Immune System Strengthening & Balancing
Herbs That Boost the Immune System
Your immune system defends against bacteria, fungi, viruses and cancerous cells by promoting perspiration, maintaining safe levels of white blood cells and producing inflammation. Herbs contain active components that help boost these defenses and increase your chances of avoiding illness. However, due to the potential side effects and drug interactions of some herbs, it's always a good idea to consult your doctor prior to using herbs to prevent disease.
Astragalus, often referred to as huang qi or huang chi, is a medicinal herb cultivated in China, Japan and Korea. This herb helps ward of infections by stimulating the immune system. A study published in the August 2006 issue of Phytotherapy Research showed that astragalus in an herbal tincture with Glycyrrhiza and Echinacea activated the immune system within 24 hours of consumption and continued to promote immune function for up to seven days. When taken daily, astragalus stimulates your immune system by enhancing the effectiveness and availability of a variety of immune system cells, including phagocytes, monocytes, natural killer cells and lymphocytes.
Ginseng may also help prevent disease by improving your immune function. MedlinePlus indicates that some research has shown ginseng to help prevent certain types of cancer, bronchitis, colds and influenza. Not only does ginseng enhance your immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells throughout your body, it also improves the strength and vitality of those suffering from illness.
Shiitake, an edible mushroom known as Lentinula edodes, has both anti-viral and anti-tumor properties. Clinical studies have yet to prove these qualities in humans, but have shown effectiveness in animal studies, according to the American Cancer Society. To achieve the medicinal purposes of shiitake, look for extracts of compounds in shiitake mushrooms instead of consuming the entire mushroom. In the United States, look for shiitake as a nutritional supplement containing activated hexose-correlated compound.
Research suggests that the active substances in Echinacea enhances the immune system, protects against the damage caused by free radicals, reduces inflammation and relieves pain, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. People often take Echinacea to combat the common cold.
Precautions: Ensure your safety while taking herbal medicines by consulting a doctor and only taking the herbs as directed.
Health Disclaimer. Copyright ©2011. Published with permission.
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