As the days get shorter, with Old Man Winter lurking around the corner, we may find ourselves chilled to the bone and holed up indoors feeling unmotivated or even depressed. You may be reaching for tissues more often, sneezing your head off, with full-on body aches, not knowing if you’re coming down with a seasonal cold, flu, or COVID.
Our immune system protects our body from foreign invaders, so it’s essential to fortify it by leading a healthy lifestyle. And in the colder months, when we may be feeling low physically and mentally, it’s especially important to take extra care of it.
Adding herbs into our diet or taking a supplement could strengthen our immune system and protect us from any unwelcome intruders.
Immunity and wellness
What does my immune system do?
Think of your immune system as your body’s own, built-in suit of armour. This full-body network of cells and organs –white blood cells, lymph nodes, skin, spleen, tonsils, thymus, and the stomach and intestines – join forces to protect you from bacteria, germs, and viruses that could cause illness, infection, or disease.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, when our immune system is functioning as it should, it can detect the difference between our natural cells and foreign ones that could harm us.
As a result, it works to eradicate them. However, sometimes our body can fail at eliminating them, and when this happens, we could develop an infection, illness, virus, or have an allergic reaction.
For people who suffer from autoimmune diseases, like Rheumatoid Arthritis or Lupus, their immune system is unable to tell the difference between a natural or foreign invader. In other words, their immune system will attack otherwise healthy cells.
How does my mental health affect my immune system?
Have you ever noticed when you’re stressed, you end up developing a cold or flu? When we’re feeling low, anxious, or depressed, especially during the winter, it can compromise your immune system, making you more susceptible to infection or illness.
The American Psychological Association (APA) reports that researchers who study psychoneuroimmunology confirm the link between loneliness, stress, and depression with a weaker or compromised immune system. Understanding this mind-body interaction can help us take necessary measures to lead a healthy lifestyle and prioritize our wellness.
Daily hacks to boost your immune system
What can I do to fortify my immune system?
In addition to taking vitamin C or a comprehensive all-natural health regimen like Earths Secret’s Ultimate Complex, there are several ways to bolster our immune systems:
- Wash your hands regularly
- Replace processed foods for whole foods
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Manage stress
- Aim to sleep six to eight hours daily
- Limit or avoid alcohol and tobacco
Top 10 herbs to strengthen your immune system
Overview: Echinacea (aka, purple coneflower) grows in open, wooded areas across North America. Loaded with antioxidants, Native American populations have used this anti-inflammatory for its healing properties for centuries.
How will it boost my immune system? Aside from lowering your blood sugar and assuaging symptoms of anxiety, research shows Echinacea can strengthen our immune system and maybe even shorten the life cycle of the common cold.
Dosage: You can purchase it in capsules, tablets, powder, liquid extract, and tea form. There is no official dosage, but for immuno-support, you can take 300 mg to 500 mg of the powder or up to 10 ml daily of the liquid extract.
Overview: Sometimes called Korean ginseng, Panax ginseng is an adaptogenic (stress-fighting) herb that grows throughout Korea, China, and Siberia.
How will it boost my immune system? Not only does Panax ginseng help us fight stress and aid with symptoms of depression (that can compromise our immune system), but it can strengthen our immune system by supporting the creation of immunosuppressive T cells.
Dosage: You can take it as a capsule, gummy, tablet, powder, or liquid extract. The average dose clocks in at 200 mg to 3 grams daily for up to six months.
Overview: Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), aka, “German chamomile” grows in North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe.
How will it boost my immune system? Besides its sleep-inducing effects, chamomile can also help with heartburn, upset stomach, insomnia, and in strengthening our immune system because of its anti-inflammatory effects.
Dosage: Whether you prefer a bedtime mug of chamomile tea, an essential oil, or a capsule, a typical daily dose is 900 mg to 1200 mg.
Overview: Harvested from the roots of Curcuma longa, Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory used in ancient Indian medicine and cuisine. Its active ingredient, curcumin, gives turmeric its golden colour.
