellia has been proven to provide a host of health benefits along with its immune fighting response. Used as an anti-inflammatory, it has shown to boost memory, support mental wellness, and aid in digestion. Highly underrated, this Indian herb can promote antibody production at lower doses and serves as an immunomodulator, meaning it can modify your immune response to better fend off unwanted viruses and diseases, like those during flu season. Boswellia can be taken in liquid form, but many have recommended capsule form is better due to the poor taste liquid Boswellia provides for medicinal use.

Boswellia serrata will only work with food because it is fat soluble. Taking this with water alone will not absorb this herb as well as if you were to have it with fatty meals or anything that can aid with digestion. Something to bare in mind if you want to try the power of this good, mighty herb to get the best medicinal benefits.

Ginger

Ginger

Ginger is a great herb to use when you feel that cold coming on. Ginger shots have become the new thing for they ease sore throats and fight against viruses off the bat. Ginger serves as an immune system neutralizer as well, helping to kick start an under-active immune system when it’s down, or working to suppress an overactive one when it flares up. The equilibrium properties of ginger make this a great herb to help aid in the fight against pathogens and boost immunity while decreasing stress levels.

This is another great ingredient to have with a beverage or in something hot like tea. Freshly squeezed ginger can make for a great ginger shot, something very popular in juice shops and restaurants. A powder form of ginger can be a nice addition to food as well for both the best flavor and benefits.

Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi Mushrooms

Reishi is a large, dark mushroom that has earned the nickname the “Herb of Spiritual Potency”, for its rarity and abundance of ability regarding health and wellness properties. Known to support both the innate and adaptive immune response systems, this herb is one of legends. It can help regulate your immune system and enhance its ability to fend off initial invaders, therefore supporting the innate immune system. It also serves as an immune stimulator and can adapt to what the body needs helping to reinforce the adaptive immune system. Taken in tablet, capsule, powder, or liquid form, this supplement should be a staple in everyone’s fight to boost immunity through herbal medicine.

Reishi mushrooms can be mixed well into most foods so you get the best out of this herb. Adding to rice, stir fry, and even something like porridge can really be nice dishes to put with these mushrooms. For those bold enough, you can even make coffee out of Reishi mushrooms.

Elderberry

Elderberry

Elderberry seems to be a strong choice for medicine against the flu and upper respiratory infections due to its antiviral properties. Both the berries and the flower can be used for health benefits and elderberries are full of vitamins and nutrients such as vitamins C and A, iron, and potassium. When needed, elderberry can boost the immune system into action due to anthocyanidins, chemical compounds found in the berries that have immune-boosting effects. Taking elderberry as a syrup or as gummies are great ways to ingest this immune boosting herb for positive effects like stress relief.

Elderberry can make a nice addition to dishes like pancakes, yogurt, or oatmeal and is a great ingredient to help kickstart your day. Adding to smoothies, as well as both hot and cold beverages really can provide all of the benefits in a tasty way. For those interested, you can make elderberry ice cubes to add into any beverage for a great chilling function and effects.

Wrap It All Up

While these 5 herbs contain great immune boosting properties, like those found in Chinese medicine, the other benefits for medicine simply add to your overall health and wellness. Easy to ingest and cost effective, taking the natural route is sure to have you feeling great while maintaining a positive and healthy lifestyle. Whether you need preemptive protection against potential pathogens, like the common cold, or a boost to fight off an existing one, these 5 herbs are just a few examples of what is out there to make sure you stay healthy and active and are a natural killer for many people to offer them an immune booster and healthy immune system overall.

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*Images courtesy of Envato

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Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.