Herbs and Foods to Boost Your Immune
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Last updated August 9, 2017, originally published August 9, 2010

By Katrina Devine, Contributing Columnist

Aching head? Runny nose? Swollen lymph nodes?
Fatigued? Are you sick again? You might think that you are
just unlucky but there might be something more behind
your frequent illnesses. You could be suffering from a
weakened immune system.

According to the American Lung Association,
the common
cold accounts for more visits to the doctor than any other
condition. Adults get an average of two to four colds per
year so if you are getting these colds more frequently then
you may want to boost your immune system.

What Is Your Immune System?

Your immune system works to keep your body healthy and
also fight any foreign bodies that are unwelcome within
your body. White blood cells are released from places in
your body like your spleen and your bone marrow. The
most important element is the lymphatic system. It tries to
filter any foreign bodies before they do any damage. That
is why when your lymph nodes are swollen it is normally
due to an infection attacking your body.

The truth is, many of us are walking around with low grade
infections. Often the source of the infections are our teeth
and gums. Untreated periodontal disease creates a low
grade infection that scientists have now come to
understand is a serious threat to our health. These low
grade, constant infections create
internal inflammation that
is a precondition for many diseases, including heart
disease, Alzheimer's disease and cancer.]

Below are some herbs and foods that can help you prevent
illness by boosting your immune system.

1. Ashwagandha: This is an ancient herb also known as
"withania somnifera". A study conducted by the
Department of Microbiology, Medinova Diagnostics Center,
Pune, India, in 1996, found that
ashwagandha was able to
boost the immune system and added to the amount of anti-
bodies produced in your body.

Ashwagandha is commonly taken in a tea. To make the tea
you need Ashwagandha root in powder form. You add one
teaspoon of the powder to water and boil for
approximately 15 minutes. Then serve with honey to taste.
It is recommended that you drink the tea at least 3 times

2. Garlic:
Garlic boosts your immune system. Garlic,
technically known as "Allium sativum" is a common herb
found in many kitchens across the country. Garlic is
normally added for taste but research shows it has health
benefits which make it worth taking by itself. A study
conducted by the Faculty of Chemistry, National University
of Mexico, Mexico, in 2004, examined the difference
between raw garlic and garlic that had been cooked. They
found that raw garlic can improve your immune system.
Therefore the benefits that you get from the garlic in your
food are reduced so a garlic supplement is recommended.

3. Raw fruits and vegetables: Raw fruits and vegetables
help to boost your immune system . It is not only raw garlic
that can help, simply eating plenty of fruit and vegetables
can help your immune system. When you cook vegetables,
they lose some of their goodness with the heat.  A study
conducted by the Cancer Prevention Research Program, the
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, in 1999,
examined the various human studies regarding the intake
of fruit and vegetables. They concluded that all the studies
point to the fact that vegetables could prevent against
disease. They are able to do this because they stimulate the
immune system.

4. Citrus juice:  A study conducted by the First Department
of Pathology, Kanazawa Medical University, Ishikawa,
Japan, in 1999, administrated citrus juice to female mice.
They found that the citrus juice improve the lymphatic
system of the mice. The lymphatic system is the centre of
your body’s immune system therefore citrus could
potentially help you boost your immunity. The juice of a
lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit should be taken without
additives so it is much better to squeeze your own rather
than buying one made from concentrate.

5. Echinacea: Echinacea is a flower extract has become
popular recently as a treatment for flu’s and colds.  A study
completed by the Food Science and Human Nutrition
Department, The University of Florida, Gainesville, in 2000
examined research around the use of Echinacea in medicine
and found that it is effective in reducing the duration and
severity of symptoms in certain conditions. They also found
that Echinacea affects the phagocytic immune system, but
not the specifically acquired immune system. It should be
taken over time as a preventive measure rather than a
reactive measure.

6. Elderberry: According to the National Institutes of
Health, elderberry (also known as Sambucus nigra) contain
flavanoids which contain immunologic properties. A study
conducted by the Department of Virology, Hebrew
University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel, in
1995, found that elderberry could help those with influenza.

Approximately 93% of the patients found an improvement
in their symptoms after 2 days treatment. You can prepare
elderberries in many different ways including jam and wine.

7. Ginseng: A study conducted by the Department of
Immunology, Institute of Microbiology, Bulgarian Academy
of Science, in 1990 found that ginseng administrated at a
rate of 10mg/kg for 3 consecutive days lead to increase in
the cells that protect the body. Therefore, ginseng can help
the immune system. Ginseng is a common addictive to
health and energy drinks but to really gain its benefits you
should take the dried forms.

8. Cat’s claw: This has been used for a long time in central
and South America as a remedy.  A study conducted by the
Department of Pediatrics and Center for Cardiovascular
Sciences, Albany Medical College, Albany, New York, in
2000, examined the uses of cat’s claw. They found that
freeze-dried cat’s claw was not as potent as if the cat’s
claw had not been dried. However, they concluded that cat’
s claw in any form can boost the immune system.

9. Licorice Root: A study conducted by the Shibata
Laboratory of Natural Medicinal Materials, Minophagen
Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Tokyo, Japan, in 2000, collected
data on the health benefits of licorice root. They concluded
that one of the benefits that licorice has is to act as an anti-
viral, therefore it helps the immune system fight disease.
They also suggest that it can be used as a preventive

10. Mushrooms: Like garlic,
mushrooms are found right in
your kitchen. A study conducted by the International
Centre for Cryptogamic Plants and Fungi, Institute of
Evolution, University of Haifa, Israel, in 1999 examined
higher Basidiomycetes mushrooms and if they can prevent
or help disease. They concluded that these mushrooms
effect the immune system positively by helping white blood
cell production and can prevent some disease.


11. Oregano: Oregano boost your immune system by
lowering the amount of decreasing pro-inflammatory
cytokines, IL-1β, and IL-6 mRNA, according to a 2007  
study from the Institute of Animal Physiology, Slovak
Academy of Sciences in Slovakia.

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Delicious and good for you too. Red onions, tomatoes and other
raw vegetables help to boost your immune system.