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Herbs For Immunity

Immune | June 1, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

Immune

Herbs For Immunity

Herbal medicine has been a way of treating illness for ages with traditional practices being handed down through the generations. It is also thought the use of plants as a medicine may have been a practice since the beginning of time. Now with studies preformed to ascertain the healing qualities of plants, we can have confidence in using them as a preventative, immune supporting or treatment for quicker recovery. This article looks at some popular herbal remedies.

The goal of research in the treatment of viral and bacterial infections is the discovery of agents that specifically inhibit viral and bacterial multiplication without affecting normal cells. The undesired side effects of antibiotics and antivirals and the appearance of resistant and mutant strains make the development of new agents an urgent requirement. [10]

Some herbs have immune building capacity, or immune stimulation, some help prevent virus replication, and some can destroy pathogenic bacteria. Herbs can also help with the symptoms and duration of common illnesses.

A robust immune system is the first line of defence against pathogenic invasion. Being able to recognise the enemy and having a healthy army ready makes the chance of becoming ill much lower.

Herbs to prevent virus replication

Herbs to prevent virus replicationOnce you have the first signs of illness – sore throat, headache, fatigue etc, the virus infection has already taken control and is growing at an extremely fast pace. By taking a preventative, also known as a prophylactic, when you are faced with opportunities for viral or attack, you can help stop viruses in their tracts. Herbs with anti-viral activity include: 

  • Echinacea
  • Elderflower and elderberry
  • Astragalus

Herbs to support the immune system 

  • Echinacea
  • Olive leaves
  • Elderberry
  • Astragalus
  • Garlic
  • Reishi mushroom

Relief of symptoms

Of course, once you have the symptoms of illness you want to be able to get better as soon as you can. Some herbs have been found to help in this case:

  • Andrographis
  • Elderflower and elderberry
  • Echinacea
  • Garlic

A bit more information

Echinacea

The echinacea species generally used medicinally are echinacea angustifolia, E. purpurea and E. pallida.

EchinaceaThe whole plant can be used, but it is root and rhizome that are considered to have the medicinal action. This action being immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, lymphatic and vulnerary.

Echinacea is supported in its use as a preventative and treatment of upper respiratory tract infections, but also for any infection such as skin issues, sinusitis or candidiasis.

Antiviral and antibacterial activity is suggested due to its ability to enhance the immune system.

Andrographis

Andrographis paniculata is a herb that has been used extensively as a traditional medicine in India, China and Southeast Asia. Constituents from this plant have been shown to possess biological activities including anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, cytotoxicity, immune modulatory and anti-malaria activity. Further studies are suggested to understand the phytochemistry and mechanisms of action. [1]

Andrographis has been found to be a safe and effective herb to shorten the duration and relief of symptoms of upper respiratory infections. [2]

Olive leaf

Olive trees (oleo europaea) are native to the Mediterranean area where they have been cultivated for centuries for the oil of the olive fruit. The leaves have antimicrobial activity against HIV-1, broad spectrum antibacterial activity - including against Staphylococcus aureus and fungal infection - including against Candida albicans. [5]

Elder

Herbs to support the immune system Sambucas nigra, the flowers are the main medicinal part of the plant, but recently the fruit extract (elderberry) is also being used.

Both flowers and fruit have been found to have antiviral activity, anti-inflammatory activity and powerful immune modulating activity. [6]

The fruit of the elder has been found to be effective in inhibiting the many strains of the influenza virus, types A and B, due to its ability prevent the virus from entering cells and replicating.

Astragalus

Astragalus membranaceus is a Chinese herbal medicine found to have immune enhancing activity – increasing antibodies such as IgA and IgG against the common cold, as well as IgE and IgM. [7]

Garlic

Allium sativum, has always been a popular choice for immune support. Garlic has antimicrobial, antioxidant and inflammatory actions. Its antimicrobial action is extensive against a broad range of bacteria, some of which are antibiotic resistant. It also has antiviral and antifungal activity. One study has concluded that A. sativum modulates cytokine secretion and that such modulation may provide a mechanism of action for many of their therapeutic effects. [8]. Cytokines are small proteins that are important for the generation of the immune response. 

Garlic can reduce the incidence of the common cold and increase recovery time when taken daily [9]

Reishi Mushroom

Ganoderma lucidum. There is considerable evidence to support the immunostimulating activities of G. lucidum via induction of cytokines and enhancement of immunological effector.

Reishi MushroomAs an antioxidant, various components of G. lucidum, in particular polysaccharides and triterpenoids, show antioxidant activity in vitro.

Antioxidants protect cellular components from oxidative damage, which is likely to decrease risk of mutations and carcinogenesis and also protect immune cells, allowing them to maintain immune surveillance and response.

The bottom line

Herbal medicine can be a useful aid to prevent and treat the symptoms of common viral and bacteria illnesses.

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References

[1] Harnessing the medicinal properties of Andrographis paniculata for diseases and beyond: a review of its phytochemistry and pharmacology https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4032030/

[2] Andrographis paniculata (Chuān Xīn Lián) for symptomatic relief of acute respiratory tract infections in adults and children: A systematic review and meta-analysis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5544222/

[3] Mills, S. & Bone, K. (2000). Principles and practice of Phytotherapy: Modern herbal medicine. Churchill Livingstone, Australia

[4] Olive Leaf Extracts Act as Modulators of the Human Immune Response https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29149822

[6] Fisher, Carole; 2009, MATERIA MEDICA OF WESTERN HERBS, Vitex Medica, New Zealand.

[7] Bone, Kerry; 1996, Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs, Phytotherapy press, QLD, Australia

Characterization of the Physiological Response following In Vivo Administration of Astragalus membranaceus. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27190535

[8] Immunomodulation and anti-inflammatory effects of garlic compounds. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25961060

[9] Fisher, Carole; 2009, MATERIA MEDICA OF WESTERN HERBS, Vitex Medica, New Zealand.

[10] Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Chapter 9Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92757/

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