How will it boost my immune system? Notwithstanding its ability to lower our cholesterol and help fight diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease,studies show Turmeric can modulate our immune system by activating T cells, B cells, and natural killer cells.
Dosage: Besides incorporating turmeric into a curry or fried rice, you can also stir it into a warm mug of milk before bedtime to create golden milk (Haldi Ka Doodh) or make tea.
If you don’t prefer to cook with it, you can also find it in capsule and tablet form at most health and wellness shops.
Overview: Grown as a bulb and available worldwide, garlic (Allium sativum) is indigenous to Asia, but grows across Europe and North America. Most cultures use it as a flavouring agent in their cuisine.
How will it boost my immune system? Not only can it improve our cognitive health and help fight cardiovascular disease, but garlic’s active ingredient, alliin, can boost our immunity by strengthening white blood cells, and maybe help us fight the common cold and flu.
Dosage: Besides flavouring your cuisine, you can take garlic as a supplement. The average dose weighs in at 300 mg daily.
Overview: Harvested from the leaves and roots of the plant, Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), aka Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry, and winter cherry, is an adaptogenic herb popular in Ayurvedic medicine.
It grows across India, Asia, Europe, and Africa. When cultivated from the roots alone, as in KSM-66 Ashwagandha, it can be more potent and less toxic.
How will it boost my immune system? Because of its adaptogenic and tonic-like properties, Ashwagandha can help our body battle stressors, alleviate anxiety and depression, and relax us—which can have a positive impact on our immune system.
One study reports that because ashwagandha has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial components, it may play a role in modulating our immune system.
Dosage: You can purchase it as a capsule, powder, or extract, and the average capsule dose runs 500 mg to 600 mg.
Overview: Native to Southeast Asia, ginger (part of the Zingiberaceae family) is a blooming plant, and its roots are a common staple for medicinal and culinary purposes.
How will it boost my immune system? Aside from quelling nausea and helping us fight the flu, ginger’s active ingredient, gingerol, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may fight infections like Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) .
Dosage: We can consume ginger raw, steeped in tea, ground in powder form, pickled, capsule, or in liquid extract form.
Overview: Known for its peppery taste, Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) is a full-body tonic from Southeast Asia.
How will it boost my immune system? It can lower our cholesterol and blood sugar, reduce symptoms of anxiety, and help us heal our wounds faster because of its antibacterial and antiviral properties.
Dosage: The average, recommended dose ranges from 300 mg to 2000 mg, taken multiple times daily. You can eat it raw, add it to cuisine, brew it in a tea, or take it as a capsule or extract.
Overview: Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is native to Europe. You must cook this sweet fruit before eating it. It’s often used to make jam, syrup, and wine.
How will it boost my immune system? It may help patients manage symptoms of diabetes or decrease the risk of cancer because of its antioxidant compounds. It may also relieve the symptoms or shorten the duration of a cold or flu.
Dosage: Dosing may vary. For instance, if you’re taking it to treat the flu, then 15 mL, four times per day for up to five days is standard. Otherwise, standard OTC supplements range from 200 mg to 1000 mg.
Overview: Part of the fungi family, Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is a mushroom that grows throughout Asia.
How will it boost my immune system? Reishi may battle fatigue, stress, and fortify our immune system by bolstering the activity of our natural killer cells.
Dosage: You can consume reishi raw, cooked, or as a capsule supplement, or powder. Two to nine grams is common.
Ready to armour your immune system?
If we want to avoid infections and many illnesses, we need to give our body a fighting chance.
An all-natural, vegan-friendly supplement like Earths Secret’s Thrive Complex combines five immunity and energy-boosting supplements into a single complex: Hydrocurc Turmeric, Spirulina, Reishi Mushroom, Black Elderberry, and Ginger Root.
To remain healthy and ultimately thrive, we need to armour our immune system. These herbs are the natural weapons Mother Nature had in mind to keep us healthy, all year long.